The Bushcraft Challenge | Part 3
Before I start with Part Three I need to explain why I’ve been so quiet over the past couple of months. First of all, I managed to badly sprain my ankle – so for a brief time I did have to return to civilisation to have it checked over as I was having trouble walking. Whilst I was away from the woods I kept my diet in-line with wild type foods and I even slept on a bit of land owned by a member of family because I’d finally acclimatised myself to the outdoor life and I didn’t want to disrupt my body with changes to temperature and non-natural lighting sources.
The second reason – and more important in terms of this blog I have given with my phone which is how I was writing and supplying my blog posts to Greenman to keep everyone updated. Using a solar charger is OK, but not that great in the environment I’ve been living in and in any event, my phone eventually died, and thus I’ve had to resort to pen and paper and post it off when I’m on the move from one location to another and then rely on the staff at Greenman to convert my jumbled ramblings into something that at least makes some sense! So this is the cause of my lack of recent updates, but fear not…… I have been living wild and here is a little update on my adventure so far.
As you’d expect, October and November were, in terms of diet, made up predominantly of fungi, nuts and a few remaining berries. I was lucky enough to find a few Cep mushrooms which are pretty easily identifiable and they’re also quite substantial, so I didn’t need too many of these to make a good meal (I just wish that I’d had some butter to cook them in!). I also found a few of the usual field mushrooms and the occasional horse mushroom. Parasol mushrooms were one of the more commonly found where I was staying, and some of them were huge!!! One was so large it resembled a small foot stall. Sadly, though, when this large they are far too dicey to use as food as they are a particular favourite for flies who lay their eggs in.
As well the occasional hazel nut I also decided to roast some acorns and grind them into a powder for use as coffee. They’re very bitter, but I seem to have adjusted to them relatively quickly, although I prefer the roots of dandelions for this and I hope to try these out come spring time.
Into November the cold really began to kick in and I’m not going to lie when I say it was almost a breaking point for me, but it’s purely my fault as I travel light and should really have taken more equipment with me than I did, but on the other hand with a very sore and swollen ankle I’m glad that I didn’t have a huge amount of weight to carry when I was already limping around a little.
For my protein portion of food over the coming weeks I’ve fixed my mind on catching a squirrel or two. I’ve heard plenty of good things about them in terms of their meat, but they’re both incredibly difficult to catch and I’m not really a hunter – more of a gatherer, but I gave it go and decided that I’d make a trap using foraged timber and autumn leaves. At first it was very unsuccessful but with time (I have a lot on my hands) and most importantly observation of how these furry critters moved around the woodland I was able to catch one, although it still managed to get away! But after many, many, many attempts I finally caught one that I was able to use for the pot along with some of the mushrooms that I’d also foraged. I won’t say that they taste like chicken as we all know that anything and everything apparently tastes like chicken (haha) but I will compare it somewhat to rabbit. It was nice, although if you’re greedy you probably won’t find that they’re very filling.
The really cold nights were helped by the larger fires that I was starting to burn, as well as the style of fire – I adopted a more Swedish style fire where the flames burn along the length of a fallen limb which produced flames and heat for far longer than a standard fire. I used further timbers behind me which helped reflect the heat back in my direction to keep me warm but it dried your lips out like old leather! I could hear fireworks in the distance which was rather apt for this time of year, and although I couldn’t see any it was more than satisfying to watch the hot embers of the fire suddenly erupt with a spark and a crack as they jumped around like little creatures.
Edit by Greenman: December and the spring months will be put up onto the BLOG soon! But we can confirm that Matt is still plugging away at his challenge despite twisting his ankle for a third (yes, third!) time!