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FORGOTTEN SKILLS OF COOKING by Darina Allen [Book Review & CO Radio/TV]

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Cork Graham

In 1972, I arrived in Singapore to attend the Singapore American School and soon after was introduced to a documentary film, called Future Shock, based on a book by Alvin Toffler and narrated by Orson Welles which was taking the US by storm. As a child, it totally freaked me out….perhaps one of the reasons I avoided computers until I could avoid them no longer. At that time there was also a large movement to get back to basics.

It revealed itself in the very large “Ecology” movement of the 1970s (remember the riff on the American flag, in green with the Greek letter ‘Theta’ where the stars and blue background would have been?), and publications like The Foxfire Books, a collection of stories detailing life in Southern Appalachia. I still have my father’s copies that he picked up on visits back to the States. It’s full of information on woodcraft and pre-supermarket self-reliance. They even showed how to properly scald a pig, which I used in this episode of Cork’s Outdoor TV on roasting a pig.

I’m reminded greatly of the back-to-basics movement of the 1970s, by these latest “slow food” and “green food” movements recorded by Michael Pollan and Paul Bertolli. What could be better than eating food that led to a slower and more relaxed society? But, so much information has been lost due to the increasing lack of family histories and traditions being handed down through live practice, i.e. on a farm or ranch. So many generations have moved off the land and into cities. Nowadays, most slow food information is that carried into the US by new immigrants from Asia and Latin America.

This is a pity as there was a lot of slow food information held in the family lines that came here from Northern Europe. In March of this year, I had the opportunity to complete a phone interview for Cork’s Outdoors Radio with one such food authority on her latest book on getting back to the basics (be sure to listen to the audio and watch the show below).

Darina Allen is noted as the “Julia Child of Ireland” and has been entertaining and educating on the subject of cooking in Ireland and the United Kingdom through her TV show and a collection of books. Her latest book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time Honored Ways are The Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why, is that treasure trove of not only Irish, British, and foods from other parts of the world, like Italian slow food recipes, but also articles and remedies for raising your own chickens for meat and eggs, how to properly butcher large farm animals like pigs, cattle and lambs.

It’s a gorgeous book, with photos that took all the seasons to create, evidenced by plants in bloom, and the foods in season. It’s all about being seasonal, Allen says, something clear in how she describes not only those foods that are collected on the farm, but also on a day’s walk in the woods gathering such morsels for the kitchen as nettles, mushrooms and a number of herbs, leafy greens, and berries.

Both land and water are covered, with foraging rewards, like limpets that are easily found in the Americas, and are cooked in a number of dishes that incorporate the bounty of the farm and field.

Though spending a lot of time reading through the scrumptious recipes that anyone would easily take a few years preparing all the scrumptious family meals using organic ingredients (either purchased or foraged): pies, breads, puddings, roasts and grilled fishes, I was keen on the game and fish sections.

Hare, venison, duck and goose are covered well, both as farm offerings and from the marsh, and of course the obligatory pheasant, but I’d done enough pheasant recipes lately, so I quickly focused on the basil cream rabbit recipe. It was the very cottontail taken with a .22 pellet rifle from Crosman. Who would have thought the hardest part for this recipe was to get the caul fat: Thank God for Dittmer’s in Mountain View, CA!

Watch the preparation and presentation on Cork’s Outdoors TV and return for the recipe below:

SADDLE OF RABBIT WITH CREAM, BASIL, AND CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS

reprinted with permission from the publisher, KYLE BOOKS

SERVES 6

6 saddle of rabbit (use the legs for confit)

4oz pork caul fat

salt and freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

23 cup dry white wine

23 cup Chicken Stock

23 cup cream

2oz basil leaves

Caramelized Shallots (see below)

 Steps:

  1. Trim the flap of each saddle, if necessary (use in stock or pâté).
  2. Remove the membrane and sinews from the back of the saddles
  3. with a small knife.
  4. Wrap each saddle loosely in pork caul fat.
  5. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the rabbit pieces in a stainless steel or heavy roasting pan and roast for 8–12 minutes, depending on size.
  7. Remove from the oven, cover, and allow to rest.
  8. Degrease the pan if necessary, and put the wine to reduce in the roasting pan.
  9. Reduce by half over medium heat, add the chicken stock, and continue to reduce.
  10. Add the cream.
  11. Bring to a boil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and add lots of snipped basil.
  12. Serve the rabbit with the basil sauce, caramelized shallots, boiled new potatoes, and a good green salad.

 

CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS

1lb shallots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

12 cup water

1–2 tablespoons sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper

 Steps:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and add the peeled shallots.
  2. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for about 10–15 minutes or until the shallots are soft and juicy.
  3. Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Allow the juices to evaporate and caramelize. Be careful not to let them burn.

For more information on Darina Allen’s cooking school in Ireland, check out her school’s website: Ballymaloe Cookery School

 

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Darina Allen’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

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The River Cottage MEAT Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall [BOOK REVIEW]

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Spice-rubbed wild boar ready to become Babi Guling!

Spice-rubbed wild boar ready to become Babi Guling!

No matter how you cut it, there is a reason that vegetarians suffer from a number of ailments, not the least of which is a deficiency in vitamin B12: humans have developed over thousands of years to be omnivores, not herbivores! Our diets developed over years of evolution to make sure that humans could survive in any environment, something necessary to a species that evolved as a nomadic group, a group who by necessity has had to survive on an opportunistic diet.

The only species more nomadic than humans are the world’s carnivores. Yet what are the most successful species? Always it’s the omnivores: humans, pigs and bears. These are the most successful populations of any large mammals.

But what’s an omnivore to do when disconnected societal vegetarian fads spring up during every generation, either because of religious or cultural fads inspired by powerful advertising? Get in informed…

Such is the important information I found in the masterpiece The River Cottage MEAT Book by UK food personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall…it was as though someone from PETA, but someone who actually did their research instead of just offering a knee-jerk emotional response to eating meat so far from reality it’s a crime, wrote a book on cooking healthy, following ecologically sound farming practices.

Meat is good, and good for you! But, as the author says, there’s good meat and there’s bad meat. Or, as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 -1826), “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

If you get meat from a meat factory that holds its cattle in boxes that prevent movement and they’ve never even had the opportunity to graze in an open field and under a sky light by sunlight and moonlight, you’re going to get an animal full of body chemicals resulting from stress, not to mention the antibiotics and other manmade materials that bring into question their residual effects in our bodies.

Instead, imagine a cow, pig, or lamb enjoying life in a beautiful pasture, feeding well on all the natural grasses and herbs and brush that bring not only incredible flavor to the animal’s meat, but also bring up a healthy offering for the table that makes you feel so sated and happy when you’re done eating. That (aside from some innovative and interesting spins on more traditional British and international recipes) is what Fearnley-Whittingstall brings to the conversation about eating meat that has long been overdue.

We live in a society in the major cities of the US and UK that is so far removed from its roots in the country, that even adults are shocked to find themselves responding strictly emotionally to become strict vegetarians, and trying to legitimize their decision through questionable science.

If you’ve ever ridden on public transportation in Thailand and India, where meat consumption is very low, and seen natives fast asleep with their heads banging against the window as the bus rattles along, you might have noticed a few of the symptoms of long-term vegetarianism: sluggishness, anemia. And, if only eating vegetables is so good for you why do vegetarians so often need vitamin supplements and why do we no longer have more than one stomach, like so many real herbivores—ever wonder what your appendix used to be?

That’s right! It is used to help us digest foliage, as true vegetarians, when we used to move across the great savannahs of prehistoric Africa.

What happened?

We advanced and learned how to make tools. And by learning to make tools we made weapons for killing to eat meat as a main part of our meals instead of just an infrequent lucky addition.

Our brain size development from what we were as a prehistoric man to what we are now resulted from our more regular consumption of meat proteins. Now, I’m not saying that every meal should have a meat protein, but mixed with a full offering of colors and varieties of vegetables, fruits and nuts and I think you’ll notice a not only a more calming, but reaffirming experience, and definitely less-stressed, daily experience.

Personally, I’ve tried a vegetarian diet. As an effort toward spiritual, mental and physiological cleansing as a form of fasting from meat, seafood and birds, it’s very effective. But any longer than that, have you also noticed how weak and sluggish you feel after the initial cleansing has occurred? That’s your body telling you something!

Meat gives you strength. And when you eat a bit much of beef, it does seem to deliver a bit of an aggressive attitude to a person’s personality. This is an observation that goes to at least as far back as Dickens and Oliver Twist:

‘It’s not Madness, ma’am,’ replied Mr. Bumble, after a few moments of deep meditation. ‘It’s Meat.’

‘What?’ exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry.

‘Meat, ma’am, meat,’ replied Bumble, with stern emphasis.

‘You’ve over-fed him, ma’am. You’ve raised a artificial soul and spirit in him, ma’am unbecoming a person of his condition: as the board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical philosophers, will tell you. What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It’s quite enough that we let ’em have live bodies. If you had kept the boy on gruel, ma’am, this would never have happened.’

‘Dear, dear!’ ejaculated Mrs. Sowerberry, piously raising her eyes to the kitchen ceiling: ‘this comes of being liberal!’

Heaven forbid the peasants get fed meat!

I do notice that I too can get a little pointed in my comments and hot under the collar when I’ve eaten beef more than four or five days straight, and not had it as part of a well-balanced meal that includes some grains, vegetables and fruit. I must also add that I’ve never had any type of aggressive response with the other red meat: venison.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes a great case that there’s nothing as satisfying as a well-prepared and cooked slab of meat that came from a farm animal living a good life on a farm, instead of a prison-like slaughter yard. And yet, he doesn’t shield the reader for the realities of eating-and why should he? Cellophane-wrapped meat that makes children think that our food comes neat and clean from a machine is why we’re having the drastic disconnect problem we’re in now!

The photos of slaughtering and butchering, which reminded me of police photos I’ve seen of crime scenes and scenes in the city morgue on CSI were a bit shocking…but perhaps because even with my field experiences killing and butchering wild game, even doing something as close farm animal slaughtering as killing a farm-raised goat with .22 and butchering it in a woods glen in Alaska, I’d never done my basic butchering in a slaughter house, i.e., the animal is still whole, in an antiseptic, white-walled room.

Kind of gave me the creeps, seeing that steer’s live eyes as a pneumatic piston gun is put to its head. Then, the next frame is the dead eye as he lies on his side…but, like the vegemite-sundaes like to say, if you can’t deal with the honesty of the death of the animal, can you really condone the eating of meat?

Yes, I accept the honesty of the fact that something died so that I can live. And there’s something contrary, to that which the vegemite-sundaes like to think of selectively: they don’t respect, or really are afraid to accept, that EVERYTHING lives because something dies. Is the only reason that vegetarians condone the killing of vegetables and fruits is that they can’t hear them scream—and who are they to think that all living things don’t feel their death and scream…that it’s only that humans don’t normally speak the language of carrots?

Many aboriginal societies revered and respected that fact that all living things, and in their thinking, inanimate objects are alive, and die and scream when their killing is brought about with little respect: that includes carrots that are just ripped out of the ground without first being asked to offer themselves to the upcoming meal.

Are vegemite-sundaes only vegetarians because they can’t deal with death being a fact of life in all its forms?

I leave that up for you to decide…all I know is that when I’ve dealt with strict vegetarians their avoidance of Nature’s facts are often deplorable: they come off as seeming to think that only the furry and cute creatures on this planet deserve to live, and everything else that can’t be heard to scream, or doesn’t run away when you try to eat it, is okay to eat, in other words, kill.

I don’t have time for vegemite-sundaes because everyone of them comes off as a hypocrite when you really get to know their beliefs and understandings about what the Earth so graciously provides—to them, it’s all about avoidance of that cycle of death that Nature has put all on living creatures….and it seems…nature is the very one to remind vegemite-sundaes that their diet isn’t what we’ve evolved towards over thousands of years of eating meat, with vegetarians setting themselves up for osteoporosis and B12 deficiency, making itself known through the following symptoms: confusion or change in mental status in severe or advanced cases, decreased sense of vibration, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, numbness and tingling of hands and feet, pallor, shortness of breath, sore mouth and tongue, weakness.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall still seems to offer an olive branch to the PETA folks, though I think anyone who considers themselves a “true” vegetarian will never accept that branch other than to further their agenda, as organizations like PETA and HSUS continue to do right now, saying that they just want to improve conditions for animals, when all their directors just want more money (if you’ve ever dealt with an unscrupulous animal rights ‘non-profit’ you really know where the money and how being ‘non-profit’ doesn’t mean being poor) and to stop all hunting: they’d have all native tribes in cities living on canned vegetarian foods if they had their dithers…

…Yet again they perpetuate what the urbanization of humans has done all along: a total disconnect between humans and our origins…and no, a quick hike through the woods is really as disconnected as the average PETA true believer, stuck in an apartment with their only sense of wildlife a pet cat or their Chihuahua, heavily modified through thousands of years of breeding for Aztec and Mayan dining halls. Hikers in the woods are like sex voyeurs, titillated by what they see, but not willing, and often afraid, to get down and dirty with its realities.

We’ve gotten so far away from what enabled us to survive in a real world that I sometimes wonder if this very modern and violent cult following in PETA/HSUS-related vegetarianism isn’t just a human form of lemmings running off cliffs…

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and enjoy my greens, too—it’s just I have a problem with healthy habits that become fanatic movements trying to keep themselves aloft through unsound science and actions that actually go against their professed reasons: smaller hunter numbers have actually led to lower amounts of revenues that would have gone to the support of all animals through the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 (In contrast, if you want to know where PETA funds really go, READ HERE; they sure aren’t putting those millions of dollars into helping animal populations like hunters do…)

Whenever I come across an author that seems to be more on an even keel, and in the UK no less, the historic origins of the present PETA/HSUS madness, I jump up and down in joy that there might be hope. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is just such a man, who takes the reader through the different options for getting that organic success that leads to a healthy and great-tasting meal with meat as the centerpiece: whether a beef roast, roast chicken, or game collected in the field.

There are a number of game recipes that I’m looking forward to cooking, and will in the future with game he mentions, like pheasant, rabbit and hare. Taking to heart the axiom of using everything the animal offers, the Fearnley-Whittingstall also delivers a great chapter the use of offal gathered from a slaughtered animal. And I’d be remiss in not mention a great dissertation on the practice of aging meat: in his research he really pushed the limits of time! If you live in a warmer/drier climate like I do in California, remember that the variance in temperature, i.e. wamers, will shorten your aging times.

But, it was the roast pig that really got me excited!

…Instead of a traditional roasting spit, beautifully described in a photo story on page 390 and pages 392 to 394 in The River Cottage MEAT Book, I wanted to roast a true organic meat (If it’s been touched by human hands, or fed by humans hands, something that didn’t grow naturally, feeding on whatever it could find on its travels, without human direction or intention, how can you call it true organic?) a wild boar in a La Caja China that I had done a bang-up job with on a farm pig.

Not only that, I wanted to try a recipe I enjoyed as a child in Southeast Asia, on a trip to Indonesia, specifically Bali, called babi guling. Click on the photo of Babi Guling below to watch how we prepared him!

 RELATED LINKS

  1. La Caja China

  2. Blackhawk!

  3. Winchester

  4. Remington

  5. Native Hunt

 

COMING UP

  1. Surmounting the Cultural Conflict of Tactical Clothing and Equipment in the Outdoors

  2. Wild Lifers vs. Game Farmers

 

Click on the Roast Babi Guling to watch how to make it!

Click on the Roast Babi Guling to watch how to make it!

 

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On the Track of Wily Wild Boar Babi Guling

Posted on 12 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Two rounds of Winchester .300 Win Mag ETip on Babi Guling
Two rounds of Winchester .300 Win Mag ETip on Babi Guling

 Back when I was a 20-year-old combat photographer, still fresh to my freedom from a Vietnamese reeducation prison, recruited and being trained to be another Captain America in the US’s war against Communist Totalitarianism (you know that 80-year event we had before this present Islamist Totalitarian threat …that one that those under 20 say, “Huh, we were really at war with the Russians? It wasn’t really a Cold War?”), T. Michael Riddle was the lead guitarist for a band called Valhalla, being mentored by his friend Ronnie Montrose.

Montrose was watching the news on the Contras versus Sandinista war, that I was having a front seat to at the time, and the music and chorus came to him. He brought them to Valhalla. Valhalla added lyrics and they released Freedom Fighter in 1985, on the album Valhalla. Now a master guide and outfitter, Michael Riddle asked me if I wanted to try the pig hunting on the 27,000 acres of prime hunting land he has sole access to in Central California under Native Hunt.

Cork’s Outdoors TV was due for another episode, so I answered, “You betcha!”

Leaving at night, and arriving at his headquarters near Fort Hunter Liggett in the early morning darkness, we were greeted by a few of Riddle’s guides and three clients, a father and two sons from Aptos. While waiting for morning light in the office, we heard a bunch of pigs grunting outside and Riddle pointed them out. All about 70 to 120 pounds. Just a bit big for what we had planned, but when hunting light came, they’d be more than available to the father and sons group who tagged out early.

This was on the free-roam area of the Native Hunt headquarters ranch mind you. Riddle also has a collection of pure-strain wild boar he imported from Poland a few years back. He keeps them on 900 high-fenced acres, along with bison and fallow deer.

Now before you get in a tiff, and say, “High fence? And you’re likened to Aldo Leopold by the London Times, the same Aldo Leopold who was a major proponent of democratic free roam hunting opportunities—what?!”

…As I said, I’ll be writing about this in a future column about how the human population of the new millennium is nowhere as small as that of early 1900s, and so our wildlife management and improvement of hunting opportunities need adjustment…but suffice it to say, high-fence when done right (as it is at Native Hunt), 900 acres is just as demanding and fair chase as hunting non-fenced game.

Remember this isn’t Ohio or New York, where what they call mountains we in the West call road bumps and hills. Native Hunt’s acres of penned exotics game is as the crow flies is 900 acres. When you take into consideration the steepness of the mountains, it’s near 3,000 to 5,000 acres of terrain Michael Riddle has in his fenced area. That’s pretty challenging with a rifle and especially with a bow.

But, Riddle and I were after a feral hog in the 50-60lb range to produce an episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV, teaching you how to roast a wild boar the way they do in Indonesia, something they call Babi Guling, which just means “pig revolving”, i.e. pig revolving on a spit, in Malay and Indonesian.

Until then, Riddle would be taking a client on another property who wanted to hunt a wild boar with his traditional longbow. When we arrived at the other property with the client, not too attentive to sound control while grabbing his bow, the client spooked a herd of wild boar feeding in an open field of young barley only 60 yards away, 10 minutes before shooting light. I tagged along for a while, listening to a multitude of wild turkeys and coyotes calling to each other…

Each time we thought we’d get back on the pigs, they were yet another ridge away. The client, who’d never shot at anything other than target with longbow, did get his wild boar later that afternoon: a testament to the guiding patience and skill of Riddle’s lead guide, Sam. A perfect 50-pound roasting size, the client and I joked about trading another opportunity at a larger wild boar. I half-heartedly joked with him about it as there were a lot of wild pigs on the properties (by that afternoon I’d see at least 50 I could have taken with my rifle), but all were 20 to 100 pound more than what we wanted—50 pounds was just going to fit into the Caja China Riddle has at the Native Hunt Lodge.

After a tour of the animals that makes the Jolon Ranch such a nice little exotics safari right out from the lodge, we went to sleep and woke in the morning to venture through the fog outside of the bounded area and were immediately onto pigs within 50 yards of the high bison fence. We heard the grunt of a couple pigs, and from the sounds of movement coming from the brush right next to us; there must have been about 10 pigs in the herd.

As we had only two days before having to return to the Bay Area, I was going to take the shot, whichever was available…Yes, we got lucky in a number of ways, but I’d be cheating you out of the adventure, if I told you everything that happened, recorded in the latest episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV, the boar stalking set to Valhalla’s Freedom Fighter.

Click on the latest pig hunting episode screenshot photo link at the bottom and stay tuned for the Roasting Babi Guling cooking episode coming up…!

Shemagh’s That?

Not only an opportunity to check out Native Hunt’s offerings that would make any international outfitter proud, the trip was also done with the intention of trying out some equipment I’ve never used before: the Nightforce™ 3.5-15x56mm NXS, non-lead ETip ammunition from Winchester, and Blackhawk!®’s Thermo-Fur Jacket and Shemagh.

Nightforce™ 3.5-15x56mm NXS

This is quickly turning into my favorite all around scope for long and close range. Were it that the reticle couldn’t be illuminated, I don’t think I’d be so excited about using the Nightforce Optics™ 3.5-15x56mm NXS with MilDot in scenarios other than which it was originally designed: military and law enforcement long-range tactical applications.

With high-quality glass and a large objective, the scope makes easy work of drawing down on a target in early twilight, and picking out targets in dense brush, lowlight conditions.

Because the posts of the reticle are outlines instead of the normal solid black ( I love this design for long-range shooting, because you can see what’s behind the post), it’s not as easy to discern the fine reticle lines from branches in tight brush. But, and this is a BIG but: when the reticle is illuminated with a simple pulling out of the parallax knob, the red-lit reticle really stands out from everything in a way that even a solid traditional 4-Plex type reticle can’t do.

In Hunting Babi Guling, you see how fast I’m shooting right after I notice a pig only 15 yards away, draw up, and get a clear picture of the boar in my sights, and take the shot, a milisecond after Valhalla says, “Roll the dice!”

Winchester ETip in 180 gr.  .300 Winchester Magnum

Ever since I shot my first California blacktail near Chester, California with a poly-tip pointed bullet out of my .280 Remington in the mid-1980s, when manufacturers first really started pushing the highly accurate, but just as unpredictable mushrooming qualities, I blew softball-sized chunks out of that small buck. Unlike some who think that a big hole means a quick kill, I prefer a bullet diameter-sized hole coming in, and silver dollar sized hole on the way out.

Anymore explosive energy of the bullet, and you’re finding too many bullet fragments sent through the meat that translate to bloodshot and unusable meat. With some bullets, the fragmentation can be horrendous.

As I’ve always stated, I’m not focused on trophy hunting. When it comes to making sure I’ve got full use of the meat from a dead animal, it starts with the shot: so that I’m not spending all day trying to correct by trimming away too much wasted meat. A good copper and lead bullet, with good mushrooming qualities and retaining 70 percent of the bullet weight is perfect for me.

Gladly surprised with this first time using an all-copper bullet and that also had a poly-tip (I’ve used the Barnes Bullets and found them to be more than adequate in accuracy and killing ability), I came upon the very dead-in-under-a-minute roasting boar. Instead of the mega-sized hole I remembered from my first poly-tip experience on the buck, there was a neat silver dollar hole in this pig’s chest.

Accuracy wasn’t a problem either, as I was still hitting the 12-inch gong at 175 yards that Riddle has mounted across the lake and halfway up the ridge at Native Hunt. I’m looking forward to putting these 180 gr. non-lead bullets [now required in Central California because of the Condor Area closure] through the paces at longer ranges on bigger pigs…and since I need to do a prosciutto preparation episode with a wild boar in the manner of Serrano ham, before it gets too hot in California, that should be pretty soon… 

Blackhawk!® Thermo-Fur Jacket

If you read my last column you saw me wearing this great jacket while holding a freshly culled cottontail rabbit. The Thermo-Fur Jacket that works more than efficiently as an insulative liner for a breathable shell-jacket, but can stand on it’s own in a medium breeze and no rain. When I was hunting the wild boar on the episode I was actually wearing it under the Cabela’s® GoreTex shell: it kept me toasty without overheating. I would have probably used it on it’s own, but I needed a jacket that would at once be quiet as the Cabela’s shell is (and so is the Thermo-Fur), and yet, I could be sure wouldn’t catch on hook-like brush as the Thermo-Fur would—didn’t want to shred something I just got.

Had I been hunting wild boar in the open barley fields, like in which those pigs we found on the longbower’s hunt, I would have easily just stayed with the Thermo-Fur: the jacket was that warm in the cold of morning, even with the hanging fog and moisture!

And it’s not just that jacket keep you warm, but that it really just keeps you comfortable. It’s weird to say, but it’s almost as though it has a variable magical thermometer control that doesn’t let you get to warm or cold…just comfy. Few man-made materials do this. This is why I more often enjoy wearing outerwear made from natural fibers than polyester, and have been a fan of Filson® and clothing for so many years for my hunting needs.

When it comes to Blackhawk!®, I’m learning as I use their equipment and clothing, that they seem to answer questions before they asked. A perfect example is the positioning and design of the pockets. Easily accessed and placed and oriented in an efficient manner, you’re not searching around for things when you need to keep your attention out in front of you, especially when you’re going into deep brush after potential danger—the zippers are also very quiet!

There was one thing that I was reminded about and that is the more you let moisture stick to your skin, no matter how insulative and wind-cutting your outergarment might, it’s all for naught if you the clothing against your skins doesn’t draw the moisture. I’d highly recommend using one of the many undergarments, T-shirts and crewnecks that Blackhawk!® has to do that job. I was wearing a cheap, red cotton longsleeve shirt and had it gotten colder, I’m sure I would have gone over the tipping point and been freezing: start right from inside to out!

In the Thermo-Fur Jacket, roominess of the pockets goes all the way from the waist up near the shoulder-that almost makes your jacket a light field pack pocketed chest harness! For those of you who might be in harms way, you can appreciate those large pockets for tossing your spent magazines to reload later. For the hunter that forgets a packs, you might also appreciate those large front pockets for carring a couple tenderloins, or even a couple backstraps, back to camp when you get that pack.

I’m looking forward to writing the column planned for when I receive the other two layers of the Blackhawk!® Warrior Wear Jacket System, that should be coming in soon. If you remember an article written by my colleague Wayne Van Zwoll more than ten years ago, showing distaste for the prevalence in tactical and military type clothing in the hunting fields and mountains over the last 20 years, you’re sure to find my upcoming column interesting…

Cork Graham warm and toasty in BLACKHAWK! shemagh

Cork Graham warm and toasty in BLACKHAWK! shemagh

Blackhawk!® Shemagh

I’ve always been a jungle boy. Raised in the tropics and at home in the jungle like many in Europe and America might be in a pine forest or mountain meadow, deserts just freak me out! So, though I’ve used the very efficient dark green and loam patterned see-through sniper’s veil that has served well as a hood, face camouflage material, headband and scarf, I’ve never really had the opportunity use the Middle Eastern desert Shemagh that so many special forces units are using these days.

When I tried it on our hunt for babi guling, first as a scarf to keep my neck warm and prevent early morning coughing from the cold that might signal my location to a boar, and then later when the wind picked up as a hood and head covering, I was totally amazed. Made from the simplest of materials, cotton, it did more to keep my head warm than a full jacket hood and a ball cap.

My understanding is that the weave of the Shemagh is loose enough to enable pliability, but tight enough to act as a phenomenal windbreaker and help in retaining body moisture, too.

I’m sure to have one in my kit for hunting, whether that’s for comfort, or for camo. One side has a predominance of black squares which works great early and late in the day for calling in coyotes, and the other side with the predominance of olive drab looks like it’ll do well during waterfowl season to cover my face, while enabling me to look up and watch the descent and flight pattern as they work the dekes, without flaring them with a big white face.

You will have to learn how to tie a Shemagh properly for use as snug camo, but I’ll do a snippet video to show how easy it is: Indonesian or Arab style.

Related Links and Articles:

  1. Nightforce Optics

  2. Blackhawk!®

  3. Winchester

  4. Native Hunt

  5. Not Bored Chasing the Boars

  6. Wild Hogs!

COMING UP

  1. The River Cottage Meat Book by Michael Fearnley-Whittingstall [Book Review]

  2. Surmounting the Cultural Conflict of Tactical Clothing and Equipment in the Outdoors

 

CLICK ON THE ABOVE PHOTO TO WATCH THE EPISODE

CLICK ON THE ABOVE PHOTO TO WATCH THE EPISODE

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