The last few days have been preperation for the up-coming bushcraft and survival show in the lake district. I have had hours of fun preparing props. One of them is a roe deer skull, that Ive prepared so that it demonstrates feeding sign and the way deer browse.
My good friend Fitz is in Cornwall and were going to hook up tomorrow. He is a true man of the bush, and they dont make them like that anymore. It has been years since we last saw each other, and weve both got lots to catch up on.http://www.georgeadamson.org/fitzjohn
This a man I respect massively, and despite the fact that he carries the resonsibility of Mkomazi and his family on his shoulders, he hasnt forgotten how to be playful and enjoy life with friends, although hes not a guy to mess with.
The last time I saw Fitz, he set up a prank for me to get a shock from the elephant control fences. He had planned for the ops room to switch the fence off whilst he went through, and then three clicks on the radio to the ops room and they were to turn the fence on. Thankfully, beeing a bit wylie, I knew he had set something up, but his local manager didnt see it coming, and attempted to go through the fence and picked up somehwere in the region of 20000 volts
Like all good friends, it doesnt matter how long it is between meetings.
I have been slighty over-whelmed by interest in my tracking kit configuration. I will be bringing it to the Bushcraft and Survival Show in the Lake District next week, so you can have a look at it.
We are also doing some really enjoyable workshos, and best of all a specialist dawn workshop on tracking. I am really looking forward to it, because whilst others are still tucked up, and recovering from a hard night, we will be up bright and early. Nature will be at its best, and that will re-energise you for the rest of the day.
I have had loads of questions about my tracking kit configuration. So here goes.
The boots are Converse Boots. They are getting better with age, as any foam compresses. I think boots are moving away from being functional , to have a more "technical" appearance, and Convers are cerainly guilty of that. Usually, even a desert boot that gets wet, should have recovered after a few hours of not being worn, and feel good when you put them back on. These boots, seem to have a long period of recovery, possibly because the generous amounts of foam.
I had several trousers ready to wear, ranging from Hagloffs, to 5.11 and Drop-Zone. I chose a generous pair of green poly-cotton combats. Ideal for wearing in dry conditions, of which we had. They are a short cut, which makes them easier to close at the bottom, around the boot. Also great for exertion.
The top is Blackhawk, and is designed for exertion, when un-covered, and insulation when covered.
The Belt kit, consists of two Maxpedition Rolly Polllies, One horizontal Mounted Tops Scout knife, Surefire torch, with bluefilter for blood detection, and IR Filter to boost my NVGs. Leatherman Titanium Multitool, Inova green Torch. Whistle and Extrema Ratio Kukri.
The Back pack is integrated with the belt. Its a Maxpedition Condor in Foliage green, with a Maxpedition Comms pouch on the left and Maxped Cocoon on the right. It contains gloves, sweets and half a face cloth for cleaning kit or dipping into water for cooling the neck. Also mounted on the back-pack ( chest strap)for continuous view is a Garmin 450.
The bins are Canon, they are my faithful friends and have taken a bashing, all over the world, and work as good today as they did ten years ago.
Just returned from a hard mantrack on Dartmoor. We were commisioned to track James May and his buddy Oz across Dartmoor. When doing this kind of thing on TV, its always bit of a worry, in case we miss something and go in the opposite direction.
Much to my relief, we did eventually track him down .
I had a fun day, with the other trackers, and despite tough conditions spirits were high, and proved that tracker training pays off. There were several occassions when we were running on the spoor
We had three instructors, one trainee instructor and one advanced tracker. Two of the trackers had done a Shadowhawk Tactical Tracking Course, of which one of them is moving towards his controller qualification.
I am very happy with my new Maxpedition rig.
The weekend has been spent getting our mantracking gear sorted out. The equipment configuration for mantracking is different to wildlife tracking. Radios, scanners and clothing are the main changes.
I have re-configured my Maxpedition equipment and incorporated it into a belt pack, I find this configuration is perfect where I anticipate long distances and no breaks. I will be using my Paramo smock,which is ideal for continuous wear on the moor, as long as it stays around 15 degree or below. Any warmer, and it will have to come off.
The others on the team are coming in from Europe and all over the UK.
We have all trained together for this kind of thing and work as a cohesive team. Everyone has been selected for a specialist skill that they bring to the team, and we all know our tasks.
I will let you know broadcast details as soon as I can. It will be jammed with lots of mantracking tricks of the trade.
Biltong is by far the best survival food going. Its robust, takes some effort to eat, and is satifying. It replenishes salt whilst sweating. The Shadowhawk mantracking team will be using biltong on any follow-ups we are called to do.
My good friend Larry from Susmans Biltong( see links) has sent some of his delicious biltong and druwoers over.
I was raised on biltong, and coming from an African, pemican doesnt come close. Im also a bit biased, because I think making good biltong is a cultural thing. Those from Gauteng and us further north like our biltong dry and almost grey in colour, whilst those in the Cape like a more wettish biltong. I think to make the best best biltong youve got to come from Southern Africa, and Larry certainly proves the point.
Next week a crack team of Shadowhawk mantrackers will pit them selves against a well known TV personality.
Conditions for tracking will be the worst I have ever tracked in. The area is well trodden, and finding a print will be difficult, let alone following it for several miles.
Our preparation started months ago. The trackers have been putting them selves through a strict fitness regime, and getting lots of dirt time in. So we will never more ready than we are now.
The picture alongside is the entrance to one of the toughest boot camps in the world.
This boot camp has no concessions. Even as a visiting instructor, I had to under-go a gruelling initiation as soon as I arrived at mid-day. I had to run to foot of Grandmother and then run up and back down . Grandmother is a kopje on top of a hill. It is a gauntlett of cobras, and the route to Grandmother was well populated by very big Tsavo elephants. So setting off on my own , I knew, fail this and Im going home. Go for it, and enjoy tip-toeing past the elephants and sprint past the cobras, and hopefully earn the respect of fellow instructors.
The words read: " Our Motto- Train Hard Fight easy"
As a Winston Churhill Fellow, I was recently asked to inspire people to apply. I particularly like this fellows experience whilst canoeing the Congo River. His report makes for good reading, and I would say he deserves a medal for bravery. http://www.wcmt.org.uk/images/stories/categories/phil%20harwood.pdf
I know parts of the Chambeshi and Lualaba River, they are fierce, wild and somewhat eerie.
I thought these kind of expeditioneers were of a previouse generation.
What a weekend! Driving rain and wet clothes didnt stop the trackers getting out there and doing some great dirt time. Every course is different in its personality, and this one was jam -packed solid in just that.
I am always impressed by people that go through Shadowhawk. Somehow, they leave reality behind for the weekend, and immerse themselves in tracking and nature, despite the weather.
They tracked and watched a badger at work during the evening, kept a great fire going, and even gave myself and tracking instructor Duncan a run for out money in the manhunt.
Our tracking venue is at the top of England highest waterfall on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. We have literally trained hundreds of trackers at the venue. After everyone had left , I did a last minute sweep. I took a moment , and felt proud that there was hardly any trace of any tracker, let alone hundreds of trackers, that had come to Shadowhawk to learn to track wildlife, . Thanks to the diligence of tracking instructor Simon and all the mentors, we trully left no trace( of course except to a tracker)
Vegetation has started to grow vigorously. The warm month of May, followed by rain has given plants a boost.
About this time of year, ferns are fronding, and that is always a sign that within a matter of days, vegetation will become too thick to see through. Thus calls about big cat sightings drop off, and tracking comes into its own.
Aerial spoor and ageing is crucial.
This week we have a tracking course, and I always look forward to them. New people coming into tracking, or just wanting to extend their knowledge. We will be doing lots of ageing vegetation.