A Challenge The Hunter Gatherer Challenge 2017 (round two)

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As those who have been here a while are aware i did the Hunter Gatherer Challenge several years back
its run by Joe O'Leary at Wilderness Survival Skills and whilst i survived the experience i wouldn't say i felt i really thrived it felt more like an endurance test than a real living off the land comfortably type event.
so i booked it again this year and had another crack at it.
in between the two HGC as i will call it for ease rather than typing out Hunter Gatherer Challenge every time i refer to it quite a lot has happened in my life i have got married moved house and also done pretty much all of Joe's syllabus and a lot of practice in my own time so i felt a lot more confident this time round.
for those completely unfamiliar with the HGC it is a minimal kit challenge living off the land for 5 days, equipment is limited to
(direct quote from Joe's website below)
•A small quantity of wild meat on day one to be butchered and made into jerky (supplied – this should be viewed as a ‘loan’. By way of repaying the debt you must make an improvised projectile hunting weapon to take part in a shooting competition on the morning of your last full day living from the land)

•3 metres of strong cord (supplied)
•One cloth bag for filtering water (supplied)
•One metal cooking pot
•Your bushcraft knife
•Your folding saw
•The clothes you stand up in. These must be natural fibres only – no Goretex outerwear or synthetic/down filled clothing (there is logic behind this – we’re not just being mean). We recommend a tightly woven cotton shell over several wool base layers.
flint knapping equipment
You may also take a small back up kit consisting of a personal first aid kit, mobile phone plus reliable method of re-charging, a pocket sharpening kit, a journal and pencil and a head torch.
as well as the above i did sneak a couple of contraband items
my kupilka kuksa
my Julu
my Sicut knife
the two sharps were to test as they were in my eyes in keeping with the challenge as they are metal tools based on flint tools (plus i wanted to test them out)

Clothing wise i had with me
swedish m59 cargo trousers
merino underwear and base layer
brit army wool shirt
swanndri wool shirt
two dogs wool hoody
oil cloth smock
german army combat boots

tools i took were
mora classic no 2 knife
silky pocketboy
swedish army cook set

there was also some physical preparation before doing the HGC in that i quit caffeinated drinks completely before i did it, apparently i wasn't the most pleasant to be about when i did this but it certainly saved me from some horrific withdrawal symptoms.

unusually for the HGC the forecast was dry which makes it the first one Joe has run where torrential rain wasn't forecast.

Monday morning at first light saw us all being weighed by Joe so we could see how much weight we had lost during the week (i will come back to this later) then off the intrepid group of us left.
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off we hiked for about an hour no breakfast and only 1 cup of water to see us on our way.
we hiked from one site Joe uses to another as the second one is more resource heavy and also it gets you into the mind set as you have only packed the list plus perhaps contraband. i carried all my kit in a russian army veshmeshok and that was mostly filled with my two dogs!
20171002_082537 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr as you can see i had my game face on....
once at the new woods and having found a nice spot to build our shelters we split away from the group as all bar the deer butchery is done solo on the HGC.
after a few hours graft i had the main part of my shelter built, this time i had remembered to include the bed frame before building the shelter frame
20171002_135715 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
the group then reconvened to butcher the deer which would be our source of protein for the week, sadly my hands were a little grubby so no pics of this i am afraid, the idea behind getting the deer is that due to UK legislation we obviously couldn't hunt for our meat using self made hunting equipment, we would however be expected to produce traps or hunting tools by the thursday of the week to demonstrate we could of if circumstances were different.
deer butchered i then got my fire lit. this was done by bow drill using hazel on hazel which i know is hit and miss, usually i keep the bowdrill set but it felt appropriate to offer it to this time
20171002_172241 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
i then boiled myself a nice big pot of water and slowly drank it all, this was the first drink i had had since prior to the walk and whilst boiled water isn't the nicest of drinks it certainly helped parch my thirst this time.
20171002_181354 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
now i had the fire going i could make something to eat, i have read and wanted to test the theory that if you heat Sloes by the fire it makes them more palatable and less how shall i say it....sharper than a well stropped knife
20171002_181512 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
i am pleased to say it works and they have a taste reminiscent to plums once they are warmed.
a brief snack is all well and good but i had used a lot of energy through the day and i was frankly, hank marvin.
now all survival documents tell you that in this sort of situation you should make survival stew as it keeps all the nutrients in the water, however i had the kidneys and a nice bit of fat from the deer so i fried up the kidneys in the fat and also added some fillet pieces too, fat is one of those things we are taught to avaoid nowadays as it is bad for you but in a living off the land scenario it offers huge calorific benefits to the hunter gatherer. it was also very very tasty
20171002_193830 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
once i had eaten i processed the rest of the venison into jerky strips and suspended it over the fire to slowly smoke so it wouldn't spoil over the week. (yes i now its a red food prep board it was provided by joe so we didnt make ourselves ill and take ourselves out the challenge)
20171002_194317 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr the Julu worked very well for this task by the way
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after a decent kip waking every 2-3 hours to restoke the fire i dug myself out my nice warm bed and shelter
20171003_091449 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
i then began to imporve my shelter somewhat, whilst what i had built was perfectly acceptable for a short term shelter i wanted something a bit better so added another side to it
20171003_114657 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
this side acted as a reflector and wind block to leep me somewhat warmer,
after some more vension fried in vension fat (nom nom nom)
20171003_105721 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
i went off on a foraging trip something akin to going to the shops i planned to stock up as much as possible so i knew i had a good stock at my shelter
here i am digging up silver weed a good source of carbohydrate and apparently used as a famine food into the 20th century
20171003_133230_001 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
below is the results of my foraging trip 20171003_154520 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
sloes, haws, silverweed, burdock roots, acorns, hazelnuts, rose hips, plantain, stinging nettles, a fine set of ingredients for survival stew!
Joe had offered to take any acorns gathered and processed and cold leech the tannins out as we hadnt got the water availabkle to do so and it would of tainted the groups drinking water, so i roasted, shelled, and ground the acorns
20171003_161240 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
20171003_204455 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
20171004_102626 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
20171004_090031 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
with the acorns dealt with it was time to start considering the hunting tools for the "hunt" on thursday
first i sharpened my mora which co incidentally took a beating the entire week and took it all in its stride i have to say i can see why mors and others rate em so highly
20171004_084243 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
then began making a survival bow out of a hazel stave
20171004_110620 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
stopping occassionally for some sweet woodruff tea, venison survival stew and warm sloes
20171004_125626 by Sam Gravestock, on Flickr
as it turned dark i relaxed by the fire before turning in comfortable in the knowledge i had a good stash of fire wood to keep me warm through the night
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Jan 23, 2004
Southampton, UK
Good read so far. Cheers for that, looking forward to the next installment. They should make you prep the deer with flint, did that once and it works really well. It was the cleaning our hands with alcohol gel afterwards that I won't forget in a hurry... flint tends to leave lots of little nicks you'd not notice normally.
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Good read so far. Cheers for that, looking forward to the next installment. They should make you prep the deer with flint, did that once and it works really well. It was the cleaning our hands with alcohol gel afterwards that I won't forget in a hurry... flint tends to leave lots of little nicks you'd not notice normally.
Yup done that
Fun aint it :O_O:

If i go for round 3 it'll be done stoneage technology. (Actually discussin that with Joe off n on)

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