NCFE Cert. Bushcraft Leadership 5, 11 – 15 January
The first course week of 2011 was the coldest yet. Though the week started reasonably mild with clear, starry, moon lit nights, by the weekend the temperatures dropped into the minuses, the wash water froze in the bowls and stayed frozen all day and thick frost lay everywhere. This naturally coincided with shelter based activities during which several sizes of debris shelter were constructed and attendees took turns to spend the night in them.
With just one other person and a roaring fire for company, the group shelter was warm and comfortable though I doubt that our construction would have been particularly water tight had it rained. Looking at other shelter types involving tarps and the group making a bender/wigwam also took place.
The activity which gripped most of the attendees was the field butchery session. A small roe deer was brought to the camp ready gralloched and Nick took us through the procedure for skinning and butchering the carcass to extract the best cuts. This gave all of us a deep respect for the animal and the resources it was providing to the group.
On the final day, I finally got my hands on a sizeable chunk of flint. Under Nicks tutelage, we were shown how to pick the best spot to break open the nodule, how to tell good flint and how to prepare the striking platform to make out microliths. Despite the cold and kneeling on the ground for hours, this was a fascinating activity and while it seemed at times that one’s primary activity seemed to be making small rocks out of one big one, bit by bit progress took place until I was happy to take away a bag of razor sharp shards tinkling like new minted coins.
These shards will form the points on the end of handmade arrows made from straightened dogwood and fletched with stiff turkey feathers.
There was ample opportunity to see a range of tracks in the mud around the camp and I was gratified to feel as though I had improved in my ability to tell one track from another and the story of what might have happened.
The assignment for this month is to write up backwoods cooking but with three assessments taking place next month, I suspect that this may be a no show for me.
Our new member joined us replacing Tom who had to leave the course on unexpectedly. While it is good to welcome new people, we all missed Tom and raised an imaginary glass to him in his absence.