Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Quick Archery Tab

 It's a quick tab for a mediterranean draw. Covers the middle and ring finger but an index finger may be added. Made from buckskin.

The border is also not perfectly trim - but it's a "quick tab".

Buckskin finger tab

Monday, December 28, 2020

Aiming the Shaft (Instinctive Aiming #2)

 When I aim, I look at the mark and focus. Part of my consiousnes then transfers to my hands that are aware of the bow and shaft placed there on. I feel, with my fingers on the knock end, the angle of placement relative to the string, trying best to reach 90 degrees before I draw.

In the periffery of my eyes I look at the trajectory of the arrow as it is drawn. Aware of my hands and where they are placing the shaft in the volume of my surroundings, but still, I think to make  the shaft "aimed" at the target before the string is loose. I have no anchor point with my string hand. Once I have given myself enough time to make the shaft aimed at full draw, I loose. Don't attempt to correct the trajectory of the shaft once the string is released, this will only fire an untrue shaft and reinforce bad habbits with aiming for the long run. With your bow arm bent, focus on spurring the chosen tragectory of the arrow. If it's a miss, try again and again. One day you will appreciate how much your hand and eye have become confluent. Only in time, all sensory input will become seemingly less and less consiouse and a strike will be "instincual".

Remember, you are not aiming a line of tention from your draw hand to the stave - you are aiming a shaft between.

Monday, December 7, 2020

The Knock Bead (Archery)

 For years I have used a brass, fixed knock bead that indicates where the knock on my arrow must sit on the string. It was not until the day that it disappeared and I continued with the practice session, that I started to use the bow. The focus and understanding of the tools, an arrow and bow,  increased heavily. I judge the power of the string to launch the shaft at my target.

Your bow arm should be strengthened and practiced to make flowing and accurate "lobs" of the wood shaft. Flowing but accurate pushes - with a "full" draw.

Knockless bow string archery

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

On Arrow Shafting

 When you think about it, the arrow is like a small spear; as such, it's the task of the lancer to know the dynamics required to have an effective cast. War archers would have picked up enimy arrows and fired them back, so accuracy, despite weight or fletching, must be the responsibility of the dynamic archer.

The arrow must be straight. In order for the string to transfer the force to the tip of the arrow the wood must be true. If it's not, the power of your bow will exploit the wave and the arrow will fly off course. 

A weak and thinned wood ("under spined"), may hold streight, but it can only push so much weight for a tip while making up for the inevitable imperfections of an archers cast and shaft manufacture. Should the tip outweigh the integrity of the shaft, the arrow will wobble and fly untrue out of the bow, and therefore inaccurately.

You should try to start with a straight pice of wood as though a bent pice of wood may be made straight, it will soon want to revert to it's original crooked form; I find this to be the case with elm, though this is an otherwise strong wood.

Pine is a brittle soft wood, quite weak and is thus less able to take the heavy hits of practice during winter on a frozen hill with iron, fast stop tips; though this may only be the case with over thinned shafts. Wrapping a consistent, tight strand of glue covered sinew 5 or so inches down shaft starting from the tip can somewhat reinforce the shaft.

Rough staves, which are shaved fatter than the width of your typical bought, already finished shaft diameters are great as you can make extra broad knocks, and play with tips; advantages lost on pre cut staves. These arrows can also be over spined or just strong enough and I would ehr on the side of a slightly over spined shaft that has a higher chance of hitting and holding true than an underspined shaft that can't take the minor imperfections of a cast.

Also, heavy, weight wise shafts (and tips) will have a deeper penitration.

It is wise to have consistent wood among your immediate shafts. Hard wood will dive sooner than light soft woods resulting in unpredictable shaft trajectory, exasperated at distance.

A heavy spine is important when shooting on the outside of the stave and even more so when the spur is added. You will know how to shoot for a spurred shaft to consistently and confidently hit true.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Know Your Power Point (Archery)

 The power point is the point on your string that sits directly in the knock of the shaft. Train to know and control this point. Knowing your power point will allow you to knock without looking. To control the activity of the power point will make the bow seem part of you and this will help eliminate "the bow" so it's you who is driving the energy into the wood shaft or "small lance". Control the power point to fling the shaft true with the strength of your wrist, arm, and the power provided by the limbs. Once you have a feel of contol for the power point, aim your lance and cast with your strength.

Processing Kindle

 I haven't made feather sticks. I also don't often make huge roaring fires. To make my fires which are small tools to heat a kettle of water or render, I look for barkless (as these are often dry through and don't harbour insect homes), dry dead sticks about the width of two thumbs. Thinner burns easley but faster, and therefore needs to be fed sooner; wider, the opposite, burns slower, needs to be fed less, but will not catch as quick.

To process the wood into the desired finger long sticks, put the stick, where you want to make the break, over the round of a hard dead log or rock, and with another big stick, strike just forward of the contact point to crack up the kindle stick; doing this, will save pant knees and shirts from developing rip holes.

You will quickly end up with a pile of finger sized wood fuel from a collection of surrounding dead standing or poplar dead wood.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Best Way to Preserve Meat: Drying


Warning : Regarding roadkill or eating intestine, I am not responsible if you get sick or worse. If you have a susceptible immune system, infection is possible. I would say if its fresh from the stomach of a ruminant its fine, dont eat poop, the small intestine is fine to eat (if you know what the animal has eaten). If fresh meat gets tainted it can become green. The risks of sickness are exaserbeated if not guaranteed if the meat is then cooked. Parasites, like worms are common in game animals and infection can occur form eating the raw intestines or surfaces which the stomach fluid touches. Some things, you have to dive into unless there are obvious signs to not eat it raw, like intestine full of worms (which can be emptied, flushed and cooked to avoid infecting scavenging animals).

This article includes a few tips on how I dry meat, and my reasons for maintaining the practice, as doing so is the best way I can conceive and have tried of preserving your harvest for the bush and your home; the goal is nutrient preservation and avoiding the use of plastic bags and wraps.

Drying a whole, large animal, in an indoor setting - outdoors, the process is different, but not necessarily easer - is a marathon lasting days. Depending on the quantity you want to dry of a deer, will determine the relevance of the following, but if you want to do a good job of drying the whole animal, one has to get over the idea that raw meat is inherently  unhealthy; it was an eat as you work task, for all cultures, prior to the thought "all meat must be cooked to be safe". It is the fear of eating raw meat that has rendered the practice of drying the whole carcasses so uncommon; this is not to say that you can throw caution to the wind. Keep your knives clean, when slicing fresh meat and keep the meat away from tools and surfaces which may have touched the stomach content. A choke knife (or uluit) makes cutting meat, jerky slicing, and most other butchering tasks much easer than conventional knife designs, saws or axes.

Today, it is common is to butcher and then freeze a harvested animal; not only does this cost a lot in terms of money for the plastic bags, environmentally, their use is unacceptable. Using plastic freezer  bags introduces a-lot of chemicals to the landfills and environment in general and perpetuates their manufacturing. Careless human trash is the last thing this planet needs. In addition, the use of plastic bags for freezing increases dependence on there use. The plastic will get into the food and act as an endocrine disruptor - in other words, make you look at other dudes the way you where not born too - possibly encourage the development of cancers, among other negative physiological effects.

Drying the harvest potentially saves on electricity for running a freezer and the burn and nutrient deterioration of prolonged storage.

Plastic bag information in tow, here are more facts. The water molecule is very smal - H2O. When the molecule reaches 0c it acts in a predictable way with other water molecules; it forms small rigid, jagged, and sharp structures. Vitamin and protein molecules are relatively enormous and as a result when in the presence of water molecules which reach a freezing temperature, get destroyed and denatured; these vital compounds in the meat and lipids (fats), create both flavour and nutritional value. Anyone who has had a freeze thaw freeze thaw steak knows it tastes less robust, and has a mushy texture. In other words, freezing the meat is like pissing on the skinned hide you wish to tan; I view it as a violation to the animal as a once frozen piece of steak can immediately destroy at least half of these nutrients.

We cant eat a big animal piece by piece, keeping it alive, until its all gone, so dehydration is a method I have dabbled with to preserve the harvest.

Hanging meat will deteriorate quickly unless it will be eaten quickly, is cool (like 3-2oC), and breezy and in a chemical-dust free environment. If outdoors, flies and their kids are soon appear; high temperatures can encourage bacterial proliferation rapidly.

I have experimented with Weck jars and Mason jar heat canning and hated it.  What I did not like about heat jar preservation was that it cooked the meat, destroying heat sensitive vitamins - this is not to say I don't appreciate cooked meat -, required glass jars and other special equipment, takes a-lot of heat energy, and most importantly, the plastic from the disposable lids made it's way into the food. Also, I found it hard to get a long lasting sterile jar of preserves.

Know that indoors, drying meat is a process  that requires your attention to cut up the meat for a while, doing a thorough job, then meticulously hang the pieces, and that meat would never again be a ripe steak you can throw on a skillet, but when reconstituted (soaked in water), it can come close. Additionally,  drying does expose the inner meat to light and oxygen, sensitive nutrients, and also spreads some backteira especially if you are not carful; though, as said before, freezing fairs far worse in my opinion. Drying meat also makes it easer to share, store, and to transport and use a-field.

As can be seen in the top image, drying does not need a drying machine; BUT air circulation, strip spacing, and a means through which the moisture can quickly and easily escape are essential and pivotal. I cant make a definitive statement regarding ambient temperature. A high temperature can increase bacterial proliferation and increase enzyme activity; both of which are undesirable. Cooler temperature does not seem to slow evaporation. Keep the strips well spaced. Indoors you can save rack space and keep the spacing by chaining the pieces and making them as long as possible. You must therefore keep the floor underneath clean. The pieces will sometimes fall.

Outdoors, it's important to keep the peices as big as possible, one reason among many for is to avoid theft from grey jays and various members of weasel family.

I use a wood chisel to break apart pieces of wood, then a awl to make fine  tooth picks if the wood is soft enough. Insert the wood splinter from the side of the meat slice as opposed to through the flat face; this will substantially increase the clinging strength of the wood while chaining.

I'm not a bacteriologist, but I think the most dangerous bacterial organisms generally occur when fermenting meat in plastic containers or with already cooked items. I'm not the sort to usually puke after eating "bad" food. Bacteria in food can have many effects and various bacteria/yeasts/molds have psychological effects too -alcohol being a well known example. I've eaten meat raw that was green which makes you tired and is not good. If its green and you eat it raw, it will make you tired, think differently, you may become more anxious which is also usually a sign of mold consumption as well, and it may make you feel sick; I speak from experience. You dont want to eat rotting meat thats green or souring, if you dont eat raw meat or have a weak immune system. Again, what we eat not only affects us physically but mentally. If it's road kill, I suggest cut away road grit, green meat, and souring, almost peach color meat with a funky smell which is a sign that meat sat at too high of a temperature for too long - its almost a yeasty smell.

When cleaning game try, without getting carried away, to avoid bad blood; this can be blood that may have mixed with the stomach content or bacteria in the wind pipe or mouth and then it somehow transferring to your meat; particularly if you are just going to slice it and let it hang at room temperature. If you cook it fast enough the meat that was contaminated will be fine to eat. You generally want to avoid the stomach bacteria getting on meat; this is not to say you cant eat the raw stomach lining or a bit of the content. Try to use your knifes leading edge and pull the meat away as you slice to avoid the large surface of the blade.

I have jars which I fill with tangles of sinew, bits of fat for rendering, parts that don't lend themselves to drying or eating raw, silver skins, bones, and questionable meats (if its bad though I dont eat it - flush it if you can so the birds don't get sick) for roasting in a slow cook later.

The meat off a fresh carcass which undergoes the cutting and proper drying process wont go green while drying; it can develop a white yeast if the surface does not dry fast enough and stay quite dry; the cause may be poor spacing, not enough air circulation from fans, knife edge contamination (letting the broad face slide through bacteria and then through clean meat, rainy days (outdoors), or an combination of these.

The yeast can make you moody if eaten, possibly anxious; something about the dried meat may also make you over sensitive to sounds; and it is for these reasons I suggest avoid indoor drying unless you can get alot of proper air circulation 

Outdoors, yeasts may dry and leave a slight green; you dont want it, but it wont kill you; it often appears if weather is not on your side. These yeasts are compeating microorganisms, non-symbiotic, and if eaten in raw jerk, may make you snappy, but in my experience, does not created a notable adverse physical reaction.

If you eat the dried stomach lining or small intestine, the former is great for calming the body and mind, you digestion, and just "feeling like the animal", it's best to do it away from the other meat; I think that if dried in the same room, it tends to spread through air circulation to the meat surfaces.

Stick to the small intestine, the intestine between the last stomach and that c shaped sack that is full of liquidy green and tan stuff and tastes like a slimy vitamin smoothy; this is where most vitamins are absorbed; you can and should keep the colon, which are the last few inches, but don't eat whats inside as you would be eating shit. Only bother with the intestine if the animal comes from a clean forest, not grain field foraging location.

Know what the animal has been eating and the condition of its health. If it has accidentally been eating plastics or toxins don't eat the stomach - check it first animals sourced from logically chemical free environments should be safe. If the intestine has much fat, you can pick off the fat and render. You may in an outdoor setting want to unravel, it and hang the small intestine to  dry. 

If the intestines are full of grains - flush it. Parasite eggs may survive the drying process. Drying the intestine or other gut parts my encourage spreading of unwanted yeasts to surrounding meat.

In the bush you cant always keep all things clean and free of gut effluence so in this case, if you eat things which may have come in contact with the intestine, it is best to have an emergency deworming protocol if you suspect yourself to be a susceptible or an infected host.

Try to also keep dirty tools and hands off the the meat surface area when cutting; doing so decreases the chance of bacterial and fungal spreading.

I wont cook everything to sterilize it; doing this would do more damage to my immune system and over all health in the long and short run. The nutrients in raw meat are important to a robust health. I've eaten many raw bits of parasitesed animals and have yet to notice a worm infection.

Returning to the dehydration process, I have used a tiled bathroom as there is dripping which is easy to clean and I can close the door to prevent dust and much small plastic fibers from getting into my food. When done outdoors, where everything is clean, there is a cleanup crew that appreciates mess.

In-doors, I use old racks and sticks poked through the meat. Chained meat will save space and the chore of cleaning racks. You should aim for good spacing of the chains and as much circulation as possible with good exits for the evaporating water. Aim your fans in the direction of the windows.

If a yeast appears it looks like accumulated surface salts. The yeast/molds are probably ones which our species has become quite adapted too in our evolutionary history of eating dried meat; I wouldn't be surprised if its the same that occurs on the surface of artisan sausages and aged meats; however, as jerky is not intentionally an aged product avoid harbouring a environment for them as best you can. Use fans and SPACE or do it outdoors!

Think of two buckets of water holing the same volume of water on a concrete driveway. One bucket is splashed across the concrete, the other is left in the bucket. Which sample, of the two, will fully evaporate first?

You need as many fans as possible blowing as strongly as possible over the lot of meat. I suggest in a room and harvest the size shown above, there should be at least 4 regular or large room fans on high to avoid potential yeasts or moulds; though I currently work with less. Also, select fans which may be easily taken apart and the main surfaces wiped or cleaned; doing so would be prudent to perform prior too every drying session or at least when they seem dirty as they may cover with blood, possible moulds, and dust. Be carful with your fans however to avoid damage due to handing and dismantling.

bathroom dehydration of meat

I use a wood board to slice meat; I used to scrape clean the surface after most  major cuts to reduce unwanted bacterial spread; I used a wood chisel for this. Now, I tallow grease the surface as tallow seals the surface and won't harbour bacteria. Water, weather on the wood cutting board or a piece of meat spreads bacteria. When cutting jerky, at this point I find it best to hang the quarter or a larg portion. Slice into the muscle and pull down or away controlling the cut with your knife.

When the meat is fully dry, particularly if it has fat, as this will deteriorate quickly due to light and oxygen it must be vacume sealed. Rancid fat will aquire the smell of bulk peanuts. Typically, the fat should be meticulous cut off during butchering, dried separately or rendered. I often dry slices of the outer body fat and render cavity which generally has touched bacteria. The rendered fat can be mixed with marrow for pemmican. Outdoors most fat must be rendered or smoked but I dont know much about smoking.

When the meat is fully dry vacuum seal in a glass jar.  When dry, stored in a vac sealed jar, the push down snap lids or old jars without suction (the second and third are ok but not as good), stored in a dark place, it wont go bad for a very long time (year?).

You can chop, though I chew, the fat and put it in the render jar, store in the fridge until it is ready to be heated. The rendered fat will, if not stored in an air tight container, still go rancide in a month to a noticeable degree, so pemmican is not a last-forever food as many sources claim. Rendered tallow, particularly marrow and other "oiler" tallows, develop rancidity when stored in containers with the smallest air entrances - immediately; becoming a concern when the product is pushed over a month and a half.

I have tried submerging blocks of tallow in water to keep from air oxidation in stead of using a vacuum seal; these fats must be clarified (little to no protein preferably) and the product stored in a dark coolish location (softer tallows need cooler locations, harder tallows seem to be fine in a kitchen cupboard; a dust cloth to cover the top and attending to the water level which will evaporate are points to take note of; however, further testing using this method is necessary for a stronger account.

Drying meat from small game like porcupine will leave much sinew in the product as the sinew is far too small to be fully removed; these must be dried and then chewed thoroughly and consciously as to moisten and remove meat, liquify and swallow oils and the moist sinew left, thrown in a stew or cooked later. The sinew bits can be dried again for storage. 

I believe that what I have said is the origin of "chewing the fat" - when fat bits are chewed we remove the oils and leave the sinew casings, and this can be done while just sitting and taking time to self contemplate.

The healthiest way, I think, to store fat from the animal for consumption is to dry and then air seal in a jar, stored in a cool, DARK location; this method preserves the rawness, nutrients in the oils, enzymes and vitamins such as E and A, and thus, the best to my knowledge. Pop the cap three months later and it will taste just as great.
Keep in mind that you don't want the fat to be out in your dry room for longer than is necessary, as air oxidation begins immediately.

Carful rendering is important - don't burn those oils by letting them sit longer than necessary in the heat.

Freezing the fat wet has had a hugely undesirable effect on the nutritional quality of the raw fat, just like freezing the protein pieces. Cube the raw body fat into small grains and spread on a plate or simply hang dry in appropriate slices and break or cut up later.

I used to use a choke knife (ulu) for cutting dry meat or a wood chisel with some body pressure/a light chop; now, I simply snap them as this leaves the sinew strands intact. The sinew  can then be pulled from the meat, piled and cooked for broth.

Remember, its important to keep the meat clean and to have a yeast or mold free product, but its even more important to find alternatives to plastic bags and freezing. Minor amounts of bacteria and yeast on a few slices are acceptable and 99% time entirly edible.

Cast the little bits that break off to the wilds like near ant hills but do it such that you aren't throwing house dirt too. The effort may make you lucky.

Note: When I say vacuum seal jar, I mean using a special adaptor which suctions the disposable lids of standard mason jars closed - not heat preserving.

Beyond this adapter by FoodSaver, there are other methods to suction seal a mason jar, such as special canisters and large vacuum sealing machines. On that note, the hose that attaches the machine to the suction lid above broke at the plastic connection. The break was convieneant as after having cut off the broken end I found I could simply put the plastic hose over the hole in the tool shown above and I seems to suction the 250ml jars even better. The close lach on my machine gets used less as when the vacuum finishes I just remove the hose to release the suction to the jar and then suction a new jar.

We cant explain all the good and bad things that happen to us or the experience of living our lives purely with scientific accounts or flawless, black and white reason (if there is such an thing). Forces of destruction do not always have a form and cowardly linger where we work. Be fearless and never stop fighting.