Sadly, this year I couldn’t attend the Wilderness Gathering because of my son’s surgery so I decided to do a bit of bushcraft at the house instead. I’ve got several cubic metres of hardwood which needs sawing and chopping for winter and I needed a safer chainsaw horse than what we’ve been using up until now. I went to the forest and cut down a few hazel saplings then square lashed them together using sisal string. After the sawhorse was basically in the right position and erected, I nailed the joints together. Thus far it seems to be holding up and makes chainsawing a lot faster and safer – just need to find a quicker way to split and stack the logs afterwards.
This mean old Wild Cat (Felis silvestris silvestris) was stalking through the field behind my house. It’s obviously been through some battles as its lack of right eye shows. I’ve encountered them on a few occasions, once when one was brave enough to get in the garden when my bull mastiff was there. They’re not like normal domestic pussy cats and they’re definitely not friendly. I’m still hoping to photograph a lynx at some point as they also live in the forest surrounding the village.
This is a cabin we stayed at last weekend in the forest above Svidnik, East Slovakia. It’s owned by the regional forest office and is situated on Black Mountain. The hill is renowned for the bandits who used to inhabit it centuries ago, and also for the number of German soldiers who died there during the war.
Despite being deep in the forest it was silent, creepily so. Apart from one owl which called for 30 seconds, the rest of the night was without animal or bird activity. It was like a blanket of silence had been thrown over the area. Ordinarily, the forests around here produce a cacophony of sound once darkness falls. Not at that cabin… I was pleased when dawn arrived.
I guess that part of the forest remembers the dead.
Now each time I encounter a stag, whether they’re in the distance running with their harem of hinds, or slowly crossing the road in front of my car in order to make a point, i feel sorrow.
When i hear a gunshot somewhere in the forest, i think of the direction from whence it came and remember which stag I’d encountered in that general vicinity, and i wonder if the hunter’s target was one and the same.
Slowly, the voices of the rut fall silent…
This is why I love the forest just up the hill at the back of my house. It’s another world entirely. So alive.
A Red deer hind jumps across a logging track in front of me. Eastern Slovakia.