Birdshot

May I begin this post by wishing you all a Happy New Year! I’ve had a nice relaxing start to 2020 with an hour of fishing on Mudwater River. It’s a very pleasant way to start the day 🙂

This was actually a continuation of a fishing visit that I started yesterday. I’m here for 2 reasons – 1, to make some money after I splashed out on a Kayak and 2, to try and catch a unique Spotted Gar and a trophy Freshwater Drum. Both rods are equipped with sinker tackle. The one on the left is set up for Drum with Nightcrawler (Earthworm) as bait on a 6lb line. I can’t be guaranteed Drum as the only catch on that rod – Nightcrawlers will attract small Bass and Catfish that feed on the bottom. I have cast the line to where that green and white marker is – a place I’ve marked as good for Drum after some trial and error fishing over several visits. The marker is only visible to me – other anglers in the same session won’t see it. The rod on the right is set up for Gar and baited with Medium Cutbait – basically chopped up bits of fish – on an 8lb line. I could use Minnows or Shiners as bait but then I’ll also be attracting the local Pickerel population and I specifically want Gar. The only other fish that might be interested is Bowfin but I normally find them in different parts of the river. I have cast to a place midway between the two closest dead branches. The river bed drops sharply there from 1ft to 3ft and predators like to hang around in the dip waiting for unsuspecting small fish to swim over the edge.

How did our fishing go? Well, I didn’t get the trophy or unique fish I was hoping for but I reeled in several nice examples of both Drum and Gar and some baby Bass and a couple of Catfish. Here I’m having a fight with a 5.5lb Catfish……which was successfully landed……and here’s an average sized Drum……The Gar were all average too which was disappointing as I have caught trophy examples here in the past – here’s a shot from a previous visit……In real world Gar fishing you have to use special line and mind your fingers when you catch one! You don’t have to use sinker tackle for either of these fish types, it just seems to be the most effective method for me. I have caught both types of fish using spinners in the past and I have also caught Drum using a float set-up and Red Worm – but that’s very hit or miss.

A couple of other recent purchases for me have been Topwater lures – I have used these in the free-to-play game before but have only recently reached the required skill level to be able to buy them in this version of the game. These are specifically aimed at catching predators and once you’ve mastered the technique for each type they’re very effective. Here’s a Popper resembling a Fish…..complete with hooked Chain Pickerel 🙂 And here’s some of the available Topwater Lures in the shop. I chose the Frog Walker on the left…… and it’s already paid for itself in Chain Pickerel, Grass Pickerel and Northern Pike 🙂

I’ll have to show some Kayak fishing in another post – till next time 🙂

Birdshot

I’ve made a number of changes in the way I play The Hunter – Call of the Wild. These are moves towards a more realistic hunt as I’ve now reached a level of knowledge within the game that allows me to go without the props that are there to help the player. I have turned off the highlighting of animal tracks – which means I have to find them mainly by observation as I move around. I’ve also turned off other aids like the indicators of animal calls. One interesting effect of the latter is that the calls suddenly seem louder but I think that’s just me concentrating harder. I have turned on the requirement to manually chamber the rounds before firing. I’ve dispensed with the backpack, which limits how much equipment I can carry, so I’ve had to choose carefully what I take with me based on the animals I expect to encounter. One other change which is not realism related – I’m hunting without a scope on my rifle. That’s because I was doing a challenge recently that required me to hunt without one. Some things I can’t turn off – like the ‘e to examine’ in-game messages. I’ve left on the head-up display in the bottom right of the screen because it only contains info you’d have anyway in real life like wind direction and the zero-setting of your sights. So, today, I’m going to take you with me on a hunt in Hirschfelden.

Here is my ‘loadout’ for our morning’s hunting in the Schonfeldt area……I’ve chosen the Solokhin as a good all-round rifle. The Coachmate 45-70 is there in case I bump into Wild Boar where its power at short range will be invaluable. I have the Muertos 45 handgun which can take down Roe Deer at short range. And finally, I have a bow which I carry because it is very versatile – three different weights of arrow allow it to be used successfully against animals from Fox right up to Red Deer.

I started out from the hunting lodge and crept through woodland on a bank……once through the trees and crouched on the edge of the undergrowth, I had my first sighting of the day. It was a Fox but she was walking away from me and as I had the wrong weight arrow selected I let her go. You can see her track through the grass in this screenshot……around the same time I heard some movement in the trees behind me. That could be cause for concern as you can’t be sure what animal is making the sound but here in Schonfeldt it’s almost certainly a Roe or a Fallow Deer. I saw two Fallow Deer crossing a field in the distance at around 200m and took a speculative shot at one of them – missed (with the scope on I would almost certainly have hit!). That frightened the animal behind me and away it ran.

I retraced my steps back into the trees and looked for tracks which I quickly found. Following them, I was led down the hill towards Schonfeldt Barn. My suspicions were confirmed – it was a female Roe Deer. Here are her tracks, left as she bounded away down the hill……I have my Roe caller in my hand because I was hoping I might lure her back but after waiting a few minutes, it was clear that she was long gone. I continued down the hill and found some tracks that crossed the one I was following……European Bison – Now that’s a surprise! While they frequent the area to the north of here, I don’t recall finding their tracks hereabouts before. I guess they passed through during the night. I’m not equipped to take one of them on although the 600gm arrows might be capable at close range and I have finished one off in the past with the handgun I’m carrying at the expense of getting wounded myself. I continued down through the trees ahead and as I came out of them saw a Fallow Deer at around the same time it saw me – it was off in a flash, running towards the fields.

Deer are strange creatures. Sometimes their curiosity overcomes their initial fear. I crept along the side of the barn until I had a view of field where the Fallow had gone. Lo and behold, there he was coming back cautiously through the boundary hedge……Since he decided to obligingly stop and stare, I shot him with the Solokhin. He spun around and ran back towards the field but I knew he wouldn’t get very far. Making my way to the scene of the shooting , this blood spatter was evidence of a serious hit to at least one lung……and I found him just the other side of the hedge. This is the in-game report detailing the damage done by my soft-point 7.62 bullet……The bullet hit humerus before puncturing both lungs – no wonder he only made a few steps. It’s a sobering thought that this rifle was in use with armies in Europe and the USA from its introduction in 1890 right through to WWII – a devastating weapon that was also very good for sniping with excellent accuracy upto 500yds (my longest in-game kill using this rifle with a scope currently stands at 296 metres!).

I now start working the field boundaries walking steadily or crouching depending on whether I think there is a hunting opportunity. This field is a good one most evenings……when Fallow herds can often be found grazing at the far end. At this time of day I might have found a Roe deer but not on this occasion. Foxes also patrol these fields but I’d need to get very close to take one down with the bow – and foxes are usually too alert and cunning for that to happen unless I’m in a hide of some sort.

Continuing into the next pair of fields and I spot a Roe Deer feeding……but at 231m that’s a very long shot without a scope. I decide to make my way along the field boundary and then to work down the side of the field in the hope of getting close enough to get a better shot but before I get more than a short distance along the way, I check and she’s gone. I don’t think I scared her – she was probably full-up and off to chew the cud somewhere. I used my Roe Lure again in the hope of enticing her back as I made slow progress along the side of the field. Then I heard a responding call but from a different direction – another Roe was out looking for a mate. I made my way to the field where the call seems to have come from……but there’s no deer there. Then I hear another call and I realise my new Roe has crossed the boundary and is in the adjacent field. I quietly moved across, keeping low in the undergrowth and there he was walking towards me……I chamber the round and take aim……A gentle squeeze of the trigger and a loud bang……and that’s a very nice example of a male Roe Deer. I clearly adjusted my aim after taking the ‘looking down the sights’ screenshot above because the in-game results screen shows the shot hitting him in heart and lung……which is why he went down instantly.

I continued my hunting by circling round the rest of the Schonfeldt straw fields. This field sometimes has Fallow and Roe Deer, and sometimes Wild Boar – though that’s usually in the evening…… I did see a small herd of female Fallow’s but they were close to 1km away and making their way along the edge of some wooded high ground. And I did find the tracks of some others in a wooded field boundary……Female Fallow Deer usually travel in a group while the males are often solitary. Roe deer are solitary, having their own territories and the female usually lures a male back to her abode for mating – at least that’s my understanding of how the love life of deer species works 😉

Heading back to the hunting lodge I started from we look across the fields towards the distant mountains and realise that it’s getting hazy……a sure sign that rain is coming in. And here it is……Time to put the guns away and settle down to tell our hunting tales around the fire. ‘Did I tell you about the one that got away?’ 🙂

It was quiet out there today – on another day we might have downed half-a-dozen animals on a morning’s hunt. I hope you enjoyed the hunt and that being walked around with me was preferable to just seeing shots of deceased animals with no understanding of how they got to be downed in the first place. This game is in many ways like going birding for me and a great way to spend some time when the weather or having an attack of Man-Flu precludes actively going out to watch the wildlife.

Trucking Digest

Over a month since the last digest and a lot to cover, so let’s get on with it. December opened with the delivery of v1.36 changes to Euro Truck on the 3rd, bringing detours into that version of the game for the first time along with the other improvements including the move to DirectX 11. It also brought the island of Corsica for those who own the France DLC. For such a small island, there are a lot of towns there for us to deliver to. I took a fleeting visit to Bastia on the morning of the 5th, running up the eastern coast road from Porto Vecchio through Aleria……SCS have really captured the atmosphere in their creation of this addition to our maps. I would have liked to stay longer and I will probably buy a garage here for the company – Ajaccio would make a good off-shore option. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay because – The Road to the Black Sea DLC released on afternoon of 5th December and I had to head back to the mainland and drive east for that.

Every new map created for ETS2 pushes the quality bar ever higher, following the new standards that initially appeared with American Truck Simulator, and The Road to the Black Sea is no exception. This DLC gives us Romania, Bulgaria and the European side of Turkey to drive in. Here are some screenshots…








…To claim that I have seen everything already would be a lie – there is too much to see, too many roads to drive – It would take more than the two weeks I’ve had to explore! I have had chance to pass by Cousin Vlad’s Castle though it was still dark and he was out and about – must visit in daytime if I want to catch him at home!..

I say I’ve had two weeks but even that is a lie because on the 10th December SCS threw in another long-awaited addition into the ATS mix with the delivery of the International LoneStar. This is a truck that almost certainly divides opinions on styling……I wasn’t sure that I would like it but as I tweeted; Not sure about the styling – guess it will grow on me… Love the dash… Dislike the mirrors for normal driving – but they’re good when parking… Which you can see from this in-cab shot during the above delivery to Eddy’s……She has grown on me and I will be keeping her – in fact I may well order some more for our fleet. here she is climbing Donner Pass…

Of course, it’s nearly Christmas and all us Virtual truckers know what that means; It’s Christmas Community Event time! This year the theme is Giving – you can read about it on SCS’ Blog. This was my tweet on it; ‘The @SCSsoftware
#BestCommunityEver is on the road again delivering Pressie Power to the People for #XmasGrandGiving – Lets Go!’……moody view of a power-station complex in Romania on my way to Hunedoara. I’ll cover my adventures during this event in another post. In the meantime, Keep the Shiny Side Up! 🙂