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The Tenth Year

Two-Day Revel -- Barony of the Golden Rivers
May 17-18, 1975

Held at the home of William of Gad, Lodi, CA. Clarissa of Red Crab Manor on the James was the autocrat. There was fighting, a potluck dinner, an auction, dancing, archery and dart contests, games, a meat pie contest, and lists for the Protector of the Great Valley. The First Annual Chicken Hunt took place. Many hunters tried but only Duke James Greyhelm emerged with bird in hand (proving that a running chicken is not a sitting duck). Jeffrey Brokenblade won the archery contest. The Needlethreaders Guild unveiled the Great Barrier Grief, close kin to the kingdom’s Eric the Red (the red cloth that outlines the fighting field). Iain of Cawdor won the lists to become the Protector of the Great Valley. Countess Donna of Rollingwood (Donna of Willowwood) won the meat pie contest. Strider the Persistent held the maypole. Josette du Chantecleer was also an autocrat.

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“The Chicken Hunt!! the Low Point of the West Kingdom ... I will now put in print for the first time the One True Story of the Chicken Hunt. Well, part of it, and I swear it is true. Really.” – James Greyhelm

“Pretty much as Jim says. I also tend to regard the Chicken Hunt as one of and perhaps the worst low point of the West. I don't know if it's for the same reasons as James, but it was definitely not a great experience. I didn't participate in the actual hunt but I heard plenty of stories. To this day I'm a bit surprised that some of our archers weren't skewered instead of a chicken or two.” – Steven MacEanruig
“It also produced the following recipe for cooking a wild chicken: Boil in a pot with a brick until the brick is tender.” – Amanda of Cawdor
“Most of the story is well known - fighters and archers leaping over Irrigation ditches, arrow flying, Duke Paul unleashing sling stones at the hordes of chickens ... BUT, there remains an untold portion, sealed until this day.
     “As I was walking back from the field, covered with blood and dust, I spied an amazing sight. A line of archers, the West Kingdom's best, standing a line. Arrayed for battle. Perhaps thirty feet from stood a chicken, mighty(?) of thew, brave a heart, standing his ground- or so it looked. A commander gave the order- 'Volley Fire!' A cloud of arrows flew toward the chicken, and fell all around it, leaving the brave fowl untouched- a miracle! Another arrow storm leapt from the strained yew wood of our deadly archers- again the bird emerged unscathed! Witchcraft? And still the bird stood its ground ....
     “The truth is rather degrading - These archers had, I would guess, never killed anything before, and were missing for other reasons - but why was the bird not fleeing? Here lies the true shame, and I swear this is true. I walked past, and saw William of Gad hiding behind something, out of sight of the archers - he too had noticed that they seemed to be missing easy targets. He decided to test this, and had, So help me Thor, trussed up a chicken, hooked it up to a fishing pole, and was trolling the chicken in front of the archers. If the SPCA had seen that .....
     “I actually killed two that day, and I was the only one who got any. Trude wrote a song. The first was luck, in the head with a bird blunt. The second was after the above scene - I got away from everyone else, found one in a bush and shot it through the neck. I felt like Robin Hood. I took it out from the bush and, with the arrow clean through its neck, it turned and clucked at me - I think it said 'Light - I don’t think it was good.' I chopped its head off. We ate it for dinner. There is a whole lot more to this story.” – James Greyhelm
“Verily Duke James speaketh the tale correctly. It was the nadir of Western archery and the hidden shameful secret of Golden Rivers ever after.
     “The chickens in question could accurately be described as feral free range mongrel birds, leading a nomadic barbarous existence in the wilds of the Gadburys' grape fields. They were as tough as nails (in the hunt proper I scored several hits - only to receive a scornful look and a feathered shrug at the inadequacy of a hit with a Saunders blunt from a forty pound bow at less than twenty yards). “ – Kevin Peregrynne
“Yeah! it was amazing- arrows were bouncing off of the damn things as if the had armor on- and they kept running. The one I bagged with a blunt was hit with a metal blunt, from about 5 yards or less - it ran by me and I hit it in the head - a very lucky shot. One of the beaters yelled - 'You got him!' and I ran over and grabbed it. I was about to behead it with my belt knife when Ian of Cawdor ran up swinging his new axe, and asked me to use that instead, so that his ax would be blooded. I did so and he skipped off happily proclaiming the deed. It was a truly surreal day. You would have to get the story from Sir Elrin about the reaction of the incipient Shastans as they arrived at their first SCA event, having been driven for hours by somebody's mother, only to arrive on site and see as their first SCA member, a guy walking out of dusty field carrying a dead chicken ... 'mom' apparently was not impressed.” – James Greyhelm
“This gets weirder as I get reminded of more ... Iain's 'new axe' was the prize/symbol of the Protector of the Great Valley which he had won earlier in the day. Rand of Dunbar donated the head and I re-hafted and decorated it.
     “Although I provided the axe, I didn't get to fight for it, in the process of driving out the original broken-off haft I had managed to gouge my forehead (22 stitches) and couldn't wear a helm that day.
     “When William of Gad approached me about the trussed/trolling chicken idea I shrugged and said more or less, "They're your chickens". Heck, they seemed to be arrow-proof anyway.
     “All in all we would have been safer and gotten better results if we had all walked quietly through the fields and simply grabbed the birds and wrung their necks. Or clubbed them like baby seals. That's how William got the one he trussed up...just walked up and grabbed it.
     “It really was a ludicrous exercise.” – Kevin Peregrynne
“I was aware of the trussed chicken affair (William of Gad asked me if he should do it at the time), but I was not aware of the fishing pole aspect. Fie upon thee feckless archers!
     “Jim's recounting of his own exploits matches my recollection of his story from the evening of the hunt, right down to the chicken still not expiring when shot through the neck. I got a taste of Jim's chicken - after being stewed for hours the meat was still as stringy and tough as boiled rawhide. (Nicely seasoned though.)
     “The Needlethreaders, had an impromptu 'name the eric clone' contest while they were finishing the Great Barrier Grief up the week before. One proposal I remember was the Olaf (named after our Rieslinger friend - the Mediogre) because it was safer to go around than through it.
     “This event was either the origin of, or one of, the events popularizing the song Black Widows In the Privy. The only one I saw was lurking on the water spiggot pipe near the faucet where many hands would come near, so I squished it as a hazard to the unwary.” – Kevin Peregrynne

Description of this event, © Copyright 1980 by William R. Keyes (Wilhelm von Schlüssel)
This is from The History of the West Kingdom, Volume 1 (the only volume produced). When reading this text, please keep in mind the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer: This history may have errors in it, as much of the detail is “remembered” history, or as one of the cover pages of the original type-written manuscript states “The material within is derived from the information printed in The Crown Prints and in The Page, and from the memories of the participants.” The original document was typed on onion-skin paper, with hand-written notes (often in the margins). All attempts have been made to reconcile the notes with the original document.

Annotations, when they are added, are from The Annotated History of the West, Volume 1, which is the same text as Master Wilhelm's mentioned above, with commentary from members of the SCA who were active at the time of the event, and are added to help clarify questions and expand on what happened and why. This volume is copyright © Ken Mayer (Hirsch von Henford).

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