Author Archives: Pocket Ranger

About Pocket Ranger

I love being outdoors hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, biking, or even to catch some sun. I take a lot of pictures, so you'll get to see where I am and where I've been.

The Style of David E. Petzal

By Jack Kredell

Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” reveals a profane yet common reversal in which the father is led by the son. In the post-apocalyptic future of “The Road,” the father is a heartsick refugee while the son, who was an infant when the event occurred, is at home. While the father continues to serve as his son’s guardian, he is no longer his authority. It’s simply not his world. As brutal as the present is for the father, it’s the memory of the former world that destroys him.

I mention the predicament of “The Road’s” nameless father because it seemed like an apt metaphor for the duality of David E. Petzal’s output over the last couple of years. Petzal, who is one half of Field and Stream’s “The Gun Nuts” blog, is a case study in how not to get Zumbo’ed despite an obvious distaste for the tactical development of today’s gun and hunting markets. Without a doubt, he is writing about today’s world; what I find odd is how he seems to loathe every aspect of it without having the courage to say so. I find that disingenuous.

For the most part, Petzal writes with a kind of gentle armchair pomposity about all things gun and hunting related. His hunting and firearm experience is vast, and he is humble. But there is something contrived about his style, the hallmarks of which are sentences that strain towards aphorism; solemn references to Shakespeare or classic writers who might be considered outside the purview of his audience; boilerplate tough guy bwana hunting narratives; easy and obligatory swipes at Hilary Clinton…etc, the overall effect of which is that brand of smug and pandering we’ve come to know so well during this election cycle.

David E. Petzal.

Image: http://www.fieldandstream.com/

But what sticks out most about Petzal’s language is the quaintness of it. It’s full of nostalgia. It insists on trying to describe and define the present according to various laws of history. It’s classical without being excessive and perverse—it’s Disney classical.

David E. Petzal is indeed a guardian of a certain kind of world, which may or may not exist. When he tries to relate to this world, which is the world of Black Lives Matter and black rifles, he no longer feels like an authority. He simply comes across as a crank with a quaint prose style.

Big, Bad Wolf

Grey wolf peering surreptitiously. [Image: www.oregonlive.com]

Grey wolf peering surreptitiously. [Image: www.oregonlive.com/]

Early on in January, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) took flight in helicopters over the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to radio collar elk for the purposes of herd population research. The remarkable aspect of this activity is not that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) allowed IDFG crews to land helicopters over 100 times in a fragile and protected wilderness area, but that the IDFG—expressly on an elk mission—also “accidentally” collared four wolves.

The IDFG claimed they collared the wolves because they “made a mistake not clearly communicating mission limitations to one of [the] helicopter crews.” This explanation raises some questions, like, “How does someone employed to help manage forests mistake an elk for a wolf?” Or, “How is one not properly briefed before boarding a helicopter to fulfill a rare agreement made with the federal government to enter a protected wilderness area?” All this apart from the obvious collar size and implementation differences between the animals, the misinformed crew would have needed extra gear.

Wolf in Yellowstone, sporting a Gucci Positioning System. [Image: wikipedia.com]

Wolf in Yellowstone sporting this season’s Gucci Positioning System. [Image: www.wikipedia.com/]

But the conversation is bigger than the four wolves that were collared. The wolf debate in the Northwest—that is, whether or not the rebounded “experimental, non-essential” wolf population is a primary cause for the decline in elk populations in backcountry Idaho and elsewhere, and what we should do about it—is fiery and often personal, if not omnipresent among conservationists and hunters in the West. Before wolf reintroduction in 1995, more than 100,000 comments were offered on the wolf reintroduction plan, the most that had been contributed to a single FWS survey at that time, and the opinions haven’t stopped pouring in for over two decades.

Wolves once occupied a range that spanned most of the continent, but they were extirpated largely by “wolfers,” fur tradesmen who poisoned wolves for their pelts and ranchers who saw wolves and other large predators as a threat to their livestock. This occurred particularly after the decimation of native ungulate herds by unregulated hunting and human settlement in the mid- to late-1800s.

Damn, it feels good to be an apex predator? [Image: montanaoutdoor.com]

Damn, it feels good to be an apex predator? [Image: www.montanaoutdoor.com/]

Today the wolves have regained a lot of lost ground and have again become a nuisance for sportsmen and hunters who resent their competition for elk and other game, as well as ranchers whose livelihoods are sometimes dampened by wolf depredation. Some question whether the right species of wolf was introduced to the area. Still others argue that, regardless of the type of wolf, the wolves have a right to be there and their presence helps restore some of the natural order of the region from perhaps prior to Lewis and Clark’s expedition.

Swirling in the debate are millions of dollars that help with conservation, local business, and human recreation at the same time as well as all the high emotion that comes with the investment of time and resources. The conversation never gets any simpler than that, and it’s best if it is able play out in an environment where there is transparency and accountability.

Winter Camping in the Everglades

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

When you think of camping and boating, generally an image of warm summer days and swimming come to mind. But let’s be honest—chances are that if you look out of your window right now, it’s far from a warm summer day outside. There is, however, a place in the U.S. where winter is the best time of the year to camp: The Florida Everglades are calling your name.

Sunset

Image: Alex Vail

Unlike the rest of the country right now, the Florida Everglades are actually comfortable outside, and winter is the best time of the year to go out there and camp. Generally temperatures range anywhere from the high 40s to the upper 70s from the months of November through March, which is perfect weather for camping. A large majority of the mosquitoes have also died off, so you can pitch a tent and not worry about severe blood loss. It isn’t, however, as simple as driving out there and pitching a tent. There are a few things to prepare for and keep in mind before venturing out into the ‘Glades.

Before You Go

Unpacking a tent.

Image: Alex Vail

Only about 1/8 of the available campsites in the Everglades can actually be reached by foot. Another advantage of it being winter is that water levels are down so actually walking to campsites in areas like Everglades National Park or Big Cypress National Preserve is a pretty dry trek. Try doing this in summer or fall, and you’re guaranteed to be wading through knee-deep water. The other 7/8? Those campsites have to be reached by kayak or boat. Almost all of the campsites along the coast, like the Ten Thousand Islands and the southern point of Everglades National Park, must be reached by water, either by power boat or paddle craft. Be sure to be wary of shallow water if you’re bringing a boat. Most of the water out in the ‘Glades is only about three or four feet deep. It’s entirely possible to get stuck for upwards of six hours thanks to extreme tides.

Preparation

You’re going to want to bring all of your usual camping equipment. If you’re going by paddle craft or hiking, however, weight is going to be of a big concern so cut down wherever you can. If you’ve also decided to camp within the Ten Thousand Islands, you’re going to have to bring all the water you need with you. Sun protection is still very important, even this time of the year, so sunscreen and long sleeves/face protection are an absolute must. Weather is still just as unpredictable as ever, so rain gear as well as rope to tie down the tent are a good idea, too. As far as navigation goes, you should always carry two different ways of navigation at all times. I prefer a map with a compass for standard navigation, and I carry a GPS as a backup. The last thing in the world you want is to get lost out there. Finally, even though the mosquitoes have died off quite a bit, they’re still a very real thing. Heavy applications of Deet and Thermacell are a good idea.

On Arrival 

One of the big kickers with camping in the Everglades is that campsites are limited to a certain amount of campers per site. This means they need to be reserved. However, you cannot reserve campsites beyond 24 hours in advance of your trip, which really translates into reserving them when you check into the ranger station. There are stations located in Flamingo as well as Everglades City, and they have maps and information inside that can be pretty helpful as well. The ranger will want to know where you plan to camp each night of your trip, and you’ll have to reserve one for each night you plan to stay. This is obviously for safety, but also for the simple fact that some campsites only fit so many people.

In the ‘Glades

It’s wild out there—be sure to consistently check your bearings and location to avoid getting turned around. There are generally three different types of campsites out there: ground sites, beach sites, and chickees. Ground sites are simple campsites on some of the sparse dry ground in the backcountry. These sites have picnic tables, a porta-john, and that’s about it. Since these are usually tucked back into the mangroves, the mosquitoes can be horrendous. You also can’t have fires at these sites, so keep that in mind when considering how you’re going to cook food.

Tent camping.

Image: Alex Vail

Beach sites are exactly like they sound: a campsite on a beach. But they aren’t really a sandy beach with coconut palm trees on them. The beaches are made up almost entirely of crushed shell and mangroves that are within just a few yards of some of the sites. There are no tables at these (they’d get washed away), and there aren’t usually any porta-johns (some have them, though). You’re welcome to build a fire at these using the abundant driftwood that washes up.

Kayak packed with camp gear.

Image: Alex Vail

Finally there are the chickees. These are essentially raised up dock platforms that are located randomly right on the surface of the water in many of the bays and estuaries. There’s a single roof on these, no walls, and enough room for your tent, a little gear, and a porta-john. That’s it. This is where the rope comes in handy to tie your tent to the dock since you can’t place stakes. You obviously cannot have fires on these either, unless you really feel like having an adventure and burning the whole platform down with you on top. The mosquitoes can be relatively bad at these, but my big thing is just comfort. Bring a sleeping pad for your tent as the dock platform isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to sleep on.

Tent on a deck.

Image: Alex Vail

So if you’ve got cabin fever and are walled-in behind endless amounts of that white nightmare called snow, consider coming down to give the Everglades a try this winter. Keep these tips in mind, and you’re sure to have a great experience in the ‘Glades. Just don’t forget the bug spray.

What Happened to the Ruffed Grouse?

Image: fineartamerica.com

Image: fineartamerica.com/

By Jack Kredell

I was strolling through the Dick’s Sporting Good parking lot after buying a box of eight-shot when the question popped into my head: Why aren’t there any grouse here? The question wasn’t why aren’t there grouse in Pennsylvania (there are, I presume, enough), but why aren’t there any in this parking lot right now? Lining the sidewalk were double rows of Japanese barberry, ample cover for a grouse to lay low in when not foraging the 25 perfectly groomed crab apple trees on the other side of the lot. If this isn’t ideal grouse habitat, then I don’t know what is.

That evening as I was coming home from a grouse hunt, I stopped at a friend’s farm to ask him why he thought there weren’t any grouse in town. At first he looked at me like I was crazy. Then he leaned in towards me, almost too close for comfort, and whispered, “Owls.”

“Owls?” I asked.

“And hawks,” he replied.

In a state where most people worry about the impact of coyotes and bobcats on small game, the notion that owls were behind the grouse’s decline was news to me. He then explained that the reason why grouse numbers were so high in states like Maine and Michigan was because they paid a bounty of 10 dollars per claw for large avian predators and 10 dollars per ear for quadruped predators.

“They pay per claw or per toe?”

“Per digit I believe,” said my farmer friend.

Though neither of us knew the exact number of toes an owl has, we agreed it represented a substantial monetary amount. He went on to explain that the explosion in the owl population was due to the great lemming crash of 2014, which pushed the snowy owl further south. The heavy snows of that year created a travel corridor for the snowy owl that, when combined with the weak snowfall of the following year, put Pennsylvania’s grouse in dire straits because it didn’t have any fresh powder to burrow into and avoid detection by the snowy owl (in addition to other predators). I was left wondering how anything could survive this vicious junta of predators.

But that wasn’t all. Lurking behind the snowy owls and red-tailed hawks were the Feds. The carnage went unchecked because federal restrictions made it impossible for us hunters to control the owl and raptor populations that were decimating our small game.

So the answer is that there are no grouse in the Dick’s Sporting Goods parking lot because of snowy owls.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org/

What Does the Malheur Occupation Mean for Hunters?

Idiot ranchers

Image: news.yahoo.com/

As you probably already know, a ragtag group of armed deadbeats, G.I. Joes, and absentee foster parents are currently occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest of the federal government. Over the last three weeks, the focus of the protest has shifted from the issue of Dwight and Steve Hammond (ranchers who were both convicted of setting fire to federal land to coverup their poaching activities) to the federal government’s role in land management in general. It should also be noted that the Hammonds, who turned themselves in immediately, want nothing to do with the group’s cause.

The group is led by Ammon Bundy, son of the bigot and freeloading rancher Cliven Bundy whose cattle are currently grazing for free on federal land on your dime. Those of you familiar with the Bible will know that Ammon and his brother Moab were the sons of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. This seems to suggest that Ammon is from a family that doesn’t always think things through.

Mule deer at Malheur NWF

Mule deer at Malheur NWF. [Image: www.popsci.com/]

But beyond the hilarity of grown men deciding to occupy a remote bird sanctuary without adequate supplies, something larger and more sinister is at play, which could impact future public land hunting in a big way. Whether they know it or not, Bundy and his group are the grassroots extension of a movement gaining support in the Senate to transfer control of federal land to states. Now why would you want to transfer vast tracts of expensive-to-maintain federal land to small-budget states? Will states better manage them? If by manage you mean divestiture, then yes, states have an excellent track record of selling public land for private use. The oil, gas, timber, and mining interests behind this push know full well that states, in addition to being much softer legal targets, cannot take on the huge expenses of managing these lands, and as a result, will sell to the highest bidder.

In the western states, 70 percent of hunters hunt on land owned and managed by the federal government. While powerful lobbyists groups like the NRA try to make the issue of guns seem like the biggest threat facing hunters today, the real threat comes from the loss of wildlife habitat and hunter access. As anybody who has ever looked at the history of wildlife conversation knows, it was the privatization of land, which included market hunting, that led to the near-complete destruction of the American megafauna at the turn of the century. If the Bundys of the world got their way, they would put us on that same path of destruction, which hunters and environmentalists have since worked so hard to undo.

Mountains

Image: www.terrysteelenaturephotography.com/

This is OUR land, and it needs to stay that way. It’s best for the animals, and it’s best for us hunters.

A Beginner’s Guide to Foraging

Hunting and fishing are amazing ways to connect with our roots and ancestors, but another less popularized connection to the good ol’ days is foraging. Our wildlife counterparts still (mostly) find their food by foraging through the woods, but it’s rare to meet many humans who do the same. However, there are plenty of tasty plants and vegetables that you can find and consume just from a trip into the woods. Here are a few tips for beginners to keep in mind the next time you find yourself wandering around the great outdoors with an empty belly.

Foraging.

Looks tasty, huh? [Image: http://inhabitat.com/]

Study What is and isn’t Edible

This is probably the most important rule, hence why it’s first. You absolutely need to research what plants are edible and what plants may poison you (or at the very least, upset your stomach). Pick up a field guide—Peterson Field Guides are particularly information-rich and helpful—and read, read, and then read some more. And then once you start foraging, if you aren’t sure if a plant is edible or not, just toss it away. It’s not worth the risk.

Petersen Field Guide for Edible Wild Plants.

A great resource for new foragers! [Image: http://www.amazon.com/]

Respect the Plants

Different areas have different laws about foraging, so make sure to read up on the rule of the land in the area you’re trekking in. With these laws, there are certain plant species that are rare, protected, or even endangered, which means you should definitely avoid plucking those out of the ground. Additionally, never grab the entire root of the plant because then you’re making it impossible for that plant to reproduce again. And if you liked it enough to pick it, it’s almost a certainty that another creature would appreciate it as well. On that same train of thought, don’t overharvest a plant, either. It’s typically recommended to take 10–20 percent of the plant or however much you think you’ll need, otherwise you risk endangering a popular plant species.

Tree hugging.

Respectful foraging is the best kind of foraging. [Image: http://guardianlv.com/]

Know the Best Spots

Are there pesticides used here often? Is this the neighbor’s favorite spot to walk their dog? Does this area attract a lot of pollution and trash? Make sure you know the area you plan to forage in well before heading over there. This is food, and you don’t want to end up giving yourself an upset stomach because you didn’t do enough research into the area.

Berries.

Yummmmm. [Image: http://www.offthegridnews.com/]

Some Popular Choices

Foraging yields different results for everyone, but there are common plants that span far and wide, which you are more likely to come across. Keep an eye out for any of the following!

  • Dandelions
  • Hawthorn
  • Wild garlic
  • Elderflowers
  • Elderberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Stinging nettle
  • Mushrooms
  • Seaweed
  • Nuts
  • Apples

Foraged vegetables.

Looks like dinner to us. [Image: http://prepperbroadcasting.com/]

Happy foraging! Make sure you bring our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to help aid you in your journey.

Are Deer Hunting Cartridges Arbitrary?

How many times has picking the wrong rifle cartridge ended a hunt prematurely versus being unfit to hunt due to cold or poor conditioning? Nobody has ever gone into the woods to hunt deer with a .243 only to give up after seeing a big buck because they didn’t have a .300 Win Mag. Almost ritualistically, we continue to rehash the same arguments over guns and ammo at the expense of other items that have more bearing on actual hunting.

Type of hunting cartridges.

Image: 1source.basspro.com/

My point isn’t that big game rounds aren’t different, but that most white-tailed deer hunters are unable to take advantage of their differences. The task of deer hunting west of the Mississippi doesn’t really discriminate between a .243 or a .300 Win Mag. Because of modern bullet construction and the fact that most white-tailed deer are taken under 200 yards, a deer shot in the vitals with a .243 is just as dead as a deer shot with a .300 Win Mag. Yet we keep asking ourselves the same stupid question: What is the most effective deer round? The only answer to that question is, how much recoil can you stand? Everything else is basically meaningless.

Image: www.statesymbolsusa.org

Image: www.statesymbolsusa.org/

In my early 20s, I bought a 7mm Remington Magnum because I loved the look and feel of the gun, an older Sako Finnbear. It was an aesthetic choice. All I knew about the cartridge at the time was that it was plenty capable of taking a deer. Since then I’ve killed a couple deer with it, but never at distances greater than 100 yards. Where I hunt in Pennsylvania, it’s rare that you get a shot over 100 yards unless you want it that way or you’re hunting over an agricultural field. So what is a 7mm Remington Mag? At 50 yards, a 7mm Mag produces an obscene amount of energy—around 3,000 ft-lbf. What distinguishes a 7mm Mag from a .30-30 is that the 7mm Mag has the same energy at 500 yards that a .30-30 does at 50. They are vastly different cartridges. But again, I’ve never taken a shot over 200 yards, so I might as well be shooting a .30-30 (or any other deer cartridge for that matter) because I’m nowhere near being able to make use of its downrange energy. It’s not a problem, but it goes to show how arbitrary rifle calibre selection is when you’re shooting under 200–300 yards.

Most big game cartridges offer perfectly adequate performance under real-life hunting conditions. The constant hair-splitting over the ballistics of big game cartridges is mostly hypothetical nonsense that benefits gun makers but not hunters—it simply sells guns. To me, a discussion about the merits of different Vibram boot soles is more valuable and interesting than whether the .270 or .308 is a better deer round. We’ve somehow managed to equate hunting with shooting when, in many aspects, the shot is the least important component of the hunt. Guns don’t kill animals; smart hunters do.

New Year’s Hunting Resolutions

It’s time for the annual tradition of setting up unrealistic personal goals in order to thoroughly undermine them over the course of the new year. In terms of hunting, 2015 was a pretty good year for me. I gave myself ample time, hunted hard when the time came, and was fortunate enough to get a nice buck while still hunting (a first for me) during rifle season. But there is always room for improvement. Here are my five hunting resolutions for the 2016 season.

1. Go West

Image: hqworld.net

Image: hqworld.net

My grandfather was an Idaho elk hunter who died before I took up hunting. I can trace my interest in hunting and wild game to his stories of hunting the Idaho backcountry. Having hunted exclusively in the Northeast, I’ve always dreamed of going West for a backcountry elk or mule deer hunt. So this year I’m going to buy an Idaho mule deer tag and hunt the same mountains my grandfather hunted.

2. Farewell, Wood and Blued Steel

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless [Image: loomisadventures.com]

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless [Image: loomisadventures.com]

I love my pre-Garcia Sako Finnbear, but it’s nine pounds scoped and prone to surface rust during foul weather. It shoots cloverleafs all day long and has the smoothest action I’ve ever cycled. But it’s over nine pounds. One of the lightest rifles on the market, Kimber’s 84m, weighs just over five pounds. After a day of hunting with the Finnbear, I can barely lift my arms. It’s time to move on. Tikka T3 Lite Stainless, I see you.

3. Butchering

Image: guide.sportsmansguide.com

Image: guide.sportsmansguide.com

I’ve butchered deer and sent them to the butcher. The butcher charged me $70, which is very reasonable, but I didn’t get nearly as much meat as when I butchered the deer myself. While I appreciate the convenience of dropping a deer off at the butcher when you’re tired and beat up after hunting, doing it yourself yields more meat (usually) and gives you more control over how it’s processed. Butchering is also a great way to bring friends and family together. Sharpen the knives, invite some friends over, pour some drinks, and get cracking.

4. Take a Friend Hunting

Friends that hunt together stay together [Image: hdimagelib.com]

Friends that hunt together stay together. [Image: hdimagelib.com]

In 2015, I took my roommate (who had never fired a gun before) deer hunting, and he loved it. I truly enjoyed the process of sharing my knowledge with him, and in turn, was pushed to learn even more in order to better answer his questions. Maybe he’ll never hunt again, but at least now he has an understanding of the woods that he didn’t have before. My goal for 2016 is to take another friend hunting.

5. ALTADIFOY

Image: www.easttennesseewildflowers.com

Image: www.easttennesseewildflowers.com

ALTADIFOY stands for “Act Like There Are Deer In Front Of You.” I always seem to bump deer when I don’t think there are deer ahead. As everybody who hunts knows firsthand, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. So if you act like there are deer ahead of you (pausing every couple of feet, being alert, scanning ahead of you, etc.), even when they’re not, you’ll have a much better chance at finding them when they are there. What’s to lose? If you’re out hunting you might as well be the best hunter you can be.

4 Awesome Baconless Venison Recipes

Many absurd people treat venison as a meat that requires other kinds of meat to make it more palatable. When did we become such wusses? When I see bacon-wrapped venison tenderloin I want to cry. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into hunting this animal so you can wrap it in some cheap pork you got from the supermarket? What would your deer think about you two-timing it with some two-bit pig? Here are five simple recipes to impress your holiday guests that don’t attempt to hide the richness of venison behind additional fat.

Medieval Spit Roasted Venison

During the Middle Ages, open fire cooking was the standard method of both medieval chefs and the Roman Catholic Church. Follow chef and culinary historian Heston Blumenthal as he spit roasts an entire deer in the medieval style.

Corned Venison

Recipe adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Corned venison.

Image: http://honest-food.net/

Corning is an unbelievably simple process and a great weapon in your cooking arsenal. Corning venison is really no different from corning beef. One advantage to venison over beef is that it contains equal amounts of protein but much less fat. It’s basically diet corned beef. The question when it comes to corning is whether or not you want to use nitrates. I say go ahead and use them because your venison will taste slightly better AND, assuming you take the proper precautions, you won’t get botulism.

Ingredients:

  • 3-5 pound venison roast
  • Enough water to submerge your roast in a stock pot (1/2 gallon or 2 quarts)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 ounce saltpeter/sodium nitrate
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10–15 whole juniper berries
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 cloves

Directions:

  1. Place everything in your stockpot except the roast and bring to a boil. Remove the heat and cover until your brine has reached room temperature. This will take a couple hours. Pour brine in a large container or 2 gallon Ziploc bag and add the roast.
  2. The key to getting this step right is to make sure your roast is completely submerged during the brining process. Once submerged, place your roast in the refrigerator for 5–7 days. Feel free to flip the roast or stir the brine every couple of days.
  3. A week has passed, and you now have corned venison. Well, almost. Next you want to drain the brine and place your roast in a pot with fresh water. Don’t use a ton of water otherwise you’ll dilute the flavor. Cover the pot and simmer for 3–5 hours.
  4. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of corned venison. Enjoy hot or cold.

Venison Tacos al Pastor 

Recipe adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Venison tacos al pastor.

Image: www.dishmaps.com

Al Pastor has many different regional variations, but essentially it’s heavily seasoned roast pork (in this case venison) with pineapple and chilies. The only way you can mess this up is by eating it with flour instead of corn tortillas. Honestly, wet cardboard has more flavor than a flour tortilla. Don’t even get me started on whole wheat tortillas—the horror!

Ingredients: 

  • 5 guajillo chiles
  • 5 ancho chiles
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 can pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 1/2 pounds of boneless deer roast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add guajillo and ancho chiles. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chiles soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the chiles and discard stem and seeds. Meanwhile, coarsely chop one onion in half; reserve remaining half. Strain pineapples, but keep the juice for the next step.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, puree all of your chiles, chopped onion, pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, and cumin until smooth. Transfer chile mixture to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring your chile mixture to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Let the mixture sit until cool. Now combine your marinade (mixture), venison cubes, and pineapple chunks in a large container or Ziploc bag, and transfer to refrigerator. Let marinate for up to 24 hours. 
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. After straining the marinade, cook your pineapple and venison cubes until golden brown.
  4. Finely dice the other half of your onion and combine with cilantro in a small bowl. Serve on warm tortillas with onion, cilantro, and a spritz of lime.

Nittany Jack’s Preacher Meat and Kale Sandwich

Sliced venison.

Image: manvsmeat.com

If you don’t already know, venison and dijon mustard are a match made in heaven. The tart, stinging bite of a good dijon is the perfect compliment to the earthy and slightly nutty flavor of venison. The key is to not overcook the venison. You don’t exactly want sashimi, but you also don’t not want sashimi—do you know what I mean? This is my go-to venison dish when I don’t have a ton of time and want something delicious and moderately healthy.

Ingredients:

  • Venison backstrap or tenderloin (1/4 of a whole backstrap or 1/2 of one loin) sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
  • Baguette or ciabatta
  • Salt & pepper
  • Kale
  • Horseradish
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Pickled garlic or one clove of fresh garlic
  • Dijon mustard
  • Vegetable oil

Directions: 

  1. Sometimes I like my kale raw, other times I like it sautéed. For sandwich building, however, sautéed kale tends to work better because the moisture helps bind things together. Heat some olive oil on low-medium heat in a small pan. Add your kale and garlic. Once the kales cooks down and starts to wilt, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook for another couple minutes then remove.
  2. Heat your vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Pan sear 2–3 venison slices at a time until rare or medium rare. Remove.
  3. Now lay your sliced bread face down in the same dirty skillet that you cooked the venison (very important). The bread will toast while it absorbs the remaining venison juices.
  4. Now slap everything together with some dijon and a touch of horseradish. Wrap the sandwich in a paper towel as they tend to get messy.

Go Hunting in a Local State Park!

There are plenty of hunting opportunities available at state parks where you can see gorgeous views, illustrious trails, and, of course, lots of local wildlife. The best part of getting involved in the hunting scene at a nearby state park is that you won’t have to travel too far to enjoy the great outdoors. State parks are one of our most valuable resources in this country, so make sure you utilize them! Here are just a few states that offer exciting hunting events that you might want to join in on.

Controlled Hunting and Trapping Events, Ohio

Hunting in Ohio.

There are an estimated 600,000+ deer and 200,000+ turkeys in Ohio. [Image: http://hunt-ohio-deer-and-turkey-on-public-land.com/]

Join the Ohio Division of Wildlife and traverse through various areas that are normally closed to hunters. Youths and adults are eligible to participate, and individuals will be chosen based on a random computer generated drawing. There are opportunities to take part in controlled trapping, controller waterfowl hunting, and controlled deer hunting.

Learn more here.

Open Hunting, Managed Hunts, and Hunting Workshops, Virginia

Top counties for hunting in Virginia.

Image: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/

Virginia is an obvious choice for hunting, and luckily they have plenty of options! Similar to Ohio’s style, they have a lottery system-based for managed hunts for deer and feral hogs. Additionally there are also specific hunts tailored to youths (ages 12–17) and the disabled. If interested, you can make a reservation for specific sites, even claiming a certain zone or stand. Or simply partake in Virginia’s open hunting areas, which can be found at Fairy Stone State Park, Grayson Highlands State Park, Hungry Mother State Park, or Occoneechee State Park.

Learn more here.

Reserved Hunts, Indiana

Pheasant hunting in Indiana.

Pheasant hunting in Indiana. [Image: http://www.indianapheasant.com/]

Although the application submission deadlines have passed for many of these, they’re useful to keep in mind for the future. There are chances to get involved in various state park hosted deer, pheasant, and waterfowl hunts. From January 31 until March 24, you can submit applications for adult and youth turkey hunts as well, so keep your eyes peeled for those!

Learn more here.

Before you head out hunting this season, make sure you download our Pocket Ranger® Fish and Wildlife apps to aid in your adventures. Happy hunting!