Tag Archives: Deer hunting

Five Kinds of Hunters

We all seem to know a hunter, typically an older gentleman, who walks into the woods wearing blue jeans and walks out two hours later with a big buck. He does this year after year, no matter the conditions. And then there’s his opposite—the guy who spends thousands on gear, but refuses to leave the house when it’s raining or too cold. He puts all his trust in pricey scent control products, believing himself to now be immune to the perfect sensory apparatus of a deer’s nose. When he happens to luck out on a big buck, he sends a group text to 40 people with the words “too easy,” and when he doesn’t get a deer, he complains that there aren’t enough hunters in the woods “moving them around.”

1. That Guy

Image: Jack Kredell

Image: Jack Kredell

This is the guy we talked about in the intro. He thinks that Under Armour is the key to any successful hunt. He also shows up to camp with a new rifle every year chambered in the fastest and trendiest round commercially available. He punches holes in the bullseye all day long from a lead sled and calls himself a deadeye. Don’t be That Guy.

2. Business Casual

Image: www.konbini.com

Image: www.konbini.com

He’s a bit lazy, a bit out of practice, but he hasn’t forgotten how to hunt. He just doesn’t get out of the city enough. When he’s in the woods he’s quiet, respectful, sometimes deadly—yet he doesn’t particularly care whether he gets a deer or not. He’s simply there not to disappoint dad. He gives That Guy the evil eye in camp.

3. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Image: www.michigan-sportsman.com

Image: www.michigan-sportsman.com

This type is almost always a younger person with an impressive resume for his age. His teenage years were spent apprenticed to a Jackal or Warlock (see below), and the only thing holding him back is that twinge of impatience that sometimes gets the best of him. What really sets him apart from other hunters his age is his desire to become a better hunter with each outing (hence the impatience). Nevertheless, all the essential tools are there for him to reach the next stage, and that little bit of impatience will fade with time.

4. The Jackal

Image: www.film.com

Image: www.film.com

Jackals, like coyotes and foxes, often figure as tricksters and pranksters in the mythological world. And this kind of hunter is just that: He’s brilliant, but sometimes his cleverness and skill leave him apathetic, so he tries more unusual and daring tactics that don’t always pay off. You’re surprised when he returns to camp empty-handed, but you also note the enigmatic grin he’s wearing. It means he passed on several deer that everybody else in camp would have shot.

5. The Warlock

Image: galleryhip.com

Image: galleryhip.com

What can we say about this guy? He’s so skillful that a band of Neanderthals would adopt him. When he walks into the woods, it’s like watching one of the baseball players from Field of Dreams disappear into the cornstalks. He has a no detectable body odor because he lets the weather dictate all of his actions. He’s a light breeze if the breeze could carry a .30/06. He knows more than a deer biologist, yet he probably couldn’t give you the name of the scent gland on top of the deer’s head. Like I said, blue jeans are sufficient combined with a rain poncho over a knit sweater. The biggest deer on the mountain is his for the taking. Sadly, his kind seems to be on the way out.

5 Perfect Deer Knives

A deer knife should be between three and four inches, comfortable in the hand, and capable of holding its edge for the duration of the task. Not all knives will hold an edge, so it’s important to consider the kind of steel being used (just because you can get a knife razor sharp doesn’t mean it will hold an edge). In general, thinner blades will sharpen better than thicker ones, but keep in mind a deer knife is not a shaving razor. You want to be able to cut through muscle, tendon, cartilage, skin, and even bone if need be. Does your knife need a gut hook? No. Why? Because on a good knife, a gut hook is redundant, ugly, and tends to get in the way. Cutting open your deer without puncturing the stomach or intestines is easy assuming you don’t have a Rambo knife. Here are what I consider five perfect deer knives.

EnZo Trapper

EnZo with curly birch handle [Image: www.casstrom.se]

EnZo with curly birch handle. [Image: www.casstrom.se]

The EnZo trapper combines Scandinavian looks and blade geometry with the strength of a full tang bushcrafting knife. It is widely thought to be one of the best hunting/outdoor knives on the market today. The 3-3/4 inch blade is ideal for dressing deer and serves as a general purpose field knife. If you find a new one for $100 (as you sometimes can), don’t hesitate to pick it up. EnZo Trappers are also available in kit form for those of you looking to build your own.

Buck 110

Buck 110 [Image: www.youtube.com]

Buck 110 [Image: www.youtube.com]

The popular Buck 110 folder has dressed more deer than all the knives on this page combined. But what led to its rise as an icon for American outdoorsmen? The answer is versatility. Because of its robust handle and safe locking mechanism, it is stout enough to use with a baton or even as a hammer (I’ve done it, and I’m not proud). Yet the blade is thin and nimble enough for precision tasks like skinning, deboning, and slicing. The Buck 110’s combination of finesse and power had never been available in a folding knife before, and it changed the knife-making landscape forever.

Bark River Gunny Hunter

Gunny Hunter [Image: www.knivesshipfree.com]

Gunny Hunter [Image: www.knivesshipfree.com]

What I love about Bark River’s Gunny Hunter is the design’s fine synthesis of robustness and ergonomic comfort. It feels like an extension of your fingers when you hold it. One of the important differences between the Gunny and the Gunny Hunter is that the latter’s tip has been slightly lowered to give it more belly. At 3.7″ it is perfectly capable of dressing anything from rabbit to elk. The version in A2 steel offers both ease of sharpening and excellent edge retention. This is your knife if you’re looking for something to take into the big woods that will also perform basic bushcrafting tasks.

Morakniv Clipper

Mora Clipper [image: www.ebay.com]

Mora Clipper [image: www.ebay.com]

The Clipper is that knife you buy thinking it will be your beater but you end up liking it more than your “preferred” knife. Mora knives offer pure utilitarian value at the lowest possible price—it almost doesn’t make sense to buy any knife other than a Mora. At only $15, the Mora Clipper or Companion will perform as well as a knife that costs ten times as much. I personally don’t like the rubber handles or plastic sheaths, though.

Helle Symfoni

Helle Symfoni [Image: www.workwearcanada.com]

Helle Symfoni [Image: www.workwearcanada.com]

Maybe you can tell by now I’m a bit partial to Scandi knives. I like the Scandi grind for two reasons: They’re incredibly easy to sharpen because the bevel acts an angle guide, and two, Helle knives are proof that you don’t need a big, heavy knife to dress large game. The Sami people of Scandinavia have been dressing reindeer and moose with traditional three and four inch puukko knives (what Helle knives are based on) for millennia. Helle knives are incredibly lightweight and easy to carry. The Symfoni is a sleek, triple laminated, stainless knife with a razor sharp 3-1/2 inch blade. The blade’s medium length and thinness make it ideal for dressing deer and other medium to large game.

There is simply no reason for your deer knife to be longer than four and a half inches. Don’t be the guy who shows up to deer camp with a Rambo knife—show up with something sensible and efficient.

Women Hunt Too: Huntresses We Admire

Often there’s a misconception that only men hunt (or fish), but we want to dispel that myth. Getting down in camo in a hunting blind is not a gender exclusive activity, and there are more than a few awesome huntresses that we admire out there.

Women have been involved in hunting since the beginning of history. Cave drawings displayed women joining in on the hunt, mythological huntresses were depicted in ancient Greek and Roman culture, and ancient Egypt saw queens often hunting from the comfort of their chariots. It’s no surprise that in today’s society there are plenty of noteworthy huntresses paving the way for the outdoorswoman of the future.

Andrea Fisher

Andrea Fisher with a buck.

2011 Prois Award winner, Andrea Fisher. [Image: https://www.pinterest.com/]

Huntress and conservationist Andrea Fisher was the 2011 Prois Award winner, an award that honors women who are dedicated to hunting and conservation with involvement in their community. Fisher won a trip to hunt elk, mule deer, wolf, and whitetail in the Canadian Rockies alongside Diana Rupp, the editor-in-chief for Savage Encounters and Sports Afield.

Eva Shockey

Eva Shockey and a whitetail buck.

Eva Shockey and a beautiful whitetail buck. [Image: http://outdoorchannel.com/]

Canadian huntress and daughter of Jim Shockey, Eva was featured on the May 2014 issue of Field & Stream Magazine, the first woman to be featured in 30 years. Eva has grown up in the face of hunting media, following in her father’s footsteps. It’s no surprise that she is now a cohost of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures, blazing the trail for huntresses worldwide.

Debra Card

Debra Card and her moose.

Debra Card and her amazingly antlered moose. [Image: http://www.wideopenspaces.com/]

In 1999, Debra Card snagged a number one Safari Club International (SCI) spot for an Alaska moose she killed right outside of Cordova. Its antlers spanned over six feet with 39 points and scored her 731 1/8-inches. This monster has held the number one spot for more than a decade now!

Mary Cabela

Mary Cabela and a bighorn sheep.

Mary Cabela and a beautiful bighorn sheep she shot. [Image: http://www.outdoorlife.com/]

Everyone’s at least heard of Cabela’s, and it’s not surprising that co-owner Mary Cabela is an impressive huntress. She has records for more than 200 animals, many of which are SCI trophies. Some of her kills include cape buffalo, caribou, Dall sheep, elk, and much more.

Gearing Up for Archery Season

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

Fall archery season is right around the corner, and in some places, like my home state of Florida, it’s already under way in a few areas. Now is the time to start preparing and thinking about how you’re going to turn this season into a successful one. But before you go racing off into the stand, there are a few things to keep in mind that can not only help make your season more successful, but also a little safer.

A view from the bow looking over a river.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

Gear, Gear…And More Gear

Let’s be honest, most of us haven’t really looked at our hunting pack since last season. It’s beyond time to go through it and make sure you have everything you need and that those items are in good working condition. Things like plenty of reflective tacks/tape, batteries for your flashlight, first aid kit, etc. There’s nothing worse than getting out into the field only to discover you’ve forgotten something vital at the house because you haven’t updated your pack.

A camo-colored backpack.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

And we shouldn’t forget about probably the most important piece of gear for archery season: The bow itself. It’s vital to make sure that your bow is functioning just as it should. Ensure that each arrow you’re carrying with you hasn’t (somehow) received some damage over the course of the year and that all the fletching is in good condition. All of this, however, should be taken care of LONG before it’s time to hunt because it’s past time for practicing. It doesn’t really matter how well you’ve got your gear together when you’re out of practice in the actual shooting process.

A bow and arrows with a target.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

Water, Water Everywhere

Depending on what part of the country you’re hunting, archery season can be anything from pretty warm to downright hellish. Here in Florida, it’s the latter. It’s practically still summer here, and scouting/trudging around in the woods looking for deer isn’t the coolest activity one can do in 90+ degree weather. Always make sure to carry more water than you plan on drinking. And don’t stop drinking. As a good rule of thumb in the heat, if you stop sweating then you’re already dehydrated.

Speaking of water, this time of the year still brings plenty of rain. Many roads will be flooded thanks to high water levels. Remember to never drive into water when you don’t know how deep it is. It seems like common sense, but I’m shocked every year at the amount of flooded trucks I see from people who’ve done just that. And it isn’t just roads that get flooded. In many instances, the woods will be too. If you’re hunting any low lying area, just be sure to have footwear that can get wet. Just because the area was dry during scouting season doesn’t mean it’ll be dry on opening day.

A view from the bow looking into the woods.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

Naturally with rain comes thunderstorms, and with thunderstorms comes lightning. This time of the year, afternoon thunderstorms are a daily occurrence. If you’re lucky enough to have cell signal from your stand, be sure to have some sort of radar app downloaded and check it often. If not, don’t be a dummy and sit in a tall tree during a lightning storm. Seek cover immediately.

The Deer Themselves 

You can, of course, do everything right and still not see deer. This time of the year is rather unique. The deer have been unpressured for the past nine months so they won’t be exhibiting those highly pressured deer patterns. They won’t, for the most part, be completely nocturnal. However, it is still very hot out. Just like us, animals don’t want to get too hot. This time of the year, they will lay low and ride out the heat of the day in order to come out in the late evening and early morning. Don’t kill yourself by being in the stand for too long in the morning or too early in the afternoon. The bucks also haven’t really begun showing signs of rutting activity yet. You can expect to find a few rubs here and there, but rarely any scrapes. Bucks will often still be cruising around in bachelor groups this time of the year, so try and take that into account when picking a stand. It’s hard to pattern a single animal during early archery season.

So if you find yourself, like many of us, chomping at the bit to get out in the stand with a bow, just take all of these things into account before you leave. Make sure your gear is in proper working order and you’ve got everything you need. Feel confident with your shooting abilities, and always keep an eye on that weather. With any luck, you may very well be staring at a bachelor group of bucks in the near future—there are few ways to better start off a season than with a successful hunt.

5 Military Surplus Rifles for the Budget Hunter

I’ve never understood why more people don’t hunt with military surplus rifles. They’re inexpensive, rugged, easy to maintain, and ammunition is now readily available through the Internet. Understandably, a heavy rifle with iron sights leaves a lot to be desired if you’re hunting out West, but on the East Coast where the average shot is probably 75 yards or less, why not give the surplus rifle a go? Why not learn to shoot the old-fashioned way? Glass can fog up, lose its zero in the field, or put the hurt on your wallet, but iron (provided you know how to use it) will never fail you. And unlike lightweight yet overpowered modern hunting rifles, older service rifles are a pleasure to shoot because the extra weight absorbs more of the felt recoil, giving the shooter more of a push than a thump when fired. So for the more adventurous and budget-minded hunter, I recommend the following options.

Russian M44 Mosin Nagant

Image: en.wikipedia.org

[Image: en.wikipedia.org]

The M44, produced in the later stages of WWII, is the carbine version of the famous Model 1891, a Russian bolt action rifle that has been documented in armed conflict as recently as 2014 in the Ukraine. Next to the AK-47, the Model 1891 and its variants are among the most mass-produced firearms in history. With over 37,000,000 manufactured in the Soviet Union alone, it’s not hard to see why you can usually pick one up at a gun show for a little over $100. The round it uses, 7.62x54mmR, is a rimmed cartridge with a ballistic profile similar to the 30-06, which means it’s perfectly suited to taking big game in North America. While surplus rifles are a good thing, surplus ammo often is not. Spend a little extra and pick up some quality hunting ammo.

Swiss Schmidt-Rubin K-31

Image: classicfirearms.com

[Image: classicfirearms.com]

The Karabiner Model 1931 (K-31) is a straight-pull bolt action in 7.5x55mm Swiss (almost identical to a .308) that was the standard issue Swiss infantry rifle from 1933 until 1958. The straight-pull action is unique in that a round is chambered when the bolt handle is pulled directly back, rather than being turned or rotated. Among the era’s bolt actions, only the British Lee-Enfield had a faster rate of fire than the K31. Where the K31 outshines most WWII service rifles is accuracy, and the Swiss dedication to individual marksmanship is reflected in the K-31’s excellent machining, craftsmanship, and finish. In today’s market, you can get a pretty good K-31 for $400.

Yugoslavian or “Yugo” Mauser

Image: http://home.comcast.net/

[Image: http://home.comcast.net/]

This can refer to either the M24, the first Mauser-based rifled to be manufactured in Yugoslavia, or to the Zastava M48, a post-World War II Yugoslavian copy of the Karabiner 98K. The reason I’d recommend an off-brand Mauser over say a 1942 German K98 is that the former will run you about $300 while the latter, depending on its overall quality and manufacturer’s stamps, can fetch upwards of $1,000 at auction. While not exactly German-made, you’re still getting the robust and legendary Mauser-designed bolt action chambered in the powerful 8mm Mauser. You can’t go wrong with either.

Italian Carcano Model 1891/38

Image: www.icollector.com

[Image: www.icollector.com]

The Carcano achieved widespread notoriety when, according to the Warren Commission, a scoped 91/38 Carbine was used by Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate  John F. Kennedy. Most surplus Carcanos will be chambered in 6.5x52mm Carcano, a round not unlike the American cult classic .257 Roberts. On today’s market, Carcano’s fetch anything from $150 to $400 depending on the chambering and level of wear. Overall the Carcano is a fine and handy bolt action chambered for a round perfectly suited to hunting white-tailed deer.

British Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk 1

Image: en.wikipedia.org

[Image: en.wikipedia.org]

The No. 4 Mk 1 was a late 1930s variant of the British SMLE (Short Magazine Lee-Enfield) officially adopted by England for service in 1941. Chambered in the powerful and versatile .303 British, the action was known for its accuracy, durability, and high rate of fire. After the Mosin-Nagant, the Lee-Enfield rifle platform is the second oldest still in official service, and the .303 remains a popular hunting cartridge throughout the world, especially in Canada. Like the Mauser, the Lee-Enfield saw a post-war resurgence as a hunting platform and modern “sporterized” versions without the original furniture can be had online for as little as $250.

People spraying with insect repellant, tucking their pants into their socks, and checking their hair for ticks.

How to Avoid Tick Bites While on the Hunt

Nothing puts a damper on your day of serenity in the woods quite like an unwelcome tick bite and the looming possibility of Lyme Disease and other tick-related ailments. Plus no one wants to bring a pup covered in ticks back into their house. It’s important to remember that ticks are most prevalent in the spring and summer, usually from April until September since they strive in humid, warm weather. Here are five tips so you can have a tick-free experience in the woods and an overall more pleasant outing.

A tick.

Don’t let this guy ruin your day! [Image: http://fmcpestwire.com/tackling-ticks-and-fighting-fleas/]

1. Wear light clothing so you can easily see ticks crawling around or waiting to make their move.

2. Long sleeves, long pants, and hats are your new best friend. And don’t forget to tuck those pants into your boots! In fact, bow hunters will be happy to hear that tall rubber boots are the most ideal for preventing a tick bite.

A man tucking his pants into his socks to avoid ticks.

Dress the right way to protect yourself from ticks. [Image: http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/protect_yourself]

3. Avoid heading through dense brush or sitting directly on the ground. When walking down a trail, make sure you’re walking smack down the center of it.

4. Insect repellant (especially those with Deet in it or Permethrin) can protect both your skin and clothing. The most important spots to spray are your legs/pants, socks, and shoes. And don’t worry about the scent interfering with your hunt either—there’s plenty of scentless insect repellants available.

5. Most important is to check yourself (hair, underarms, under your knees, and basically all over!) and gun dogs frequently for ticks throughout your session. Intermittent searches can lead to finding ticks before they’ve bitten.

People spraying with insect repellant, tucking their pants into their socks, and checking their hair for ticks.

Check yourself (and your gun dog) thoroughly for ticks during your outing. [Image: http://www.northeastlandscape.com/Merrimack-Valley-Lawn-Tick-Control.htm]

These are just five handy tips to keep in mind when you’re out and pursuing your next big kill. A clear, calm mind that isn’t distracted by the thought of ticks is your best hunting tool, after all!

image: www.ancient-origins.net

Should Millennials Hunt? A Response to Michael J. Parker

By Jack Kredell

Michael J. Parker’s Huffington Post article “Millennials Must Hunt” recounts the story of his life-changing first hunt and calls on Generation Y to take up hunting as a way to resist the environmentally damaging industrial food apparatus. According to Parker, the queasy refusal to personally source our food has lead us “to outsource the ‘sausage-making’ to third party leviathans, whose increasing power have left us disconnected from the wild.” Parker’s solution is for the eater to reabsorb the “emotional, environmental, and psychological burdens” through hunting. “The further we put ourselves from the source of that act,” writes Parker, “the worse the impact for everyone and everything in the chain.” The solution is for Millennials to return to a pre-industrial or ‘direct’ mode of food production through hunting, thus ending our dependence on industrial food practices.

As a city-dwelling Millennial who began hunting in college for many of the same reasons as Parker, I completely agree that we need to radically rethink our food practices. I also think that hunting might be part of the solution. However, going on a thousand dollar guided mule deer hunt in the Yellowstone wilderness because it offers “the most honest possible version” is not a viable solution to the food crisis: it’s a form of privilege. Millions of Americans already supplement their diets with fresh wild game every year, and the vast majority don’t require expensive guided hunts in the wilderness to do it. The arrogance of a first-time hunter to say what honest or real hunting should look like.

Parker’s version of nature and hunting is also deeply elitist. This is hunting as safari, a cottage industry where people spend large amounts of money flying to exotic locations for the experience of hunting wild animals in their ‘natural’ habitat. Not only does it privilege one ‘natural’ environment, Yellowstone, over others-it simply isn’t sustainable. Are we all going to fly to Montana and ride horses into the wilderness for our food? Why not don loincloths and spears to make it even more authentic?

The deeper problem with Parker’s model is that it operates under the romantic notion that the social and environmental crisis is rooted in the individual’s existential relationship to the world. Hence this truly warped and counterfactual statement about our reliance on industrial farming: “It is our fear of facing the gruesome consequences of our own choices that leads use to outsource “the sausage-making” to third par party leviathans, whose increasing power have left us disconnected from the wild.” Industrial farming is widespread because of the demand for food that, unlike a Yellowstone mule deer, people can afford. That it does so at the expense of quality and the environment is a direct result of the socio-economic inequalities brought about by capitalism. It has nothing to do with us not choosing to have an existential and authentic relationship with our food. Even paleolithic societies had a division of labor.

The problem is not the distance between people and their food, but between people and other people-the chronic income inequality that sustains and even makes necessary cheap industrial food. The irony is that the kind of hunting Parker encourages is not the least bit sustainable, and nor is it the kind of hunting that millions of Americans already take part in. If anything, Parker’s story reads like an attempt to reinsert masculinity into the food chain as a response to the intergenerational power struggle between hard conservative Baby Boomers and soft liberal Millennials.

When it comes to solving the food crisis, we need to abandon individual concepts like authenticity and start thinking in terms of collectivity. A solution that doesn’t benefit everybody is part of the problem. Parker’s call on Millennials to hunt is little more than an exercise in privilege that snobbishly ignores the millions of American hunters who already practice a more sustainable version than Parker’s. Everybody should have the right to eat good food, not just young entrepreneurs who go on thousand dollar deer hunts when the equivalent can be accomplished few miles from home for the cost of a 20 dollar hunting license.

Related articles

3 Recipes for the Wild Game in Your Freezer

In the Northeast, it’s been nothing but freezing temperatures and snow, ice, and more snow. Naught to do but hole myself up in the kitchen and finally get to all the wild game I’ve got stocked in the freezer. Since there are so many recipes for cooking wild game, here are three favorites that I’ve recently cooked up.

Indian Butter Pheasant

Courtesy of Food for Hunters

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

I love Indian food. So, when I saw this curry recipe, I knew I had to make it. Unlike other curry recipes, this one has ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Garam masala, a mixture of spices that can found in the spice aisle, adds a really nice warming element to the dish. I also liked that the curry is thickened with minced cashews instead of cornstarch. This recipe makes about four servings.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 pound skinless pheasant breasts (and legs, if you want)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

Curry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 shallow, finely chopped
  • ¼ of an onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (leftover from marinade)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup finely ground cashews
  • 4 servings of jasmine or basmati rice

Directions

  1. In a food processor or using a mortar & pestle, blend the ginger and garlic together to make a paste. Scoop out the paste and put into a small bowl. Add yogurt, peanut oil, salt, and garam masala to the ginger and garlic paste. Mix well. Reserve 2 teaspoons of this marinade mixture in a small Tupperware container and put in refrigerator. (You’ll be using this little bit for the curry sauce.) Put pheasant in a large ziplock bag and pour in the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  2. Grill or broil pheasant pieces until browned on the outside. Don’t cook all the way through! The pheasant will finish cooking in the curry sauce. Cut breasts into bite-size pieces and shred meat of the leg bones. Set meat aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallot and onion until translucent. Then stir in butter, lemon juice, the reserved garlic-ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomato puree to skillet and stir for 2 minutes. Next, stir in 1 cup of cream and ¼ of plain yogurt. Add cayenne pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in ground cashews. You may not have to use all of the ¼ cup, so just use a bit at a time, stir and decide if the sauce needs more thickening. If you’re sauce has gotten too thick, add a bit more cream or water.
  6. Add pheasant chunks to the curry sauce and heat thoroughly. I cooked mine in the sauce for about 8 minutes more. Add salt & pepper to taste to the curry sauce. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve curry over rice.

Chipotle Pheasant Quesadillas

Courtesy of The Gift Fox 

Hen pheasant on a fence post [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

I cooked more pheasant than I needed for the curry recipe above, so I had one cooked pheasant breast leftover. Pulling these quesadillas together is so easy, perfect for a weeknight meal. You should be able to find a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Latin/Spanish foods section of the grocery store. This recipe makes 1 large quesadilla or 2 small quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant breast, cooked
  • 2 – 3 chilis from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/3 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 large flour tortillas (or 4 small soft taco shells)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream and salsa, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Shred pheasant and add to heated skillet. Add chilis to skillet.
  3. With a wooden spoon, stir together chilis and pheasant so pheasant is covered in chipotle flavoring. Cook pheasant until warmed through, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to heat through on low heat, so you don’t dry out the meat.
  4. Place tortilla (or soft taco shells) on large baking sheet. Whether you are making just one large quesadilla or two smaller ones, layer the ingredients. On the bottom layer, spread out a ½ cup or so of the shredded cheese. Over that, add the black beans, followed by the chipotle pheasant. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the pheasant, and then top with the other tortilla.
  5. Put quesadillas in oven and bake for 10 minutes or so, just until the cheese melts. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Or just stand over the stove and devour.

 

Country-Fried Wild Venison Steak Sandwich

Courtesy of Harvesting Nature

Two halves of a venison sandwich [Image: harvestingnature.com/2015/02/11/country-fried-wild-venison-steak-sandwich]

Image: harvestingnature.com

Is carmelizing the onions completely necessary? Yes. This is the kind of recipe that the next day, you find yourself making again under the premise that “you just have to use of up the rest of that horseradish sauce.” If you’re concerned about the lack of veggies, top your venison with a healthy bunch of baby kale greens.

Ingredients

Carmelized Onions

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into long slivers
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Horseradish Cream Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Country-Fried Venison Steaks

  • 1 lb venison steaks
  • 2 sandwich buns or 4 pieces of Texas toast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cups flour
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • Oil, for frying
  • 8 slices of white cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. To prepare the carmelized onions, heat a wide thick-bottomed pot or pan to medium heat. Add olive oil, heat for 1 minute, and then add onions. Cook onions for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add salt and cook additional 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Once onions are carmelized, turn off heat and set aside.
  2. While onions are carmelizing, mix sour cream, horseradish, and chives together in a small bowl. Season the horseradish cream sauce with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. To make the steaks, begin heating oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  4. One by one, place steaks in a ziplock bag and with a meat mallet, pound down to approximately ¼” thickness. (After this, you may need to cut the steaks in half for ease of battering and frying.)
  5. Season steaks with salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning.
  6. On a shallow dish, mix beaten egg and milk.
  7. On another shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
  8. Dip each steak into the flour, then submerge into the egg wash, and finally dredge back into the flour.
  9. Place the battered steak into the heated oil. Flip steak once to ensure both sides are properly golden brown. Remove the steak from the oil and place on a towel.
  10. Evenly disperse the cheese amongst the steaks, and top steaks with carmelized onions.
  11. Cut buns in half (if applicable) and cover the inside and outside with butter. Toast each side of the bun/bread. Coat the inside of the buns with horseradish sauce.
  12. Place the venison and carmelized onions within the buns and enjoy!

The Things We Lose

Dark trees on a foggy day in the woods [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

I’ve lost all manner of things in the woods including, but not limited to, the following: hats (so many hats), knives, rope, extra socks, a thermos, lighters, tobacco, rolling paper, my glasses, a glove (alas, to lose one is to lose both), prescription pills, smart phones, animals I might have shot, a salt shaker, bullets, gun powder, and my wallet. I’m not sure if my knack for losing things is a consequence of the way I hunt, which can be described as overzealous at times, or if I’m simply prone to losing things. Here are a few of the more unfortunate highlights:

Grandfather’s Gerber

image: uhrforum.de

Image: uhrforum.de

After my grandfather passed, his wife sent me a box of hunting gear and included was a little Gerber folder from the early 1980s. Though unremarkable and cheap looking, the knife was used for over a decade by my grandfather to dress elk and mule deer in Idaho’s West Mountains. Put in the hands of an amateur, its story would end unceremoniously on a frigid mountaintop in Pennsylvania. While deer hunting one winter, my feet became so cold that I had build a fire to get circulation back. After making the wood shavings I stuck the knife in a bed of frozen moss thinking I would eventually need more. But I forgot about the knife and walked away. I went back a few days later but the knife was either gone or I couldn’t find the original location. I picture it still out there, rusting defiantly in its grave of moss.

A Doe

The wind was howling so I decided to still-hunt a creek bottom that normally was too loud to walk during the fall muzzleloader season. I promptly walked up on a doe standing 20-yards away drinking from a creek. As I raised my gun she looked up, and I put the sight, which was set at 75 yards (mistake number 1), just behind her left front shoulder and fired. Through the smoke I saw the deer walk about 5 yards before lying down. I put the gun against a tree, reached into my backpack for a bullet (mistake number 2: keep your bullets in your pocket), and began to reload. When I finished, I looked up and the deer was gone. I spent the next 8 hours and the following day searching for a blood trail but found nothing. If I did hit the doe, then there is no excuse for losing her. There is nothing more distressing and painful to the hunter than failing to recover a wounded animal.

Android Smart Phone

I lost my first smart phone during a fall turkey hunt within a week of buying it. Rather than tuck it away in my backpack, I placed it in a bed of leaves at my feet in order to check the time without moving my arms around too much. After four or five hours of calling, I decided to call it quits and head home for lunch. As I stood up, I heard something behind me and turned to see a hen take off flying into the valley. I threw my hands in the air and sulked off, leaving my new Android under the tree for a more deserving hunter. The lesson: glass your surroundings before you stand up.

Thermos

Losing my thermos was a real shame. There was nothing I enjoyed more than pouring myself a cap-full of steaming coffee and watching as the morning sun splashed into valley. It is at that moment when I’m most aware of the beauty and possibility surrounding me, and more often than not, it is the best part of the hunt. The day I lost it I was hunting deer with a flintlock when it began to pour freezing rain. Since I could not prevent the primer from becoming toothpaste, I began the hazardous journey home. On my way down I slipped on the ice and knocked the thermos out of my jacket pocket. I only realized it was gone when I got to the bottom, and in those conditions I wasn’t going back up.

The woods giveth and the woods taketh away.

Tag Soup and Lessons Learned

I hunt public land in the ridge and valley province of Central Pennsylvania. Mistakes made on public land tend to be amplified given the amount of hunting pressure, annual variance in food sources, and difficulty of terrain. Success here is the result of being either very astute or very lucky (or both).

Pennsylvania public forest land during hunting season

Hunting Territory [Image: Jack Kredell]

This year I got to dine on a big hearty bowl of tag soup. Coming up empty-handed after putting in 60 – 70 hours of hunting time in six days is enough to make you doubt your ability – and your sanity. Here are a few lessons learned from this year’s hunt.

Feed Yourself

If you hunt from dark to dark, as I often do, pack enough food and water to keep you energized and alert throughout the day. The best way to achieve this is by eating in small quantities continuously. When you don’t eat and drink enough, you lose focus and start thinking about that nice, warm meal at home (seriously, you waited an entire year for this moment and now you want to go home and eat spaghetti?). As a result of your mental fatigue, your steps become careless and loud because you’re not committed. Next thing you know you’re watching a buck’s rear-end disappear into the thick stuff.

They’re There… Somewhere

There are deer everywhere. Even if this isn’t true, you should act like there are deer everywhere. How many improbably placed deer have you carelessly bumped while hunting and scouting? Like a million. The hardest thing is to be ready all the time.

Measuring big buck print in the mud

Never did catch up with this guy. [Image: Jack Kredell]

Stay Put

The grass is always greener. What usually happens is that I’ll settle into a spot only to see another spot over the way that looks even better. So, I put my backpack on (noise), stand up (more noise and just about the worst thing to do in the woods), and move (more noise) to the spot that looks even better. And, of course, from this new spot I see a spot I like even more. Just stay where you are and have confidence in your decisions. If the deer are moving in your area, you’ll know it.

Prep Your Scope

Your scope is going to fog up in bad weather. Modern scopes are filled with nitrogen, which makes the inside fog-proof but not the outside. At a critical moment in the hunt you don’t want to be looking through a foggy scope. I recommend installing Butler Creek flip-open scope covers. If you’re sitting down, hold the rifle away from your body so that your body heat doesn’t fog up the scope. Your body’s warmth, not the rain, is the enemy of your scope.

A series of tree scrapes in Pennsylvania; two are buck rubs, one is from a porcupine feasting on the bark

Two buck scrapes & leftovers from a porcupine feast [Image: Jack Kredell]

Adapt

From a tactical perspective, a hunter should find that sweet spot between patience and adaptation. That spot you scouted earlier in the season might be perfect… for a cold, sunny day. But now the wind is blowing and rain is coming down in sheets. What then? It’s time to adapt. Patience can be overrated. Some of the best fishermen I know are the most impatient people in the world. They don’t waste their time on something they know won’t work well. Anybody can get lucky in unfavorable conditions, but more often than not you need to take luck into your own hands.

I got skunked this year. I saw plenty of deer, perhaps more than ever, but nothing that I could legally shoot. The good thing is that I put in over 60 hours the first week of rifle season, so I have no regret – or excuses. The only bad hunting is not getting out to hunt.

Happy holidays and happy hunting!