Tag Archives: Wildlife

My Thoughts on Hunters Criticizing Hunters: Do it

Image: http://www.prohuntersjournal.com/

Image: http://www.prohuntersjournal.com/

By Jack Kredell

When did hunters become so sensitive? Every other week some think piece comes out in one of the major outdoor publications warning hunters about the dangers of criticizing other hunters. In the big hunting forum I frequent, whenever somebody posts something critical of high fence operations or comes out in favor of wolves, they get called an anti-hunter. You’d think we were the most sensitive group in America. Most recently, “Outdoor Life” published an article by hunter and blogger Tyler Freel that faithfully repeats the dogma:

Worse than any anti-hunter’s criticism is friendly fire, attacks from within our community of hunters. The only thing anti-hunters would love more than to see us destroy hunting from within is to see all hunting gone. I don’t know if hunters attacking and belittling each other’s methods is more common now than in the past, but it is certainly more audible and visible. And it’s often reduced to a simple and damning phrase: “That’s not hunting.”

This appeal to self-censorship is a disturbing trend within the outdoor community. It’s disturbing for several reasons, the most obvious being the apparent inability of hunters to deal with criticism. Another disturbing pattern is the deep and self-righteous investment in what non-hunters think of their activities. So much so that hunting is often depicted for them as opposed to other hunters. This kind of extreme reactionary behavior is the real reason why hunters and anti-hunters have a problem with one another. It’s how we’ve arrived at the silliness of people posting bloody grip and grins on Facebook and then getting upset when they’re called a monster. The problem comes from within, not from without.

Within, not from without: Hunters are afraid to pass judgment on one another because the mainstream elements of our culture tend to promote the view that our way of life is under attack from the outside. The modern hunter lives more or less in a constant state of emergency. There isn’t a day that goes by where the modern hunter’s inbox isn’t bombarded with emails begging for attention and money about this or that politician and this or that company refusing to accommodate gun owners. It follows a logic that we should all be familiar with from this political cycle: Blame anything or anybody for our problems except ourselves. Not enough jobs? Build a wall. Elk are all gone? Kill the wolves.

The idea is that we have to band together to combat this external threat, a threat that never actually occurs (meanwhile the guns and ammo fly off the shelves, and it’s a victory for the NRA). It’s ironic how the prohibition on judgment reproduces the very political correctness that annoys conservatives.

Does PETA want to end hunting? Yes. Are there lots of groups that would like to see an end to hunting? Sure. Is the EPA part of a liberal conspiracy to weaken industry from within and close rivers and streams to fishing? No. Did the auto insurance industry, in cahoots with state fish and wildlife agencies, introduce wolf-hybrid coyotes to the eastern United States to reduce deer vehicle collisions (many hunters in my state believe this)? Doubtful. The only way we’re going to get out of this insane deadlock between hunter-conservationists and environmentalists and between hunters and anti-hunters is if we mutually disown the more irrational elements of our respective sides and really come to terms with what we both want. Because I really do believe that the majority of us want a similar thing: Land that belongs to everyone and no one simultaneously and that anybody can enjoy the way they see fit.

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!

After the Hunt: Wild Turkey Recipes for Spring

Don’t wait until fall to devour that gobbler! These three wild turkey recipes are perfect for dining al fresco this spring. Looks like it’s time to fire up the grill.

Wild Turkey Mole

Courtesy of Jonathan Miles at Field & Stream

Wild turkey mole [Image Credit: Johnny Miller]

Image Credit: Johnny Miller

Mole originated in southern Mexico, and traditionally includes dozens of ingredients cooked over the course of many days. This recipe, adapted from Chicago chef Rick Bayless, is less demanding but still has so much of that traditional flavor. When grilling the turkey, remember not to overcook! This recipe serves 4. Leftover mole can be frozen.

Ingredients

  • 1 wild turkey breast, whole or split
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 2 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil, divided
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 2 slices white bread, torn into chunks
  • 1 chipotle chile with sauce from a can of chile con adobo
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 quart chicken stock, plus slightly more if needed
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Tear the dried ancho chiles into pieces that will lie flat in the pan. Toast the pieces on both sides until they begin to crackle, but flip or remove them once they start to smoke. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl filled with hot water and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. While the chiles are soaking, heat 1 tablespoon of lard or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deep golden brown (about 8 minutes). Remove pot from heat.
  3. Arrange the tomato halves cut side up on a sheet pan. Place the tomatoes under a broiler set to high. Roast the tomatoes until blackened and bubbling, about 5 minutes, then flip tomatoes and roast the other side for the same effect. Allow the tomatoes to cool, then peel off as much skin as you can. (Some charred bits left behind on the tomatoes are fine and will add character to your mole.)
  4. Scrape the tomatoes and any juices into a blender, then add the cooled onion and garlic to the blender. Drain the ancho chiles, discard the water, and then add chiles to the blender. Add nuts, bread, chipotle, cinnamon and about 2 cups of chicken stock to the blender, and blend until very smooth. (Note: Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all ingredients are blended. Add more stock as needed to yield a smooth, pourable puree.) Press the puree through a sieve into a bowl.
  5. Over a medium-high burner, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon lard or oil in the same pot or Dutch oven (rinsed and wiped clean). When the oil begins to smoke, add the puree and stir constantly for 5 – 7 minutes, or until the mixture has considerably darkened and thickened. Add the remaining chicken stock, wine, vinegar, and bay leaves, and reduce heat to low. Simmer this mixture, partially covered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more stock or water as needed to maintain a saucy consistency. Add salt and pepper along with a tablespoon of sugar, to taste. Keep the sauce covered while you cook the turkey.
  6. Allow the turkey to sit out covered, at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Light a medium fire on one side of a charcoal grill, leaving the other side open. (If you are using a gas grill, set the burners to medium on one side.) Rub the turkey breasts with olive oil, and generously salt and pepper them. Place the turkey on the grill, directly over the heat, and cook each side for about 5 minutes to brown it. Move the breast to the side without coals and cover the grill. The turkey is done cooking when a meat thermometer placed in the its thickest park reads 150°F. (The size of the breast and temperature of the grill will determine cooking time.) Wrap the cooked turkey breast in foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Gently reheat the mole as needed.
  7. To serve, slice the meat across the grain. Ladle the mole onto plates and nestle the turkey into the sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls

Courtesy of Something Sweet Something Salty

Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls [Image: somethingsweetsomethingsalty.wordpress.com]

Image: somethingsweetsomethingsalty.wordpress.com

These mouthwatering wild turkey rolls are so easy to make. They would make a great addition to any BBQ. Even the leftovers are delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb thick-cut peppered bacon
  • 1 can pickled, sliced jalapenos
  • 1 1½ lbs wild turkey breast

Marinade:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ingredients for marinade.
  2. Cut meat into 1½-inch cubes. Add meat to marinade in bowl. Let meat marinade for a minimum of two hours.
  3. Cut each piece of bacon in half. Into the center of a bacon slice, place one slice of jalapeno over one cube of turkey. Tightly roll bacon over turkey and hold in place with a toothpick.
  4. After cleaning the grill, heat to medium heat (around 300°F – 350°F). Place rolls on sides and cook slowly, turning every few minutes. Since bacon grease will be dripping down, keep a spray bottle handy to chase away flare-ups. When the bacon is fully cooked, the meat should also be fully cooked.
  5. Remove cooked turkey rolls from grill and let stand for five minutes before serving.

Grilled Turkey with Greek Lemon Sauce

Courtesy of Martha Daniels at Missouri Department of Conservation

This delicious wild turkey recipe reminds us of the Greek street food, souvlaki. Just make sure to make enough – everyone at the BBQ is going to want thirds.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs wild turkey, skin removed, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Directions

  1. In a medium-size bowl, stir together olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the turkey slices to this marinade. Cover and place in refrigerator to marinade for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. To make the lemon sauce, mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. When finished marinading, place the turkey on wooden skewers to help hold in moisture. Grill over medium heat until done, about 10 minutes or more.
  4. Serve skewered turkey with lemon sauce.
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!

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!

Wintertime Pigs

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

When it comes to colder weather and hunting, most people immediately turn almost all of their attention to deer. And while deer season certainly is a big deal, it’s important to remember that in many parts of the country, it’s still legal to harvest wild pigs during the deer season. This is nice not only because you can still have a chance to fill the freezer if you don’t harvest a deer, but also because it can help keep the invasive pig issue somewhat under control. It’s important, however, to remember that hunting pigs during winter differs slightly than hunting them during the warmer months. Take the following tips into consideration when hunting pigs during the colder months, and you might just walk away with some bacon.

Man holding gun next to a wild pig

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Staying cool

It’s no surprise to anyone that pigs like to wallow in the mud. But one must remember that pigs wallow primarily to stay cool. When it’s already cold outside, the need to lay down in a mud hole and stay cool diminishes greatly. Though areas where pigs wallow are always a great place to check out, I personally wouldn’t spend nearly as much time in these areas as I would in the summer. The pigs simply don’t need it as badly.

Finding Food

As always, pig are… well… pigs. They need to eat, and they eat a lot. Unfortunately, they’re extremely difficult to pattern. Winter doesn’t make this task any easier as they’ll roam far and wide to not only find food, but to stay warm. If you have access to food plots or feeders, these are probably going to be your best options. Look for pigs to stay out more during daylight hours, too. Depending on the temperature, their need to stay warm will actually outweigh the need to stay cool.

Hunting rifle on top of spotted wild pig

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Increase range

Imagine a swamp in the deep south and how thick the foliage and cover can be during the summer. That cover, however, is a little different during the winter. Yes, there will always be places that are thick as can be, but generally a lot of foliage dies off during the winter months. Use this to your advantage and try taking something different than the slug gun. I personally like to break out the 30-06 with a 3×9 scope for pigs during the winter. On low power, I have easy target acquisition and I can take advantage of the newfound distance I can see in the woods.

Technology

Wintertime is an awesome chance to use new gadgets and technology when hunting pigs. Thermal imaging such as FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) and Nightvision can really step up your pig hunting game to the next level. As stated before, winter means slightly less foliage, so it’s easier to see a long distance with the Nightvision without all the brush in the way.

Two hunters as seen through night vision goggles

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Similarly, it’s easier to spot hot spots with thermal imaging because inanimate objects (stumps, logs, etc) don’t heat up as much during the day. They stay cooler, and help eliminate the chances of mistaking a stump for a boar. Just remember to check your local and state laws regarding such equipment.

Wild hog as seen through night vision scope

Image Credit: Alex Vail

So, the next time you get ready to take a trip to the woods, remember these tips while you’re bundling up in the morning. Just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean a summertime favorite activity is done for. Afterall, bacon and eggs is hard to beat on a cool, crisp morning.

Attend a Fish & Wildlife Hunting Workshop

With Fall bowhunting and muzzleloader seasons here at last, you won’t want to miss a hunting workshop near you that will help you get the most out of the season. Check out this list of hunting workshops hosted by Fish & Wildlife divisions countrywide.

Two hunters return from hunting in the woods

Image: www.pbase.com

Alabama

STEP OUTSIDE Youth Dove Hunts
October 4 & 11 (Washington)
October 18 & 25 (Monroe)

Dove hunting is a great way to introduce hunting to young adults. Sponsored by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, these hunts work in cooperation with landowners, volunteers, business and organizations to provide an educational hunting program for youth. Registration for this hunting workshop is open to hunters under 16 years old, but they must be accompanied by an adult of at least 25 years old or a parent with a valid state hunting license. Participants are encouraged to wear eye protection and ear plugs at the dove hunts.

New Hampshire

Wild Game, From Field to Table
October 8, 2014
7PM

Love the hunt, but not a fan of the taste? As part of their Outdoor Adventure Talks series, the New Hampshire Fish and Game is presenting a FREE seminar with master game chef Denny Corriveau, Founder of the Free Range Culinary Institute about how to prepare the best-tasting game dishes. Chef Corriveau removes the mystery surrounding cooking wild game, and will show you important techniques that will greatly improve flavor. Part of this seminar includes a hands-on cooking demonstration. You don’t want to miss this hunting workshop!

Calling All Whitetails/Firearms Season Tactics
October 15, 2014
7PM

Another edition of the NH Fish and Game Outdoor Adventure Talks series, this FREE workshop will help you prep for this year’s firearms season. Dean Vanier, a Knight Rifles Pro-Staffer and founder of North Woods Hunting Products will reveal all of the whitetail’s superior defense mechanisms and how to read them. Vanier has over 35 years experience scouting whitetails, and will explain when, where and how to use calls and scent to attract deer as well as more information about the three phases of the rut.

Two deer stand in the fog

Image: www.northamericanwhitetail.com

New Jersey

Rockport Pheasant Farm Open House
October 25, 2014
10AM – 3PM

If you’d like to know more about how over 50,000 ring-necked pheasants are raised for New Jersey’s “put and take” hunting, head to Rockport Pheasant Farm’s Open House. This 492-acre facility is operated by the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, and includes a state-of-the-art incubation and brooder building. The open house offers a self-guided tour with Rockport staff on hand at each station to explain the process and answer questions. Pheasants from the farm are released throughout 24 different Wildlife Management Areas in New Jersey.

Oregon

Family Elk Hunting Workshop
October 26, 2014
9AM – 4PM

New to elk hunting? Or just a little rusty on the basics? This FREE family-friendly workshop presented by the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is meant for beginners and those wanting to get back into hunting. Focusing on elk, the workshop will cover topics such as biology and behavior, field dressing, hunting strategies, and regulations. Staff will also help participants understand how to choose the right hunting rifle, how to scout, and how to use maps to find hunting territories. There will be a live fire component where participants will be able to try firing a variety of hunting rifles. Scouting will include live demonstrations of how to read animal tracks and follow a blood trail.

The workshop caps at 24 adults and 6 youths over the age of 9, which makes this a great opportunity to interact with other hunters and ask questions. A hunting license is not required to attend the hunting workshop. Lunch will be provided. Make sure to reserve your spot!

Arkansas

Squirrel Hunting for Beginners
October 28, 2014
6:30PM – 7:30PM

Hosted at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock, this FREE workshop is a great way to introduce kids and first-time hunters to the sport. Squirrel hunting does not require any special or expensive gear, and the season is open for 9 months, making it the perfect sport to hone hunting skills. In this workshop, participants will learn how to hunt for squirrels, firearm safety, where to look for quarry, and savory squirrel recipes. Who knows? You may be the next Mac English! Register at the Nature Center, by calling 501-907-0636. This event is presented by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.