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Politics of Bowhunting, Deer Hunting Easy Compared to Crane Hunting

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 03:34
Patrick Durkin

Deer hunting sparks some of the ugliest political fights you’ll ever see, whether it concerns antlerless hunts, deer baiting or opening our archery season to crossbows.

But to see true culture clashes, nothing compares to efforts to open hunting seasons on mourning doves or sandhill cranes. OK, wolves too. But that’s another blog.

Sandhill cranes and Canada geese feed in a central Wisconsin field.

There’s no reasoning with many folks from the birding community when you calmly note their opposition lacks logic. Take Wisconsin, for example. You’d expect that with nine humdrum mourning dove seasons behind us that Wisconsinites could politely discuss a hunt for sandhill cranes.

But no. Mention a sandhill hunt, and folks still cock their fists and get sideways, even though no one’s life crumbled from dove hunting. No one seems to remember that spite vanished like spiced dove breasts on hor devours trays after dove season opened in 2003.

Likewise, if we established a sandhill crane season tomorrow, we’d be yawning by Labor Day. But in proposing a crane hunt this past winter, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, did Wisconsin hunters no favors by citing crop damage as a hunting justification.

If foraging cranes trouble Kleefisch and his fellow legislators, why did they abolish earn-a-buck rules for deer hunting? No critter rivals deer for damaging crops and plants, and no program whacked whitetails like earn-a-buck.

Sandhill cranes are distinguished by their red-capped head.

In killing EAB, lawmakers parroted my fellow hunters who claimed there aren’t enough deer, and that hunters aren’t pest-control officers. But when the Associated Press asked Marshfield’s Marlin Laidlaw, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’s agricultural damage committee, about Kleefisch’s proposal, Laidlaw said sandhill cranes are out of control:

“The problem with the people who don’t understand wildlife and wildlife management, they join an organization and fall in love with a particular species. As far as they’re concerned, you can’t have too many. They just don’t get it. You’ve got to control populations.”

Hmm. Was Laidlaw talking about sandhill cranes or white-tailed deer? For years he loudly opposed EAB and the Department of Natural Resources’ efforts to reduce deer numbers.

We can agree, however, that most people don’t hunt to provide the public free pest-control services. We hunt because it’s exciting and challenging, and provides lean free-range meat no store can match. Granted, when the DNR regulates hunting to prevent critters from becoming a danger or nuisance, that’s a bonus; even a necessity. But it doesn’t motivate most hunters.

 Sandhill cranes can be viewed as both a majestic bird and great table fare.

Meanwhile, protectionists neither help cranes nor their cause by blindly opposing a hunt. Karen Etter Hale, a vice president of Wisconsin’s Audubon Council, told the AP: “If hunters want to further damage their reputation by pushing for yet another species to hunt, then that’s what they should do.”

Yep, that’s right. Stay on your side of the tracks, people. Folks like Etter Hale said the same thing about dove hunting in Wisconsin a decade ago. But a hunting season for a plentiful, large-bodied, good-eating bird isn’t about reputations. It’s about reminding our timid DNR of its historical mission to promote public hunting and fishing when self-sustaining species can provide meat, fur and recreation.

Meanwhile, Madison’s Audubon Society posted a “Sandhill Crane Hunt Alert” on its Web site, encouraging members to contact legislators.

Sigh. Why do people with similar goals hate working together? Hunters and bird-huggers both donate to habitat-conservation causes. Both smile and perk their ears at goose music and crane bugles. And both quote Aldo Leopold more than the Bible.

Well, here’s a Leopold quote bird-folks ignore: “Game management is the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use.”

That’s the opening sentence of Leopold’s seminal book “Game Management,” which guided North America’s efforts to replenish the birds and mammals we nearly wiped out 100 years ago through unregulated development, market hunting and subsistence hunting.

In Leopold’s spirit, Etter Hale, Laidlaw and other conservation leaders should seize crane hunting as a chance to work together. First, they should join forces to establish the season, and require hunt applicants to pay $15 and those receiving a permit to pay $25 more. If opponents don’t like hunting, they can apply for permits and burn what they receive.

Next, the state could earmark fees for the International Crane Foundation, and equal amounts for the DNR’s endangered resources bureau, which needs help. Its 2011 budget was $5.9 million, most of it from donations.

That’s only 12 percent of the Wisconsin DNR’s combined budgets for its fisheries bureau, $26.5 million; and wildlife bureau, $21 million. Most of those budgets are funded by anglers, trappers and hunters.

Birders should be emulating that generosity rather than demanding government impose their values on everyone. Besides, as Leopold proved, people can be both hunters and bird-lovers. They can see sandhill cranes both as majestic birds and flying rib-eyes. They acknowledge -- and embrace – life’s apparent contradictions.

The great ones, like Leopold, make it look easy.


Bison by bow Part 1

by Josh Fletcher 13. February 2012 14:45
Josh Fletcher

The North American Bison also called the buffalo once roamed in the eastern forests, the oak savannahs of the Midwest, in the vast prairies and mountains of the west.  The Bison population in the early 1800’s was estimated at approximately 50 million strong.  It was common for trains to be stopped for hours waiting for the immense herds of the thunder beasts to cross the railroad tracks. Herds would stretch miles wide by miles long, turning the prairie black from a distance with their shaggy coats. The bison were Mother Nature’s cultivators of the prairie. With so many bison with their massive weight, the hooves would tear up the prairie, stirring up dormant seeds in the soil, buffalo chips were natural fertilizer to help jump start the new seeds growth, to provide new and fresh forage in the years to come. They were the perfect balance between fauna and flora on the North American continent.

The Native Americans survived off the large thundering beasts. Natives would do large buffalo drives, luring and funneling bison to stampede off an edge of a cliff, ultimately falling to their death. Quickly the members of the tribe would all work together at cutting up and utilizing the dead beasts. The bones were used as tools, hides as shelter and cloths, dried meat for food and the bladders for water bags. Nothing was left to waste; the bison provided life to those who depended on them.

The author making his final preparations before the hunt

After the Spanish introduced the horse to North America, Native Americans developed new and more efficient ways of feeding their families with buffalo. They utilized this new animal that carried man on their back while running at the speed of the bison. Native Americans began chasing bison on horseback. They were equipped with spears and the bow and arrow. The arrows were often equipped with flint sharpened to a razors edge.

As the early settlers began expanding their way west of the Mississippi River, the bison began to compete with the settler’s crops and cattle for the valuable yet vulnerable land.  The settlers had no concept of conservation, and believed that they would never eliminate the herds in their life time.
As the railroads worked their way west, buffalo were shot to feed the workers. These buffalo hunters were hired by the railroad companies to supply fresh buffalo meat to their workers. One of these buffalo hunters became known as Buffalo Bill Cody.

The bison hunters would use the modern technology of the time with their long range guns. They would look for the herd leader. By taking out the leader of the herd first, the remainder of the bison would stand there not knowing what to do. They would just keep dropping the bison one by one until they ran out of shells. I was once written by a buffalo hunter that his hunting partners shot so many bison that they had to urinate on their guns to cool the barrels.
As railroad’s made their way west, the hide of the bison became popular, along with the bison tongue as a delicacy in fancy restaurants. The hunters turned from shooting for meat to shooting for hide and tongue. Thousands of carcasses would be left to waste in the blood stained prairies. The vast herds of approximately 50 million strong were decimated to less than a 1,500 in North America. As the bison disappeared, early conservationists realized that the bison were on the brink of being extinct.

Citizens lobbied the United States President Ulysses S. Grant to help save the buffalo. President Grant replied that the Indians depend on the buffalo to live, with the elimination of the buffalo, means the elimination of the Indians, leaving them subject to reservations. President Grant refused to save the bison.

Several private organizations along with concerned citizens captured and raised several of their own herds to prevent them from becoming just a page in the history book. Other remaining herds sought refuge in the remote Canadian wilderness.

Today the bison are no longer in danger of becoming extinct. The population that was once approximately 1,500 animals has been brought back to approximately 500,000. This is still a far cry from the once 50 million that roamed North America. Out of 500,000 bison today, half is found in the United States. Out of approximately 250,000 animals in the US, over 90 percent are privately owned bison on farms and ranches.
I began my quest for taking a buffalo with the bow just this winter. Being intrigued by the history of the North American Bison, I too wanted to take part in a hunt that dates back centuries ago. I began my quest looking for a free ranging wild buffalo.  After doing research on places to go, I quickly felt the impact of the early settlers over a hundred years ago. There are only several select areas in North America that true free ranging bison exist. They are Alaska, parts of Canada, Utah, Arizona, along with smaller herds in several other states. I learned that some of these tags may take a life time to draw, or the price of the tag was too high for me to afford in my life time. I was determined to hunt bison by bow and was not willing to except that this hunt may take years before I could get a chance. I realized that my best option was to begin looking at hunting with the 90 percent private herds for a hunt this year.

I began calling outfitters and ranchers. The first one I called offered the quality of hunt I was looking for. I wanted to fill my freezer with good clean high quality protein at a reasonable price. With all things there are the pluses and the minuses. This ranch offered a great hunt, however by the time I paid for the hunt and the gas to get out to South Dakota I would have maxed out my wallet for this years hunt.

Again being determined to find the right place to make my dream hunt come true at a reasonable price and at a very short notice, I contacted another ranch. This ranch offered a bison hunt at a reasonable price and was close to home. When I asked how big of an area I would have to chase down my dream bison, I was told it was a vast 70 acres! That’s not vast! That’s a pasture! Was my reply as I quickly hung up the phone trying to be polite to the rancher.  I know that the majority of buffalo are privately owned on ranches but I still wanted a real experience, not a walk up to your animal and kill it experience.
Just when I thought there was no hope for a buffalo hunt this year, and that it may take me many years to draw a wild herd tag, I found a ranch located in north east Iowa. The ranch is called Scenic View Ranch, located near the little town of Monona, Iowa. I quickly called the owner, Lloyd Johanningmeier. As I asked Lloyd questions about his ranch, I quickly realized this is where I am going to try and take my first buffalo with the bow.
Scenic View Ranch has over 300 acres of beautiful hard woods bluffs with the fastest running river in Iowa, the Yellow River running through the property. As I talked with Lloyd it became quickly apparent that Scenic View Ranch’s main goal to show the hunter a good time in a very relaxed atmosphere. Some ranches I contacted did not even allow archery hunting for buffalo, but not Lloyd, he actually encouraged it and his hunts were close to home at a very reasonable price.
I have never hunted on a ranch a day in my life, so I have no clue what to expect.  My biggest concern was that I did not want a “canned” hunt. I truly wanted to match wits with one of these big thunder beasts. Lloyd reassured me that this will truly be a hunt. 300 acres in the wide open prairie may seem small, but 300 acres in the large rolling hard wood bluffs means they can be any ware. Also some ranches would not let you keep your entire animal that you killed. Being a do-it yourself style of hunter, I didn’t feel that this was fare. If I’m paying for the hunt, shouldn’t I get to keep the entire animal that I killed? At Scenic View Ranch you keep what you shoot, and you don’t pay unless you shoot what you are looking for.

A recipicating saw does an excellent job at cutting through large bone

Lloyd was patient with me and all the questions that I was inquiring about the hunt, and every time I talked with him, the conversation started out about the hunt but quickly we found ourselves talking like we have known each other for years. It didn’t take me long to book my buffalo hunt at Scenic View Ranch.

With the hunt booked, I immediately began preparing for the hunt. I will be using the Mathews Helim bow set at 68 pounds of draw weight. My arrows are Carbon Express Maxima Hunters and the broad heads will be the NAP two blade Blood Runners.

I quickly started hitting the range, fine tuning my archery skills. The best part about shooting outside in the winter time is that I’m practicing at the range wearing the heavy bulky clothing that I will be wearing during the hunt.

While practicing daily under cold weather conditions, I also hit the web and books learning about the anatomy of the buffalo. The key is a well-placed shot. You can shoot 80 pounds with the  best broad head, but if you don’t hit your mark, or if you don’t even know where that mark even is, that high powered bow doesn’t do you any good. I quickly learned that the vitals in a buffalo sit very low in the chest cavity, I also learned from reading forums of different hunters that most people shoot too high in the buffalo’s chest. The mark that I am looking for is the top of the heart or both lungs. If I find the buffalo’s elbow joint and draw a horizontal line until I hit the shoulder crease, ware those two lines meet will be my mark. Hopefully I can be presented with a quartering away shot to lodge the arrow up into the kill zone of the big thunder beast.

It takes alot of preperation to process a 1000 pund animal yourself

Next I had to figure out what I’m going to do with the buffalo if all goes right and I get him on the ground. Again being a do-it yourself hunter, I’m choosing to process the buffalo myself. To transport the meat we are using an elk hunting trick, by placing a freezer in a trailer and trailering it to the hunting location. This works great for handling a large animal such as an elk. Once back at camp, you cut the meat up and vacuum pack the meat prior to placing it in the freezer. Then just plug the freezer into a portable generator and let it run over night to cool and freeze the meat if you are in a remote location. If the meat is frozen solid and the lid stays closed, the meat will remain frozen in the freezer for days. Also a chest freezer has the capabilities of holding several hundred pounds of meat.

For cutting the meat we will be bringing knives of varying sizes. A handy trick for cutting large sections of bone, such as splitting a carcass in half, is using a reciprocating saw with a fine tooth blade. We will also have a hand bone saw for the smaller bone cuts. I also have two vacuum packing machines; two meat grinders, 200 one pound bags for holding ground burger, 12 boxes of vacuum bags, freezer paper, and don’t forget a good knife sharpener.
The weather looks like it is going to be warm, in the mid 30’s for the hunt which is going to take place in less than a week, on February 17. We will be packing all the camera gear to bring the action into your home right here at Be sure to check back for part two of this blog to read about how the hunt unfolded, and the end results.

Product Testing the Oliso’s Pro VS97A vacuum sealer

by Keith Southworth 17. December 2011 19:28
Keith Southworth

To my delight Oliso®’s Pro VS97A vacuum sealer has solved the two major issues I have with home vacuum sealing.   In the past I’ve had more than my fair share of vacuum sealed bags that have lost their seal.  Traditional home vacuum sealing machines seal the entire width of the bag and if you’re using the roll instead of bags, multiply the sealing surface area times two.  Handle the sealed bags after they’re frozen and you’re taking a chance at compromising the seal.  That happened to me so many times that I had to figure out my own solution to the problem.  My answer was to triple seal the open ends.  Oliso’s creative solution was to reduce the vacuum sealing area to the size of a nickel coin and use tougher bags with a zip lock seal making them much more reusable.  I like their solutions better.  It’s more efficient and saves time and money.

Look closely above and you’ll see my triple seal on both ends and notice the paper towel inside

The other major issue I had sealing bags was created when moisture from food was sucked out and pulled across the sealing surface which would prevent a good seal.  My solution for this problem was to put a paper towel in the bag in front of the sealing surface to absorb the moisture before it reaches the sealing surface.  Oliso®’s unique sealing system appears to have solved this problem too.

I was annoyed at having to do both of these work arounds, but the benefits of vacuum sealing food made it worth the trouble.  Vacuum sealed foods last up to five times longer in your freezer. 

The Oliso VS97A comes in a durable case and includes a 12 volt plug for sealing on the go

At first glance Oliso®’s frisper® vacuum bag look like a very similar to a regular zip lock freezer bag but a closer look will reveal a very strong heavy mill bag with printed guides to direct where to seal the bags.  The quart bags have ten seal guide spots and the gallon bag has twelve guide spots.  This makes the frisper® vacuum bags much more reusable than traditional vacuum bags.  Each time you reuse a traditional vacuum seal bag you lose a lot of room because you have to cut off the old seal and then allow enough space to place the open end of the bag into the vacuum area and allow room for the new seal.  The most I’ve ever been able to reuse a traditional vacuum bag was three times and by the end, I only had half the bag I started with.

The Oliso®’s Pro VS97A vacuum sealer comes in a durable carrying case and offers a dual power option of 110 or 12 volt with the use of the included 12 volt adaptor plug.  With those two features, it makes this vacuum sealer a very useful tool on hunting, camping or fishing trips.  It also includes a vacuum tube which makes it possible to use vacuum canisters or mason jars for sealing other types of items

You can buy vacumm canister, and even use mason jars for vacuum storage with the use of the vacuum tube

I decided to jump right in to testing the VS97A by seeing how well it would seal a couple of steaks and an ample amount of marinade.  Since moisture has been my Achilles heel in the past when vacuum sealing I thought this would really good test.  Much to my delight I got a great seal on my very first attempt.  My next test was to try to break the seal by bending the seal back and forth and handling the bag roughly.  Again I was delighted by the bag holding up to my rough handling.  The next test was to freeze the bag and then rough handle it.  Once again the bag seal held up and maintained its seal.

Preparing to give the Oliso® the ultimate test, sealing a bag full of marinade

The Oliso® frisper® bag held up to rough handling after it was frozen and held its seal

If you’re in the market for a vacuum sealer, I can recommend the Oliso Oliso®’s Pro VS97A vacuum sealer.  I’ve added it to my Christmas list.

Smoking-My New Favorite Cooking Method

by John Mueller 14. December 2011 14:32
John Mueller

I bought myself an early Christmas present a couple of weeks ago. Cabela’s had an invitation only sale for Cabela’s Club Card holders. I went and cashed in all of my club points and picked up a Cajun Injector Smoker. This is one of the tastiest purchases I’ve made in a long time. I’ve found a whole new way of cooking.

My new Cajun Injector Propane Smoker.

One of my first projects was a smoked venison backstrap. After searching the internet for instructions and talking to a coworker I came up with a recipe. First I split the backstrap down the middle. Then I generously sprinkled it with extra virgin olive oil. I then mixed a venison rub with a barbeque seasoning and rubbed it into and coated the meat with it, giving a good coating. I plan on experimenting with many different types of rubs and seasonings in the future.

To add flavor I generously coated the backstrap with Olive oil and a rub.

Because the backstrap is a very lean cut of meat with no fat I felt like I needed to make sure it would not dry out during the smoking process. I stuffed the split tenderloin with bacon and then wrapped the entire thing in a layer of bacon.

Coating the meat with bacon keeps it from drying out.

I preheated the smoker to 200 degrees and got a good smoke going with some Hickory wood from my farm. I placed the bacon wrapped backstrap on the shelf of the smoker and closed the door. What a beautiful smell filled the yard. I just love the smell of Hickory burning. I monitored the temp, keeping it between 200-250 degrees for about 2 hours, until the internal temperature of the meat was 150 degrees. Man does that look delicious. I couldn’t wait to get it in the house and served on a plate for dinner.

I smoked until the internal temperature reached 150 degrees.

That's enough to make anyone's mouth water.

A meal fit for a king, and tasty too.

The Hickory Smoked Venison Backstrap was a huge success. That was some of the best tasting venison I have ever eaten, and tender too. My new smoker will definitely be getting a workout whenever the weather permits. My next project is a smoked turkey breast. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Preparing Now For Trophy Whitetails This Fall- Part 2

by Josh Fletcher 28. July 2011 13:35
Josh Fletcher

It’s the end of July and the dog days of summer are upon us.  Temperatures are in the 90’s with a heat index of 100 degrees, there is no better time to get ready for this upcoming deer season than now. With warm temperatures and heavy rains recently, our food plots placed growing in to full gear. These warm temperatures with good soil moisture has also sprouted the weed growth, and like most of you that planted your food plots this spring I’m sure that your also seeing a surge in weed growth in your plots also. The last couple of days I have been out to our property and checking on the food plots for any maintenance that may be needed. Below is what we found and what we did to improve the status of our plots so if you see similar problems, you can try it on your property.

The first plot that I checked on was our clover and alfalfa plot. This is a food plot the stretches along an old two track road. The clover is showing great growth and the alfalfa is not far behind. We do have some grass in spots where the clover is thin and the grass is beginning to take over. With clover plots you will want to keep the weeds at bay, because when a strong surge of weeds begin to take over it may choke out your clover.  At this stage we have two options to establish a good clover and alfalfa plot. The first option is by mowing. You can mow the plot allowing the clover and alfalfa to regrow and get a jump on the weeds. The second option is to spray the weeds with a select herbicide. Do to the fact that our clover plot is still young yet and in its first year of growth we decided to spray with a select herbicide to control the grasses.

To control weeds on the clover plot we used "Poast Plus" select herbicide

The select herbicide that we used is called Poast Plus. This herbicide is safe to use on clover and alfalfa. It attacks the grasses without damaging the clover and alfalfa. Using a sprayer attached to my ATV with a seven foot boom, I mixed up 15 gallons of Poast Plus herbicide. With just a flip of a switch I was easily weeding our clover plot.

The sprayer that we are using is a Fimco 20 gallon tank with a seven foot spray coverage

The next plot I checked was our oat and pea plot. The oats are coming up nicely, however there was not a single pea plant to be found. The deer have already grazed all the peas out of the plot. Looking for another filler to replace the peas without tilling up the already established oats, we broadcasted a seeding of annual rye. The plan is to have the rye cover any bare spots in the plot to provide additional forage this fall. Like the oats, deer love to forage on the rye as it is still young and tender.


The oat plot was over seeded with annual rye and sprayed with 2,4-D herbicide

While seeding the annual rye in the oat plot I noticed a fair amount of broadleaf weeds growing in the plot. Just like the clover plot, we needed to control the weed growth to prevent our plots from being choked out. Also like the clover plot we opted to use a select herbicide. However unlike the clover plot you need to use herbicide that attacks broad leaf weeds and not grass. The herbicide of choice is 2,4-D. This herbicide is safe to use on crops such as oats, rye, wheat, corn, and sorghum. After waiting for the rye to begin its growth stage, we applied the 2,4-D to the oat plot.

The last food plot on our property was the upland plot. This plot consists of sorghum, sunflower, millet, and soybean. One problem that we ran into at the time of planting was that the sand hill cranes kept coming into the plots and digging up our seed. We did disk in the seed to make it harder for birds to pick the seed from the plots, however the seed of choice by the sand hill cranes were our sunflowers. We do have a fair amount of sunflowers that made it past germination; however they are all along the tall marsh grass at the east edge of the plot. The cranes seemed to only feed on the seed in the more open sections of the upland plot. After speaking with several farmers in the area about this problem I was informed about a product that the farmers call “crane be gone” it is a powder that is sprinkled and mixed into the seed prior to planting. They state that this powder makes the seed taste bad to the cranes to prevent them from eating all the seed. This is definitely a product that I will be looking into for next year’s planting. Despite problems with the cranes our millet and sorghum are doing great. We planted dwarf sorghum and the deer really love it this time of year. The sorghum has not yet begun to tassel and the deer are feeding on the sorghum leaves. There have been several new deer highways that our leading to the upland plot because of the dwarf sorghum.

We could not use a select herbicide on the upland plot due to both grass and broadleaf crops

We do have some weed growth in the upland plot, however since it is a mixed plot containing sorghum and sunflower, we are unable to apply a select herbicide to the plot. If you did you would have to choose which plant species you would want to keep. The reason is that if you went with a 2,4-D, your sorghum and millet would be safe from the spray, however it would kill off your sunflowers. Keep this in mind if you are going to be planting a mixed plot. If you know that you may have a problem with weeds, especially in a spring planting which is more susceptible to weeds than a fall planting.

Since we have been on the topic of weeds, we must also keep in mind that not all weeds are bad. Weeds can create an additional food source and provide a good habitat also in your food plots. An example of this is the common milk weed. This is a weed that we intentionally left in our plots.

Milkweed attracts pollinating insects to your property

The milk weed flowers at the top of its stem attracting butterflies and bees. With the recent hype about food plots some people plant food plots just for attracting deer. One must keep in mind that food plots are to improve habitat and food sources for all wildlife. So if you’re wondering how butterflies and bees play a role in wildlife management and habitat, these insects are your pollinators. Without them plants and fruits can’t cross pollinate to produce fruits or food for other wildlife, such as deer and turkeys. If you have apple trees on your property and have been noticing a smaller and smaller crop of apples, the lack of pollinators on your property may be the cause.

Everything in nature has a cause and effect. Mother Nature is a chain and if you cut at one link, it can and will affect the strength for the rest of the chain. We are all conservationists, we are also the protectors of nature, and by practicing responsible conservation on our own property we can all be the first step to a more balanced and healthy environment benefiting all wildlife, the deer as much as the bees.

By being a good conservationist we plant food plots to benefit all types of wildlife. To do this you need to look at what is being planted around you and how much acreage you are able to plant on your property. For example if your property is surrounded by corn fields, it really doesn’t benefit wildlife on your property to plant a half acre of corn. You will want to provide food sources that will attract wildlife to your property and will benefit wildlife throughout most of the year. The best way to describe this is what I call the buffet planting. On our property we are only able to plant two and a half acres of food plots. If I planted it all in corn, by mid fall majority of the corn would have been consumed by numerous animals and birds, leaving almost ten months of the year without a food source. On our two and a half acres we planted sorghum, millet, soybeans, sunflowers, annual rye, oats, clover, and alfalfa. By planting such a mixed bag of plants, wildlife will have numerous food sources throughout the year.

By using a select herbicide on half of our food plot acreage and leaving the other half of our plots to take its course with the weeds, we are able to provide a more diverse habitat for all wildlife on our property. We also learned that cranes are beautiful to watch but not beautiful to watch eating your seed that you just planted. We will definitely be trying a crane repellent on our seeds next year. Hopefully by sharing our stories we are able to provide you with ideas for your property.

Venison Pepper Snack Stick Recipe

by Keith Southworth 29. June 2011 18:11
Keith Southworth

Pepper snack sticks are by far one of the tastiest snacks you can make with deer meat. For flavor purposes you’ll need to add some pork since venison is so lean but you’re final product will be much leaner than the products you buy on the shelf. The recipe below was taste tested and well received at the recent gathering known as the Get Together Fun Shoot. The enclosed photos are of the actual batch of pepper sticks that I gave out. If you don’t like the spicy version below you can leave out the jalapenos and hot pepper cheese and substitute for a high temp cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Jalapeno & Hot Pepper Cheese Pepper Snack Stick Recipe

  • 14 lbs lean ground venison
  • 11 lbs 80/20 ground pork
  • 2 lbs FriscoSpices Hi Temp Hot Pepper Cheese
  • 2 cups of diced pickled jalapenos
  • FriscoSpices Pepper Snack Stick Spice pack with cure pack
  • 1/3 Cup of FriscoSpices Encapsulated Citric Acid (optional)
  • 1 pkg 21mm Collagen Casings
  • 25 oz water minimum (1 oz per lb)

Step 1 (Assembly Step)
Mix the spice package contents with the cure package. Mix both meats together and then add the spice pack with cure and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours minimum. Add the encapsulated citric acid if you want a more mature tangy flavored sausage and mix well. Finish by mixing the jalapenos and hi temp pepper cheese and then add water, don't over mix after water is added or mix will become stiff and hard to crank your stuffer. So blend water in carefully then stuff into the casings. (If it does become stiff and hard to stuff just add some more water.

Step 2 (Drying Step)
Load into the smoker by looping the sausage over your smoking stick, leave sufficient spacing between each ring. Cut the bottom of the rings and let them hang down straight. This will give you more straight finished product when done. Don’t worry, the meat will not run out of the casings. Set the heat to 125° for 1 ½ to 2 hours make sure your vents should be opened wide to aid in the drying by increasing the air flow, be sure the casings are dry to the touch before going on to step 3.  This is the drying step and must be completed before adding any smoke.

Step 3 (Smoking Step)
Add smoke and heat between 135° to 145° for 2 - 4  hours depending on your preference of smoke flavor. Vents should be opened ¼ of the way during this step.

Step 4 (Cooking Step)
Raise the temperature about 5° about every 20 minutes until the internal temperature of the snack sticks reaches 152°. Take out and hose down with clean water to halt the cooking process so the sticks don’t get over cooked. Lay the sticks out with sufficient spacing to allow each stick to dry in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days and then package for storage. Vacuum seal if possible for best storage results. Freeze any packages that you’re not going to eat with a week. 

Important Note:
During step 4, the 20 minutes of cooking time before raising the temperature 5 degrees is only a guide line and should be determined by the internal temp of the snack stick compared to the internal temp of the smoker. Do not exceed 30° of difference between the internal temp of your sticks and the smokehouse air temp or you will over cook the outer portion of the snack stick before reaching the proper internal temperature. This will result in wrinkled casings and dried out snack sticks. Every time I’ve tried to hurry this step by being impatient, I’ve been extremely disappointed with my finished product. I can’t over emphasize the importance of following this rule. 

I have the good fortune of living near FriscoSpices in La Vista, Nebraska where I’ve attended their free sausage making class on two occasions and have become friends with Mike Pullen who’s the owner and operator. FriscoSpices is a very customer friendly company and has always been very helpful with any questions I’ve had concerning sausage or jerky making. When I mentioned to Mike that I was going to do this story on venison pepper snack sticks he graciously said that he’d extend a 10% discount to anyone that places an order and mentions that they read this story on Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you have any questions. Good luck and happy sausage making.

Canned Venison - the most versatile way to process deer meat

by Keith Southworth 4. May 2011 16:46
Keith Southworth

We’ve all heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover and the same goes for canned venison. The first couple jars of canned venison that were given to me were re-gifted faster than you can say, “Oh, gross”.  Through some constant nagging and prodding from a friend, I eventually tried it just to silence him and found out that canned Venison doesn’t belong in the same category as a holiday fruitcake, in fact it is one of my favorite ways to enjoy deer meat now. I use it in stir fry, on noodles or rice or mix it up and make a sandwich spread with some mayo and relish or spread it on crackers. I even throw it in my chili. Actually canned venison is probably the most versatile way of processing deer meat.  

First let’s look at some of the benefits of canning venison.  No freezer space is needed. That may or may not be a big deal to you but if you lose your power for a few days I bet it will quickly become a big deal not to mention how nice it is to have meat on a camping trip when your cooler is filled with other things. It’s already cooked so heat it up if you want a warm meal and don’t if you’re in a hurry and just want it on crackers or bread. Venison is already one of the leanest red meats on the planet but canning will help separate what little fat it has from the meat. Open the jar and you can easily remove any fat because it’ll be separated out and resting on top of the meat.

Canned Venison is not a pretty sight.

Okay with that said, let’s be honest, the first time you look at a jar of canned venison, elk, moose or any meat including beef, you’re probably going to turn up your nose and say no thanks. That would be a huge mistake on your part. Let me take the place of my nagging friend and try to prod you into giving it a try. I just wish I could whip up a plate of beef tips (canned venison) with gravy on a bed of rice or noodles for you to taste. I can almost guarantee you’d love it and ask for more.  Canned venison really will taste like tender delicious beef tips.  I’m not sure what else I can say to convince you to give it a try. I practically had to be forced into trying it because I judged it on appearance only. 

Venison sandwich spread is just one of the many ways you can enjoy canned venison.

So if you’re open to the idea of canning venison, here’s what you’re going to need to get started, a knife and cutting board, some venison, canning jars, some salt or au jus concentrate and a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker is a must; you can’t get by with a regular water bath canner. That part is non-negotiable, it’s a safety thing.  For more information on the whys, go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation on the University of Georgia website. In short, you can’t reach the necessary temperatures (240º  - 250º) to safely preserve the meat without a pressure cooker. Before you go out and buy one, think about borrowing one from a friend that does some caning. They’ll be done canning long before you’re going to need to borrow it.  If you think this is something you’d like to do you could keep your eyes open for a pressure canner this summer at garage sales. You can buy replacement gaskets at most hardware stores.

The actual process is very pretty simple but there are guidelines that must be followed in order to have a safe finished product. Since water will boil lower temperatures at higher elevations, increased pressures are required to attain the safe temperature range. Make sure you know your elevation and refer to the table at the website I mentioned in the previous paragraph. My elevation in eastern Nebraska is just over 1,000 feet and I have a dial gauge on my canner so I must reach a minimum of 11 lbs in order to achieve the correct internal temperature. Its okay to exceed the prescribed pressure slightly but do not let this pressure drop below or you will have to reached the pressure again and restart your timer.

I cube my venison in small pieces approximately 1 to 1 ½” and cut off any visible fat or silver skin.  I add a teaspoon of au jus concentrate in the bottom of a clean canning jar that I just removed from the hot dish washer and pack the cubed pieces of raw venison tightly until there is only 1” of space to the top of the jar. In canning talk this is referred to as head space and it is one of the prescribed standards in this process so don’t ignore this step. Although I use au jus concentrate you can substitute with one teaspoon of salt or another spice or add nothing at all. Do not add any liquid such as water or broth.  I wipe the top of the jar with a clean towel and place the lid and band on tightly.

I add 3” inches of hot water to my pressure cooker (check the manufactures recommendations for your pressure cooker) and pre-heat to just under 140º. I then place the jars in the water leaving a small amount of space between the jars. Once all the jars are all positioned and the pressure cooker lid is secure, raise the temperature to high and leave the vent open. After the water begins to boil and a steady stream of steam is rapidly venting out of the vent hole in the top of the lid, start timer for 10 minutes.  This is to ensure all air pockets are removed from the inside of the pressure cooker. After ten minutes, carefully place the counterweight over the vent and watch the gauge rise as the pressure begins to build. Once the prescribed pressure is attained, regulate your heat to maintain this pressure and start a timer. 

Pint jars must be heated for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes. I personally don’t use quart jars for canned venison but if you have a larger family you may want to. After the time is up, turn off the heat and let it cool off naturally. This cooling part will take quite a while but it’s important that you do not try to speed the cooling process up. Even after the gauge shows zero pressure be careful when you remove the counterweight as there still could be a little pressure remaining. Carefully remove the jars without tilting them and place on a cooling rack and let them stand for 12 to 24 hours. Check each lid to make sure it sealed and if not, place the jar in the refrigerator and use this within a couple days.

If you want to get some practice in on this process before this fall, consider trying chicken or beef using the same process. I love canning chicken breast and using it for stir fry or chicken salad. If you’ve never canned before, after trying this and finding out how easy and fun it is you may want to give salsa making a try. I have a great recipe that I may share in an upcoming blog. In closing, please refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia website to make sure you’re doing this correctly since safety is essential anytime you work with food. Good luck canning your venison!

Mapping Your Way To Hunting Success

by Josh Fletcher 18. March 2011 12:23
Josh Fletcher

Through my years of hunting I was always looking for a secret to consistently harvesting a trophy every fall. I have learned through time that one tactic to consistently filling your tag every year is by scouting and wearing some rubber off of your shoes.  It’s not easy, and it takes time, but it works.

We’ve all scouted in one way or the other, and we’ve scouted both public and private property.  What I’m going to cover in this article, is how to take all the information that you gain throughout the year and how to compile it into an easy to understand portfolio, so that when you step back and look at the particular property that you are hunting, potential stand locations with a high percentage of success will literally jump out at you. The items that you use to scout your property can be as high tech or as simple as you choose. What I will explain is not the only way to scout, but hopefully gives you some new ideas that you can use where you hunt.  I will discuss the use of GPS, aerial maps, topographical maps, game cameras, and mapping software. Again this tactic can be as simple as using a pencil and note pad or as high tech as I will discuss in this article.

By using a GPS, you can organize the information gained from scouting

The important thing is that hopefully you can gain some ideas to use where you hunt. I like to intimately scout the property I’m hunting several times a year. The reason behind this is that you want to know what the deer are doing on your property not only in the fall during hunting season, but also during the winter and other times of the year. Your intimate scouting should start right after the gun season is over. The reason is that here in Wisconsin, after the gun season there is snow on the ground and snow shows deer sign much better. This is an important time for you to scout because you want to learn where the deer go and hide under heavy hunting pressure. Often this time of year you will find a mature buck’s safety zone. This is where he beds and feels comfortable, and since the hunting season is over don't be afraid to bump him out of his bed. Also be looking for escape routes or heavy trails leading to thick cover that the deer are using to head to safety. Finding these trails will help you decide potential stand locations during the heavily hunted seasons such as gun hunting.

The next time I like to scout is during late winter, when much of the snow is starting to thaw and melt. Not only am I looking for antler sheds, this time of year, but I’m also seeing if deer are utilizing my property through the winter. If deer sign is at a minimal, I would then need to plan on possible wildlife management on the property to attract and keep deer in the area year round. Spring time is also a great time of year to be out scouting your property. I like scouting in the spring because with the leaves off, it resembles what your hunting locations will look like late in the fall. This is also the time of year that you should get your stands trimmed out and ready for the upcoming fall. By getting your stands ready now, you won’t have to be in disturbing the property come fall. Majority of these stands that I get ready in the spring are what I call “funnel stands”. These funnel stands are in locations that have high potential for deer movement through the fall. These stands are often located at wood edges, saddles and funnels. The stands that I utilize when I’m targeting a particular buck or have a buck pattern will be adjusted during the fall when that information is discovered.

The last time during the year you should be scouting is during early fall and throughout the hunting season. These scouting trips are not as in-depth, and don't be intrusive into bedding areas, however you should be making notes about what you see during the season and routes that deer are traveling.

By now I’m sure that you have basically caught on to the fact that I scout almost all year round. The main point I can make is that scouting and knowing your piece of property as thorough as the deer themselves do is the key to success, however one has to be smart about scouting and when you scout. You have to be careful not push the deer off of your property by too much human traffic. This is why I do my most in-depth scouting late fall, just after hunting season closes.

During my scouting trips I carry a GPS (global positioning system) with me. I also carry topographical and aerial maps (I will cover these later).  While I’m walking my property I section it off in a grid. By breaking it down and looking at one particular area at a time so I don’t miss any important sign. I mark every bed, rub, scrape and follow every trail I can find in that given section of the grid. If you don’t own a GPS you can make notes and approximate locations on your maps. I also plot on my GPS trail camera and tree stand locations, as well as carry a note pad to make any special notes about what I may have discovered.

Once I have the property thoroughly scouted and plotted, I head back to the comforts at home. Once back at home I use mapping software to organize all my data that I plotted. The particular software that I use is Topo USA by Delrome. However you can use any mapping software that you are familiar with and that you are able to transfer the data from your GPS to the actual map. (You can get these programs either at sporting goods stores or via internet.) I mark all my deer beds with one color, rubs another, and scrapes another. I also plot out all the deer trails that I followed with my GPS and transfer them to my computer. I like to keep the deer sign on one map and my hunting stand locations and game camera locations on another map. Again this is the high tech version, if you don’t have a GPS or mapping software you can mark this information down on maps that you may have, or even draw your own maps.

 Computer mapping software allows an easy to see map of your property showing high deer travel route

By compiling all this data into an easy to read map, deer travel routes, bedding areas, and feeding areas will literally stand out at you. When hunting farm country, I like to use aerial photos for my mapping back ground, because it shows willow patches, marsh grass, timber, and fields much better. When mapping large tracts of public land such as the big woods of northern Wisconsin, I like to use topographical map as my back ground because it allows me to see ridge lines, benches, saddles, and other terrain features.  If you have time on your hands you can log the data by using both aerial and topographical. Depending on your type of mapping software you can link pictures to particular waypoints that you marked by your GPS. This is particularly handy for organizing all your photos taken from different game cameras on the property and the locations that they were taken from. All these features of aerial photos, topographical maps, and compatibility with your GPS is dependent on your software, so be sure that you research a program before you buy it to make sure it will do what you need for your property.

Since we are on the topic of maps, don’t just look into your own property, study possible bedding, feeding, and watering locations on adjacent properties. Most people don’t own enough property to hold deer all year long without deer crossing the property line. So knowing what is on your neighbor’s property is just as important. (Please don’t trespass to gain this information.) By finding this information may just be the last piece of the puzzle needed to complete your property picture.

Game cameras are also very helpful tools to utilize to complete your whitetail portfolio. I don’t use game cameras as much to pattern deer, as I do to perform deer counts and what caliber of bucks that are on the property. I like to also observe what times of day are they traveling through that particular area.  I label each camera as 1, 2, 3 etc., and plot their locations on my map that contains cameras and stand locations.

I also use my mapping software to plot out future food plot and tree planting locations. By doing this, allows you to better understand and explain wildlife management plans with land owners and friends that would help you with the establishment of these plans.

Now that we have are hunting property plotted out its time to compile all this information into an easy to understand portfolio of your property. I print out all the maps that I compiled along with field notes and observations that I noted during the hunting season. I also plot out wind directions on my property. To do this, I walk around my property with wind checkers and make notes of how scent currents travel down particular draws, ridges, and bottoms for a given wind direction. For example you may have a west wind, however in a particular draw the wind may swirl causing your scent to blow to the north. (Again you can be as simple or as in-depth with your maps as you would like). Once I have all these maps printed off I compile them into a binder and label the binder for that year. This gives you a permanent record of your hunting property to look at and study through the years, and also it allows you to see the progress of your wildlife management over the years.

Easy to read colored plots showing locations for this spring food plot location based on scouting observations

By organizing all the data that you have learned from scouting trips on your hunting property allows organized and permanent records of deer habits and travel routes on your property. If you are like me I often forget what I ate for breakfast and I’m the type of person that I learn best by being able to see what is going on with the property that I am hunting. By establishing a portfolio of your property, potential stand locations will stand out like a beacon. The key to consistent success is spending your hunting season in high percentage stands. You can hunt all year in a low percentage stand and not fill your tag. After all, time is precious now days with our busy lives and by mapping out your hunting properties will allow you to narrow down stand locations, putting you in stands that yield a higher percent of success, giving you more bang for your buck.





How to make Venison Ground Jerky.

by Keith Southworth 12. March 2011 03:32
Keith Southworth

You can’t buy a better more suitable meat for jerky than venison. Its leanness is tailor made for this popular snack food whose origins date back to ancient Indian cultures. It’s not surprising that it became a favorite of the early settlers and explorers since it lasted weeks and even months without any special care or storage.

Fat is the enemy of any jerky and will greatly shorten the shelf life because it doesn't dry and will end up spoiling. There are certain precautions that come anytime you work with meat and jerky is no exception. I’ll just point you to the University of Georgia’s Food Preservation website which is a joint venture with the USDA and a clearing house for information on home food preservation where you can read more about the subject.

There are two popular methods of jerky making, one where you slice the meat in thin slices and the other where you form ground meat in to thin strips with the use of a jerky shooter. The jerky shooter somewhat resembles a caulking gun with a nozzle at the end that forms the ground meat into thin strips. Once dried, it holds together remarkable well and you’d never know by looking at the final product that it started out as a ground meat.

Here’s a collection of jerky shooters I have amassed over the years.

I love both types of jerky and I don’t favor one over the other. They’re just different, but both are delicious and fun to make. No matter which one you make you should use the leanest cut of meat available so if you’re going to use ground venison it shouldn’t have any fat added to it. 

Ground Venison ready for the dehydrator. The thin strips were formed with the use of the jerky shooter.

When shopping for a dehydrator, make sure it has a heating element. Mine goes to 160° and that’s where I set it when I make jerky. As far as time goes, that can vary greatly by such things as the thickness of the strips, how much you’re trying to dry at one time and the relative humidity is also a factor. I’m usually around the four hour mark with my dehydrator but that can vary as much as a half hour depending on the before mentioned factors. You’ll just have to experiment with your own equipment. Just remember most people dry way too long when they first start because they’re checking their jerky when it’s warm. Take a piece and set it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it down and then check to see if it’s done. It shouldn’t be so dry that it becomes brittle and cracks, it should bend, more line a green branch or twig.

If you want to make jerky for the first time but don’t want to invest in a jerky shooter or dehydrator, don’t let that stop you. Get some wax paper or cling wrap and a rolling pin and find two things about 3/16” to ¼” thick to lay on either side as guides to elevate the rolling pin so you get a uniform thickness when you’re rolling the ground meat between the wax paper. Who cares if it’s not rolled out in uniform strips as long as it tastes good? The uniform thickness is important though so the entire batch will dry to the same degree. If you don’t have a dehydrator try drying your jerky in the oven on low and with the door open so the moisture can escape.

Remember to pat dry any grease that’s formed on the strips when you’re done. The grease is from fat in the meat and can turn rancid and spoil your jerky. I like to cut the ends off and square up the strips and make them look nice, this allows me plenty of samples as I’m cutting the strips into equal lengths. 

So what spices should you use? There are so many different jerky spices on the market and most are very good, it just comes down to a person preference. I think I’ve tried over a hundred different jerky spices and recipes and I’m still searching for the ultimate jerky recipe. I was locked in on one particular spice for quite a while and was quite happy with it but then I tried a new recipe that I found on an internet cooking web site. After letting friends and family try a blind taste test to compare the two I was surprised that an over whelming majority like the new recipe. I’m sure I’ll eventually get bored with it and move on to another recipe. And actually I’ve already altered that one and tried a few twist lately to jazz it up. Notice the photo below where you can see that after using the jerky shooter to squeeze out the strips on to the dehydrator tray I’ve taken some dry rub and sprinkled it all over the strips. The jerky already has spices added in the meat but this little addition will really add some extra zing. I just laid down a plastic mat underneath the tray to catch the spill over.

Covering with dry rub will add some extra zing to your jerky!

The best thing about this little trick is you can try everything you have in the cupboard. Get creative and sprinkle something different on every couple of strips. Just keep notes and if you come across a winner, you’ll be able to duplicate it. 

Here’s two of my recent favorites, Weber’s Tex-Mex Fiesta and Burgundy Beef Dry Rubs.

I process my own deer, something I highly recommend learning how to do. I plan on talking a lot more about that subject in upcoming stories. Since I grind my venison and store it in two pound bags, my recipe below is for a two pound batch of ground venison. I actually make eight to ten pounds at a time but I can only mix two pounds at a time in my mixer. I use a paddle on a Kitchen Aid mixer to mix the meat. I run the mixer while I slowly add in the spices finishing up with the Ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce. I let it mix for a while and it has a way of collecting any silver skin or sinew on the paddle which I remove before loading it into the jerky shooter. 

Here’s a photo of all the ingredients listed below. Now I’m ready to make some venison jerky.

Ground Venison Jerky


  • 2 lbs ground venison
  • 2 teaspoons non-iodized salt 
  • 1 teaspoon Accent flavor enhancer
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tablespoon Adolph’s unseasoned tenderizer 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons brown sugar - that’s (4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/4 cup ketchup 



  1. Mix all spices with the venison including the Worcestershire, and ketchup. 
  2. You need to mix it well. 
  3. Press into strips with a jerky gun. 
  4. Dry according to your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions. 
  5. Storing in the refrigerator will make it keep longer.


This recipe above will produce great tasting jerky all by itself but it you want to get creative, try sprinkling some other spices over the top before you place in the dehydrator.

Got a good recipe? Log in and share it in the comments section or email me at

Habitat Management: Using a Chainsaw to Create Bedding Cover for Your Deer

by Cody Altizer 3. March 2011 08:10
Cody Altizer

  During an afternoon hunt this past fall in Western Virginia, I was thinking about my offseason plans for the 2011 season.  Obviously, my mind sifted through the thoughts of food plotting, shed hunting, a little late season scouting and my favorite offseason activity, habitat management.  This includes planting and maintaining fruit trees, transplanting juvenile cedar trees to areas of more sunlight, and my favorite: using a chainsaw to manipulate the habitat to increase the appeal of my hunting property to deer and better my hunting for this fall.  This year, this meant creating a man made funnel to force deer by my stand before entering a food plot and adding some much needed bedding cover.

A chainsaw can be a bowhunter's best friend this time of year!

Last summer, I planted about an acre of Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover and was excited to see how the deer would respond to it during the hunting season.  While I wasn’t able to hunt the food plot or surrounding areas last year, my brother had several productive hunts sitting about 30 yards inside the timber off the food plot.  Every afternoon he hunted that location, anywhere between 15 and 20 deer would make their way into the food plot to feed on the lush clover.  There was only one problem; the deer were entering the food plot wherever they felt like.  Since there were no natural funnels or pinch points surrounding the food plot, the deer weren’t forced to go anywhere.  While my brother did see several deer, he never once had one in bow range, a very frustrating feeling.

A couple weeks ago I remedied this problem by taking my chainsaw and felling several undesirable trees.   By piling them together in a strategic location I was able to make a funnel that will force deer by my stand before entering the food plot.  This may sound like cheating and I have heard several hunters mention this technique in the same breath as baiting; however, there are still several factors that must come into play before I am even presented with a shot opportunity.  First, I need a West or Northwest wind to prevent the deer from smelling me.  Also, there is no guarantee the deer will even succumb to the barrier that is my funnel.  What if they simply walk on the other side of my all my hard work and effort?  Ah, such is deer hunting!

On this white pine, I simply delimbed the tree about 6 feet up to help create my funnel without cutting down the entire tree.

Since I had the chainsaw with me I decided to improve the bedding on my property as well.   Again, by cutting trees that serve little benefit to wildlife, I was able to thicken up the understory and provide some great bedding cover; something my property really lacks.  This also opened up the timber to allow for more sunlight to penetrate the canopy that will result in fresh undergrowth.  This new growth provides a tender, nutritious food source that also creates added bedding cover as well.   

Several benefits can be attained when using a chainsaw on your hunting property.  For one, you can manipulate deer movement to better your chances of a shot.  Secondly, you can fell undesireable trees and let them lay to increase bedding cover.  Last but not least, carrying around a powerful chainsaw simply makes you look like a tough guy, wouldn't you agree?

Some knowledge of dendrology is helpful when cutting trees to better the habitat and hunting on your property.  It’s critical to only fell trees that offer little benefit to wildlife.  On my property, I cut yellow-poplars, black locusts, red maples, and Virginia pines.  Removing these trees eliminates competition for sunlight and nutrients which allows for healthier and fuller crowns of white, red, and black oaks and other important mast bearing trees.  Yellow-poplars and red maples are also prolific “stump-sprouters,” meaning that even when I cut the tree in late winter, several young saplings will sprout from the stump providing an attractive and nutritious spring food source.

A chainsaw can be a bowhunter’s best friend this time of year when it comes to preparing for another hunting season.  Manipulating deer movement and increasing bedding area are just a couple ways one can better their hunting for an upcoming season.  So, if you are worn out from shed hunting, but it’s still too cold to begin work on your food plots, then grab a chainsaw and better your chances of harvesting a mature buck this season today. 


Venison – THE Best Meat on The Planet

by Keith Southworth 20. February 2011 12:59
Keith Southworth

Some of the ways I enjoy venison are jerky, summer sausage, breakfast sausage, brats, snack sticks, canning and just enjoying steaks or roast on my smoker.  So let me start by simply saying if you don’t like venison it’s only because you haven’t tried the right recipe yet.  I’ll stand behind that statement until the day I die.  I’ve proven it to many a doubter, enough so that I’m convinced that anyone with a taste for meat would like venison if they’re willing to give it a try.   I’m so passionate about venison that I can’t stop thinking about it and I’m here to share that passion with you.  I understand that not everyone is willing to give it a try but I’ve even won over some of those people, although it may have been through deceptive methods but now they’re believers.

 From the field to the freezer and then to the table, done right venison is the best meat on the planet

I’ve set a goal for myself with the help of this blog to reach out and help as many people as I can to enjoy deer meat by sharing the experience I have with processing deer and preparing venison for the table.  I love trying new ways to prepare venison.  My hopes are to hear from you and answer any questions you have about venison preparation from the field to the table.

Marinated butterflied venison loins courtesy of the late antlerless season

One of my inspirations for learning how to prepare venison was my younger brother who was an executive chef.  To this day I’m still blown away at the smells and taste that he creates when he cooks venison.  I’ve been blessed by meeting some great people that have helped me out along my journey towards venison culinary bliss so it’s only right for me to pass that on to you.

There are so many great choices of spices and marinades and cooking methods that you should never run out of ways to enjoy venison.  With all the tools that are available to you such as the internet and so many great wild game cook books you are only limited by your imagination or drive to learn new ways of preparing venison.

 Is there anything better than grillin' your venison!

So let's talk a little jerky.  Jerky is such a popular food that it has allowed me to cross some barriers that I’m not sure I could have done in any other way.  Let me explain.  Although jerky is a very easy thing to make, not that many people bother to learn how.  When I share my homemade deer jerky people often don’t realize they’re eating deer meat.  Once they find out they’re eating deer meat admittedly some are turned off but they usually come back for more because it taste so good.  I can’t tell you how many times people have told me how impressed they are that I could make something  that tastes so good and then the conversation usually turns to hunting. 

By now they’re looking at me in a very positive light.  I hunt but I’m eating the meat and I even share my bounty with others.    Anytime we as hunters can portray a positive role to the general public we can only help ourselves and our sport that we love.  I’m sure that all of you that make your own deer jerky know exactly what I’m talking about.  For those of you that don’t, check back on my next blog and I’m going to go over the ABC’s of making jerky.

 Venison loins just off the smoker, it just doesn't get an better than this!


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