All posts by jhines

This mule deer buck looks ready to play ball

Football season is over, but this buck is ready to tryout for next year season. The way this buck struts around the gridiron, he sure looks ready to go into Beast mode.
I don’t know how well he could carry the football, but I bet he would be the fastest one on the field!

This footage was recorded at a Manitou Springs High School football game and published by KOAA 5 in Colorado Springs.

Typically, bucks don’t start doing stupid things like this until the rut. Most Colorado mule deer rut in November when they really behave like chickens missing their respective heads.

Sources: KOAA 5 Facebook

Too Close for Comfort

Wild boar hunting is an extreme sport and can be quite dangerous and meant only for the thrill seeking hunters and sharpest shooters.

The following video below shows these hunters really taking this close quarter shooting at a really close distance. The problem is that these guys were pulling it in ways that most would deem unsafe.

Tell that to the boar about to bite their face’s off!

Check these mad pigs out:

close_for_comfort2

Yes, its true that in the video just about every “safe shooting rule” in the book was thrown out the window while trying to get a shot at the charging boar.

From the perspective of the hunter when a wild boar is charging. There isn’t any place to hide, and you have a loaded gun in your hands you may not be thinking too clearly either!

In any event this is a animal that most know is a very dangerous animal and not to be taken lightly. Just make sure that you work out a system that your hunting partner isn’t too close to you, like in the video. Mishap can occur, be safe.

by Craig Raleigh revised by Calstaff

Source: Antler Addicts Facebook

Trout Fishing Tips

Trout count as some of the loveliest (and tastiest) fish in America. As such, many a trout fisherman would love to know the secret to catching more. Not only are they abundant in lakes, rivers, and streams across the land, but they also respond to a variety of baits, making them one of the easier types of fish to catch.

Go With a Light Line
These fish have sharp eyesight, so you don’t want to scare them away with a line that’s too heavy. Most trout can be pulled to shore with some simple two-pound test line plus a light rod and reel. That said, they do like shiny objects, so experiment with spinners, jigs, and other “attracters” for the best results.

What To Do With No Casting Room

Streams offer some of the best trout fishing around, but unlike fishing in a river or a pond, these often don’t provide you with much casting space. An old-fashioned technique called “dap a dry” does the trick here. Basically, you lightly “drop” the fly or bait on the surface of the water and then quickly pick it up and set it back down again. This movement mimics the movement of the mayfly or the caddis when they’re laying eggs on the water. Trout find this hard to resist. And as a bonus, this opens up trout-fishing spots that you might not otherwise get to fish due to space constraints.

Food for Trout
Some trout fishermen swear by PowerBait, that clay-like stuff you find in the jar. Just put it on your hook and go. That said, the lowly worm still counts as a fish favorite and shouldn’t be overlooked. Most fishing outfits carry them and often, if you’re fishing in a little town know for its fishing, you can even find live worms at the local convenience store on your way to the fishing hole.

Change Your Fishing Times
Trout like to get up early, and if you want to catch them, then so should you. More specifically, they’re up at early morning light looking for breakfast. Plan on casting your line before 8:00 a.m. for the best results. The warmer temperatures cause lethargy in trout. Plus as water-users like boaters and swimmers start to get into the water, the fish get scared away. An early-morning fishing trip allows you to catch dinner before breakfast and then head out for some water-related fun. And as a side note, the reverse holds true as well. When things start to cool down, the fish come back out. If you can’t see your way to the water for a 6:00 a.m. fishing call, maybe try to head out just around dusk. It’s a great way to end the day.

Conclusion
Catching more trout usually relies on you trying more techniques that speak the trout’s language. From getting up earlier to using some older, but still excellent casting techniques, you’ll find that the ways you can net more fish are numerous. The best bet is to experiment until you find the ones that work best for you.

 

Story by J Hines

 

A Better Way to Hunt – Find and Pattern Deer

Technology in the deer hunting world has drastically evolved in the last decade. One of the leaders in advancement has been trail cameras, which, based on the volume now used in the deer woods, shouldn’t be too surprising. Yet one of the best features on many of today’s trail cameras is rarely used to its full potential is the time-lapse mode.

Time-lapse allows a user to set the camera up to take a picture (or set of pictures) on a fixed interval without being triggered by an animal. Many of today’s advanced cameras allow the time period during the day to be set (like only during hunting hours), and also still operate and trigger independent of the time-lapse setting if set off by an animal.

Though it seems obvious, there should be a bit of strategy behind setting up these time-lapse cameras. What is your goal? Is it to just see deer or pattern deer? If it is the latter, then here are a few tips to get exactly that done.

Often cameras are put on time-lapse in areas where deer are likely to move outside the range of the camera’s sensor. In other words where it won’t trigger the cameras, such as large ag fields or food plots. Although it may seem crazy, you need to get some height on your camera.

In order to begin to pattern where deer are entering or exiting a field, place the camera between eight to 15 feet in the air. No, you won’t be able to get ground level up close pictures, but that isn’t the purpose here. The purpose is to cover as much ground as possible from the viewpoint, almost like if you sat in a tree stand. At this height you will begin to cover a great amount of the field and start to build patterns on deer travel. Once you have narrowed the spots deer enter and exit the field, get another camera down at normal level in that area to capture up close pictures.

Stop taking night photos. Time-lapse at night on a large area is about as useful as an arrow with no fletchings. You will not be able to see anything, and it only wastes photo space, battery life, and your time sorting through. If you can, select for only daylight (or shooting light) hours.

Don’t bait. This defeats the purpose of trying to capture normal deer travel movements. Unless this is how you will be hunting (which in some states is true), then you are creating bias results.

Here are some other useful tips from Whitetail Habit Solutions:

Recognizing Deer Movement Patterns

I would like you to take the time to reflect on the established deer movement patterns that are found on your favorite hunting grounds. Are they consistent? Do the patterns continue from year to year? And more importantly, where does the herd feed, where do doe family groups bed, where do bucks bed, and is there any room left over for mature bucks?

*The typical daily deer movement pattern includes these key components: Food to Doe Bedding to Doe/Buck Bedding Mix to Mature Buck Bedding…and then back again.

There is a huge opportunity awaiting the savvy hunter or land manager when it comes to recognizing established deer movement patterns. Now, this may seem like an pretty basic concept, but it isn’t! Many times the opportunity for finding or creating deer movement patterns that establish an orderly sequence of preferred daily bedding patterns is missed. However, the opportunity for you is this: If you can recognize the naturally preferred deer movement patterns on the lands that you hunt, there may be no better deer hunting and deer habitat related effort that you can practice. If you follow along I am going to discuss the 3 conditions that you need to have, in order to take advantage of preferred deer movement patterns. Also, stay tuned until the end because after precision deer movements have been recognized, it is time for the hunting strategies that follow!

1. Food Defines The Base of All Deer Movement Patterns

The most predictable and easily recognizable movements in the deer woods is the pattern of deer travel between a whitetail’s daytime bedding area, and their evening food source. But it doesn’t stop there! The base of deer movement begins with the first area of bedding opportunity adjacent to a major evening destination food source.

The first layer of deer bedding adjacent food will most often be taken over by the most dominant doe family group in the area, and why not? A doe has a very small home range and prefers to spend as much time as possible, within close proximity to her high quality evening food source. Many times I have witnessed incredible food sources that featured high volumes of diverse plantings, along with a high level of attraction to the local deer herd. The only problem? The closest adequate bedding area was 200 yards away from the food source. That meant that doe family groups, which take over the first layer of bedding, had to travel 200 yards within a daily pattern of movement. Now 200 yards may not seem like a very great distance to travel, but that’s not the point. Instead on a private chunk of land, that distance represents 200 yards of space that is wasted as it relates to the management efforts of the habitat.

By creating deer movement patterns that begin with a base of food that is directly adjacent to doe family group bedding opportunities you are well on your way to maximizing the efficiency of the land, by leaving enough room for buck bedding opportunities.

2. Do Your Deer Movement Patterns Include Bucks?

When you start with food (whether it is on your’s or your neighbor’s land) and you then offer adjacent doe bedding opportunities, you are one step closer to creating enough space for buck bedding opportunities. Within mixed agricultural regions, a typical complete deer movement pattern can be 600 yards or more, including mature buck bedding opportunities. However, depending on the % of cover vs open land (ag lands are typical) the distance of total deer movement pattern will vary greatly. From what I have experienced across the country, the rough, typical movements are as follows:

A. High % Ag Locations
-200 yards or less

B. Mixed Ag Regions
-400 to 600 yards

C. Wilderness Settings
-1/2 Mile to 1 Mile

However, each of those movements can be reduced to maximize your hunting efficiency. Shorter movements feature a more controlled and defined movement pattern, which allows you as the game manager to take advantage of by more effectively maintaining balanced populations, advancing bucks to the next age class if desired, and improving sex ratios. By leaving much smaller gaps between the beginning and the end of deer movement patterns you can hunt the most compact pattern possible for your area, which includes mature buck bedding opportunity.

The above distances per habitat type, can be typically cut in 1/2 or even better when a landowner is dedicated to creating precision deer movement patterns. Major deer movements (not cover) anchors deer movement patterns, so when you start by leaving enough room for doe bedding opportunity adjacent to consistent food sources, the beginning of a compact movement can be efficiently defined. But what comes at the end of the movement? Mature buck bedding opportunity.

3. Mature Buck Bedding Opportunity: The End Of Deer Movement

Although no deer movement can begin without recognizing food based doe family group bedding opportunities, no deer movement can end without established buck bedding opportunities. Think of the entire movement like this:

A. Food
B. Doe Bedding
C. Doe Bedding/Buck Bedding
D. Mature Buck Bedding

The more compact that you can recognize or create the complete movement pattern relative to the balance of habitat in your region, the greater your potential for herd, habitat and hunting success. It doesn’t hurt to find a highly defined an compact deer movement when hunting public land either!

What is “mature buck bedding opportunity”? The same as doe bedding opportunity. I suggest avoiding sizes of deer beds or bedding areas, but instead focusing on locations that match the lay of the land and are conducive to deer bedding opportunity. Decreasing canopy and increasing stem counts of native regeneration of woody and herbacious growth is a great start! Making sure to have a % of conifer, grasses, weeds, briars, shrubs and hardwood regeneration is the “complete package” of deer bedding components for both bucks and does. Finally, making sure that deer can easily move throughout their bedding areas without ducking, diving and jumping is critical no matter where you are located.

Precision Deer Movements Equal Defined Hunting Opportunities

Of course many books can be written regarding hunting tactics, but when hunting a preferred deer movement pattern it boils down to this:

A. Hunt the backside (downwind) edge of the movement during morning hours for bucks, in particular during the first frosty mornings of the pre-rut.

B. Take a stand along side the movement, between bedding opportunities and the evening food source for all day buck cruising activities or afternoon food source movement patterns.

C. Hunt the food source end of the movement during the afternoon, in a stand that allows you to get in and out of the food source without spooking the deer herd.

Maybe that sounds too easy, but when you are in the practice of recognizing highly defined deer movement patterns, the level of your hunting success will be just as defined.

Lastly, orient the camera North or possibly South. Pointing towards the east and west will not only set off the camera with false triggers in many cases, it will also leave blinding sun images which you likely will not see anything.

This season, consider the elevated time-lapse camera in order to pattern deer entering and exiting large fields. Then narrow it down to place a camera up close. You will see more deer and waste less time trying to locate the ones you want to get a bead on.

Story by Jeremy Flinn

30-point Whitetail – Doe!

An impressive and Unusual Whitetail Trophy

This critter was taken a few years back, but it’s still notable.

We’ve talked here about this phenomenon before: a doe with antlers, that is. It seems that about one in every 4,500 does might have antlers, but this one is something else.

Most deer hunters have dreamed of seeing a big non-typical buck with points galore. Imagine bagging one with 30 points!

Now imagine that the buck is a doe.

Lomas, a resident of West Salem, Ill., was hunting along the Little Wabash River when he bagged what he believed was a trophy buck — a 30 pointer.

Here’s the original story excerpt from Realtree
When he dropped the carcass off at a local meat processing plant in Albion, he made a surprising discovery — it was a doe, not a buck. According to a local wildlife biologist, antlers on does are quite uncommon — perhaps one in 4,500 will have a rack. Finding one that is a 30 pointer is even more unusual.
Original story excerpt from Realtree

The deer was reportedly taken by Richard Lomas in Illinois, and the hunter didn’t realize he’d taken a doe until he dropped it off at a processor.

Source: Russ Chastain alloutdoor.com

Rut Stands: Three Different Strategies to Take Go-Time Bucks

The mystical, magical whitetail rut. It’s what many of us wait feverishly to experience all year long—anticipation that builds into both blessing and curse. Especially when it comes to smart stand selection at go time. Obsess over most anything for a good length of time and, eventually, you can experience near-absolute clarity of thought. Seconds later, you can be trapped in a wicked tailspin of second-guessing. This is the dark side of our obsessive behavior.

To help ensure your focus (and success) during the fast-approaching rut, we’ve tapped a trio of die hard whitetail fanatics, guys who seem to have it figured out without second-guessing anything. And while they might not agree with that statement, their consistent success during one of the fall’s most-unpredictable stretches speaks volumes.

rutstand

LATE-MORNING BEDDING LANE
Kyle Herr, 33, hails from Minnesota where he spends a good amount of the fall chasing suburban bucks found around the perimeter of sprawling Minneapolis. Herr also travels regularly to bow hunt rutty bucks in rural Nebraska, where he’s found a stand that produces unusually consistent rut success.
“It’s a spot where several draws come together, and it’s on the downwind side of an area just choked with cedars, which seem to be great bedding areas in Nebraska,” Herr explained. “Bucks come through there cruising for does, and it’s kind of neat to see how that all comes together. Shortly after first light, you’ll see the does start to trickle back to the bedding area, and maybe later on you’ll see a few small bucks, and a few more does after that. Then 2-3 hours into the morning you’ll catch the mature bucks coming through. It’s obvious those older deer know that cruising through any earlier would be a waste of their time; those bigger deer are always the last to come through, and they seem to know enough to wait for all the does to be bedded so they have the best chance of finding the hot does.”

“If we’re not on the downwind edge of a bedding area, we also like to get between two different bedding areas, and it seems like for us, in that part of Nebraska, those cedar thickets are the ticket for bedding. It seems like those bucks just travel from one to another, and you can take advantage of that. We’ve had great success in those areas with both rattling and grunting, and sometimes we just sit quietly and wait.”

STEEP SIDE HILL STANDS
Tony Peterson is another Minnesotan who bow hunts several states each fall, and, like Herr, he likes to target the edges of known doe bedding areas. But he likes to ensure a close-range shot by choosing areas with some unique topography.
“My favorite stands for the rut, is to find a situation where I can hunt a ridge near a ravine where there is a fairly severe drop off,” Peterson explained. “If your stand is on the lip of that ridge, it’s a situation where a crosswind will be right for those cruising bucks, scent-checking for does bedding on the ridge top, and the wind is good for you too, because the bucks don’t want to swing downwind of your location, down into that steep drop off. And that drop off can be a washout, or simply a really steep grade.

“I have one spot in southeast Minnesota that I call the ‘Big Buck stand,” Peterson continued. “Because if you hunt it with a west or north wind, it blows right through a doe bedding area, and during the rut bucks will be cruising that downwind edge, back and forth, all day long. It’s literally my best place, one where I can almost guarantee a sighting of a mature buck when the rut is on. One big reason why, is because it’s back in the timber, it’s on the edge of a washout off a field edge, but back in cover where deer feel comfortable moving in daylight. It’s a classic funnel that promotes more deer movement and they feel comfortable there. I don’t sit field edges that much because the places I hunt get a fair amount of pressure. I like areas with more cover.”

BIG WOODS STAND STRATEGIES
Ben Royce, 31, of Peoria, Illinois, might be young (that’s him in the photo above), but his serious collection of big deer mounts has come in part because of his dedication to hunting several states each year, and also because of his ability to match his tactics to their unique, varying conditions and terrain. Royce typically hunts remote big woods stretches in northern Cal, and more open farm country in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.

“In Illinois, where the land is very open, I like to focus on funnel points near fields, and I like to pinpoint productive stand sites with help from game cams,” Royce explained. “An example would be a very thin draw that’s maybe 30 yards wide, and runs east-west. With a north wind I’ll set up on the south edge, and with a south wind I’ll hunt the north edge, where my cameras have captured the most doe activity. It’s always nice to get a big buck on your camera but what I’m really looking for is consistent doe activity,” Royce said. “During the rut, once you know where the does are hanging out, the bucks will be there.”

“Another scenario is to focus on ‘bedding to bedding’ movement. It’s rare for me, but when I can find two different bedding areas very near each other I like to set up between them, and like to sit from midday to evening. If I find one of these areas while scouting I won’t go in there and disturb it by setting cameras, and I won’t go in there at all until about November 5th to November 13th; when I do, I typically see lots of bucks cruising in the thick cover, and this will be at one or two o’clock.

“For my stand sites I’m always looking for pinch points where I can cover more than one trail, where you have more opportunities,” Royce said. “I think a lot of people focus on one trail; you have to stay away from those huge trails used mostly by does; you want to sit on those faint, smaller trails that intersect those larger trails, those are going to be the bucks that are scent-checking for does.”

In the very different big woods of northern Wisconsin, Royce likes to use topo maps to look for various types of distinct edge habitat that act as travel corridors for both bucks and does.
“I like to look for those distinct breaks in the terrain, and good examples can be that line between a stand of conifers and open woods, or a selective cut and a swamp,” he said. “Deer like to run those lines and they like to feed in newer selective cut areas. And I’m always on the lookout for large blocks of pines; bucks love to rub on pines, and they seem drawn to those areas where the forest is made up primarily of other types of softwoods.”

To access detailed topo maps instantly, Royce depends on his smartphone’s Google Earth and Scout Look Hunting, a free app that not only delivers weather conditions, but also shows detailed topo maps, color satellite images, and uses unique technology to show the current “wind cone” coming off a specific stand site—allowing the user to determine the best time to sit specific stands.

“Whenever I get stumped in the big woods, it seems like I’m always going back to swamp areas,” Royce said. “Especially in dry years, big woods deer really like to relate to swamps. So I break out the aerial maps, the satellite images, and topo maps, and look for higher points in swampy areas. I’ve found some great natural funnels, and taken some of my best big woods bucks that way.”

Story by Mark Melotik

Winchester First Ever Deer Specific Hunting Bullet

An all-new Hunting Bullet Designed just for Hunting Deer – Winchester Deer Season XP

When it comes to deer hunting bullets, expansion is usually the name of the game. Some of the most widely-used hunting bullets were designed 50 and 60 years ago, when deer hunting was much less prevalent than it is now (simply because we didn’t have very many deer). Recently, I had the chance to talk about it with Winchester Ammunition‘s Mike Stock.

These days, deer hunters as a group wield the most sway with major manufacturers of rifle ammo. We buy the most ammo and demand performance from it. If it fails, we tell everyone about it and buy someone else’s product.

Enter Winchester’s R&D department and a new approach to a hunting bullet.

First, they looked at expansion. For most bullets to expand beyond their caliber size, which is necessary for bottleneck rifle cartridges due to their small diameter, they generally have to do a good bit of movement. Picture a hollow point hunting bullet and think about how far that point needs to expend before it “grows” to the same size as the bullet’s caliber–or larger.

Winchester’s answer is a longer polymer tip that not only streamlines the bullet, but also allows the leading edge of the bullet’s jacket to be considerably larger than most. It takes very little expansion for the bullet to open up to larger-than-caliber size and often allows bullets to expend all of their energy inside the deer.

Mike explained that the Deer Season XP bullet had been used to shoot more than 200 deer with very good results. Sometimes they exited, sometimes they didn’t. Most often, bullets that did not fully pass through were recovered against the off-side hide of the deer. “Entrance wounds,” he said, “very often looked like exit wounds made with most bullets.”

Due to the designed-in expansion, which naturally inhibits penetration, I asked if this bullet could be depended on to reach the vitals on quartering shots. If, for instance, a deer was quartering away, could this bullet be trusted to penetrate the guts and diaphragm in order to reach the vitals? The answer was yes, and he cited a deer that was shot in just that way with a Deer Season XP bullet.

If the bullet were to hit the off-side shoulder after such a shot, though, expect it to stop there.
winMikeStock

So far, this new ammo sounds pretty good. But the best part is, making a bullet like this means less working of the metals. The core and jacket are easy to form and require less work. This means the bullets are more consistent (the more you work metal, the more inconsistencies creep in) and more affordable.

That’s right – Deer Season XP ammo is in Winchester’s “gray box” line, which means you can get this newly-developed hunting ammo for about $22, roughly the same price point as the cheaper ammo we’ve all been shooting already.

Asked if he designed the bullet, Mike Stock responded, “I did not. I have engineers to do that.”

Story by Russ Chastain
Photos by Winchester Deer Season XP

12 Mistakes Men Make when Hunting with Women

The guide for every man on exactly how to show a lady a miserable time in the woods

Women are joining the hunting ranks at a faster rate than men. But, we ladies still encounter a few problems when it comes to learning the sport. The No.1 problem for women going afield is trying to find places to hunt.

The No. 2 problem? You guessed it. It’s you guys.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not trying to man-bash. We love that you’re willing to take the ladies in your lives hunting. But, sometimes you guys make mistakes – big ones that may prevent us from wanting to ever hit the woods with you, or anyone else for that matter, ever again. If you truly want us out there with you, then read on to find out how to make our experience more enjoyable. If you don’t, then read on to learn how to ensure that the ladies in your life will never want to go hunting again.

We asked some of our female hunting friends to help us list the top 12 reasons women get turned off while hunting. We also provided solutions, because we care. (Also, remember that dark chocolate is usually the choice of the female hunting masses.)

1. Underestimating the importance of comfort
“I know we have cushy bottoms made for sitting, but not for hours on end in the briars. During one of my first turkey hunts, my guide made me sit on the ground in a briar patch where I couldn’t see anything coming or going — just a small swath directly in front of my feet. The temperatures started dropping – from the high 50s to low 40s – with light, and then toad-strangling, rain. We sat there for six hours. My legs jumped and moved all on their own, just trying to keep some body heat. When I finally stood up, I almost fell back down. I had to stop at a gas station, change in the bathroom and wipe down with paper towels. Now that I know more about turkey hunting, I would never do that to a new hunter.” – Barbara Baird – Realtree.com blogger and publisher of Women’s Outdoor News

The Solution: Remember these words: “This is fun.” If it ain’t, call it a day. How can you tell? Well, look at her face. If you see strained expressions or grimaces, she’s done. Or, she might say something like, “Sure would be nice to take a bath.”

2. Behaving condescendingly, because big girls do cry
“There have been times while hunting alongside men that I have heard the words, ‘You stay in the blind; we will put out the decoys … too cold for you!’ I once made the shot on a bird, but the guy next to me screamed, ‘How did you like my shot?’ I have been told, ‘You shouldn’t shoot a 3 1/2-inch shell – too much for your little arms to take!’ and I have even heard, ‘The only reason you get any attention is because you are a woman hunter and they are so rare you don’t have to be good.’” – Kimberly Snyder – Outdoor pro-staffer for various waterfowling companies and contributor to Lady Hunter Magazine

The Solution: Don’t push. Just be there. Kimberly advises, “It can be very tough. When I take women out with me, I make it about what they are comfortable with. I don’t ever push, but I try to make it a bonding and fun experience that keeps them wanting to get back out there. I try to be positive, supportive and encouraging – all the things I would want from someone. Allow them to push themselves.”

mistakesmenmakehuntingwithwomen

3. Not helping with shooting practice before the hunt
“Practice, practice, practice. Help them make good shots so they don’t have to see an animal suffer. The experience can be frightening and can even make them not want to take the second shot to finish the animal. And, take caution in showing women the guts and gore. If they don’t want to see it, don’t make them. They’ll grow into it in their own time.” — Mia Anstine, outfitter, hunting guide, freelance writer

The Solution: Make sure she is familiar with her gun or bow before she hunts with it. Has she patterned that shotgun or sighted in that rifle? Does she know all the safety rules for handling firearms? Has she practiced with her bow? Education on how gun or bow works and what it will do is paramount to success in the field. Also, think about recoil and noise. You can greatly aid your lady friend by making sure that she has hearing protection and that she wears shoulder padding.

They even make a recoil pad that pins under a shirt on a bra strap, but it’s probably best to let her do that – unless you ask first.

4. Being crude or rude
“I try to be just one of the guys when I’m hunting with men, especially if I’m the only lady in camp. I don’t get offended easily, but that doesn’t mean I want all sense of decorum and class to be tossed out of the window. I once hunted with a guy I’d never met who not only burped inches from my face, but he peed right in front of me as well. Let’s just say that put a bit of a damper on my hunt. I also hunted with a guide who proceeded to show me vulgar photos of women on his cell phone. Only minutes after meeting me, another guide felt the need to tell me about all of his and his friends’ forays with prostitutes. There are some things female hunters don’t want to see or hear about, at least not this female hunter.” — Stephanie Mallory, Realtree blogger, owner of Mallory Communications Inc.

The Solution: Sing it, ladies … R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

“Animal House”-type antics never belong in hunting. Treat the lady hunter how you’d want someone to treat your mom, sister, grandmother or any other female in your family. A good rule of thumb is to let the female hunter set the tone for your hunt. She may be prim and proper, or she may be as crude as a Bob Saget stand-up routine. If you don’t know her that well, play it safe and display good manners. Avoid vulgar language, sexual innuendos and crude behavior. If she’s your buddy, wife or girlfriend, then you should already know how she wants to be treated. If you haven’t figured that out yet, then enjoy what little time you have left with her.

womenshuntingmistakes

5. Not putting safety first
On another turkey-hunting expedition – this would be about No. 19 without a tag filled – my guides sat me, my hunting partner and a cameraman under a tree. They positioned themselves about 100 feet down from us. A thunderstorm promptly rolled in, but did the guides call it off? Heck, no. We sat there in the rain, watching toms walk past us out of range for hours. Meanwhile, the creek rose, logs rushed down it and our posteriors created magnificent butt puddles. When lightning started striking around the field, I kept thinking that my kids would tell their friends that, “Mom died while sitting under a tree in a thunderstorm, pointing a metal rod into the air.” — Barbara Baird

The Solution: Never put your lady in danger, from the weather or anything else. If she’s the mother of your children, consider whether or not you have enough insurance to raise said children properly with an English nanny? Stephanie and I have four children each, and believe me, our husbands could not afford the quality of care that we dish out to our kids.

6. Showing lack of respect for the lives taken
“I once attended a hunt camp where another female would be hunting for the first time. She was very intimidated by the whole idea and wasn’t sure about taking an animal’s life. When we arrived at the lodge, the first thing the guides did was put a video on TV showing them shooting chickens off a fence post for fun. The new hunter was horrified, of course, and immediately ran to her room and started crying. The guides made all hunters look bad in her eyes and set a poor tone for the rest of the hunt.” — Stephanie Mallory

The Solution: Yes, we ladies understand that killing is part of the deal. But nothing will sour a woman’s taste for the hunt more quickly than when a man acts cruel or indifferent about the animals he’s hunting, or not hunting. If you show respect for the life you are taking, your female hunting companion will in turn have more respect for you and for the sport you love.

7. Pushing the shot
“When I was 12, my dad and I hunted with a group that did deer drives. If you didn’t shoot at everything, you were ridiculed, but if you shot something too small, you were also ridiculed. To me, hunting is a very personal experience, and taking a life is a serious action. The person pulling the trigger should not feel forced into it.” — Trisha Bowen-Steffen, outdoor writer and pro-staffer for various bowhunting companies

The Solution: Assuming that she’s had all the training mentioned earlier, and that the recoil or noise is not the reason she hesitates in the clutch for the shot, she might not be ready. Or, she may not want to shoot that particular animal that day. It is her choice, not yours. You cannot rent the space in her head as to why she let an animal walk, but you might ask her to explain her reasoning to you. Do not judge. Bring chocolate.

In fact, some researchers claim that the average woman speaks 13,000 more words per day than the average man. So talk back.

Encourage questions and answer them thoughtfully. One of the biggest complaints women have about their romantic relationships with men is lack of communication. Lack of communication can be a problem between the male and female hunter as well. You’ll have plenty of time after the hunt to zone out in your lazy chair while recovering from the exhaustive effort of speaking all those extra words.

9. Displaying lack of patience
“I was immediately turned off during one of my first target-practice sessions when my boyfriend just assumed I knew what every button and lever did on the rifle. He lost patience and jumped in to do everything for me, instead of explaining to me how to load it properly. Talk about discouraging. The day ended with me in tears and never wanting to pick up a gun again. He later apologized and realized that guns just aren’t natural to some people. I mustered up the confidence to try again, and now I really enjoy hunting with him. After a lot of practice, I’m beginning to understand how fun it can be to shoot and hunt … once you get the hang of it. – Candace Schaak, avid hunter from Cold Bay, Alaska

The Solution: Let’s face it: Patience isn’t always your strongest virtue. But it’s important, especially when you’re hunting with a new female hunter. The best teachers are patient teachers. Take time to instruct and explain the process throughout the hunt. Remember, this is all new to her. If you become short-tempered, impatient or irritable, you’ll ruin the whole point of the hunt, which is to have fun. And you’ll have an upset woman on your hands, which isn’t fun either.

10. Treating the woman as if she’s frail
“My guides and the other hunters in camp went off and left me at the cabin one morning as I slept because they assumed I wouldn’t want to turkey hunt in the rain. I guess they were just being protective, as I was a few months pregnant at the time. But, it was only sprinkling, and it wasn’t cold, so I would have been fine. Plus, I had really wanted to go!” — Stephanie Mallory

The Solution: Yes, we want to be comfortable and content, but we’re not afraid to get dirty and brave the elements when the situation calls for it. Don’t just assume the female hunter doesn’t want to get wet, muddy or tired. She may be just fine with crawling through that mud hole or sitting in the rain while waiting for a turkey to show up. All you have to do is ask her. She’ll let you know what she’s willing to do or not to do.

11. Focusing only on the kill
“Most experienced hunters I’ve gone with simply do things like pick a stand location, set out decoys, or use a call without explaining how and why. I’d say most women would like to not only go on the hunt, but actually learn how to hunt. I realize the guy wants to just handle everything and make sure the hunt is successful, and I appreciate that, but just being told when to pull the trigger is not enjoyable in itself.” — Brita Lewis, account executive / marketing strategist at Gray Loon Marketing Group

The Solution: For many guys, it’s all about getting the job done. You set a goal of taking an animal, and you want to accomplish that goal. But, education and fun should be part of the goal as well. Use every opportunity to teach and explain what you are doing. In fact, don’t just wait until the day of the hunt to involve the female hunter. Get her involved before season when you are scouting, planting food plots, hanging stands, etc. Involving her throughout the process provides her with more enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment as well.

12. Underestimating the female hunter’s capabilities
“I work for a well-known gun company, and my turkey-hunting guide knew this. Even though I was hunting with one of my company’s’ guns and had a lot of experience shooting it, my guide would not let me load it myself. When we arrived at the hunting spot, he insisted on loading the gun, but he had difficulty loading it and keeping it quiet at the same time. Hmmm. I could have loaded it quietly without any effort.” — Marian Council, creative director at Benelli USA

The Solution: News flash: no one likes to be treated as if they’re incompetent. If you don’t know the woman, don’t just assume she’s incapable of loading her own gun, driving an ATV, calling a turkey or any other skill one might use while hunting. Again, all you have to do is ask. She might surprise you.

Story by Barbara Baird and Stephanie Mallory – Realtree

Prepping for Doomsday

REALITY SHOW’S ‘PRACTICAL PREPPER’ ON BEING READY FOR ANYTHING

Richard Dean Anderson is an accomplished TV actor, having starred for a decade in the successful sci-fi hit Stargate SG-1. But to many, he’ll always be MacGyver, that 1980s secret agent who, says the website macgyveronline.com, at different points in the 141-episode ABC show, could use a gum wrapper as fishing tackle,make a hot air signal balloon frompapermache and a ball, and build a baby crib from hockey sticks.

Scott Hunt has no interest in building a bomb out of a paper clip, but as a survivalist prepper, Hunt savors the idea of being somewhat of a MacGyver-type. “That’s what I do,”says Hunt a professional prepper who is a mentor to the survivalists preparing for the worst on the National Geographic Channel series, Doomsday Preppers.

preppers

“If you came here the last two days and watched me, I spent that time tweaking a centrifuge – not for nuclear material, just want to make that clear – for making black diesel. I took wasted motor oil and transmission fluid, and we made our own fuel that we could pour into my Volkswagen. And we drove in it.” Hunt is among the growing number of Americans who want to thrive when the unexpected happens. We’ve seen recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, Super Storm Sandy along the Atlantic Seaboard and devastating tornadoes throughout the Central Plains. What happens when you could possibly lose everything, and individually that could be a job, a family member or your life savings?

That’s where Hunt’s company he started three years ago, Practical Preppers (864-915-1855; practicalpreppers.com), hopes to get people started on having a plan in place in the event of a calamity like, and Alaskans know these are very possible,earth quakes or fires.Many of his how-to videos available on his website or YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/engineer775) show him working with enough gadgets to keep James Bond comfortable if one of the villains he’s battling actually does succeed with world destruction.

Hunt has an intriguing resume:he earned a master’s degree in engineering from the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy,N.Y.) and worked as a product development engineer with Michelin Tire for a decade; he spent 10 years as a senior pastor and operates a successful cattle/livestock business. But prepping for the worst and using his creative energy to figure out how to survive is a passion. Assisting those preppers on the National Geographic show has opened the eyes of viewers one way or the other.

“Doomsday Preppers has really helped me. I live in the middle of nowhere so how do I get my name out there?The show helps, the Internet helps like social media,” says Hunt, who just finished writing a book, Practical Preppers: A Guide to Disaster Preparedness that will be available beginning in August. We caught up with Hunt from his rural South Carolina property where he talked about not losing balance when your life is turned upside down.

Chris Cocoles In watching some of your videos, what you do seems pretty complicated to an on expert like me,but is it a pretty simple process for you?

SCOTT HUNT [laughs] I do a variety of things and try to keep it simple; just throwing up (videos) of every possible thing that I can come up with to help people be prepared for whatever they’re preparing for. The shows that have come out, like Doomsday Preppers, you have a variety of people: a mixture of preppers, some survivalists, and you have some that do both. And we recommend learning both. But from a preparedness standpoint, we think building community and not just heading out into the hills is the way to go. But my part in is I’m trying to promote a preparedness lifestyle, something where you’re not as dependent on the system. But you’re also not hiding under a rock somewhere. But if there is a crisis a tornado, ahurricane,or something, that you’re part of the solution and not the problem.

CC So how did you get involved in prepping with your diverse background?

SH It’s all kind of come together. I had a good education in mechanical engineering and robotics. And I was a pastor who traveled and did missionary work and helped a lot of people that way. So prepping is a way to combine both of these for me, using the skills I’ve learned. It’s kind of a weird way to get where I am, but a long path. It’s been a grea tmatch and just makes sense.

CC Tell me about your experience on Doomsday Preppers.

SH I was on the pilot episode.We got back to the production company, Sharp Entertainment, when the show was sold to Nat Geo. We were assessed, but we said, “How could somebody from downtown Manhattan assess our preparedness?” We challenged them; they asked us if we wanted to be on season one.We said no, but “what if we do the assessment part of the show?” We just finished (shooting) season four.

CC What’s it been like to assess this cast of characters appearing on the show?

SH There are what I call true preppers that are very cynical and do not like the show because it’s sensationalizing the prepper movement to some degree. But I tell them that you’re just getting a 15-minute snapshot of a person who has worked 20 years on what he does. It’s not fair. But if you look at this objectively, you can pick up something from each one. I’ve talked to hundreds of people and I always pick up something. I finally talked to the production company and said, “Would you let me to talk to the prepper?” I could talk their language, so to speak, and I could see what they’re preparing and how they’re preparing and what they’re preparing for.

Get me on the phone with them for at least a half hour and I can get what this person is doing. I’ve learned a lot from what they’re good at for their climate and conditions, and their possible national disasters. That could give me another
idea and project to work on. It’s been nothing but awesome to talk to different
preppers. There are some who probably shouldn’t have been on the show. But overall, it’s been very positive for me to be a part of Doomsday Preppers.

CC Was there a time earlier in your life where you were unprepared for something and it convinced you to become a prepper?

SH Not necessarily, but seeing other people suffer and paying attention to that as a pastor for a church, I saw people who lost a job or had health concerns. They weren’t ready for that. Maybe a spouse is addicted to a drug and it completely wipes out the family. Preparedness can be for anything. People talk
things like the apocalypse or EMP’s [a nuclear electromagnetic pulse], but people in general are not prepared for life. I spent 10 years pastoring people who were wiped out in their life.You can’t prepare for everything. But it’s nice to prepare at some level and to be help others in those situations.

CC When you see the after math of a disaster I think we all say“Wow,we could have been more prepared to handle this.”But did it hit home for you even more when you saw what went on after Hurricane Katrina or Super storm Sandy?

SH You see people like a mother who can’t give her child an asthma rescue. There are simple things when you say, “Oh my goodness, I have the solution for that.”People suffer because they don’t prepare. When something like Sandy hits, you know there are people who are going to be wiped out. (Hurricane) Irene in Vermont (in 2011) and people stranded. Katrina was awful, of course. So storms continue to get stronger and more violent. Simple things like being in Oklahoma and not having a tornado shelter, it’s just not wise. And being able to get away from a wildfire, a tornado or flooding, those are not things that require you to spend a life savings to do. A lot of times you just need to leave where you’re at, and people sometimes aren’t even prepared to do that. FEMA can’t come and rescue everybody.You can’t imagine what’s going to happen.

CC I grewup in the San Francisco Bay Area, where, of course, there’s always a threat of earthquakes. And when we had a quake we’d watch the news, which would always tell us to be prepared and have emergency supplies stored. And my family and I always thought that we need to dot his, and we sort of did it, but really we never did. And I think that’s the mentality a lot of families have. But like you preach, you should more than prepared for that, right?

SH Exactly. If people just followed the government’s guidelines at ready.gov,we would be way better off. People do not follow it. They are now going more towards a week’s worth of preparedness. Because help is not always going to get to you for a period of seven days, so why not have enough simple water, food, shelter, and those things on hand? We’re not talking about a mass in gan arsenal and trying to protect your community. No matter what the scenario there could be a breakdown and social chaos. Humans become animals within a few days when
they don’t have food or water. Being exposed to the elements in some climates is brutal. A lot of reality shows in Alaska, those people have to be preppers. They have to or they die. But most people in the Lower 48 don’t have to prepare like that and survive on a daily basis. They become dependent on food, water and medicine being available or delivered.

The communication system is always working. It’s a very fragile, high-tech society. I understand the technology, but I also like old, simpler ways to fall back on. It can fail and it has failed in pockets in different ways. Why not have simple ways to stay warm, cook your food, take care of your family and have some potable water so nobody gets sick?

CC But it’s not just about natural calamities, it can be losing a job or a family member or having a sick family member you should prep for just in case, correct?

SH You do see that in some of the prepper groups: they run their groups through scenarios. “Today, Joe lost his job.” It’s hard to simulate what you’re saying with a job loss. But it’s good to make people who you know or work with to think through that scenario. You don’t know what people will do until they’re put in that situation,or course. So sometimes it’s good to maybe throw the breaker or turn the power off. The family doesn’t appreciate it, but it’s a good test to see how we are addicted to our cell phones, our tablets, everything. There will be severe psychological trauma if the Internet goes down. I’m just as bad as anyone else because I live in a very rural area. I could not do what I do without it. From job loss to that huge disaster, you don’t know what people are going to do and how they’re going to behave.

CC Have you been told by people,“Hey, you guys are eccentric, you’re nuts, you overdo it?”

SH [laughs] All the time. But then when something happens, “Maybe Scott wasn’t that crazy.”I’ve always done this; Idon’t golf, I don’t hunt. I like to do what I do and help to give people ideas on how to prepare. It helps me to be prepared because I build these things and install them. I’m going all over the place to install solutions that I design. So it doesn’t bother me that people think I’m crazy. And a lot of people who used to think I’m crazy are totally on board. The light bulb went off and “now I get it.”But some extremists or nut jobs can ruin it.“ If that’s prepping I don’t want anything to do with it,”and I understand that. We need food,water and shelter and that’s all I’m talking about. I tell people a little bit about electricity goes a long way. If the grid goes down for a week, can you generate a little bit of power? It can be generators, solar panels in your area or maybe you have a creek that works for hydro. I don’t care if it’s human power up to very complicated hybrid power systems.But start simple. The Amish are laughing at us for this; they are prepared and don’t need our technology.

CC You have quite the impressive resume, and you’re an intelligent person. And you have to be a little creative and think outside the box in what you do.

,b>SH You do. I think my goal when I bought this small piece of property, my hobby was could I live off it and be self-sufficient. What do I have? I have wood, I have water. And from that I have done crazy things and it’s been fun. It just keeps going. The more people that could be prepared, it’ll pay off. People who have gone through the hurricanes, a lot of those people say, “I will never do this again.” I get a lot of calls from people in Florida who have gone through multiple hurricanes. They ask me,“What do I need to have water?” I start with water; I don’t care what your political bend is; everybody needs good water. When I start off with the Doomsday Preppers, I ask them to tell me about their water supply. How do they get it? What’s their long-term solution? A lot of people don’t have one. I make suggestions. Water opens the door for me to talk to everybody. I don’t start with, “How many guns do you have?” That turns off a lot of people.

CC There are a couple of great quotes on your website from two men I admire: Benjamin Franklin(“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”), and Henry Ford (“Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.”). What do those two quotes mean to you? Because I see Franklin and Ford as kind of geniuses who thought outside the box.

SH Absolutely.You had almost a scientist, of course, in Ben Franklin, and more of an engineer in Henry Ford.Where I grew up in upstate New York, everywhere you went you were using and getting wood. Though I despised it as a teenager I love it now and use it for everything. But yes, they’re both awesome guys. I’d put Michael Faraday and (Albert) Einstein in there as well. They’re just creative out-of-the-box men,and I enjoy that.

CC What’s one message you hope Doomsday Preppers can send?

SH The first thought that comes to my mind is wake up. A lot of people on the show say they are preparing for everything. And the show does a good job of spreading it out: “You’re preparing an EMP, you’re preparing for a wildfire, you’re preparing for a job loss.” Doomsday Preppers gets it out there that,“It could happen to me. We need to do something about it. That person showed me what I could do.” Some people spend crazy amounts of money,but there are some good and practical solutions to protect yourself and your family and maybe even your community. So kind of the message is to wakeup to the reality of how fragile our society is.

CC So about that MacGyver comparison…

SH I have 300-plus videos of MacGyver like stuff. My shop is a disaster. I have 50 projects going on. It’s a lot of fun. I have a couple young guys who I’m training. So I said, “Come on guys: let’s build this.” I have so many gadgets and gizmos. This was my dream that I could be, for lack of a better word, a MacGyver and be able to share that with other people. I’m having a blast; I need to get more sleep [laughs].

CS
Editor’s note: For more information on Scott Hunt’s company, Practical Preppers, go to his website, practicalpreppers.com

12 Reasons Why Your Venison Tastes Like S*&t

Is your deer meat tough, dry and gamey-tasting? It shouldn’t be. Check out this list of 12 deer-butchering sins to find out why your venison tastes bad — and how to make it better

skinningI’m often amazed at the people, deer hunters included, who tell me they just don’t like venison. That statement is usually followed by a qualifier: it’s tough; it’s gamey; it’s dry. And so on.

I’ve eaten a lot of good deer meat. But I’ve eaten some really bad deer meat, too. I’m only a self-trained butcher, but I process five or six animals each fall, and have been doing so for a decade or more.

I’m no Scott Leysath, either, but my wife and I do eat venison in some form two or three meals per week, year-round. I think we eat pretty good.

Some things consistently make venison really tasty. And some things will ruin the flavor, too. Here are a dozen of the worst offenders.

1. Poor Field Care

In the real world of hunting, things happen. We all make bad shots on occasion. And while we know not to “push” a deer that’s been hit marginally, realize that the longer it takes for the animal to die and the farther it runs, the more adrenaline and lactic acid builds up in the animal’s system and muscles. Ever had a glass of good-tasting acid? I didn’t think so.

The faster a deer hits the ground and can be field-dressed, the better the meat will be. Some of the best-tasting deer I’ve ever had have been shot in the head with a gun. The animal is killed instantly, and the meat is uncontaminated by blood and entrails from the chest cavity. That said, head shots are risky. The lungs remain the best place to aim.

2. Failure to Cool Quickly

Internal bacteria rapidly takes over after death, expelling gases and causing the animal to bloat. That’s the first step in decomposition. This process is accelerated in warm weather. Learn how to field dress a deer, and get to it ASAP. Removing those organs is the first step in cooling the animal down.

On a cold night—in the mid-30s or lower—a deer can be left hanging skin-on overnight. In especially cold weather, some hunters like to age a deer in such a manner for several days (more on aging in a bit). I live in a warm climate, and most of the deer I shoot in a season’s time are during early bow season, so I don’t have that luxury. When I find my deer and get it field-dressed, I plan on having it skinned, quartered and on ice within the hour.

3. Shot the Wrong Deer

Modern deer hunters are in tune with deer herd management. We’ve learned of practices that contribute to the health of a herd, including which deer to shoot. Given the chance, most of us want to shoot a mature buck with big antlers. Me included.

Old bucks are perfectly edible, but rarely the best. Muscles get tougher with use and stringy with age. An old buck that’s spent a full autumn fighting, rubbing, scraping and chasing does will be lean. Expect chewy steaks. Same thing goes for an old doe that’s burned all her summertime calories producing milk to nurse fawns. I usually make hamburger, sausage and jerky out of such animals.

For steaks, you can’t beat a young, crop-fed deer. Deer that spend a summer munching on corn and soybeans have an easier life—and more fattening food sources—than those that spend a lifetime wandering the big timber in search of scattered mast and browse.

The tastiest venison I’ve ever eaten came from a 1 ½-year-old fork horn shot through the neck near a picked corn field during early bow season.

That young deer had nothing to do all summer except get fat. Am I saying to forgo everything the QDMA is teaching and whack every young buck that walks by? No. But I am saying if a deer for the freezer is your goal, young bucks from the early season are usually good eating, and have more meat than does to boot. If you want to shoot one and it’s legal, go for it. You don’t owe anyone an apology.

4. Failure to Age / Purge

I’ve been told that aging venison on ice is a mistake, but I don’t buy it. The mercury rises above 50 degrees on most days of deer season in my area. That’s too warm to let a deer hang, so icing them down is my only option. I line the bottom of a cooler with a layer of ice, add my deer quarters on top of that, and then cover them with more ice.

I keep the cooler in the shade with the drain plug open and on a downhill incline. That’s very important. The idea is to let the ice slowly melt and drain from the cooler. This not only keeps the meat cold, but purges an amazing amount of blood from it. Do this for at least two days, checking the ice a couple times per day in especially warm weather. (Note: if you do this without a drain plug, you’ll get the opposite effect; deer quarters that are essentially marinated in bloody, dirty water. Does that sound tasty? Didn’t think so.)

5. Dirty Knives and Power Saws

A deer’s legs are held together just like yours: with ball-and-socket joints and connective tissue. Learn where these are, and you can cut an entire skinned deer apart within minutes with a good pocket knife. Laying into a deer’s legs and spine with a power saw puts bone marrow, bone fragments and whatever mess was on the saw blade into your venison. Would you season your steak with bone fragments and wood shavings? Didn’t think so.

I keep three sharp knives handy when I’m cleaning a deer. One is for field-dressing. This one will be a stout knife with a drop point for prying through bone. Another is for skinning. Though a skinning blade with a gut hook is nice to have, I’ve been using a long-bladed fillet knife the last couple seasons, and it works beautifully. These knives can be honed to a razor’s edge and quickly re-sharpened. Other than quickly dulling a knife’s edge by slicing through hair, skinning is not taxing on a knife’s blade, so a flexible fillet knife works fine. Finally, I swap over to another knife—again, with a heavier blade—for my quartering. The point to take from all this is to keep your knives separate so you reduce contamination of the meat with blood and hair.

6. Poor Trimming

Unlike beef fat, deer fat does not taste good. Neither does the sinew, membranes and other connective tissues holding the various muscle groups together. Venison, whether destined for steaks or hamburger, should be trimmed free of anything that’s not rich, red meat.

deerburger107. Burger is Too Lean
Ironically, because fat needs to be trimmed away for the best flavor, venison often becomes too lean for hamburger purposes. Patties made for grilled double cheeseburgers often fall apart soon after hitting the hot grate. The solution is to add some fat, either beef or pork, when you’re grinding venison. We use cheap bacon, mixed at a rate of 5:1 (5 pounds of venison per pound of bacon). It makes our patties stick together, and the bacon adds a great flavor.

8. Used a Cut-Rate Processor

Some commercial deer processors do a great job. But some do not. I once took a deer to a processor, filled out my paperwork and watched him disappear to the freezer room. He weighed my animal and returned with a corresponding amount of packaged, frozen venison. “We mix all our meat together and package a lot of burger at once,” he said.

For all I knew, the deer I was getting could’ve been gut-shot, left to hang in 90-degree heat, and then dragged along a black-top road en route to the processor. No thanks. That was the last deer I ever took to a processor. Insist on getting your own deer back when you have processing work done. If that’s not possible, I’d advise doing business elsewhere.

9. Marinade Problems

“First, soak for 48 hours in Italian dressing …”

It’s enough to make a venison-lover cringe.

Look, Italian dressing and BBQ sauce taste fine, but you’d better be a ravenous fan of them if you’re using them to soak venison steaks for two days. At the end of those two days, your steaks will taste just like … Italian dressing or BBQ sauce.

There’s nothing wrong with a little splash of flavor enhancement, but try lighter flavors that complement, rather than mask, the flavor of deer meat, and keep the marinade time short. My usual maximum is three or four hours. A favorite marinade for grilled venison steaks is a mixture of olive oil, a spoonful of balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of Worcestershire sauce, some minced garlic (with the juice), a squirt of mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

cooler1010. Cooked Too Cool, for Too Long

Venison recipes, especially grilled recipes, often call for removing the meat after a couple minutes per side. For many, the result of that is, “this is raw and gross.” And so they place it back on the grill. After a while, it turns gray, chewy, dry … and still gross.

Grilled venison is best when eaten with a medium-rare interior, but the outside needs to be cooked. In order to do that, your grill needs to be hot enough to instantly sear the meat surface and lock in those flavors and juices. Flip your venison steaks one time. If you don’t have nice grill marks after three or four minutes, the grate isn’t hot enough.

11. Improper Packaging and Freezing

Freezer burn doesn’t help the flavor of ice cream or anything else, deer meat included. Modern vacuum packaging systems are handy and save on space, but I’ve used some that resulted in freezer-burned meat after a few months. If you’re buying a vacuum-sealing unit, get a good one.

We package our deer the old-fashioned way, first wrapping our portion in clear plastic wrap, and then covering that with heavy-duty freezer paper. Each package is clearly labeled, not only so we know what cut of meat is inside and when it was killed, but also which deer it came from. If one animal proves especially tough, we know to use that meat for slow-cooking recipes.

12. Getting too Fancy

There’s no big mystery or secret to cooking venison. Treat it as you would treat very lean beef, and you’ll get outstanding results day in and out. We substitute deer burger for beef hamburger in virtually everything—chili, tacos, sloppy Joe’s, burgers on the grill, spaghetti and who knows what else. We never plan on a “wild game night” at the house. We just plan to cook dinner, and that usually means wild game by default.

Story & Photos by Will Brantley
(Editor’s Note: This Retro Realtree article was originally published in October of 2012)