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Recent entries


Non-Typical Hunter

Gun season tomorrow for turkeys

Fri, October 22, 2010

Gun season opens for turkeys and will last all week into next weekend. I’m going to take my son hunting this week for turkeys, in between bow hunts. We’re going to have to do this the hard way and actually scout for them!

My last farm was so full of turkeys, you couldn’t avoid them…literally! It was the original drop site for the first 14 turkeys, in the county, that the state had acquired from Missouri. I had pictures of them dropping those birds on that farm in 1968. From there, they just exploded. Now the new farm I’m hunting also has birds but it’s nothing like the old place. I’ve seen a few scattered birds here and there but never a flock or a roosting site. Quite to my surprise, I haven’t even heard an occasional gobble when they roosted, etc.  Now and then they’ll show up on my trail cameras but never in quantity.

Just like the deer, I’ll have to go in and scout it out. I actually like doing that! It makes the hunt more exciting and mysterious. It’s like finding a pot of gold when you hit one of those special places you know will be productive. So off into the timber looking for thunder chickens we’ll be! One thing I haven’t looked up yet but I need to, is the answer to my question: If I want to bow hunt deer or turkey, can my son carry the 10 gauge to kill turkeys if I want to carry a bow to hunt either? I’m not sure how the law reads but I better look it up today! If I find the answer, I’ll post it here. I would hate to pass an opportunity to drop a big buck while in the timber! If I find out it’s not legal, we’ll stick with hunting turkeys. Dad and lad time is better than a big old buck any day!


The shop’s filling up

Thu, October 21, 2010

The phone in the taxidermy studio is starting to ring again. A call this morning from a Champaign Co.  man bringing in a 151” 8 pointer killed over the weekend,  started off the day.  Last week, the bucks that were brought in had little necks but that is starting to change. I had some trail camera pictures from a place I’m hunting in Kansas this year sent to me last night and the necks on those bucks were absolutely huge! It won’t be very long before we’ll be seeing that here also.

Like mentioned before, I think we’re going to have a banner year. Like last year and the year before, I’ll be able to tell when the rut really kicks in by the amount of heads I get here. That’s one nice thing about being a taxidermist, you get to see the necks get bigger by the day as they are being brought in. For those of you who hunt the rut solely, I’ll post the activity as it heats up! I’ve seen the peak rut, based on big bucks killed, as early as the first week in November here in Illinois and as late as the third week in November. Every year some hunters see the activity pick up and claim an early rut but in reality, the activity always picks up this time of year, so it’s best just to keep an eye on things and stay in touch with other sources. My bet is the second week will be the peak but certainly don’t do yourself an injustice by avoiding the first week!

Rut or no rut, they’re out there! Hunt them hard or hunt them easy but the bottom line: Hunt them! They won’t die from your couch.


Review: Venison Wisdom Cookbook

Wed, October 20, 2010

As a professional product tester and hunter, one would think reviewing a cookbook would be outside of my boundaries. Not so, especially when I love to cook and venison is in my daily vocabulary! Having said that, I was introduced to one of the best venison cookbooks I’ve ever read. It’s called the “Venison Wisdom Cookbook”, written by Tracy L. Schmidt. This book would rival many culinary expert’s traditional recipes hands down.

A few things in this life I know and one of them is food! My ethnic roots transitioned when my grandparents arrived in Ellis Island and immediately began cutting and selling meat. From there, creative recipes followed. Some of the best food I ever ate came from old world cooking that my mother so graciously recreated over her stove. Certain herbs and spices used in many of her dishes are staple ingredients needed to wake up anyone’s appetite. Needless to say, I was excited to see some of Tracy’s recipes containing such mouth watering formulas!

What’s really neat about this book is the fact that the entire book is dedicated to venison. No crow meat, opossum nuggets, etc, just deer. What some people aren’t aware of, is the fact that venison is probably the healthiest red meat available. Free ranging deer are by far the healthiest animals to harvest and consume. No antibiotics or “fenced-in” diseases end up in your palate why you and your family enjoy the season’s best. Properly prepared venison tastes every bit as good as beef and in some cases, better! With its low fat, high protein content, venison is a premier choice for individuals combating high cholesterol and other cardiac ailments. When the lay person makes a statement that venison taste gamy, it immediately alerts me that the animal wasn’t field dressed or handled properly.  Handling venison like cattle parallels equal quality flavor. Having a brother-in-law, (Rich Kober from central IL.) with nearly 40 years experience as a hunter and a meat cutter, I can tell you that I’ve picked up some “tricks-of-the-trades” regarding good tasting venison. Two of them are quick field dressing of the animal and removing as much venison fat as possible. Gas builds up immediately in the dead carcass creating tainted and spoiled meat and the fat, for some reason, holds an undesirable flavor. Addressing these two issues, you’re on your way to excellent tasting meat!

Back to the book, it’s broken down into chapters. Tracy’s top 100 has her personal favorites which are separated by category, making it easy to pick and choose exactly what you are looking for. Included in the book are also favorites by some of the hunting industry’s more well-know outdoorsmen. Tracy uses her own nomenclature to make it easier for the cook to rapidly identify what type of meal they’re seeking. She uses a small symbol preceding each recipe that will quickly and positively reveal the type of cut needed for each particular meal. So in essence, there will be no need for you to comb each and every recipe to determine which meal will work with your cut of meat. On the bottom of nearly every page, you’ll find a useful tip. Every single one of these tips are bona fide suggestions that undoubtedly stemmed from years of research or experience. In the final chapter, you’ll see a dedicated portion to “Blood trailing & Equipment Tips”. These are great! I would expect to find such a cornucopia of material in a book, hunting magazine or better yet, in one of my articles! OK, maybe I was a bit over zealous in that last statement.

This is one of those books that any hunter can pick up and enjoy, even if they don’t cook! If you have a spouse that doesn’t hunt but prepares your wild game for you, this would be the perfect addition to the kitchen. You can purchase this cookbook here: http://www.shopdeerhunting.com/product/venison-wisdom-cookbook/processing-recipes/?r=dhar3955z8928 . At only $11.69 it’s a joke. It’s worth much more, given the fact that it’s a conglomerate of culinary knowledge, deer hunting tips and some tried and trued recipes. If the name Tracy L. Schmidt rings a bell, it’s because her husband Dan Schmidt is the editor for Deer and Deer Hunting magazine. She has been hunting, cooking and eating venison for over a decade and has been exposed to some of the biggest names in hunting. I think it would be safe to say this book is a “Must have”. With the holidays around the corner, this would be a perfect addition to any hunter’s Christmas stocking.

As a critic, I can’t give you all of the positive comments without the negative also. So, the only negative I can find with this book is the fact that they didn’t include my personal venison chili recipe! Now that’s a shame!

Maybe on the second revision? grin