Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

Homemade Venison Bratwurst Recipe

January 9th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Making bratwursts or summer sausage is an easy way to use the meat from a whole deer, especially a large or older buck or doe that will likely be tough. Below are step-by-step instructions to making your own homemade venison brats.

 

What You’ll Need

  • Meat from whole deer (20-25 lbs. deboned meat)
  • 5 lbs. pork or beef fat
  • 2 lbs. cheese – pepperjack or cheddar
  • Lem’s Brat seasoning + water according to package
  • Natural casings for 25 lbs. meat
  • Meat grinder
  • Sausage stuffer

 

The Process

 

Step 1: Debone meat

Debone shoulders and hams from a whole deer, removing fat and sinew. Use neck and rib meat if needed, to get a total of 20-25 lbs.

 

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Tips!

  • Use cut-resistant gloves when deboning meat for added safety
  • Make sure to use a sharp knife, such as the Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite replaceable-blade knife

 

Step 2: Grind

Using an electric grinder, grind all venison into a meat tub or large pot. Grind pork or beef fat separately, and then mix into venison until distributed evenly throughout.

 

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Tips!

  • I recommend the Lem #8 meat grinder from Bass Pro Shops. We purchased ours nine years ago, and have ground more than 1,500 lbs. of meat—including 40+ deer, buffalo, hogs and elk. Still works perfectly with no issues.
  • There are several ways to obtain pork or beef fat. Ask your local meat store or grocery store if they sell it, or contact a local farmer. We raised a domestic hog and saved the fat once we butchered it. You can also substitute bacon for the fat.
  • Before grinding the fat, let it freeze slightly so it makes pellets when ground. If it’s too soft and warm, it will be greasy and melt when grinding.

 

Step 3: Add the Seasoning

Prep seasoning by mixing with cold water, as instructed on package. Add seasoning and water mixture to meat, one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each cup. Keep meat mixture in meat tub and refrigerate overnight.

 

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Step 4: Prep Casings

Prep casings by rinsing with warm water to remove cure and salt. Refrigerate in water overnight.

 

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Step 5: Add Cheese to Meat

Cut cheese into ¼” cubes and mix thoroughly into meat.

 

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Tips!

  • Use any kind of cheese preferred. Pepperjack adds a little more spice and melts better when cooked. Cheddar stays in larger chunks when the brats are cooked.
  • During this step, you can also add chopped peppers, such as jalapenos or habaneros, if you like spicier foods.

 

Step 6: Stuff Meat into Casings

Rinse casings with cool water. Attach 10mm stuffer tube (ok to use larger size) to sausage stuffer, and fill stuffer with meat. Fit casing over stuffer tube, and knot one end. Fill casings with meat until expanded, being careful not to rupture the casing. Once the brat is to the desired length, cut casing and knot the end. Repeat until all meat is used.

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Tips!

  • Using a standalone sausage stuffer makes the cheese stay in larger chunks. We used the Cabela’s Commercial Grade Stuffer, 11 lb. model. You can use the electric grinder without the blade in place to also stuff the casings, but it regrinds the meat, causing the cheese to break up.
  • The small stuffer tube size is easier to fit the casings over without tearing them, but you can use larger size tubes.
  • Brat length depends on preference. You can tie them at standard brat length, approximately 6”, but you will use more casings. We make ours approximately 18” and cook whole, then cut into thirds after cooking.

 

Step 7: Package and Freeze

Place brats individually in freezer bag and wrap with freezer paper. Label and freeze. Recommended meat storage is up to 1 year in the freezer to maintain flavor.

 

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And the best part: Cooking and Eating!

Spray grill grates with non-stick cooking spray. Grill brats over direct heat on charcoal or gas grill for approximately 5 minutes per side, flipping only once using tongs to prevent puncturing. Enjoy alone, or on a bun with your favorite toppings.

 

By Sarah Honadel

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Sarah is an avid hunter and outdoors enthusiast who lives on a farm in Kentucky where she raises cows, chickens,a nd keeps bees.. She enjoys gardening, canning, crafting and traveling and is also a member of the Huntress View team, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Shed Hunting: Tips & Benefits

January 1st, 2017 by BTC Editor

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Anyone that knows me knows I’m a whitetail freak. I’m in love with hunting whitetail deer and everything that goes with it. However, as much as I love to hunt the actual deer, I am just as crazed about hunting their sheds after season is over. Picking up a shed antler gives me just as big of a rush as sitting in my stand and hearing a deer walking around on the fallen leaves in the timber.

This past shed season, my husband and I found over 200 shed antlers and 3 dead heads. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it has been.  We were able to spend so much quality time together doing what we love, got in some serious leg workouts, and we even introduced our little girl to the sport. She came along on every shed outing and will have an eye for them before we know it.

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In this article, I will be discussing benefits, tips, and ideas for what to do with your sheds.

Benefits:

There are so many benefits involving shed hunting. First and foremost, it’s a wonderful way to get in some quality time with family and friends. Finding shed antlers to an outdoor enthusiast is the equivalent to a child’s Easter egg hunt: extremely exciting, full of fun and the amount of pride that fills your soul when you pick one up. I’ll add, also, that it’s an excellent way to get in some serious exercise. Successful shed hunting requires a lot of walking, though some are lucky enough to have terrain accessible enough for four wheelers and/or horseback riding– both of which are effective ways to be successful. However, for those that don’t have land that is ATV accessible, get walking. Walk your food plots. Walk your trails. Walk your fence lines. Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. Getting outside and walking your property for sheds gives you other advantages, like getting to know your deer herd’s travel patterns, and also what deer made it through the season. Plus, it’s just flat out fun.

 

Tips:

Like I stated previously, walking and/or driving/riding your property is key. You have to put in the time to be successful. Think like a deer, just as you would when considering what location to hang a tree stand or trail camera. Go places the deer go. Find their bedding areas and their feeding areas and you will be golden. Places where you know bucks will have to make hard landings, like jumping over fences or ditches are excellent places to look. Just because the rut has come and gone, doesn’t mean bucks don’t spar. With that being said, walk your food plots. Walk the open areas where deer congregate.

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Something I also understand is that not everyone has their own land to go look on, which brings me to my next tip. Just ask. You would be surprised at how many people just don’t care for sheds, or better yet, want them off of their property: farmers especially. This past season, about 90 percent of the property I shed hunted on was from people that I had never met a day in my life, most of them being farmers. Sheds pose a threat to tractor tires and most farmers hate them. Almost every response we got when we asked for permission from farmers was, “find them all and take them all,” and most of them even gave us names and numbers of other farmers.

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What to do with your sheds:

 

The fun doesn’t stop after you’ve picked up a load of bone. There are countless ideas to explore with your antlers. Decorating is my favorite thing to do, as I have sheds laying everywhere around the house. Nowadays, with websites like Pinterest, the creative opportunities are endless. I’ve seen everything from jewelry holders and fall decorations, to chandeliers and doorway entries. Believe it or not, there is actually a lot of money potential in your shed antlers if you’re willing to sell them. This year, while out, there were a couple of guys from Colorado in the area where we were hunting that were searching for sheds as well, and were willing to pay $16 dollars per pound. Crazy, right? I, for one, like to keep the ones I find.

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With all that being said– get out there this upcoming shed season. It’s very rewarding and an experience that will develop into an obsession.

 

By Cajun Bradley

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Cajun Bradley is a lifelong lover of hunting and the outdoors, especially waterfowl hunting. She is a member of the Huntress View team, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

 

 

 

Using Trail Cameras in Trapping

December 18th, 2016 by BTC Editor

 

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“Sometimes people wonder if animals are suffering or what exactly happens after they’re trapped. After an initial period of attempting to get away — which is why trappers run multiple swivel points and laminate the trap jaws so no paw damage occurs — the animal lies peacefully until the trapper arrives to check his traps. At that point, the trapper can decide to turn it loose or harvest it, depending on the conservation goals for the property he or she is trapping.

“Trappers are the best outdoorsmen there are,” the game warden replied when I told him I trapped. It was a routine license check while deer hunting, and once that formality was out of the way we began chatting. I don’t know if I fit into THAT category, but I certainly strive to learn all I can from those who’ve gone before me. Trappers settled this country, and their skillset often determined living or dying in those days. It’s a time-honored tradition where not much has changed: the methods, the techniques and even the equipment could easily be interchanged with those who came before us more than 200 years ago.

But there’s been one concession to modern, cutting-edge technology that has advanced the trapper’s knowledge more than any other single item: the trail camera. For years, we trappers have studied the tracks left behind of an animal at our sets, trying to figure out why he stepped here and not there. Snow is like a God-send to the trapper, and we’ll get out and follow a set of tracks for miles just to study the species we love to go after. What caused him to stray from the path he was walking there, and what attracted his attention enough to cause him to deviate from his destination?

Staggs first recorded this nice bobcat visiting his set four days before the second time it made an appearance; another added benefit of using trail cameras while ‘cat trapping is helping to pattern them, as big males will often make a 5-day loop around their territory.

 

With the technical advances in trail cameras over the past decade or so, a treasure-trove of information is now readily available to the average person, and chief among those questions that get asked more than any other: How does animal XYZ work a set? Tracks give clues, but there’s nothing like actually WATCHING a bobcat tip-toe gingerly through your walk-through set… or a coyote approach your dirt-hole set from the side, because he didn’t know that the “front” of your set was the front.

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Pictures are great, but video mode and the information it captures is priceless. Invisible night-vision infrared LED illumination is a must when capturing predators on video like this; if they see a red glow light up the area, they’re gone … and unlikely to return. Give it a try sometime if you’re a trapper, and see how much your knowledge base is increased. Or, even if you’re not a trapper, you may enjoy expanding your horizons beyond merely trying to capture deer on camera. The next time you’re in a Bass Pro or Cabela’s, or even an old hardware store that may have a trapping section, pick up a bottle of gland lure. Dip a bit out with a Q-tip and place it under a fallen limb on the forest floor. You may be amazed to see the number of predators you get video of which you had no idea were around.

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Greg Staggs is the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery, and his writing regularly appears in such magazines as Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. Staggs loves introducing his two boys to all things outdoors, including fishing, trapping, canoeing and camping, and has been chasing turkeys and big game exclusively with archery equipment for over 20 years.

Late Season Trail Camera Placement

December 11th, 2016 by BTC Editor

As deer season is winding down and will soon be coming to an end, now is the perfect time to re-position your trail cameras and change your game plan for hunting late season whitetail bucks. As the seasons change, so does a whitetail’s pattern as they shift their focus from the rut to food once again. Here are a couple of tips on trail camera setup and placement to help you get the most out of your cameras before deer season closes.

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Camera Location: Pinch Points and Travel Corridors

While I move most of my cameras to new locations post-rut, I still like to leave one or two at prior locations like pinch points, known deer trails and travel corridors to catch any bucks that may still be out cruising for does. As the fawns come into estrous late in the season, often referred to as the “Second Rut”, these locations are great for catching buck movement in the daylight. It appears to me that is exactly what is going on in the next series of pictures.

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My Setup

When placing my cameras at the above locations, I like to set them up on burst mode to make sure I don’t miss any deer activity. For example, say I had my camera set up to take a picture every 5 seconds, but in normal mode. If this buck would have been trailing this fawn right on its tail, I may not have gotten a picture of him. In burst mode the camera takes several images, one after another, before stopping to reset.

 

Camera Location: Food Sources

Moving trail cameras to the remaining food sources is a good strategy for late season scouting. By now most of the acorns have either rotted or been eaten, so I like to move more of my cameras from the woods to our food plots in the fields. We have a couple of fields planted in winter wheat, clover and chicory, and another one planted in turnips. These have proven year after year to be the hot spots on our property for hunting late season bucks, and this year is no different! After checking my cameras this weekend, this buck has shown up in the daylight hours almost every day in one of our wheat and chicory plots.

 

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My Setup

The Timelapse mode on my Browning Trail Cameras is perfect for watching bigger open areas, like our food plots. For the most part, we know where our deer are entering this field, which is why I put this camera where I did. But, deer will often be in that same location and you’d never know it because they are too far away to trigger the camera. Timelapse Mode solves that problem since it can capture game at 200+ yards away. Plus, you can easily view a full day’s worth of pictures in just minutes, thanks to the Buck Watch Timelapse Viewer Plus software that is included with every Browning Trail Camera.

If you still have a deer tag you’re trying to fill, utilize your trail cameras as best you can. They are a deer hunter’s most valuable scouting tool! I shot my biggest buck to date on the last day of Missouri’s 2014 archery season as he was making his way into our turnip plot. Had I not been watching and patterning him with my trail cameras, I may have picked a different stand in that food plot and missed my chance at him.

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Aside from avoiding tag soup, there are other benefits to keeping your trail cameras out during late season. Use them to help take inventory of what deer survived the season, determine your buck to doe ratio, and age of your deer. Looking over this season’s pictures, as well as pictures from prior season, will help you determine your game plan for next season. Another benefit to keeping your cameras set up so late in the year is to aid with shed hunting. Once you start getting pictures of bucks dropping their antlers, you’ll have a better idea of when and where to start looking for sheds.

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Deer season isn’t over until it’s over, so if you’ve already taken down your game cameras for the year, I recommend getting them back out! The above late season trail camera locations and setups have helped me fill my deer tags in the past. Even if I don’t fill my archery tags this year, I have already gained some valuable information to carry over into next season, thanks to my Browning Trail Cameras!

 

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Traveling With Firearms – Part 2

November 27th, 2016 by BTC Editor

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Taking your Firearm Hunting in Foreign Countries

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As a hunter, your gun is your best friend. You have spent many hours with it, target shooting, in the stand, bumping around in the back of the truck; it becomes more than just a gun to you. Of course, no matter where in the world you are hunting, you want to take your best friend with you, but that is not always possible. When planning an international hunting trip it is always important to know the rules and regulations around carrying your own firearm for hunting purposes.

First, every country is different. In Wild West terms, I will do the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in reverse, starting with the unfriendly or not-so-friendly countries.  Argentina offers great hunting opportunities for fowl, red stag, black buck and other species, but you cannot bring your own gun. Outfitters will offer many options for rifle and shotgun rental and ammunition. You might miss your best friend on this trip, but it will still be a great experience.

Another Spanish speaking country that offers beautiful scenery, wonderful hunting and great food, but difficulty with guns is Spain. The Ibex grand slam might be on your list of dream hunts, but if you want to take your own rifle, you need to start your planning at least six months in advance. Paperwork must be filed through the Spanish Consulate in the United States. Depending on where you live, this office could be located in a few different cities and you must file with the right one for your resident location. Getting representatives to answer phone calls or respond to emails can be an issue. This is another country where it is best to coordinate a rifle with your outfitter.

The last on my list of difficult countries: Australia. I love Australia, the beauty of the outback, the friendliness of the people, the remote locations where all you see for miles and miles are red dirt and wallabies, but if you want to bring your own gun, be prepared. There is a lengthy amount of paperwork that must be filed before you leave. This includes police reports from your hometown, submitted to Australia and returned to you. The process should be started a minimum of three months before you leave. This also requires a fee of over $100 USD, but it must be paid in Australian dollars. Your outfitter will help you with all of this, but it is an added headache for you and them. There is now also the issue of leaving the country. Additional paperwork must now be filed in order for you to take your gun out of the country when you leave. If you are planning on doing any additional touring while on your Australia trip, please leave your gun at home. Each state requires you to have a firearms license to transport your firearm in that state. You cannot get a firearms license unless you are hunting with an outfitter in that state. Therefore, if you are hunting in the Northern Territory and you bring your own gun, you have permission to have the gun in the Northern Territory, but if you would like to travel to Sydney after your hunt, you do not have permission to have a firearm in New South Wales. My advice, use a firearm provided by your outfitter when hunting in Australia.

Now that the Ugly is out of the way, the Bad. These countries might have a bad reputation on the global front, but they are quite friendly to firearms for hunting. Two of my dream hunts, an Ibex in Turkey and the big boy Marco Polo in Tajikistan. Both countries might make the news politically, but your outfitter will get your gun through on arrival. Make sure you communicate with your outfitter and let them know what you are bringing so they will have everything taken care of when you arrive.

Finally, the Good.  New Zealand. My favorite place to hunt, so far, and an easy country to bring your own firearm for hunting. There is a $25 NZD fee on arrival and your guns will be inspected by the police as you go through customs. That’s it. Make sure your firearm is in a hard case with lock, stored with no ammunition in the chamber and the magazine is separate if it is full. Now you are free to enjoy the beauty of New Zealand and the wonderful hunting opportunities that abound in this country down under.

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Africa has been left for last, one because it is fairly simple, two because it is a continent, not a country. There are quite a few countries within Africa to hunt. Make sure you coordinate with your outfitter in case there are specifics for your desired location. There is usually just paperwork on arrival. An agent can be pre-booked to meet and greet you and get your firearms through quickly. It is worth the money to take this route.

The most important part of traveling with firearms is preparation. Make sure you ask your outfitter what needs to be done for your specific hunting location. Talk to other people who have been to that country hunting and get their opinion and experience. It might be difficult to leave your best friend behind on your hunt of a lifetime, but that is a better option than getting it confiscated by the government of a faraway place. And that, is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of traveling with firearms.

By Lora Gene Young

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Lora Gene Young is an avid outdoors-woman from North Carolina. Lora guides hunts in both New Zealand and Australia and is also a member of Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

 

Traveling With Firearms – Part 1

November 21st, 2016 by BTC Editor

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Hunting trips are times to relax, be one with nature, enjoy the great outdoors and camaraderie with like-minded peers, and bond with family. No matter the reason for your hunting excursion, quarreling with airlines over firearm transportation is the worst way to start your journey. Here are a few tips to help you start your trip on the right foot.

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First and foremost, firearms must be transported in a hard case. There can be multiple guns within each hard case, but it must be a hard case. Next, in conjunction with the hard case, the case must be able to be locked securely. Most cases have reinforced locations for two locks, some have a metal rod with one lock. If there is a place for two locks, many airports require both locks. Even if your departure city airport does not require both locks, when you leave your hunting destination that city airport might require both locks. It’s best to cover all bases and have all locks in place.

Secondly, firearms must be transported unloaded. Make sure you double check that the magazine is not in the gun and the barrel is clear. The bolt/action can be transported in the gun, but the gun must be clear of ammunition. Though the firearm must be clear of ammunition, ammo can be transported in the case with the firearm.

Finally, firearms are checked baggage. Just like other checked baggage make sure you know the weight limits associated with your airline. Most have a 50 pound limit, but double check before hand so you do not have any trouble at check-in.

Lock your empty firearm in a hard case and enjoy your vacation. Bon voyage!

 

By Lora Gene Young

Lora Gene Young is an avid outdoors-woman from North Carolina. Lora guides hunts in both New Zealand and Australia and is also a member of Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Wild Game Thanksgiving Dinner

November 13th, 2016 by BTC Editor

It’s that time of year again, where we sit down with family and celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a time to reflect on all that we are thankful for. For a hunter, this includes the memories in the field and the wild game that was harvested. In my opinion, there’s no better time than Thanksgiving to serve wild game. If you prefer a more non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner, here are a couple of simple recipes to try that you and your family are sure to appreciate.

The main course and side is a dinner kit from Hunter Gatherer Game Dinners.

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[Main course]

Seared Venison with Red Wine Chocolate Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 oz. venison, elk, buffalo, filet mignon or rib eye steak (I prefer venison filet mignon)
  • You’ll need to buy:
    • 2 oz. pancetta or Italian bacon
    • 1 – 8 oz. can low-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1 cup Red Wine
  • There are seasonings for the meat in individual packets labeled with numbers, as well as step-by-step instructions so it’s super easy to make!

[Side]

Wild Rice with Cranberries

  • The wild rice and cranberries are also included in this kit, along with preparation instructions.

 

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[Dessert]

Persimmon Bread

Most know that deer love to eat persimmons, but have you ever tried one? If you’ve ever tried one before they are ripe you probably think cooking anything with persimmons sounds like a bad idea, as they are awfully bitter. But once they turn ripe they are sweet and are great to use for pies, breads, cakes and cookies. Once they turn a purple/gray color and get soft they are ready for picking, usually after the first couple of frosts.

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This recipe is my pumpkin bread recipe, but I swapped the 15 oz can pumpkin for 15 oz of persimmon pulp. To me, ripe persimmons taste very similar and have the same consistency as a pumpkin. To get the pulp you will want to smash the persimmons into a bowl through a cone shaped collander, this way you don’t get the skins or seeds in the pulp. We picked these and after smashing all of them through the collander we probably have about 4-5 cups of persimmon pulp. I put the pulp into zip-loc baggies, about 2 cups per baggie, and store them in the freezer until ready to use for cooking.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 oz persimmon pulp
DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans.
  • In an extra large mixing bowl, beat sugar and oil with electric mixer on medium speed. Add eggs & beat well; set sugar mixture aside
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Alternately add flour mixture & the water to sugar mixture, beating on low after each addition until just combined.
  • Beat in the persimmon pulp.
  • Spoon batter into pans
  • Bake 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Wrap & store overnight before slicing (The recipe calls for this, but I never do this. I absolutely love warm bread right out of the oven!)

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Taxidermy: Caring For Your Animal Pre-Mount

November 6th, 2016 by BTC Editor

As hunters and huntresses, we sometimes harvest that special animal that may be a first, a big buck, big fish, or beautifully plumed bird to get preserved and hang on the wall as a trophy. When you have that trophy in hand, what are the next steps to take to make sure it is properly cared for until it is safely in the hands of the taxidermist, and how do we care for the mounts when we get them back? 

Growing up in a taxidermy family, I have seen everything from freezer burns and premature decay to faded and bug infested mounts. The care of an animal before and after it is mounted is key in keeping it beautiful for many, many years.

One of the first and very best things you can do before going afield is research taxidermists in your area and find one you are comfortable with. Most taxidermists will welcome you into their shops and showrooms that showcase their work. Talk to other hunters and find out what taxidermists they recommend. Do not go with the cheapest option because the mount will more than likely be poor quality. Bottom line, you’re going to get what you pay for.

Before the animal is mounted and before you are able to get it to the taxidermist, proper storage in the freezer is crucial to producing a good mount. Freezer burns are a common result of improper packing. On the other end, not getting the animal in the freezer soon enough can result in premature decay. 

Mammal, bird and fish taxidermy are very different, so the way they are taken to the taxidermist will be different. When you collect any mammal, the first thing to know for field care is to avoid dragging the animal if at all possible. There are many tools/equipment out there to help you transport your animal. The second thing to know is to keep the animal cool until you can get it skinned or to the taxidermy shop no matter what kind of animal it is. Always consult with the taxidermist before skinning it. The quickest way to ruin a trophy is to skin it wrong. You may also want to wash off any excess blood or body fluids prior to freezing. The third thing is get it to the taxidermist as soon as possible. Carting a deer around is a bad idea, but a coyote or fox is an even worse idea. As nature rapidly takes it course, bacteria starts to grow as soon as the animal dies and the skin will start ‘turning green’ or rotting.

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Birds will be put in the freezer exactly like they were shot. It’s not necessary to do any kind of skinning, so don’t take any of the meat or entrails out. The proper freezing position is to put the head on the chest of the bird and wrap it in a couple garbage bags and tightly seal it. Freezer Ziplock bags are also something good to use. Be careful to not bend or twist tail and wing feathers. One common misnomer is to put a bird in nylon hose and wrap it in newspaper. Many taxidermists cringe when a bird is brought to them inside a hose and even worse wrapped in newspaper. Newspaper will begin the process of dehydration and promote freezer burn, making the taxidermists job more difficult. Once you get a properly wrapped bird in the freezer, call your taxidermist and make arrangements to take it to them.

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Fish have a completely different scenario than mammals and birds. The very first thing you should do when you pull the fish out of the water is take good quality, clear pictures of it. Take an overall profile picture and make sure to get any special markings or colors you want the finished mount to have. If you’re going to release the fish, measure it from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail and the girth all around the body of the fish. If you are keeping the fish, do not skin or gut it and don’t put it on a stringer if you don’t absolutely have to. The best place to keep it is in a cooler or live well until it can be put in a freezer. When you’re ready to freeze it, get a wet t-shirt or towel and roll the fish in it. Wet towels or shirts are key in protecting the fish from freezer burn. Never use newspapers or paper towels. Put the wrapped fish into a trash bag and seal it tight. If you need to, double bag it. If it’s possible, freeze it on a flat board.

Try to have an idea of the position you want your animal mounted in. It will be that way forever. The taxidermist may be able to provide some ideas of positioning, but to avoid delays it is best to know what you want ahead of time.

When you see your mount for the first time, the memories come flooding back. You want it to look like that forever right? When placing your mount in your home, the best thing you can do is to keep it out of sunlight to prevent colors from fading and keep it dusted. Just like anything else sitting on the shelf, it will collect dust. Consult with your taxidermist about what is best to use for cleaning your particular mount. For fish and birds, a feather duster is most likely to be recommended along with never using any chemicals, as they will build up over time and cannot be removed. Dusting also applies to deer, however, some hair care type products are available.

Hopefully these tips will aid you in the process of preserving that special animal you were able to harvest, and to keep the memories of a hunt alive for years to come.

By Allison Stegmann

Allison is an avid waterfowl hunter from Iowa. She is currently a student at the University of Northern Iowa studying Leisure, Youth, and Human Services with an emphasis in Outdoor Recreation. Allison is also a member of of Huntress View, a team dedicated to strengthening the ever-growing community of women hunters.

What’s In Your Hunting Pack?

October 30th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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In two days, a couple buddies and I are heading to Pike County for a four-day bowhunting trip… No, not THAT Pike County, but it’s close. In fact, it’s right across the river from it. Both my pals are fairly novice bowhunters, and this is the first full season for one of them. Seeing as how I’ve been on several 10-day, DIY excursions to Colorado chasing my beloved wapiti, they’re leaning on me heavily to provide guidance as to what to bring. It’s actually not that uncommon a question from even veteran bowyers, as I see the “What’s In Your Bag?” query on the bowhunting forums quite often.

After well over a couple decades’ worth of bowhunting, with most of that time consisting of over 100 stand sits annually, I’ve definitely settled on a list of “must-haves” as well as items that have found their way into and out of my fanny pack. I’ll break down below exactly what I carry with me, and the use for each item.

  • A small Ziploc bag (for weather protection) holding a good amount of toilet paper, plus hunting licenses. Also included in this bag are small zip ties for affixing the licenses to the deer’s back legs, a tube of chapstick (seems my lips are prone to drying out on windy days while on stand), and a handful of cherry cough drops (nothing worse than getting that tickle in your throat when you’re set up within 100 yards of that big buck’s bedding area!). I also put a nice lensatic compass in the bag, to keep the glass lens from getting scratched all up by the other items in my pack.dsc_0015-copy

I’ll give you a tip about the toilet paper before moving on… I carry quite a bit of it with me, and obviously you probably realize one of its primary purposes. But I also lean on it just as heavily when tracking a deer at night by propane lantern. I tear off little half-squares and place every couple feet along the blood trail I’m unwinding… it’s remarkable how you can hold up your lantern and see those white squares trailing off into the blackness, and they’ll really help you get a “line” on the direction the deer’s traveling and where to look for next blood if you’re having difficulties. An added bonus is that when you’re done, you don’t have to go back and retrieve all of them — just let the next rain dissolve all of them for you.

  • A mini-mag flashlight… the triple-battery version. I often end up in hairy places after dark I’ve never been through before, and I like to see what I’m trying to wade through – be it thorn bushes or a small creek. The version I like to carry just fits into my fanny pack from end to end, and utilizes three “AA” batteries.

 

  • A headlamp. Sometimes, I’ll opt to turn my cap around backwards and slap on the headlamp. It’s especially helpful when I’m assembling my stand at the bottom of my tree after I get down in the pitch black, or when I’m gutting a deer after dark.

 

  • A Leatherman multipurpose tool, the small kind. It contains a three-inch knife blade that I’ve used to gut over 50 deer, antelope and elk with. And on the off chance I need a pair of pliers, they’re included too.

 

  • Limb saw… to trim shooting lanes with, and more importantly to cut off small branches on the tree I’m going up with my climber.

 

  • My pull-up rope. I bought a commercial one with the plastic swiveling ends and hooks on it, cut those off and attached those to 30’ of parachute cord. Packs much tighter than the commercial one I bought.

 

  • Rattle bag. I’ve got a very nice set of real rattling antlers that sound awesome, but they’re a pain to carry all the time. My rattle bag fits nicely inside my pack and is always there from the third week of October until December.

 

  • Bleat can. I can’t attribute any single deer to coming in to the can call, but I’ll mix it into my rattling sequences any way; the hope is it’ll sound like the estrus doe that the two bucks are fighting over.

 

  • True Talker grunt tube. This has accounted for more deer riding home with me than any other single piece of equipment.

 

  • Ninety percent of the time, my shot opportunities are limited by heavy undergrowth and are 30 yards or less. Every once in a while though, I’ll sit a field edge where the rangefinder comes in handy.

 

  • Diaphragm turkey call in a clear case. Archery deer tags come with two turkey tags included, and I won’t pass up an opportunity to call to a passing flock. I’ve got a wall-full of turkey fans above my desk that were all taken with my bow in deer season.

 

  • Extra release. In case I leave my main one at the truck or it falls out of the tree for some reason.

 

  • Four bow hooks. My bow goes on one above my left shoulder, and my fanny pack hangs from one around seat height on the same side of the tree. The other two are spares.

 

  • A Kwikee Quiver caddy with my Octane quiver holder attached. I screw this into the left side of the tree, and affix my quiver upside-down so if I shoot and need to reload quickly, I simply reach behind me without looking and pull another arrow out.

 

  • A hand-held Magellan GPS. This is a recently new addition to my pack, and one that I’ve come to value. I shoot a lot of deer just before dark as evening hunts comprise 98% of my trips afield (I’m just not a morning person). Usually, by the time I recover the deer and head back to my vehicle to get my game cart, it’s pitch black once I return to the scene of the crime. Having marked where my deer is laying via the GPS sure does make it a whole lot easier once everything looks completely different in the dark – and a whole lot easier to get out of the woods.

You could ask me any day of the year, and that’s what I’ll have in my fanny pack. It’s the main component of a system that I’ve fine-tuned for over 20 years of bowhunting, and it’s what enables me to grab my gear extremely quickly when I get home and be on my way to the woods in just a few minutes. I’m never scrambling around looking for this item or that; I simply know exactly where everything I need is.

Now, if it was only that easy to know where that big buck was…

 

Greg Staggs is the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery, and his writing regularly appears in such magazines as Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. Staggs loves introducing his two boys to all things outdoors, including fishing, trapping, canoeing and camping, and has been chasing turkeys and big game exclusively with archery equipment for over 20 years.

Raising Chickens and Ducks

October 24th, 2016 by BTC Editor

Raising chickens and ducks (or the benefits of getting them out of your house by building a coop)

By Kristen A. Schmitt

When we moved from city to country, we knew one thing: we wanted chickens. Organic eggs were expensive enough and already a big part of our lives. From both a cost and food standpoint it made sense to raise laying hens ourselves. Before long, we had 12 chicks nestled in a box in our living room that scratched and chirped in their nest of pine shavings, creating a dust storm that coated nearly every surface imaginable. Because it was only March – and they were only a few days old – we couldn’t exactly transport them outside. So we made due with our new chirpy acquaintances over the next couple of months.

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Raising chickens isn’t rocket science. But if you haven’t done it before, here’s what you need to get started:

  • Cardboard box (how big depends on how many chicks you have)
  • Pine chips
  • Heat lamp
  • Food (chick starter is available at Tractor Supply)
  • Food dish
  • Water dish
  • Water
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We weathered an indoor tiny rooster escape (he hung out under our piano feebly cockadoodling for about an hour before I could grab him and put him back in the box) and plenty of soggy pine chips, but, for the most part, once they were about six weeks old – and the weather was warm enough – we transitioned them out to their coop (bought off of craigslist from a local farmer). Since then, they have been pretty much maintenance free and even moved with us from Vermont to upstate New York this summer. While we left their digs behind, we’ve since converted a stall in our barn for the “girls” and they have adjusted easily to their new space.

And then there were ducks

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Last spring, we were so over winter – so much so that during a routine Tractor Supply stop to pick up chicken feed and dog food, we ended up with a rather odd impulse purchase: three tiny ducklings. They were a spring preview, so to speak, because even though there was still snow on the ground, the fact that ducklings were available for $2.49 each meant that warmer weather was just around the corner.

We didn’t anticipate a few things with our impulse buy:

  • Ducks grow faster than chickens. They quickly outgrew the medium-sized box we had for them and, soon, we had a refrigerator box in our living room.
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  • Ducks are messy. Not only do they tip and spill water (so that we also had a tarp under the box in the living room), but they spent time in our bathtub, getting used to swimming. Cleanup afterwards was never a fun chore.
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  • Ducks are loud. Every night at 2 a.m. or so, they would start quacking. While we were thankful that our daughter managed to sleep through it, it drove my husband and me absolutely crazy.

After a few weeks, I was counting down the days to spring thaw and a duck coop. While coop design can range from geodesic dome to princess castle, we went with a basic do-it-yourself concept that primarily utilized pallet wood and ended up looking rather rustic chic.

Supplies:

  • Pallets
  • Foam insulation
  • Lumber for door and additional framing of structure (including outside attached yard if building one)
  • Plywood for roof and interior to cover insulation
  • Roofing material
  • Linoleum for floor (ducks are messy)
  • Door hardware
  • Chicken wire (for outside attached yard)

Tools:

  • Sawzall reciprocating saw with bi-metal blade
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Power screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Staple gun
  • Staples

Here’s what we did:

  • Found a pallet big enough for the base. Because we only have three ducks, our coop didn’t need to be as big as the chicken coop.
  • Stockpiled other pallets. We used a sawzall reciprocating saw to take them apart. This method made it not necessary to remove the nails – we just sawed through them.
  • Next, we framed in the coop, angling the roof for easy snow removal. The roof was a single piece of plywood – the standard size from Home Depot ended up fitting perfectly without any extra sawing.
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  • With a pile of pallet wood already disassembled, we nailed the boards to the frame.
  • On the interior, we lined the walls and ceiling with insulation before covering that with plywood.
  • Once the structure was solid, we built simple doors: one big enough for us to get into the coop for cleaning and feeding and another smaller door on the other side to let the ducks in and out.
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  • Install thick linoleum floor to keep the place waterproof. Like I said above, ducks are messy. In fact, keep the water source out in the attached yard of the coop to minimize water inside.
  • Framing in the outside yard was a matter of simply following the roof line and using some 2x4s and chicken wire.
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  • The final step was lining the inside of the coop with pine chips and hanging the feeder in the corner.
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When it was time for the ducks to move out of my living room and into their coop, I’d been looking forward to it for a while. And I’d like to think that they were, too, considering how pleased they were with their new digs. That night, the silence in the house was absolutely priceless.

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Kristen A. Schmitt writes about wildlife, sustainable agriculture, environmental issues and the outdoors. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Fast Company, Audubon, Eating Well,USA Today, Hunt & Fish and others. Follow her @Kristen_Schmitt.