Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category

“Land and Wildlife Field Day”

April 23rd, 2017 by BTC Editor

Making and setting up Wood Duck boxes is not only a great way to get the next generation involved in conservation and wildlife management, it’s an excellent way to gain insight into the nesting and reproduction habits of Wood Ducks, with an ultimate goal of increasing their population. Scott Cronin, a Pro-Staffer from Kentucky, holds an annual event with a local High School called the “Land & Wildlife Field Day”. Junior and Senior High School students in the Wildlife Forestry Programs participate in this field event in which Wood Duck boxes and trail cameras are installed and studied.

 

The goal of this project is to pinpoint which locations are best for the Wood Duck boxes, what box styles and designs are the most effective, and the rate of nesting in the boxes. Scott has found that using his Browning Trail Cameras to watch the boxes gives them actual data to use, rather than just going back in a few months to see if there’s any eggs. The project also allows them to spend time with the students, teaching them about using trail cameras as a game management tool to get data and to see how successful the projects are.

Scott has been using trail cameras on this conservation project for the past 15 years, but has been using Browning Trail Cameras exclusively for the past 4 years, for several reasons: the durability, versatility and the camera features. Naturally, the locations of the Wood Duck boxes and trail cameras are very wet (swamp areas, flood timber, etc.) but Scott shares that his Browning Trail Cameras have been very maintenance free and has had very little issues with fog and moisture, which is a common problem with any trail camera in these types of locations.

This year Scott started using the new Browning Strike Force HD Pro, which features an incredible .3 second trigger speed, a 1.5” color viewing screen and an adjustable mount, all of which have been a tremendous asset on this project. Scott shares: “I selected the Strike Force HD Pro based on the fact that we’ve had tremendous success over the past 4 years with the Browning Strike Force, and now that it has the viewfinder and the bracket it makes it so much easier to set up the cameras and pinpoint the exact area that you’re wanting to center your frame on from the start.”

Side view of the 2017 Strike Force HD Pro

Trail Cameras are our eyes in the woods, or in this case the wetlands, when we can’t physically be there. They have been especially helpful on this project since they often go a few months before going back to check on these locations. The “Land & Wildlife Field Day” project is an excellent way to teach the next generation about using trail cameras and Wood Duck boxes as tools to help grow the Wood Duck population. While trail cameras are used most often to aid in hunting, don’t overlook how valuable they can be in collecting data for conservation efforts as well.

Kentucky Afield Magazine was there to cover the event this year. Here are a few more photos from their field day!

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.

The First Hunt

April 9th, 2017 by BTC Editor

With having accumulated many special memories over the course of my 35 years of hunting, I can vividly remember so many details. Memories begin with my first successful whitetail deer hunt, my first turkey, and my first harvest with a bow. All of these events pale in comparison to being able to watch my eight-year-old son squeeze the trigger on his very first deer…a spike buck.

Like many fathers who love to hunt, my hopes had always been to raise my two children to share my passion for hunting and the beauty of the outdoors. I know many hunters; however, whose children had grown up with little or no interest in following in their father’s footsteps when it came to pursuing wild game. I often wondered what it is that separates those kids who develop the passion and those that do not. There is no sure way of getting or keeping our children involved in hunting, yet there are certain things that we can do to increase the odds of them developing that lifelong passion.

From my experience and from what I have learned from others, it is key to get them involved at an early age. Children generally do take an early interest in their parent’s passion for the outdoors. My children were always there when I would bring home a harvested animal. They would come rushing outside to take a look. Whether it was gutting a deer or processing one, I allowed them to be a part of it. I made sure to answer any of the questions that they may have had. I would always say to them, “One day you both will get to go hunting with dad.”

Once a child reaches the age where you feel it is the right time to take them hunting, you must make necessary changes to how you hunt. You are going to have to keep it somewhat “fun” in their eyes. It could be a tag-along trip where they sit with you or simply head out to do some scouting. Explain what you are doing and what you are looking for. Allow them to utilize some of the gear, such as binoculars or rangefinders. If you are like me, you may need to shorten the time frame of your hunt. For instance, you may be accustomed to a 4 or 5-hour sit, but now you may need to make it only a few hours to prevent the child from becoming bored. Once you detect boredom, either change things up a bit or head to the house.

You may ask yourself, “When is the right time to take your child hunting?” The answer depends on the individual child. I believe it is important to not push them to go until they have shown the desire. We, as hunters, all want our children to share our love for hunting and the outdoors; however, if you force it on them, you risk driving them farther away. If they do not show as much interest as you would like, then simply give them their space. Always keep the invitation open and never force them to be an unwilling participant.

Make sure the child, when the day comes that they are ready, has the correct equipment. Make sure they are comfortable with the proper clothing. Even for seasoned hunters, we know the misery of freezing our butts off while trying to stay out for as long as possible. If it is miserable for us, imagine how much more it will be for the child who is not accustomed to cold temperatures for extended periods of time. You do not want to over-clothe them either. They need to be comfortable with proper fitting clothing. Remember, they so want to be like dad. Make their attire fit the part of a hunter.

 

And just as important as the clothes they wear, is the weapon that they carry or utilize. Proper fit, whether a bow or a gun, is crucial. For a rifle, that means making sure your child can properly shoulder and aim the firearm and that the recoil is not more than they can handle. Assure they are comfortable with it, via practice, and preach the importance of firearms safety. I made sure to allow my son to carry his unloaded weapon to the stand. He held that rifle so tight and walked with so much pride. If your child is using a bow, it is important to assure proper fit with correct draw length and draw weight. If your child is not comfortable with the weapon they are utilizing, they probably will not be able to shoot it accurately or consistently. This can quickly lead to disappointment and frustration with hunting. If you are truly serious about getting your child involved, it is your duty to equip them properly. Just as you would do for yourself.

Finally, to keep them interested in hunting, sooner or later, they are going to have to experience the taste of success. While you and I may be able to sit in a tree stand or blind for hours on end, day after day and never draw back an arrow or push that safety forward, a young child is going to likely deem this boring and lose interest. This may mean that you need to start them out on smaller game or, in my case, place them in a situation where you know they will have a high chance at success in harvesting their first game. Sure, I dreamed of my son taking a nice big buck on his first hunt, but I was just as thrilled when a couple of spikes came in and presented him a shot. After my son dropped the deer in his tracks, I think it is safe to say, he was hooked. He experienced the “rush” that all of us, as hunters, have felt. Now, he does not mind spending a little more time waiting for the next opportunity.

 

When that special day came for just the two of us to make that trip to the field, I felt confident that we had put in the time preparing for a successful hunt. I am testifying that there is nothing more rewarding than watching your child harvest his or her first game animal. The excitement in their eyes, and to feel the pride of knowing that you played a major part in their success, is a feeling like no other. Most importantly, there is a bond that develops between you and your child that makes it that much more special. A special closeness that could only come from time shared afield. A bond that, if properly nurtured, will last a lifetime.

 

Blog post originally shared on “The Break TV”.

 

By Bobby Raybourn

Bobby is a team hunter on “The Break TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He grew up near Odessa, MO and began hunting at a very young age alongside of his father and older brother. Bobby has also taken up Taxidermy in his spare time and his business is thriving.

Using Trail Cameras to Scout for Turkeys

March 26th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Knowing where to hang your trail cameras and what kind of settings to use when scouting for turkeys is important, as it can vary a little from using cameras for deer hunting. When hanging my trail cameras, whether I’m using them for deer or turkey hunting, I pretty much keep 3 things in mind when determining where to put them: bedding, food and travel routes. So, for deer I often like to hang my cameras where I know they will be coming from their bedding area to their feeding area, and vice versa. For turkeys, I like to do essentially the same thing: find where they are roosting and figure out where they are going when coming off the roost. These locations for deer are often different than they are for turkeys, so scouting is a must.

A few things to look for when you are scouting for good turkey trail camera locations are roosting sites, travel routes, strut zones, and feeding areas.

Roosting Sites

You will know a roosting site when you see one. I have found several on our property, and they have always been in tall, dead trees and have lots of turkey droppings underneath them. You may find some primary wing feathers as well. When hunting last year, I actually spotted a couple of toms still up on the roost, which further confirmed their roost site. I found another spot this spring while shed hunting – it was a dead tree in on the edge of our food plot – and found quite a bit of droppings and a wing feather underneath it.

Camera Setup:

If I know where a roosting site is, I personally like to set my trail camera where I expect they will be landing when they fly down from the roost. From observing turkeys while out hunting I have a good idea of where they usually land when they fly down. On my property, this is usually in one of our fields planted in wheat and clover.

Time-Lapse mode is a great option for fields this size so you don’t miss anything further out where turkeys may not trigger the camera. I have this Browning Strike Force trail camera set up quite a bit higher to have a better view of the field. As you can see in this photo, the turkeys are flying in off the roost.

 

Travel Routes

I’ve noticed a couple of similarities in how both deer and turkey travel from my experiences hunting, and it seems they often prefer to take the easiest route possible. Some examples of routes I have seen both deer and turkeys using often is logging roads in the woods, creek crossings, openings in the timber, and holes in fences.

Camera Setup:

These are usually in small, tight spots so I prefer to hang my camera pretty low here and will often put my camera on burst mode so I don’t miss any action. I have this Browning Strike Force set to take 4 multi-shot images every 5 seconds.

 

Strut Zones

The best way to find these is to actually see a turkey using it in person. I know where a couple are on our property from observing the turkeys while out hunting. If you haven’t seen your turkeys using one, try looking for wing drag marks in the dirt while you’re scouting. On my property, our turkeys love to strut on the edge of one of our food plots where the sun hits them, so keep that in mind when looking for strut zone locations.

Camera Setup:

If you are looking to get some neat footage from your trail cameras, a Strut Zone is the perfect opportunity to switch your trail camera to Video Mode! Make sure you have a larger SD card in this instance as they can fill up pretty quickly on video mode.

This Browning Strike Force camera is actually in the same location as the “Roosting Site” listed above and Time-Lapse mode is what I prefer in this location due to the field size.

 

 

Feeding Areas

Food plots planted in chicory, wheat and/or clover are excellent options for hanging your trail cameras to scout for turkeys. We have one field planted in clover and chicory, and another planted in wheat and clover, both of which really seem to hold the turkeys on our property.

We also experimented one year by plowing up some of the ground on the edge of one of our food plots and the turkeys loved the easy access to insects there! You can see the plowed part in the photo below from the Browning Spec Ops:

 

Camera Setup:

Once again, a good option in a field this size is Time Lapse mode so you can still catch turkey movement outside of the camera’s detection zone, and setting the camera a little higher up.

If you already have a pretty good idea of where the turkeys are feeding at, regular Trail Camera mode works just fine here as well, and I would probably up the picture delay to 20 or 30 seconds here so you aren’t filling up the SD card as quickly with tons of feeding pictures.

When making your game plan for opening day of Spring Turkey Season, keep in mind what you have learned from studying your trail camera pictures prior to season opener. Using trail cameras to scout for turkeys will give you a good idea on your flock size, how many different groups of turkeys you may have, and where you need to be setting up on opening day. You will be one step ahead of the turkeys and by using the right settings, will likely get some amazing trail camera pictures and/or videos along the way!

 

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.

 

5 Tips For Bowhunting Turkeys

March 12th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Planning on using your bow to harvest a turkey this spring? If you’ve ever hunted turkeys before then you know it will be no easy task. Hunting turkeys with a shotgun is often enough to drive a hunter crazy, let alone adding the challenge of a stick and string. Successfully harvesting a turkey with your bow is perhaps one of the hardest, yet most rewarding hunts you will ever be a part of.

Browning Trail Cameras Pro Staff members Don and Dan Pickell have been bowhunting for years and make bagging a gobbler with a bow look like a piece of cake.

 

 

Here are a few of their tips for bowhunting turkeys this spring:

1) Scouting

Spend some time in the woods before season starts so you can be as prepared as possible before opening day. Look for roosting sites, turkey feathers & droppings, feeding areas and travel routes. Once you’ve found some turkey sign or what looks like some good locations, it’s time to hang your trail cameras.

2) Trail Cameras

Get your Browning Trail Cameras out now and keep them out throughout turkey season. Trail cameras will help pinpoint the time of day the turkeys are in certain locations so you know when you should target these specific areas while hunting.

When setting up your cameras, keep the location in mind and set them accordingly. For example, you may want to set your camera on Time Lapse mode while watching large fields or new locations where you aren’t sure where the turkeys are entering or leaving. The camera will take images of the entire field, so you will end up capturing game at 200 + yards away, where a conventional game camera would not normally trigger a picture.

 

3) Setup

Pattern the birds with your trail cameras and set up your ground blinds accordingly. If they aren’t coming into your call it’s usually best to just sit and wait them out; Remember, you’re hunting with a bow, not a shotgun, so run and gun is a lot more difficult. More often than not, your trail cameras will tell you where you need to be. Remember what you learned about their behavior while studying your trail camera photos and stick with that.

4) Decoys

A decoy will often help bring the birds within bow range while keeping their eyes off of you, but we have also had toms skirt our decoys at times. When this happens we usually pull the decoys and set up in a proven spot where we have them patterned with our Browning Trail Cameras and ambush them. It just depends on the bird’s moods.

5) Shot Placement & Recovery

With a shotgun we aim at the bottom of the neck to allow for the pattern to cover both his head and neck. With a bow, we prefer a broadside shot through the wings if possible so an injured bird can’t fly off, making it harder to recover. Whether we use a bow or a shotgun, as soon as a shot is made we go after the bird and get a foot on its head, just in case.

Going into turkey season, it’s best to have a positive outlook and lots of patience! Turkeys are fickle creatures and even having the “perfect setup” is often not enough to harvest a tom. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible ahead of time by scouting with your trail cameras and keeping the above tips in mind. Harvesting a big longbeard with your bow is worth all of the hassle. Stay safe and have fun this turkey season!

 

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.

 

Venison Meatball Recipe

February 26th, 2017 by BTC Editor

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb ground venison

¼ cup half and half

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium white onion – finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 large eggs

1/4 cup dried parsley flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

This recipe is by far the best wild game recipe I’ve ever tasted!  I must preface this by saying that up until a few of years ago, I was actually a vegetarian.   Not because I was trying to save the animals.  I did it because I just didn’t care for meat.  However, what I realized when I met my husband, who is a hunter and ultimately the one whom got me into hunting as well, is that what actually bothered me about meat is that I didn’t always know where the meat from the grocery store had come from.  I was growing a few veggies in my backyard, and purchasing the rest through a farmers market or local CSA.  So I have always been aware of where my food came from; but the meat remained a mystery.  Then along comes hunting.  The first time my husband brought a whitetail deer home for us to process I started asking questions.  I began cooking it for my family and realized my kids could never tell the difference between ground venison and ground beef.  Thus began my journey in creating wild game friendly recipes.

Now I am extremely picky with how my food tastes.  I do not like having a gamey taste to it at all.  This meatball recipe is so perfect.  Every time I make it, it gets better and better as I modify ingredients.

Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees and coating the bottom of your 9×12 baking dish with olive oil.  Next, place 1 pound of ground venison in a large mixing bowl.  Add ¼ cup half and half (regular milk works as well, however I have not tried this recipe with dairy substitutes) and then set this bowl aside.

 

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1 diced onion and 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic to the skillet.  Be sure to dice your onion into very small pieces.  Saute until the onion is clear.  I tend to like a lot of onion, so this may look like more than 1 medium onion. Never enough onion or garlic in my house!

 

 

Then, add the onion mixture to the ground venison bowl.  Add 2 eggs, ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon oregano to this same mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You are now ready to mix with a wood spoon or your hands. I typically use my hands, but am careful for the hot onion/garlic mixture.  Don’t burn your fingers!

 

 

Using the same medium skillet as you cooked the onions (as you can see in the photo I do not clean out the skillet), add 2 tablespoons olive oil and turn on heat to medium.  Roll meat mixture into 1” diameter meatballs.  Don’t look to close at mine.  They are never perfectly round because my kids are always starving.  Place meatballs into heated skillet; browning on at least 2 sides.  You are not cooking them all the way through, just browning the edges.  This makes the outside of the meatballs yummy and slightly crispy.  Once you have browned the meatballs on 2 sides, place meatballs into your greased baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes.

 

 

My husband and I tend to eat them plain (that’s how good they are) or dipped in barbecue sauce.  My kids like to put them on Hawaiian rolls with cheese and barbecue sauce.  Either way, I think you will love them! Enjoy!

 

By Tammy Bashore

 

Tammy Bashore is an outdoor enthusiast from South Dakota. She is a professional photographer, the wife of a professional walleye angler and the mother of 2 kids, plus one fur baby, a GSP named Bentley (pictured above). Tammy is also a member of the Huntress View team, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Mountain Lions in Missouri

February 7th, 2017 by BTC Editor

What is one of the neatest things you’ve captured on your game cameras? For Darryl Esthay from Louisiana it was photos of a mountain lion on a piece of property he hunts in Missouri, a very rare sight for the Show-Me-State! Being from Missouri myself, I know how big of a deal it is to the residents here to learn that there are mountain lions in our state. I contacted Darryl to get the story behind the photos and to find out what is involved in reporting a mountain lion sighting in Missouri.

The Story

According to Darryl, he went to his hunting property in Oregon County, Missouri for his final deer hunt of the year on 1/02/2017. That afternoon, he pulled his SD cards on his Browning Strike Force Trail Cameras and found this series of mountain lion pictures on one of them. He then contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) who sent their Mountain Lion Response Team to investigate the “possible” sighting, later officially confirming that this indeed is a mountain lion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darryl states that they were very thorough in gathering their evidence. They asked to see the original SD card that the mountain lion pictures were on, which Darryl presented to them. They saved the mountain lion photos, as well as the two photos before and the two photos after, to help support their evidence.

Next, the Mountain Lion Response Team asked to see the location that Darryl’s Browning Trail Camera was hung. They spotted the different landmarks that were in the photo: the fence, the rock & the log, and verified that it was the same location that the mountain lion pictures were taken. Darryl states that the “high fence” that is in the photos is actually an old fox pen from years ago that was there when he bought the property. He has cut 5-6 foot holes all along the fence to allow wildlife to pass through, as you can see in the photos.

After verifying the location was the same as in the photos, they then looked for mountain lion hair, scat and tracks in the area, but so far none were found. All of the gathered evidence was then presented to the entire Mountain Lion Response Team and was later officially confirmed as a mountain lion sighting in Missouri.

About a week later, Darryl also got a video of a gray fox, and what could possibly be another mountain lion in the bottom right-hand corner. The Mountain Lion Response Team looked at this video as well but they were not able to confirm that it was a mountain lion. They advised Darryl that once all the evidence is gathered after investigating a possible sighting, it is then voted on by the Mountain Lion Response Team. Each member of the team must vote “yes” in order for it to be a confirmed sighting. Even if the majority of the team believes it is, it’s not officially confirmed unless 100% of the team is positive that what they are looking at is a mountain lion.

(Click here to see a list of all of the confirmed sightings in Missouri.)

Other Evidence

Trail camera photos aren’t the only recent evidence of mountain lions in Missouri. According to an article in the Springfield News-Leader dated 1/27/17, the first confirmed female mountain lion in Missouri since 1994 killed an elk in Shannon County. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

“DNA from the cat’s saliva showed it likely originated from the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota and northwest Nebraska. Conlee (A furbearer biologist for the MDC) said it’s a significant find because female mountain lions typically don’t travel long distances, preferring to live and hunt near where they were born.”

“There’s no indication the female mountain lion is staying in Shannon County, Conlee said, and it’s possible the cat will continue moving…Conlee emphasized there is still no evidence that Missouri has a breeding population of mountain lions.”

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, there have been 68 confirmed mountain lion sightings in Missouri since 1994, becoming more common in recent years. This could be due to the growing number of mountain lions out west, making their way into Missouri, or could possibly be due to an increasing number of trail cameras out in the woods.

I have lived in Missouri all my life and I have never personally seen a mountain lion or gotten pictures of one on my game cameras, though I have heard stories of our neighbors seeing some behind our home for years now. My husband said his great-grandfather told his family he was riding his horse on our property one day and the horse he was on was attacked by a mountain lion. How true that is we may never know!

Part of the excitement of running trail cameras is never knowing what you’ll get pictures of. If you’ve already taken down your game cameras for the year, I suggest  hanging a few back up to see what types of wildlife you get pictures of! Although it is still extremely rare, mountain lion sightings are becoming more common in Missouri. If you think you’ve seen one and have a good amount of evidence, follow this link for instructions on how to report it to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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.

4 Reasons to Start Hunting in 2017

January 29th, 2017 by BTC Editor

When making your list of New Years resolutions for 2017, I hope plenty of you have added “hunting” to the list of things you’d like to check off this year. Whether it turns into a life-long passion or something you decide may not be for you, I’m sure either way you will walk away a better person from the experience. Here are 4 positive things you can expect to happen from giving hunting a try.

Healthier Lifestyle

Almost everybody makes it a New Years Resolution to become healthier in the coming year, and being a hunter can help you reach that goal! Aside from the fact that the meat from the animals you harvest will be organic, leaner, and free from man-made intervention, most hunts require a good amount of physical activity as well. So you’re getting your exercise in while you are obtaining a healthier form of food. It’s a win-win!
Strengthen the Economy

You may not necessarily feel that you alone can help contribute to this, but check out this statistic: According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), hunting has generated 600,000 jobs in the United States. That’s a HUGE number. And just think, the more you and others hunt, the more purchases you will make within the hunting industry that will help that number continue to grow!

Conservation

If there is one thing that hunters and non-hunters can agree on, I feel it’s the fact that we all want to ensure that nature and wild animals will be around for future generations to enjoy. You can help contribute to that through hunting. Check out these excerpts from the NSSF Hunter’s Pocket Fact Card about how hunters contribute to conservation:

“License Revenues fund nearly half the budget, on average, for state fish and wildlife agencies. The money supports wildlife management and restoration programs, habitat improvement and general conservation efforts.”

“Excise Taxes on sporting equipment (such as firearms, ammunition and fishing tackle) provide more than one-fifth the revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies. The funds are used to acquire, maintain and improve wildlife habitat and to make the nation’s lands and waters more accessible and enjoyable to all its citizens, sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike.”

Allison Stegmann, Huntress View team member

“Hunters and anglers provide more than 75% of the annual funds of the 50 state conservation agencies. Sportsmen are clearly the largest contributors to conservation, paying for programs that benefit all Americans and all wildlife.”

Character Building

I have been hunting for years now, but I still remember how I felt after my very first whitetail hunt and what I learned from it. I remember climbing up in the tree and seeing 3 does walk underneath my treestand. At the time I didn’t want to shoot anything, I just wanted to observe them, and I’m glad I did. Just watching them in their natural environment, not having a clue that anyone else was there, was quite the experience for me.

 

That day I learned to appreciate several things: Having land to hunt on, having the ability to get out and go hunting in the first place (which I feel a lot of people take for granted), and for life itself. While hunting can be very difficult, I realized how easily I could have taken one of those does with my rifle that day, had I wanted to, and it just made me have a new found respect for wildlife.

If you’ve been thinking about hunting for a while but haven’t taken the leap yet, please give it a try this year! There is always something positive that one can take away from hunting. I encourage you to see how it can help change you for the better!

 

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.

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.

 

step1

 

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.

 

step2-1

 

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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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step3-21

 

 

Step 4: Prep Casings

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

 

step4

 

Step 5: Add Cheese to Meat

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

 

step5

 

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.

 

 

 

Hunting With Outfitters

December 26th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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Whether you have hunted with an outfitter before or are considering doing so in the future, here is a list of a few things you, the client, should think about before going. I believe the most important tip I can give you is to always be prepared when booking a hunt with an outfitter, especially if it will be in a different state. With that being said, communication with your outfitter and guide is the key to getting the most out of your hunt.

Come Prepared

  • Know what your outfitter will provide based on the type of hunt you booked (i.e. lodging, meals, blinds, stands, fully-guided vs. semi-guided, etc.) Call your outfitter to see if they have any recommendations for what you’ll need to bring.
  • On top of bringing the necessary tools to take your game, make sure that your equipment is dialed in. Do this before you leave and again once you arrive just in case something changed while traveling. You expect your guide to give you his or her best work so it’s only fair for you to do the same.
  • Know the type of terrain you’ll be hunting so that you can be prepared physically and mentally. If you don’t know this already you can find this out by a quick internet search.
  • Know the typical weather conditions so you can bring all the necessary clothing that you may need (i.e. rain gear; rubber, insulated or snake boots, etc.)

Listen to Your Guide & Be Open Minded

  • Deer and turkey habits will vary state to state so what you are used to back home may not be what you’ll experience on this hunt. Remember your guide does this every day for a living in that particular area so they know what they’re doing. Trust their instincts with blind/decoy setup and take their advice on how to hunt that animal. A good example is turkey hunting: If your guide says they don’t do “run and gun” type hunting that usually means their hunters are more successful with the blind setups and the client being patient. Listen to that advice or else you’ll probably end up with an unsuccessful hunt.
  • Remember that outfitters and guides can only do so much when it comes to animals and their behavior. If your guide did their job, you have listened to their advice and continued to take it then try not to put all the blame on the guide. Animals can be very tricky and can change their behaviors in a second.

Tips for the Hunt

  • If you have physical limitations that require a different type of setup, make sure to tell your guide before you arrive so they can plan extra time for setup or can get extra help if needed.
  • If you have a specific goal in mind, and it can work with your hunt, make sure to tell your guide so you can get the best overall hunt. Whether it be a trophy to take home, to be able to witness beautiful scenery, anything legal or you’re just looking for a relaxing trip, communicating this to your guide will make your hunting experience better. Remember to be open minded, sometimes trophies aren’t always available, spot and stalks aren’t recommended for certain animals or areas and sometimes the animals just don’t want to cooperate.
  • Gun etiquette. This may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised how often people forget the direction their gun barrel is aiming. Not only is bad gun etiquette dangerous, it’s very inconsiderate to your fellow hunters. Whether the gun is loaded or not, always treat it as if it were. This could save a life and also help ease a little tension on the hunt.

 

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Helping Your Guide

  • If you’re able, asking your guide if they need help with decoy setup is very considerate. Most would love to have an extra hand to help set everything out as long as it follows the particular setup they have in mind.
  • Most outfitters include cost to cover the cleaning of the animals but it’s always a good question to ask. If the outfitter takes care of this offering to help hold legs, head or wings back for them is always very much appreciated.
  • Calling can be different depending on the type of hunt you’re going on and the outfitter. If the outfitter covers the calling but that is something you look forward to then make sure to let them know. A good guide will know when the clients’ calling won’t hurt the hunt.
  • After you’ve taken your animal it’s time to get the perfect photo. Your guide will know how to get that beautiful photo of your harvest but if you have a particular pose or tradition in mind just let them know.

Camp/Lodge Manager

  • Camp managers are used to cooking for a lot of people so usually that comes with a large mess. Just because you are away from home doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave more of a mess than necessary. Be considerate and try and pick up after yourself to show your respect for the outfitter and yourself. If you’d like to offer more than that I’m sure they would greatly appreciate it. They usually have the cooking part down but offering to help with dishes or setting the table can be a big help.
  • Make sure to let them know ahead of time if you have any special dietary needs or allergies as this will help them with meal preparation.

Tipping

  • Although it’s not really talked about tipping is very important to guides and how they make their living. Just like a waitress or any type of service business you deal with, you usually expect to leave a tip if you believe they did a good job. If you believe your guide did a good job then a good base percentage to tip is about ten percent. If you think they did a great job than show it with a great tip.
  • Don’t forget your camp manager when it comes to tipping. If you believe they have done a good job then show them with a tip as well. Camp managers usually don’t get paid anything near what your guide does and they are usually up and working the same times.

Overall, be prepared by asking questions, being considerate and remembering to tip. This will make your hunt go smoother and all the more enjoyable.

 

courtney-riser

Courtney is an avid hunter from Louisiana. She has a passion all things outdoors and is an avid hunter. She is also a team member of Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.