Posts Tagged ‘hunting’

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.

 

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.

 

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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.

A Hunter’s Widow, Married to a Hiking Widower

December 4th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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Southwest Missouri resident Jessi Dreckman, who is married to an avid hunter, says deer season for non-hunting spouses shouldn’t be spent inside as “the hunter’s widow(er).” Instead, she urges those individuals to learn to love their spouse’s passion for hunting, and to get outdoors and find their own passion.

I’m the type of woman who has been known to spend 15 minutes, tupperware container in hand, trying to trap a red wasp that had wandered itself in my bathroom in order to take it outside and release it safely.

I’m the type of woman who has been known to spend the morning cooking warm oatmeal and delivering it to the hen house out back when there is two foot of snow on the ground, just to warm the bellies of my little egg producers.

I’m the type of woman who releases fish I catch. Even the really, really big ones.

I’m the type of woman who has been known to relocate the snakes I find in our yard down the road a ways instead of taking the shovel to them.

So, my love for hunting may not be immediately apparent to those who first meet me. But in addition to being that type of woman, I’m also the type of woman who fell head over heels in love with a hunter – and therefore, hunting itself.

My husband Drew and I have been together through thick and thin for 13 years, ever since our first date when I was just 16 years old. We’re opposites in many ways, but our mutual avid love for the outdoors that unites this opposites-attract couple in a way nothing else can.

So when the air turns cool and crisp and the leaves start to brown, I try not to hark on the fact that the season of being a hunter’s widow begins. Don’t get me wrong, the time my husband is home during September through February is minimal, but hunting season is also backpacking season. So it’s a time of adventure for both of us in different ways.

So, while Drew is waking up before dawn to find his way to a tree, I’m waking up shortly after to the trail head. When his heart jumps to the sound of the crinkle of leaves beneath him, my heart is pumping from hiking fifteen miles with a 30 pound pack on my back. When he is in his deer stand, close to the heart of nature, I am on my feet under the treetops, heart just as full. And when we do have precious moments together, we spend it with one another in the outdoors. My heart-pumping orienteering trip through the forest is an opportunity for Drew to scout for deer. His trip to put up a deer stand is an opportunity for me to tag along and test out my new hiking boots. And when he’s made a kill and we sit down to butcher and process deer, we share our separate stories of our adventures with one another. And we love every minute of it.

The truth is, although we spend our time in different ways, our hearts are very much the same. Through our time outdoors we’ve developed patience, determination and passion – and our love has only grown.

So to all of you fellow non-hunting spouses out there, please don’t spend hunting season alone focusing on your partner’s lack of presence. Instead, use those precious moments to go do what you love. Because when you find your own way to feel that same passion and fire, you realize it isn’t specific to any one hobby – those traits translate to life and love too. Get out there and find what makes your soul come alive!

 

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.

D.E.E.R. Project

October 9th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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D.E.E.R. Project

By Matthew Hayes

Mule deer have a complex history throughout the western United States. In the days of the early settlers and pioneers, mule deer were relatively scarce; many trappers and explorers reported only occasional sightings of mule deer whereas other big game species were regularly observed. At the beginning of the 20th century, mule deer populations had been drastically reduced in number due largely to overharvest, market hunting, and overgrazing. Protections were put in place in the early to mid-1900s, eventually leading to ideas such as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which was followed by a dramatic increase in mule deer populations. Mule deer populations peaked between the 1940s to the early 1960s throughout the western US.

Fast forward a few decades to the present day. With a lens to examine population fluctuations over the past 40+ years, a clear pattern has emerged. Populations, at least in Wyoming, appear to go through cyclical periods of increase followed by sharp declines. In reviewing literature and historical documents, concerns about mule deer populations tend to follow huge decreases in populations and when they subsequently rise, research and management become less important. Another point that seems clear in Wyoming is that although we have this see-saw in population numbers, there is a general declining trend since at least the 1970s. On average, Wyoming has seen a roughly 20% reduction in mule deer populations.

The population swings, and general decline, of mule deer since the 1970s has been difficult to understand. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain these declines, including: overharvest, harsh winters, habitat, drought, predation, disease and burgeoning elk populations. Managers have long noted that many areas that mule deer inhabit face different pressures and that populations are likely being driven by a variety of factors. All factors are not influencing populations in each portion of their range. This complication has meant that gaining a more complete understanding of reasons for fluctuations or stagnant growth in population numbers has been elusive. Without a solid understanding of the why and how associated with population fluctuations, it is incredibly difficult for targeted management to be beneficial.

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Researchers and managers have made great strides to better understand mule deer ecology and factors relating to their survival and reproduction. In the early 2000’s Global Positioning Systems (GPS) became small enough to fit onto a collar sized for ungulates. Since then, studies have been conducted examining migration and use of the landscape in summer and winter. The effects of drought and shifting precipitation regimes have been investigated as well as determining when, where and how animals are dying. Wyoming has been at the forefront of this research and has helped to better understand the ecology and management of mule deer. A key ecological process that has remained poorly understood are the interactions between mule deer and elk (though some work has been done at the Starkey Experimental Forest).

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Mule Deer with GPS tracking collar.

Both mule deer and elk are highly cherished big game species. Wyoming and her residents rely on these animals for hunting, tourism and as a part of our cultural heritage. Nevertheless, at the same time those mule deer populations have generally declined, elk populations have increased dramatically across the same geographical range. Managers and researchers have long wondered if mule deer and elk could be competing for space and resources but, until recently, the ability to study these interactions was almost impossible. Potential for interactions between these 2, highly valued species to affect one another’s abundance has been a bit of a conundrum for decades, probably given the challenges associated with addressing such a complex question. The Deer-Elk Ecology Research Project (DEER) was ultimately incepted out the need to unravel the head-scratching complexities of poor performing mule deer populations, while a similar big game animal continues to grow in the same country.

Population sizes for Mule Deer

Population sizes for Deer

 

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Population sizes for Elk

 

The DEER Project, located in the Greater Little Mountain Area of southwestern Wyoming, aims to increase our understanding of both mule deer and elk. This project is examining parturition timing and location of mule deer, mortality and recruitment of fawns, nutritional condition of adult female mule deer, summer diet overlap between elk and mule deer, space use, recruitment of male mule deer, survival, migration, and dispersal. We also are implicitly examining winter severity, habitat use, precipitation patterns, predation and disease. One of the greatest strengths of this work is the rigorous monitoring of both mule deer and elk in the same system. Many studies prior have examined one species or the other with inference to supposed interactions, but the DEER project will be able to analyze these interactions at a much finer scale. Another added benefit of this project is that it occurs in a high-desert system—an ecosystem ubiquitous throughout Wyoming but less studied compared to high-elevation systems. Far from being a one-off or unique system, the results from this work will be applicable to mule deer and elk throughout their shared range.

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Future articles will focus on updates from the DEER project. You can follow along with the project, donate and subscribe for updates at www.deerproject.org.

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has explored the issue of mule deer decline in depth and has published a very approachable book on the topic; you can check out the website at www.wafwa.org and navigate to the Mule Deer Working Group for more information.

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: mont

 

UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

 

Kevin Monteith 307-766-2322 kevin.monteith@uwyo.edu

Matthew Hayes 307-766-5417 mhayes1@uwyo.edu

 

 

 

 

gameandfish

 

WYOMING GAME & FISH DEPARTMENT

Patrick Burke 307-875-3223 patrick.burke@wyo.gov

Mark Zornes 307-875-3223 mark.zornes@wyo.gov

Kevin Spence 307-875-3223 kevin.spence@wyo.gov

Early Season Bowhunting Tactics

October 2nd, 2016 by BTC Editor

By Greg Staggs

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I turned and idled gently up the drive, palms getting clammy even as my breathing became shallower. Easing my truck to a stop, I quietly reached down and turned off the ignition and allowed the silence to envelope me. Going over my planned routine seemed to settle me a bit, and I took one last deep breath and opened the door. I had been thinking about this moment for weeks and it was finally here. Sliding off my seat, I walked as confidently as I could up to the door, knocked and asked if my date was ready.

First dates in high school probably provided as much nervous anticipation as anything I would experience for the first part of my life… until I started bowhunting. Today, I still idle gently into my parking spot. My palms may not be as clammy, but my senses are definitely heightened as adrenaline courses through my veins, thinking about the possibilities, the “what-ifs”… And my planned routine? It’s down to a science.

Chasing whitetails across the Midwest in September and October is truly a love of my life these days. Here are three things that have become a part of my routine that’s led to years of punched tags and filled freezers early in the season.

  • Scout with a light footprint. Amazingly enough, I don’t spend a lot of time in the woods in the summer. Most of my whitetail hunting is done on public land with miles of corn and soybeans backing up to the woods. I’ve spent many a night tucked into a fence row on the opposite side of a field glassing to identify which corners the deer are using to enter the fields.

 

  • Stay away as much as possible. If I can place a trail camera there on one visit and retrieve a card from it a month later, it’s harder for the deer to pattern me but I’m gaining valuable reconnaissance the whole time I wasn’t there. Taking it a step further, even my trail-camera placement leaves little presence. Ever walked into the woods and noticed a camera staring at you at eye-level? It can be obtrusive and stick out like a sore thumb. I’ve had deer think the same thing; I can tell by their reactions I’ve captured. A lot of times these days – especially on public land – I’ll take a lightweight climber with me and angle my camera down from twelve feet or so. It also keeps honest people honest, as my Dad used to say.
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  • Hunt with a light footprint. The first couple months of archery seasons in the Midwest can be downright hot. Deer don’t like to travel any farther than they have to, which means they’ll often bed less than 100 yards inside the woodline. If you plan to dive deeper in the woods this time of year, plan on bumping some deer. I’d rather sneak in and out of the edge a few times than blunder up once and alert every deer in the woods to your presence – especially a full month ahead of that magical November time-frame.

 

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.