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Category Archives: Hunting

Getting Ready for Deer Season/ Making a List and Checking It Twice

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Like most avid hunters, we’ve been using this time before deer season begins to set up feeder pens and feeders, figure out game cameras (not as easy as one might think) and basically just start getting things ready to roll before opening day.

For the first time ever, we are working on OUR VERY OWN hunting ranch and there’s sooo much to do. We’ve brought our camper out here so it’s acting as our home base for the time being. There is a small cinder block building on the property that had been a hunting cabin in years gone by. It’s going to require much loving care before I’m ready to call it my home away from home, however. The mice love it, though. They’ve set up shop and have called every flat surface their own personal potty spot. Like I said, much work to do.

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One of the problems we’ve experienced as we make the 7 hour journey back and forth from our home in South Texas to our ranch in the Hill Country is remembering what supplies we need to bring and what’s still at the ranch. What non-perishable foods have we left up there, what tools, what clothing?

For the most part, most hunters, whether on a lease or at their own place, are in a position that allows them to leave some provisions in place between trips during the hunting season and during the weeks preceding. However, the problem that we’ve had is that we can’t remember what’s been left at the ranch and what needs to go. How many cans of Ranch Style Beans does a hungry hunter need? Or saws? Or shovels?

Do we have foil at the ranch? We better pick some up.

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I’ve come up with an idea that certainly helps.

Before we leave from the ranch, I snap pictures of the inside of the pantry, the fridge, the tool shed, the linen box. That helps us to remember whether we need to bring garlic powder, flour, sugar, Ranch Style beans, clean bedding and towels, etc. It provides an instant view of what’s still out at the ranch and what we need to bring.

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I’ve even left a few personal items that would get me through in a pinch; hair brush,  toiletries,  lotion, undies, t-shirts, boot socks (to be worn with snake boots), mirror, tweezers for cactus thorns and ticks, and some work pants and jeans in the closet.

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While on our next trip, I’m going to snap pictures of our emergency (and non-emergency) basket.  It includes band-aids of all shapes and sizes, iodine, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, pain relievers, allergy meds, heat pads, etc.

This tip goes a long way toward helping us make our list and pack for our trip to the ranch.

It’s going to take us a while to finish up the aluminum foil, though!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in camping, Hunting, Hunting property

 

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TexMex Venison and/or Wild Pork Enchiladas

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It’s really hot outside.  And, yet, it’s time to start preparing for deer season.  It’s time to fill feeders and fix feeder pens.  And check on the game cameras.  It’s time to clean out coolers.

For the Deerslayer’s Wife, it’s also time to start thinking about meals that can be packaged up ahead and prepared in a jiffy but still be worthy of the hunter that made them possible.

Enchiladas are great because they can be prepared ahead, frozen, packaged, and served a few at a time depending on how many you need.

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The cookie sheet can be placed directly into the freezer for a few hours until the enchiladas are frozen through.

The trick to having fresh (not soggy) tasting enchiladas is to package up the sauce separately, heat it, and pour over the enchiladas before they are heated in the oven or on a bbq pit and served.

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Sauce can be made and poured up into smaller jars that can be taken, in a cooler, to the hunting camp.  I’ve used canning jars and larger plastic containers with screw-on lids.

I’ve taken several varieties on hunting/camping trips, Venison/Wild Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce, Cheese Enchiladas with Venison Chili con Carne, and Pheasant (or Duck or Chicken) Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce.

This recipe is kind of a variation of a couple of the others.  It has all the flavor and cheesy appeal of cheese enchiladas with the extra heartiness of a meat filled enchiladas.  Everyone really enjoyed these so I thought I’d share.  I always prepare enough to serve as dinner the night I fix it and freeze the rest for an upcoming hunting/camping trip.

Enchilada Filling 

1 lb. cooked, shredded venison and/or wild pork (see all day cooking method in “Come and Take It”)

1 tsp.chili powder, comino (cumin) and salt  or to taste

enough beef stock and/or drippings from all-day-cooked meat to moisten the mixture

about 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, divided (the more the better, I always say)

a package of corn tortillas (NOT FLOUR)

Enchilada Sauce

2-3 Tbsp. bacon grease
3 Tbsp. flour
½ green or red bell pepper, diced, seeds removed
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 10 oz. can tomatoes (with or w/o chilies to taste)
2 tsp. garlic salt
½ cup water

to make enchiladas

In a cast iron skillet, season shredded venison and/or wild pork with chili powder, comino, and salt to taste.  Add enough stock or drippings to moisten the meat a little.

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In a separate small skillet, heat about a 1/2 inch of cooking oil. When oil is just starting to shimmer, coat one corn tortilla, one side at a time, until tortilla is soft, just a couple of seconds.

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I discovered these great rubber-tipped tongs that do not tear the corn tortillas! Priceless!

Lay corn tortilla on a flat surface.  Spread with a line of seasoned meat and cheddar cheese.

Roll enchilada and place, seam side down, in a 9×13 baking dish or on a cookie sheet,

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Continue this process until you have rolled as many enchiladas as you have meat.

If you want, set aside the number of enchiladas you want to cook for a meal right away.

Then place the rest of the enchiladas in the freezer for several hours until frozen through.

For the sauce

Melt the bacon grease in a cast iron skillet,  saute all veggies until translucent.cheese enchiladas 001

 

Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer, covered, about 1 hour until tender and cooked down to thick gravy.

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Stir periodically to prevent sticking to the pan.  Using an emersion blender or regular blender,  blend sauce until smooth.

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At this point, you can pour what you need over your enchiladas in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake at 350º for about 30 minutes until bubbling and cheese is melted.

Pour extra sauce into jars to take on your hunting trip.

Note:

For a hunting/camping trip, preparing a meal that has as little cleanup as possible is almost always my goal.  Multi-packs of small foil pans are readily available at most grocers these days.   I have discovered that enough frozen enchiladas  (thawed) for a meal can be placed in one of these aluminum baking containers, heated sauce poured over the top, and cheese sprinkled on.  Cover and seal the pan with additional foil  and place on a bbq pit off to the side of some medium hot coals for about 20 minutes or so depending on how hot the coals are.  The pan should be turned a couple of times for even heating. Check the progress.  The enchiladas are ready when the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

 

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Clean Eating and How Hunting Fits In

So, hunters, there is a new movement in the food world. Recently, many marketers are advertising their edibles as “CLEAN”.  Watch for it on commercials for restaurants, boxed make-at-home meals, and gourmet food for dogs. Clean eating and clean cooking are now “the new thing”.  The first time I heard it on a television commercial for a chain restaurant, I had to play it back because I thought I must’ve heard wrong. “Of course it should be clean”, I said to myself.20170605_154358.jpgThe Sanitary Tortilla Mfg. Co. in San Antonio, Texas took pride in its spotless working conditions as early as 1925, however. Was this the same thing?

Old folks like myself are scratching our heads and remembering a time when it was just kind of a given that food sold or prepared for human (or dog) consumption was “clean”, without extraneous hair, bugs, dirt, twigs, leaves, etc.  Surely, “the Clean Eating Movement” can’t be the same thing.  In my mind, “clean eating”  conjured up memories of my kids dropping a wet sucker on the ground… or Jello.  “Don’t put that back in your mouth!  It isn’t clean!” But when a marshmallow hit the pavement, how many parents looked around for witnesses and abided by the 5 second rule? “It builds the immunities”, we would say.

Clearly, I had to do a little research because apparently, “clean eating” has taken on a new meaning.  It now refers to eating healthy, natural, unprocessed foods; those that are as close to their natural form as possible. According to Fitness Magazine‘s description of clean eating, wild meat is preferable to pastured.

As it turns out, it is not really that new of a concept, at all.  My grandparents and great-grandparents lived by it.  It makes perfect sense. If you really think about it, hunters got the ball rolling on the “Clean Eating” movement a long, long time ago.

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Fresh nilgai shanks, locally and sustainably harvested, ready to become Osso Buco.

So, wild game is a perfect fit with the clean eating mindset.  It’s about as close to its natural form as it gets.  The meat has not been contaminated with added antibiotics, hormones, or dyes.  It goes from field to table, not by way of a processing plant that can sometimes be a source of contaminants that can cause serious illness. Many hunters even butcher their own meat, ensuring safe, sanitary packaging.

Without realizing it, hunters, we have been proponents of the “Clean Eating Movement” for years. We practically started it! We’ve been eating minimally processed food that we harvested ourselves, usually locally.  We take satisfaction in knowing that the meat we serve our families is the the best and healthiest meat on the planet which is what our families deserve.

… and nothing wasted!

What’s healthier than that?

 

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Axis Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Roast

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Get a bunch of hunters sittin’ around a fire and ask ’em what they think of axis deer meat.  I’m guessing  that the consensus, after a couple of contemplative sips of beer and a good deal of head-nodding, is that axis meat is top notch.  The flavor and texture are superlative. For several years, I’ve heard hunters say that they’d just as soon eat axis as any other variety of wild game, with the possible exception of elk.  I have to agree.

This is the beginning of my comparison between Axis and whitetail meat.   After a sip of beer, I’ll share my experience.

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This is a football roast from a small axis.  It is from the hindquarter. It’s larger than that of a whitetail.  Also, notice the thick layer of silverskin.  I discovered that it isn’t as tough or chewy as whitetail.  The roast has been placed on a roasting rack and placed over a small oven-proof pan to catch drippings.  I have to admit that this set-up is a little precarious and requires some coordination when it comes to placing the roast in the oven.  What can I say? I ride the ragged edge of disaster.  Use a roasting pan that is larger than the rack if you wish.  Problem solved.

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Notice the rich, mahogany color of the meat.  I cut the roast most of the way through, then filled the cavity with minced garlic and salt and pepper.

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I tied up the roast on the roasting rack.

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I covered the entire top of the roast with more minced garlic.   Yeah, it’s a lot.  A lot of fabulous!

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Take thick-sliced, maple bacon, cut each slice in half and lay across the top of the roast.  Place in a 350 degree oven.  Roast for about one hour.  

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I always throw a pan of root veggies in the oven at the same time as the roast.  I add sliced onions, carrots, potatoes, cubed sweet potatoes,  a drizzle of olive oil, plenty of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, all tossed together with my hands in a 9×13 baking dish.  Add about a cup of water or stock to the pan. This can go into the oven with the roast and will be ready at the same time!

 

 

 

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Transporting Eggs for Camping

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It’s great fun to be the Deerslayer’s Wife when I get out to the hunting camp with everything I need to rustle up some delicious meals.  However, it all hinges on my ability to get the necessities out there intact! For me, a successful and enjoyable trip requires some planning; groceries, menus, and strategies for getting everything to its destination unscathed.

How can I make breakfast tacos or cornbread or huevos rancheros if the huevos don’t make the journey intact? Because we always pack up all of our perishables in our Yeti coolers, I know that our perishables will not perish.  Those coolers work better than anything else we’ve ever used. I know I can count on them to do the job.  Eggs are tricky, though.  Just keeping them cold is not the only issue.

The camping aisles of most sporting goods stores offer a few options for egg armor; rigid, hinged contraptions that, in theory, protect the eggs from breaking.  Mine was yellow.  I was so excited as I closed it over my beautiful blue, green, and brown farm fresh eggs.  They cracked as I secured the clasp!  My beautiful eggs were various sizes as farm fresh eggs often are.  Most of them were too big for the camping egg carrier.  I made an emergency omelette!

Strolling around the grocery store recently, I came across some egg packaging that I thought was pure genius.  The eggs were nestled in a clear plastic carton that was more rigid than the usual styrofoam and mroe water-resistant than cardboard that would dissolve in a cooler.  I was intrigued.

I purchased the eggs just so I could sample the travel-worthiness of the carton.

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Here’s a picture of the 6 eggs that Deerslayer and I needed for the trip, arriving after the journey, unscathed!

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Tah Duh!

The carton was rigid enough to protect the eggs, pliable enough to accommodate various sizes, and could withstand getting wet.  I bought two dozen eggs in those containers so that I could reuse the cartons.  Since it was just Deerslayer and me on our weekend camping trip to the ranch, I staggered the six eggs that I planned on using for balance and additional protection.

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In a pinch, I’ve improvised.  A container such as this also works if you need just a few of eggs, packaged up with paper towels in between.

The next time you stroll through the egg department of the grocer, see if you can find a brand packaged in these clever carrying containers. You can use the eggs and get a free “special camping travel receptacle” for them, as well.

Camp on and have an eggsellent trip!

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in camping, Hunting, Uncategorized

 

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Our Own Ranch

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I think that it’s a dream of just about every hunter to have a place of his own… not a hunting lease but a hunk of land that belongs to him to hunt as he pleases, to wander around on, look at the stars at night, watch the sun rise and set, knowing that every corner and everything in between is his.

It’s been a dream of ours for years; having a place to hunt that is our very own, not a lease. It’s a dream that has finally been realized!  Deerslayer and I are now the proud owners of our own 256 acre hunting ranch in the Texas Hill Country! I don’t think I can put into words my excitement.

The process of finding the place was difficult, frustrating, and exhausting but it was worth it.  For years, we’ve added to and adjusted our wish list.  Our “dream ranch” :

  • has to be in the Texas Hill Country
  • has to have at least 200 acres
  • has to have access to highway and city
  • has to have power and a well
  • has to be easily traversed
  • has to have lots of oak trees
  • has to have a view of sunsets and sunrises

After more than a year of searching in earnest, we found a place within our budget and negotiated until we agreed on a price.  Our ranch (I just love saying “our ranch”) is about two hours away from San Antonio with it’s medical center, shopping and international airport.  There are smaller towns within 30 minutes to an hour away that have grocery stores, hardware stores, a church, etc. that we will need access to.

There’s a casita on the place that will take some fixing up. Since we bought the place “as is”, there’s lots of trash that will need to be hauled away.  There’s also a trashed camper on the place that, luckily, the realtor will be removing. We’ve taken our own camper out there which will allow us to work at our own pace until things are taken care of to our satisfaction. It will certainly be a labor of love. Heavy on the labor.dsc_0233

We’ve brewed coffee and watched the sun rise over the ridge.  We’ve seen axis deer and flushed coveys of quail.  We’ve heard turkeys.  We’ve watched the sun set, sat around a fire and gazed at the stars ON OUR OWN RANCH.

wp-image-1004744136jpg.jpg2017 is going to be a great year. I can’t wait to share it with you.

 
 

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A First! An Axis Buck!

I’ve seen axis deer for years on drives through the Texas Hill Country.  Usually, they’re behind  the high fences of hunting ranches.  Sometimes they’re dead on the side of the road, having escaped from one of those ranches and not having kept up with the rules of the road.

They’re beautiful animals originally from India, fully spotted with long, three-pronged antlers. They were brought here to be hunted as exotics.  Slightly larger than whitetails with beautiful spotted coats like a fawn, they were first brought to Texas in the 1930s to keep on game ranches.  Because they’re exotics, they can be hunted any time during the year, not just during hunting season.

Deerslayer and I had heard, through the years, that axis is a preferred game meat because of its mild “non-gamey” taste.  I’ve always said that game that is properly processed and prepared beautifully doesn’t taste gamey.  But my curiosity was certainly piqued regarding axis deer.

Even though Deerslayer has hunted since he was a kid, he’d never had an opportunity to bag one….. UNTIL NOW!  An opportunity presented itself for Deerslayer to harvest his first Axis.  We were both really excited.  The buck was a little larger than a whitetail.  The skin was gorgeous.  I asked Deerslayer to save it for me.

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Being the Deerslayer’s Wife, I was so excited to try out the meat. It had quite a reputation. And after all, this is what I do.  As I use the meat for all my favorite recipes, such as Venison Parmesan, Pecan Crusted Venison Steaks, Seared Tenderloins or Backstrap, Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Football Roast, and all the others, I’ll share with my readers my findings regarding any differences that I discover between the axis and whitetail.

The first night that we brought it home and processed it, I noticed the gorgeous deep, rich mahogany color of the meat, deeper in color than whitetail.  There was also more fat on it than what I was used to seeing on whitetail.  In the Deerslayer household, we don’t really care for fat  that some whitetail have.  It kinda coats the inside of your mouth and doesn’t seem to add good flavor to the meat.  For the sake of experimentation, we decided to grill the tenderloins of the axis, one trimmed of fat and the other with the fat left on.

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It was the consensus of the family that both tenderloins, seared to a glorious medium-rare were as good as, if not better than, whitetail.  The tenderloin that had the fat left intact was as flavorful as can be. There was no unpleasant after-taste or mouth-feel.  I’ll continue to compare and share.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

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