Turkey Season 2016

2016 marks my second year of turkey hunting with a bow (and in general) as well as the first year that Minnesota allows bowhunters to hunt the entire season, which started on 4/13/16 and goes until 5/31/16.

Below is a chronicle of my season.

4/13/16:

Hunting public land spot A along the river. Put the birds to bed the night before, things were looking optimistic. On my way out I flushed a trio of birds there weren’t there when I left. The Gobblers were gobblin’ but no dice.

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 3

Toms: 0

 

4/15/16:

On the way to work, driving over the river I look off to my right and I see a group of 5 turkeys in the woods, plain as day. I pull over and grab my bow to put the stalk on.

I belly crawled to a stump and began calling. One of the toms pulled away from the group and walked down an old creek bed to go looking for love. As luck has it, I forgot my range finder. I guessed at 30 yards, let an arrow fly, hitting his feet and then he ran like hell. Obviously it was more like 40.

I belly crawled closer to the remaining turkeys. They moved to the other side of the creek bed, giving me cover to crawl up to the edge of the creek. All 4 turkeys laid down for a nap. I snuck up behind a tree and waited for them to get up. They all stood up at once, I drew and stepped out, exposing myself. I put my 40 pin on the tom’s wing and let it fly…only to take a few feathers off his undercarriage. Two arrows gone. Two turkeys still alive. Lesson learned #1: Bring Your Range Finder.

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 4

Toms: 2

Shots Taken: 2

4/16/16: 

Hunted down by the old farm along middle road. Found a nice oak ridge with lots of turkey scratchings. Hot as hell and a long ass walk. Used the blind and decoys. Waited all night and didn’t see a thing. On the way out I could hear gobbles in the distance to the south. Maybe a mile away.

 

4/17/16:

Hunting spot A, started at the ridge and listened for them to fly down. Tried calling in the tom but he kept moving farther away, so we went after him.

Walking the trail I stood at the edge of the strip mine and did a yelp, he immediately returned. Did it again and we saw him run to the edge of the woods about 600 yards away. It was time to go after him. We walked to where he was and didn’t see him. Then, looking to the west, we see him. Exactly where we were! So set up the decoys and hid behind some berms and 45 minutes later he showed up at 150 yards in full strut. A perfect fan and shiny feathers. He stayed out at 46 yards, pecking along a brush line, then started making his way toward me. Thinking he would pass right in front of me, I waited. Then he made a sharp right turn and went into the woods to the left of me about 10 yards away, giving me no shot. He never came close than 80 yards to the decoys. I feel the Montana Tom decoy was too much for him, even being a mature bird. Especially this early in the season. He hung around as we could get him to respond back with a gobble. After a while I decided to pack it up, I stand up and there he was, in the same spot out in the field. He obviously saw me too and it was over.

Lesson Learned #2: Take the shot when they are coming straight on. 

Lesson Learned #3: Stay put after hearing a gobbler respond, even if he is 600 yards away. 

Lesson Learned #4: Ease up on the use of tom decoys.

Lesson Learned #5: Stay put. 

That evening I took Leah out on her first turkey hunt. She was so excited to finally be able to go and have the opportunity to be the one shooting. We got set up around 6:00 PM in the ground blind on top of the ridge. I let her choose where to put the decoys. Boredom was setting in and then around 7:00 we heard the gobbler boom. The look on her face was priceless. She went for the crossbow, got it on the shooting sticks and was ready. The tom was probably 100 yards away but in the woods. Told her to just ease up, we have some work to do. Did some gentle purrs and clucks and had a ton of hens scratching all around us. It was intense! Then Leah wanted to try calling with the box call. It was a little crude by she got a tom to respond! She was so pumped to have a turkey respond to her call.

 

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 2

Toms: 1

Shots Taken: 0

 

4/19/16

Tried the flat for a while with decoys out. Had a hen show up right where another hen showed up on the 17th. Came into the decoys and pecked around and left. A few minutes later another hen showed up in the same spot. She went to the north. Waited until 6:30 and then I moved to the ridge. I stayed a little farther south on the ridge than normal and waited for gobbles. As I’m sitting on the ridge I could hear another hunter on the island. And rustling down on the river bottom but I couldn’t see anything. Then I heard gobbling to the north. A minute later a hen pops up on top of the ridge. She had climbed straight up the bluff! The ground and leaves were soft from the rain and she was clucking on her way to the toms. So I decided to follow her silently. I followed her for about 40 yards and then I kicked up 3 deer. The deer ran and flushed 3 turkeys from the trees. Disappointed in my decision to follow her, I went back to my spot. As I’m standing by the tree I had an owl come straight at me…so close I had to put my arm up and then it did a 180 and flew to another tree. Guess I looked like a good perch. I waited for another 20 minutes – it was probably 7:45 PM and I decided I had screwed up my hunt and decided to pack up. I stand up, sling my decoy bag over my shoulder, turn around and there’s a tom 10 feet away from me who just came up the bluff! We both had that “Oh shit” look on our faces and he did mach 20 through the woods. Hunt over.

Lesson NOT Learned #5: Stay put. 

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 4

Toms: 1

Shots Taken: 0

 

4/20/16

Decided to do a quick hunt after work. Got to the parking lot around 6:00 and another hunter, younger guy, was getting ready to head out. We discussed where each of us was going, he was obviously much more ambitious than I was since he decided to do a 3 mile hike at 6:00. This time I went a little farther on the ridge, to where a little peninsula sticks out into the creek. Set up my decoys and waited. Did some light clucks and purrs, rain wasn’t giving me confidence in birds being in the woods. I didn’t hear any birds all night. Then around 8:00 I look about 60 yards to the north and I see a tom coming  through at the top of a hill. Following him were 3 hens and another tom. They didn’t stick around but I believe I found the tree they roost in often.

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 4

Toms: 1

Shots Taken: 0

 

I’ll be spending some quality time with the kiddos over the next few days so probably not much hunting will be done until Sunday. Hopefully I can put a game plan together in the meantime and get it done. Then the focus is on getting Leah a bird.

 

 

 

 

 

Dirty Rice

Gonna make this short and quick…

Found this on http://www.mywildkitchen.com. I urge you go to out and bookmark it. Some awesome wild game recipes out there and not the usual cream of mushroom + crockpot recipes.

I had some ground venison thawed out and figured I would try out the dirty rice recipe.

Some things I changed…

  • Instead of oil I used bacon fat. I just love the smell.
  • Instead of Poblano pepper I used a red pepper. I like the color. And I had one on hand.

 

A simple, tasty one-dish recipe.

Venison Pepper Steak

This is a great recipe for those busy days where you won’t have time to make dinner. 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs venison steak (top or bottom round works well), cut into ½ in strips
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 (16 oz) can Italian style tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp beef bouillon
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning
  • 1 tbsp steak sauce
 
Instructions
  1. Toss steak in salt, pepper, & flour and add to gallon-sized freezer bag. In a med bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients, add to bag. Zip close and place in freezer. When ready to use thaw in fridge overnight. Empty contents into crock-pot and cook on low 8 hours. Serve over rice or lo mein noodles. 

Recipe borrowed from  Mommy’s Fabulous Finds.

 

Venison Osso Buco

If you’ve ever tried to ‘clean up’ a shank, you’ll know that it’s dang near impossible and the time spent doing it versus the amount of meat that you trim off hardly seems worth it. After cutting up a total of 3 deer and dealing with the shanks on two of them I decided to screw it, I’m just packaging them up whole and figure something out later.

The other day I stumbled across a recipe for Osso Buco – which is Italian for “Bone with a Hole”, referring to the marrow of the bone. Traditionally Osso Buco was made with cross-cut veal shanks but any type of shank can be used. The beauty of this recipe is what it does to a shank, which is tough and full of tendons. Through the cooking process the tendons and marrow melt down and the remaining meat becomes incredibly tender. The wine, broth, and vegetables marinade the dish and infuse it with flavor. After trying this I wish deer came with eight legs. And I certainly regret cutting up the shanks from the other two deer and sending it through the grinder – just to end up getting my blades all gunked up with tendons.

You will need a dutch oven. I used a 6 quart which seems to be perfect.

Shanks. You will want at least two shanks. The rear shanks have more meat than the front. It is easiest to cut the shanks when they are frozen. using a hacksaw cut the shanks into 3″ chunks. Cut off the narrow ends of the shank first since you’ll need enough base on each end of the shank to have it stand on its own while browning.

Ingredients: 

2-4 venison shanks – depending on the number of servings you want. I used 3. Cut into 3″ chunks. Tie with kitchen twine to ensure the meat stays on the bone.

Flour

Salt

Pepper

2 bay leaves

1 can diced tomatoes

2 celery stalks chopped

1 onion chopped

2 carrots chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef broth

Vegetable oil – enough for 1/4″ at the bottom of the dutch oven

Directions

0. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1. Over medium high heat, add the oil to the dutch oven

2. Season the flour with salt and pepper and coat the shanks on all sides.

3. Once oil is hot, add shanks – cut side down. Brown 3-4 minutes then brown the other side.

4. Once shanks have been browned on both sides, remove from dutch oven. Drain off excess oil except for 2 tablespoons.

5. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery. Sautee for 2-3 minutes.

6. Add shanks back in, cut side down.

7. Add in diced tomatoes, broth, red wine, and bay leaves. You should have just enough liquid to where the shanks are not fully submerged. The very tops of the shanks should be visible. Cover and bring to a simmer.

8. Once you have brought it to a simmer, move dutch oven to the oven.

9. Allow the delectable mixture to braise for 3-4 hours. Check every hour to ensure there is still enough liquid. If not, add more broth or water.

10. Remove from oven, carefully remove shanks and set aside. Strain the vegetables from the liquid. Simmer on the stove top uncovered to reduce the liquid.

11. Reduce heat and add shanks back to the pot to cover in sauce.

 

Plate the shanks over couscous, rice, polenta, mashed potatoes, or you can even toss with pasta.

 

2014-08-26 07.38.49

Nordeast Buck Blaster Chili

No recipe collection is complete without a venison chili recipe! This recipe has a bit of a slow burn and a dark smokey flavor. Perfect for, say, a workplace chili cookoff 🙂

Ingredients

2 lbs of cubed venison, cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 cups of venison broth (beef broth can be substituted)

6 strips of bacon, diced

2 medium onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons oregano

2 tablespoons tomato paste

15 roma tomatoes – halved, grilled, and smashed

12 ounces of Grain Belt Nordeast (or any beer other than light beer..DO NOT USE LIGHT BEER)

2 tablespoons unsweetened chocolate (baking chocolate)

2  – 15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

 

Directions

1. Render the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Set aside and leave half the bacon drippings in the pan.

2. Add onion and garlic to pan and sautee until soft. Set onion & garlic aside.

3. Add remaining bacon drippings to the pan. Over medium high heat add venison and cook just until browned (2-3 minutes).

4. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 hours.

 

 

 

 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chili-con-carne-recipe6.html

Venison Stroganoff

Stroganoff. One of the essential comfort foods of winter and a tribute to our German heritage. Traditionally over buttered noodles, stroganoff is equally at home over rice, mashed potatoes, or even a couple of slices of thick homemade bread. Best part is the slow cooker does the work for you!

For this recipe I went with two pounds of cubed neck meat from the 7-pointer I had shot this year. The neck is often overlooked and either discarded (ugh) or turned into sausage. Neck meat breaks down wonderfully and is incredibly tender in the crockpot.

venison stroganoff

What you need: 

  • Crockpot
  • 2 pounds of venison cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 x 10.25 ounce cans of condensed GOLDEN MUSHROOM SOUP. This is important, cream of mushroom IS NOT a substitute
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  •  1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  •  1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 package of french onion soup mix
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms (save this for the end)
  • 1 package of egg noodles
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • Green onions – tops diced
  • Salt and/or Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients EXCEPT mushrooms, egg noodles, butter, and green onions.
  2. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Add more water to get your desired consistency if necessary.
  3. Saute mushrooms  in 1 tablespoon of butter and add to the stroganoff 30 minutes prior to serving.
  4. Cook egg noodles according to directions. Drain and add remaining butter.
  5. Add noodles to each plate and top generously with stroganoff.
  6. Garnish with green onions.

Eggs Benedict with Venison (eye of round)

Eggs Benedict is perhaps the greatest breakfast dish ever concocted. It looks super fancy and my wife feels like a queen when I make it for her. The components of eggs benedict are fine on their own but the Hollandaise sauce pulls them all together to make a creamy plate of awesomeness.

I decided to try a version of eggs benedict using venison to turn this amazing breakfast treat into something even awesomer.

Eggs Benedict

You will need: 

  • 4 eggs for the Hollandaise sauce + the number of eggs you plan to cook
  • 1 stick + 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Lemon
  • English muffins
  • Venison Eye of Round (or whatever cut you would like)
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

The Sauce

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (or just salt and pepper)

To make Hollandaise sauce start with a double broiler. This is just a glass bowl on top of a pan that has been filled with water up to the point where it touches the bowl. 

Put double broiler on the stove over medium high heat

Add the butter to the bowl and melt.

Once the butter has melted, add the yolks and lemon juice.

Wisk it all together until it is creamy deliciousness.

Add seasoning to taste. If it becomes too thick add a spoonful of water at a time while wisking the mixture together. If left along the Hollandaise sauce will begin to clump, just keep wisking.

The Meat

  • 1 venison eye of round
  • salt and pepper

For this dish I used an eye of round that was butterflied. I chose this cut because it is a smaller piece that is perfect for breakfast. 

I soaked the venison in milk for 24 hours to tame it down a bit. I usually don’t do this but you don’t want the meat to be too overpowering in a breakfast dish with something as delicate as eggs in the mix.

The butterflied chops were rinsed and then pounded with a meat tenderizer until they were approximately 1/4″ thin (half the starting size).

Season both sides of the venison with salt and pepper.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a pan and melt over medium high heat.

Fry the venison on each side for 2-3 minutes, or until medium rare. Remember – cook it too long and you have shoe leather!

The Eggs

Add 4 inches of water to a pan and bring to a simmer.

Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. This will help the eggs ‘form’.

Crack the egg into a small bowl. Create a whirlpool effect in the pan with a spoon and gently pour the egg into the middle of the whirlpool.

Cook until the whites are firm and the yolk is still dark. Cook too long and the yolks will get hard. Not good.

This takes about 3 minutes per egg. But don’t take my word for it, watch your eggs!

Bringing it All Together

Getting the timing right is a bit tricky. I start with the eggs since they can be dunked back in the water to be warmed up. Then the Hollandaise sauce and then the meat.

Toast and butter your english muffins.

Add a slice of venison to each muffin. Cut to size if necessary but I like the meat to overlap the muffin.

Add an egg to each.

Spoon Hollandaise sauce over each egg and sprinkle Tony Chachera’s Creole Seasoning over each or whatever garnish you like.

For the record, I don’t work for Tony Chachera’s Creole Seasoning. I just really really love it!