Saturday, January 18, 2014

Peppered Deer Jerky

Peppered Deer Jerky heading
for the dehydrator. 
By far one of the most frequently asked questions I get asked after having a successful deer season is when I am going to start making deer jerky. Typically, I have only made my Spicy'n'Sweet Deer Jerky which has also turned into one of most popular post, but that's not the case anymore. I began experimenting with popular types of jerky and have tried to put my own twist on them. 

The peppered style jerky was one of the first ones I began to try; I took this one thinking that it would be the easiest one to make. I was partially right, but still this is a simplistic yet complex jerky to try or should I say alter to get it the way I thought it was great. Since I did all the experimenting now the most difficult take for you will be operating a pepper grinder. 

1 ½ lbs – Strips of Jerky Meat (Venison or Beef)
½ Cup – Soy Sauce
 ½ Cup – Worcestershire Sauce 
¼ Cup – Honey 
2 Tbsp. – Liquid Smoke (Hickory) 
1 Tbsp. – Finely Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp. – Onion Powder
1 tsp. – Garlic Powder 
To Taste – Coarse Ground Black Pepper

This recipe starts by creating the marinade. Combine the Soy Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, honey, Liquid Smoke, finely Ground Pepper, Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder into a pour a whisk together. Once the marinade is thoroughly mixed pour it over the jerky meat in a container that can be sealed. Make sure all the meat is covered with marinade and seal container. Allow it to marinade for 12 to 36 hours.

After removing the jerky strips from the marinade lay them out and apply the coarse ground black pepper over the strips. The strips can be laid out on the trays for the dehydrator if you wish. With this step apply as much or as little pepper as you would like, this is where you can customize how potent your pepper flavor is of your jerky. I would err on the side of caution a go a little lighter if you are concerned because if you remember the original marinade had already had a tablespoon of ground pepper as well to provide flavor.

Now that you have the strips peppered and placed on the trays, place the trays in the dehydrator. I normally allow mine to run at 165 for four to five hours and this gives the jerky the perfect crisp outside with a tender body. This can vary depending on the type of dehydrator you use or style of dehydration you use. With this last step you must know your equipment and experiment to see what works best for you. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Look Forward and Walking Backwards

Looking forward but walking backwards is how I've felt about this blog in recent years. I am always looking forward and planning great things for it but it never quit makes to everyone to read. It either gets delayed/put off to the point of the post being out of season or completely lost in the abyss of my mind. So, I could sit here again and say how I am going to rededicate myself to my writings but I've done that before and it has not turned out the best. Then again I could completely scrap my blog and call it quits not like it is far from that with the lack of posting in the past year. Then again I like blogging and it does lead to me connecting with so many great people, so scarping it is not option. That leaves me with, well it leaves me with where I am at now. I post when I can, albeit hopefully I can pick up the pace this year, and if that does not work you can always find me on social media. Between my Twitter (@FoggyMtnMeander) and Facebook page (Foggy Mountain Meanderings) there isn't a shortage of updates and there's always a constant flow of pictures from Instagram (@foggymtnmeander) on both.

Basically what I am saying is I had a great 2013, it allowed me to harvest my first turkey amongst many other great experience in the outdoors this year. So here is to a great 2014 for everyone out there.

Below are just a few of my favorite pictures from the previous year.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trail Cam Tuesday - November 5, 2013

With the rut starting anytime the deer are starting to go nocturnal. This along with the time change is all something to keep in mind while trying to plan your peak rut hunts. I have not been seeing a lot of movement on the select days I've managed to get in the woods this fall. However, after checking my trail camera this past weekend, I found at least one reason to keep myself glued to my stand a little longer. 

A new 8 Point that showed up on camera this week!

It does not matter what size bucks they are, they have all gone nocturnal. 

That is unless they are a yearling button buck still hanging out with their mothers. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day Late and a Doe Short

The first dusting of snow on Foggy Mountain this year.
Due to unseasonably warm weather earlier in the season, last weekend (10/19) was the first weekend I made it out to hunt. With that first day filled with rain and a lack of movement due to a full moon; my first hunting trip of the season wasn't great. That in mind and a cold front was moving in mid-week, that had brought the first snow of the year, I took off Friday and planned to hunt all day Friday and Saturday.

Without having my trail camera running I did not know what to expect. Slightly exciting, but really unnerving to not know what time to  expect movement. I went with that I knew from years previously and went to get into stand a little before day break. I knew the only issue I would have would be if deer decided to bed down in the thicket to the right of my stand. 

As I walked in it was a very cool (28ยบ) and calm morning, the kind where you could hear a bird's wings flap. I made it within eye sight of my stand when I heard what I had feared, a deer stand up. I heard one stand then multiple deer run, at that time there was nothing I could do. I continued to make my way to my stand in hopes they had not went far. I ended up seeing the doe, across the hillside, that I believe that was bedded by my stand. Once it was light enough to see everything, I could see the beds of where the deer had been in my stand. They were bedding in a different location normal, but still not out of the ordinary. I continued to hunt all morning without seeing another deer. Around lunch time I had plans to meet up with Jared and hunt the double set we hung this year for an evening hunt, but we decided to change locations and have another type of adventure.

The property that I was invited to hunt ended up being two huge green, lush hay fields right beside the river, a virtual honey hole. This property is located next to Jared's wife's grandparents and had produced great deer for decades. The one catch, you knew there had to be a catch to make this an adventure, they normally only rifle hunt this area and adjoining hillside. That means no treestands, no ground blinds, nothing. We were going in blind and trying to hunt from the ground with a bow. This is something I had only done once but loved; so I figured it was worth a shot.

After a brief discussion of where we were going and how we planned on hunting it we took off. We went across a creek and headed towards the road that ran parallel to the fields. We were going to walk the road to were the two fields are divided and and cut across the 75 yards of swampy woods that separate the field from the road. We managed to jump up two different does walking in the road and knew that it was going to be a good evening. We needed to find a location and get set up quickly. We went into the field and started walking the fence line down to find the best location for a possible shot and adequate cover to hide us from the deer. We found a spot that had a large tree that I could stand behind with decent brush cover on both sides and two shooting lanes. Jared was 15 yards away with similar cover.

Can you spot Jared?
It didn't take long after settling in to start seeing deer. Around 5:15 PM we spotted two deer slowly feeding across the other field. It was not to long after that I spotted four deer feeding 150 yards away off a point in fence line to my right. We watched them for more than half an hour as they slowly began feeding up to our location. I could not believe it, it was going to work, first night at a new location, a new style of hunting and we were seeing deer walk into our shooting range! This would be a great first story if it were not for the farmers that tended the field needing to get hay for their cattle. They ended up almost pushing the deer into shooting range but the deer ran off to the opposite side of the field.

Jared and I had a conversation while setting up (in the field/swamp area) about how well we blended in to the surroundings. Our questions were answered quickly. The farmers drove within 40 yards of us with a tractor and a truck and did not see either of us. That made both of us feel better about hunting that location and the ability to blend in, but it did nothing for having our deer scared completely out of the field. After they left, we still have 45 minutes of shooting light so we sat tight to see if we could get one back in range. We stuck it out and have a handful of does and yearlings come back in, but none were in range. Still this was a great night and a confidence booster to keep trying to hunt from the ground. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Trail Cam Tuesday: Trail Camera Sets & Scent Control

Close encounter with a black bear.
As with most hunters, hunting season never really ends, it just progresses to the next year. That is no different here; even in the “off-season” there are still a thousand and one things to do to prepare for the next season.  And that only amplifies when the spring turns to summer and the realization that hunting season is only a few months away. That means a lot of hunters are starting/in the process of hanging, checking, or moving stand set and are continually scouting their hunting area to become more ready for the fall. With scouting there are many things and strategies to consider. One of my favorite tools are trail cameras. There are a wide variety of brands, types, and uses but mainly this is a tool that can be used to help the hunter find what deer are in the specific areas, what, if any, kind of pattern they are on, and another added feature is it allows you to keep “hunting” all year long.  As is to human nature when it is getting close to the season starting, we begin to take short cuts. But could taking shortcuts this summer while setting trail cameras and checking end up hurting you this hunting season? This is something most hunters know can happen - “blowing out” your hunting area and the corridors that lead to and from it by over hunting or having excessive travel in the areas during hunting season, but have you thought about it in summer while checking you cameras?

There is something that you can be doing that takes very little effort and time to help prepare. I do it and won’t lie – I need to do it more as the season gets closer!  At this point you may be wondering what exactly I am talking about…

Think this buck might have smelled something on the camera?
I am talking about the advancements in scent control technology! Specifically, scent control of your trail camera and surrounding area.  For those you that aren't doing this yet, let me ask you a question. Would you go out opening day of season wearing your t-shirt you wore to workout in last night, your blue jeans that are covered in grease, oil, and gas, and those old pair of shoes that you use to cut the grass in? I wouldn't either! Our trail cameras are no different. Our natural scent is plastered on our cameras every time we touch them and the wildlife can smell that something is/was there.

The hunting industry as a whole has greatly advanced over the last 10 to 15 years in scent blocking.
One of the leading and continual changing products is scent protection and elimination lines. It is agreed upon that the best situation is to know how to read the wind and use it to your advantage, but like many other hunters I don’t always have the time to wait for Mother Nature to help me. This is where I have started to use a simple yet systematic approach to check my trail cameras during this valuable time of the pre-season.

I know as soon as I said systematic that it turned a few of you off, but really I promise it is simple! First off, you already know the area you are hunting and using your trail cameras in. Most of you already do this but if you don’t, map out the area(s) where your trail cameras are to allow for you to enter and exit on the quickest route and with the least amount of disturbance to the area and wildlife. Now that’s the first half of my systematic approach, pretty simple this far, right?

The other half does require a little forethought and/or planning. If you are like me you just need an empty spot in your truck to leave the gear. Now you may be asking what gear you are going to need to check a trail camera. The obvious answer is a new SD card to switch, new batteries, and possibly some minerals and food to refill your feeder(s) if your state regulations allow it. That is a good start but that isn’t everything you’ll need. To help with the scent control, I like to keep a few items in a backpack in the back of my truck for whenever I get the chance to check my cameras. A list of the items and explanations are as follows:
  • Rubber Boots - These have been proven time and time again to help reduce the scent.
  • Latex/Rubber Gloves (x4) – This to help reduce the transfer of scent when handling your trail cameras.
  • Scent-Free Field Wipes - These are great to have if you are randomly checking your camera after work or school and are sweaty, wearing cologne or even if you are just waiting to be cautious, wipe down with these and help mask your scent.
  • Clothes - This might sound like a little bit of over kill, but its summer and I like to wear shorts, shorts and briers don’t mix. I have a pair of old light weight hunting pants I can slip over my shorts and a “scent-free” long-sleeve shirt to throw on also. This helps protect you as well as help cover your scent.
  • Cover Scent / Scent-Free Spray – This will pull double duty, this will be used to spray yourself down as well as the area the camera is in as well as its strap.
  • Tools – I like to keep a small folding saw, pair of handheld pruning shears, and a folding shovel with me while I am checking trail cameras. These are a great help when trying to clear the view for a camera, establish a better staging area for the deer to cross in front of the camera, help with last minute touches on clearing shoot lanes, or lastly when it’s time to start making those mock scrapes (look for this topic to be covered in a later article).
  • Backpack – This might have been a given, but I like to have it for multiple reasons. It is nice to have everything together and easy to grab, but it also is great to use while check the cameras. I like to throw in some extra batteries (even with have estimated timelines I like to know I can replace them if need be), extra SD cards, my tools, the Cover Scent / Scent-Free Spray, field wipes, latex gloves, and a bottle of water or two as if can be a length walk at times.

Overall this might sound a little cautious, but it has helped me pattern deer better over the last few years and if this can help anyone this fall I am glad to share it. Does anyone else do this or are you going to start? And if you already do this, what essential gear or tips did I miss?
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