Tuesday, October 9, 2012

MEAT EATER: Book Review and Interview

With hunting season in full swing, it is time to start putting long hours in the stand. For those long sits, I normally like to take a book to break up the mid-day down time. In mid August I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Steven Rinella's latest book, "MEAT EATER," as named after his hit TV show. I highly, I repeat, highly recommend this book to be with you at camp, in your stand, or even in you lazy boy for that lazy rainy Sunday while watching football, it is that good. I have have now read it twice and am still carrying it in my truck to read whenever I get some down time. This book does not just cover Steven Rinella's adventures in hunting, yet it dives in deeper to why we hunt and the experience we get when hunting. This book is a great read for anyone from the casual to obsessive hunter, as it will turn anyone into a true MEAT EATER. Below is a short interview I was able to conduct with Steven.
Foggy Mountain Meanderings: To begin, I'd like to thank you, Steven, for standing up and believing in the idea that hunting for sustenance is still acceptable in today's world! With that being said, you have an amazing passion for hunting and the outdoors, but that passion also comes through while you are preparing the food, where and when did this passion begin? And how do you continue to let this grow, do you pick up techniques from others or learn by trial and error?
Steven Rinella: My family ate a lot of wild game when I was a kid but it wasn't exactly adventurous cooking. My dad had a commercial sized deep fryer that he kept in the garage and he ran everything from salmon to squirrels to snapping turtle to deer through that thing. My mother did more creative cooking, like the occasional minced meat pie and roast wood ducks and sautéed venison liver. My own personal passion for eating wild game started to develop when I moved away from
college and began eating wild game for all of my at-home meals. Being stuck with my own cooking really inspired me to figure things out. Later, when I was about 26, I moved to Montana. There my potential pool of ingredients seemed to quadruple. Suddenly I was coming into elk, mountain lion, blue grouse, you name it, and I really started experimenting heavily. At that time I also started reading books by some of the great chefs like Escoffier, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin. Also the food writing of the novelist and poet Jim Harrison, an avid hunter and eater from my home state. Everything started to coalesce, and my love of hunting expanded into a love of cooking as well.
FMM: A common question in these interviews is what was your favorite hunt or what hunt are you looking forward to, sorry but that seems to be a little too easy. My question is what was one of you most difficult hunts (conditions, gear failure, injury/illness, etc) and what advice would to give to anyone else attempting this hunt to help overcome this?
Steven: I’ve had so many tough hunts it’s hard to pick one. Everything from gear failure to bad weather to illness to just plain miserable luck. But the difficult hunt that most readily pops into my mind was a mule deer hunt last fall in Montana. That trip was at the tail end of a three-pack hunting venture that went from Arizona (coues deer) to California (hogs) to Montana. In Arizona I managed to pick up some waterborne virus. In California I got coated in poison oak after butchering a hog that must have been rolling in the stuff. By the time I was in Montana, where it was -5 degrees, I was harboring a colon infection and open sores. When I got home from that trip I was passing blood and I landed in an emergency room. Spent four days in the hospital. That’s a hell of a hunting trip!
FMM: As someone I highly regard and look up to as an outdoorsman, what would be your message to hunters and non-hunters alike as to why hunting for sustenance is such an enjoyable goal?
Steven: For me, and for many other hunters, hunting for food taps into something that feels primal and instinctive. The history of anatomically and behaviorally modern humans goes back some 50,000 to 100,000 years, and for the vast bulk of that time we lived off hunting. There are cave paintings in Europe dating to 36,000 ago years that demonstrate a very complex relationship between human hunters and their prey. The residents of this continent were hunting since their
arrival about 14,000 years ago, and mostly kept at it until just a couple hundred years ago. So I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I suggest that we humans are built for hunting. Or rather, built from hunting. It makes us feel real and alive. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here today.
For more information or to order your copy of MEAT EATER, check out www.themeateater.com.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Call It a Come Back: My First Archery Buck

It's no secret, I have been an absentee blogger the past few months. Marriage, school, work, all the normal excuses; not to sound like a broken record but I am going to try and get back on track. It is after all, my favorite time of the year.

This past Saturday was opening day of archery season in West Virginia. For the first time in five years, I was completely unprepared for  archery season. At this point I had ran my trail cameras all summer, but that was it. I had a few very nice bucks on camera and the majority of them were coming in during the morning hours. My hopes were as high as they could be for this season. Little did I know this opening day would be one to remember.

After finally getting my first deer with a bow,  I was hoping to get another deer early in the season. After knowing I had deer, especially buck coming in between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM, I was planning on holding out until at least then. That was a lot easier than I thought it would be, the fog set in early and finally lifted around 8:15 AM. By this time, I was sure I had heard deer milling around but still hadn't seen any. At around 8:45 AM I was scanning the area when I thought I heard something  but still hadn't got visual conformation of the noise. A little before 9:00 AM I finally saw what was making the noise, it was a buck using a licking branch. I couldn't tell which one it was, but it seemed to have a nice body and decent main beams. I was wanting to wait for a decent buck, but at the first sight of this deer I grabbed my bow just in case... By the time I got my bow the buck had closed in from 115 yards to 85 yards. At this point there were two trails this buck could have came in on, one would have allowed me to get a perfect broad side shot, but that didn't happen. The other trail he took, lead him on a string to within six yards of my stand. This didn't allow for me to draw on him, at this point I thought my chance was done. At that point,  he turned to walk away and and this allowed me to draw back on him. This caused him to spook a little bit, but this actually allowed for a better shot. He spooked out to 22 yards with a quartering away shot. This took a millisecond to get my sights on him and release, it felt like a great, solid shot but I didn't see him drop in my sight.

As the rule goes, at least with the guys I hunt with, if you don't see them go down, you back out and give them time. Not more than five minutes after I shot my buck a spike came in on the same trail and worked its way through the area. I watch this buck for a while and finally got down from my stand a worked my way back to the truck where I was meeting Jared. At this point I wasn't sure, but was feeling good and just wanted a cup of coffee, funny I know, but Jared and I even discussed while waiting to go recover the deer about how great that cup of coffee is after taking a deer. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to see the truck door already open and Jared working on perking a pot of coffee. As I was walking up the trail he caught side of me and I gave him the thumbs up I got one, but then the conversation of what happened ensued. After telling him this and a discussion of previous deer shot like this we decided to wait a minimum of two hours. After waiting over two hours we went back to track if from my tree stand. I was worried about finding blood, because I did not get a pass through, but this was not an issue. After finding the first spot of blood 10 yards from the shot, it looked like the trail was painted with blood. we proceeded to track this deer 50 to 60 yards over top the ridge and a quarter of the way over the side. At this point we lost the blood for a second, at that same time we heard twigs start to snap and my stomach sunk, we saw the deer and it went another 25 yards over the hill before we lost sight of it.  We held tight there to make sure it didn't advance any further and we backed out again. This time we back out and went to make/eat lunch and wait another two hours. After a great lunch and a little fretting on my part we went back to where we saw the deer jump up and we found the spot where it bedded down, then in 10 feet from it was another bed covered in blood with my arrow, still fully intact. At that point we heard something crashing and trashing down through the woods and finally come to rest in the creek. We held tight for 20 minutes to make sure it didn't get out of the creek, then we slowly progressed toward the creek. Over this four hour period and bumping this deer twice it still only traveled 150 yards roughly.

After looking at the shot placement and gutting the deer, I had got a double lung shot, but I missed the heart as it was a little high. All in all, this was a great day and an even better opening day and not bad for the first buck I was able to take with my bow. Now for a picture of the buck, it is a 2.5 to 3.5 year old 8 point. This is the same buck as pictured above on the bottom right.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...