Fiery orange and bright pink mixed hues paint the sky. The outflow from a strong storm stirs the air, a stiff breeze hitting me in the face as I head out the door. It's that time of day when magic happens. The time when deer stir, turkeys head to roost and largemouths bite best. But today I was not in the woods or on the lake. No, I was hitting the pavement for a run. One that I had to go on. With summer making her presence felt a bit early, I had to take advantage while the humidity wasn't in the "Sweat as soon as you walk out the door" stage; instead it was around the "Sweat after walking 10 feet" one (Which is great for the Southeast in the Summer!). While it was only 2 miles or so, today's run was the kind you cherish. The kind that reaffirm why you do what you do. Running country roads you grew up on is nice, but running those same roads as a storm roars just a few miles away, bordered by a sunset that would make Monet's and Van Goh's jaws drop, is an experience that can't be equalled. It's moments like these that make me feel most alive and am thankful for being able to be in God's creation, in the outdoors.
I know we have had a general lack of content these past few weeks, but as you know, life happens and Paul and myself have been busy with all that it has thrown at us (Btw, we are looking for another writer or two to join our "staff", so shoot us an email if you are interested. The pay is non-existent, but the feeling of ). We have lots of great ideas just waiting on us to write them, it is that whole time thing that is holding us back. But have no fear as I'll have four stories up in the next week, each one highlighting my four bucks on the wall. We also have Ken's final predator post to put up along with various fishing rig posts as well. Finally, I'll hopefully be putting into words our first hiking post for the blog, focusing on Crowder's Mountain in Gaston County, North Carolina. That is if the weather holds this weekend and I can convince the fiance that she will not melt in the heat. Now if only I had a reliable computer to work on...
Just wanted to let everyone, especially those who hike, climb, bike or paddle, know that REI is having a big anniversary sale right now. It started yesterday and runs until May 30th. There are some great deals to be found (I know I am eying their Half Dome 2 tent since it is being offered for $45 less than usual) and you'll get an additional 20% off one item if you are an REI Co-Op member. So check them out if you need a new tent like me. Or hiking boots. Or sleeping bag. Or another Go Pro HD Hero. Or a new...well, you get the point.
With Harold Camping proclaiming that tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is the day of the Rapture, I wanted to share a piece that Bill Howard posted on his blog yesterday that relates to this somewhat. It's an interesting read that highlights the CDC's recent release concering zombies and what he would do in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse. So give it a read and enjoy the brief deviation from the "normal" around here (If we were ever normal to begin with!).
I'd like to preface this post with the warning that there may seem like there is a lot of initial cost to process your own deer, however, it is really just a one-time cost. Once you have all the basics, and if you buy quality equipment, you'll be set for many years! Another thing is that I've collected my equipment over a couple of years; yet another way to spread out the cost. My process has been buying the essentials at first and then purchasing the tools that make deer processing easier and quicker.
1) Knives and a sharpener - Every butcher needs a few essential knives. For starters, you'll need a good field dressing knife (if you deer hunt, I'm sure you already have one) so probably not any ground breaking news here. If you don't, one of my favorites are the Buck brand of knives. You'll want either a locking or fixed blade knife that has at least a 3 inch blade on it.
Second, you'll need a good boning knife. This knife will be used to do the majority of your butchering as it has a flexible blade allowing you to easily remove meat from the bones of the deer. The Mundial 5 inch boning knife is a great knife and fits any budget at around 11 dollars.
A third knife that I would recommend would be a Butcher knife; this is not an essential but it does make life much easier when trying to quarter your deer. The knife I use is made by Cutco and can be found here. These type of knives usually run around 100 dollars or so. This knife falls into the category of "purchase once you have everything else you need to make your life easier!!" Another example is the Victorinox Butcher's Knife, with a purchase price around $50.
Now once you use your knives, they will dull over time and you'll find out that the easiest way to cut yourself is to use a dull knife! In order to keep your collection in working order, you'll want to purchase a sharpener of some sort. If you go to your local sporting goods store you'll find both electric and block stone sharpeners. I prefer the manual stone sharpeners as they allow you to sharpen a variety of knives easily and effectively. Bass pro sells one here.
2) Bone saw - A deer can be quartered without a bone saw, using just a knife to dislocate the joints. Although the latter method is effective, it is quite time consuming when just starting out and takes some practice to get it correct. With a bone saw, you can make quick work of the hind quarters of the deer among other tasks! BassPro also sells one here.
3) Game hanger - A game hanger is a basic piece of equipment that everyone needs. This will be used to hoist up your game so that you can skin and quarter it easily and keep it off the floor out of the dirt and grime!
4) Meat grinder - The grinder is going to be the most expensive tool you'll need to purchase. Grinders have a very large range of prices ranging from $50 to $700. A hand grinder works but will require some muscle to use (if you only do a deer or two a year and just want to do burger this might be the best choice on a budget). A cheaper electric grinder that has plastic gears internally will also work but don't be surprised if you break the gears during heavy use or doing sausage. My honest opinion is spend the money upfront and buy one of the LEM grinders here. I have the .75 HP model and it works great for everything! The LEM models have all steel internal components and offer every accessory you can imagine. You can usually find great deals on these during the Holiday seasons!
5) Cutting boards and table - Any table will do...really! Just ensure that it cleans up easily! It is a good idea to purchase a nice cutting board or two so that you have a good solid surface to cut on without marking up the table you are on. The ones I use are available here.
6) Sanitary supplies - I find it's much easy to cut when wearing latex gloves. You can find these in the pharmacy section of most stores. Wearing the latex gloves allows you to keep a good grip on what you are cutting and allows you to remove and replace gloves without having to wash your hands all the time when going from task to task.
7) Vacuum Sealer - These are great! A vacume sealer will prolong the shelf life of your game in the freezer almost double what it would be in any other method of storage. Now, if you don't want to spend the money up front you can wrap your meat in platic wrap and then again in freezer paper. This method will give you a good shelf life and is quite cheap. However, if you want to really get the best "bang for your buck" then you should look into a sealer. FoodSaver makes multiple models in all different price rangers.
I've now covered what I feel you'll need to get started! Please feel free to post any questions or comments and I'll answer them the best I can. I have quite the collection of knives, sealers and grinder accessories.
Just passing along news out of Arizona of a 5+ pound Redear Sunfish aka Shellcracker. This bad boy, or girl, could be a new world record when it is all said and done. Check out the picture at the AZ Reporter, it is a jaw dropper! (Though not the only sight at Lake Havasu to make men's jaws drop...)
Tired muscles, a sore backside, Uncle Bob telling his story about the one that got away for the umpteenth time. Yep, it's that time of day all outdoorsmen (and women) are familiar with: After long hours on the water, in the woods or hiking a trail, you just want to sit back, enjoy some dinner and relax until sleep overcomes you. For a lot of us, this means turning to the writings of our favorite author or flipping through the latest outdoor magazine. There is just something about diving into a good book or article at the end of the day that makes the words and stories come alive, carrying you away to another place. With that being said, I hope to point you in the direction of some great outdoor reading, so read on for suggested readings for those with a passion for the outdoors.
I have been butchering venison for as long as I can remember. I started with my step dad and grandfather in our home garage; I now live away from home (New York) in North Carolina. I have taken what I've learned over the years and have taught multiple people how to butcher their own deer. Cutting your own meat not only saves you 100's of dollars a year in game processing fees but it also ensures that you get all of the cuts of meat the way you want them every time! Once you get the hang of it, it makes for a great weekend hobby with your buddies!
I'd like to take this series of posts to explain not only the equipment you need for processing your own venison, but also the technique used to do it properly.
In Part 2, "Equipment", I'd like to take to explain all of the necessary equipment and give some examples of what I use, as well as give an estimated initial cost for getting into personal meat processing.
In "From Field to Table", part 3 of the series, I'll explain the basics of meat cutting and how important it is to take good care of your game all the way from the field to the table.
Part 4, entitled "The Basic Cuts of Meat", will see me diagram and explain the different cuts of venison that you will commonly hear of.
The name says it all for Part 5: "Sausage and Burger Making".
When we finally reach Part 6, you'll see why it is simply called the "Video Example" entry: Once we have all of the basics down, I'll try to get a nice video posted with some real samples of myself and Cory butchering a deer. Pending a good season of course ;).
If you have any other suggestions for this series please feel free to comment and I'll incorporate your suggestions into the series of posts.
Why Bring Back the Wolves?
After decades of wolves being absent from the American Rockies, a push began to reintroduce wolves into their historic range throughout the Rockies. This push had two primary motivations. First, there are a lot of nature lovers out there (myself included) and popular culture has firmly established the wolf as a symbol of nature and of untamed wilderness. It's understandable that people would want to restore these majestic looking canines to their once and former glory. This first motivation is likely to be the one that you'll hear about in any public debate of the topic, even though it's fairly childish, simplistic, and easily dismissed.
The second motivation is considerably more sound from a logical perspective and is the one I recommend you consider when thinking over these issues. The natural world is a horrendously complex entity. It's what we engineers call an a highly uncertain and nonlinear system. The "highly uncertain" part is pretty self-explanatory, the response of the system depends on hundreds of independent factors like the birth rates of all the various species, weather patterns, infant mortality, plant productivity, etc. A precious few of these parameters can be measured to a reasonable accuracy, and even if you had unlimited funding and could determine all the requisite numbers for this year, you have no reason to expect that next year's numbers would be the same.
The "nonlinear" part is a little more interesting. Linear systems are the nice, friendly ones that most of us deal with in school. A 5% change in the input of a linear system will cause a 5% change in the output of that system. A 1% input shift moves the output 1%, and so forth. Nonlinear systems on the other hand are pesky beasts by comparison. The inputs and outputs of nonlinear systems are not so cleanly linked. A large change in the input could produce no noticeable change in the output, or conversely, a minute input shift could cause the system to go careening out of control towards a highly undesirable outcome.
So, now that I've scared off half my audience with two paragraphs of technobable, you few brave souls who have persevered to this point in the post can now understand just how big of a deal it is when we describe a system as "highly uncertain and nonlinear". We're essentially saying that we can give it our best shot, but we're never going to be able to control the system or even predict its outcomes with a high level of confidence.
In other words, we should be exceptionally careful with any tweaking that we do to ecological systems. Because, no matter how advanced our models get, we will never know ahead of time whether or not we will be able to accurately predict the many effects of that tweaking.
Nature has been regulating its systems for billions of years before we got here and did just fine, so that is always the safer option. We should avoid attempts to exert control over ecological systems whenever possible, and when that option is not available (as is often the case) we should look to minimize the extent of our intervention. Herein lies the strongest argument for the reintroduction of apex predators into ecosystems where we have exterminated them. The removal of such a major piece of the ecological puzzle in undeniably an extensive intervention and, for the reasons outlined above,any such intervention should be avoided. The safer course of action over the long term is to maintain the ecosystem in a state as close as possible to its historical condition.
I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick run down on what the current setup is for Inside Out Outdoors when it comes to our photo and video equipment. So without wasting anytime, take a look at the list below to see what we use:
Sometimes the great ideas that we have just need something to bring them to the forefront. The Inside Out team will be putting our talents to work and sharing our knowledge and love of the outdoors with anyone who wants to listen.
Curran's Outdoor Adventures
GoBlog (Get Outdoors)
Grants Blog (Growing Deer TV)
Hunt Like Your Hungry
inFOCUS (Campbell Cameras)
inMotion (Heartland Bowhunter)
Make It Happen Outdoors
Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
The Rivah Blog
The Will to Hunt
Wired to Hunt