Dec 11, 2013

2013 New Jersey Muzzle Loader Deer Camp Report

Made the trip down to New Jersey for our annual Muzzle Loader deer camp at Mohican Outdoor center in the Delaware Water Gap.  After missing last years camp, I was excited to be back and this year I brought my daughter.  Yup, I broke the no girls in deer camp rule and I am proud of it.  My daughter and I were the only ones from Connecticut this year and My brother Steve couldn't make it but the rest of the characters where all present including my dad.

Sunday morning found us delaying our departure due to icy roads in our area of Connecticut but we were on the road by 9am.  Made the stop at Stokes Forest Sport Shop to get my daughter her NJ licenses.  This used to be a tradition for our trip, but since they went to the online purchases we only have to stop for first time licenses or when someone forgot to do it online.  As tradition holds, there was a line of other hunters doing the same thing.  We left the sport shop and headed down in to the Gap but made a quick stop fore a warm delicious Taylor Ham, cheese and Egg sandwich.  We can't get Taylor Ham here in CT, so I always take the opportunity to get some when available.  We arrived at the Mohican Outdoor Center where the Blueberry Hill cabin becomes our home base for deer camp.  The cabin sleeps 16, has heat, fireplace, 3 bathrooms with two showers, a full kitchen and no TV or phone or even phone service!  Sure beats when we used to stay in hotel rooms

Once we said hello to everyone, my dad, bill, my daughter and myself decided to do a quick scouting trip to check out the areas we were thinking about hunting in the morning.  We started down a short section of the Appalachian trail that connected to the Copper Mine trail and continued down to kaiser trail and then cut back through the woods to our starting point.  We didn't bump any deer but we did see plenty of fresh sign and some really good buck sign.  With our plans confirmed we headed back to the cabin to unpack and settle in for our first evening.  Raymond was busy manning the smoker as he was smoking some pork ribs which would be the main dish for dinner that night and they were delicious!

We got an early start on Monday morning and were headed down the trail just after 5am and there were not to many other hunters around which is not a good sign.  The woods are big and the hiding spots for deer many so you need hunters in the woods to help move them around a bit.  As legal shooting light approached I always sit in anticipation of the first shots and with Pennsylvania being just across the river and Monday being their firearms opener as well it didn't take long to hear the first shots of the season.   It was a pretty quiet morning with the sound of distance shots breaking the silence every so often, but none that suggested the shots were close or from any of our 11 man crew which was spread out over 8 miles.  About 8am we heard a close shot coming from the direction of where Bill and his son Eric had setup and withing a minute or two of the shot the radio cracked and it was Bill letting us know he just dropped a deer.  That definitely got the attention of my daughter he she was scanning the woods hoping to see one for herself.   About 9:30 my daughter was ready for a little walk to warm up and we headed off our perch and to the trail to head down to my dad and check in with him and then we heard another shot which sounded like it came from where Billy and Bob where setup just off the top of the mountain on the river side.  It wasn't long before the radio went off and we confirmed that Billy shot a nice doe. We made it over to my dad and he had seen one nice deer to far off and we looked the area over and decided to build a hide for my daughter and I to sit on Tuesday.  The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and we headed back to camp a little before the end of legal shooting.

We spent some time getting dinner ready, while everyone cycled through the showers and participated in many discussions about what everyone saw and gave thoughts on their plans for Tuesday.  Plenty of laughs to be had over dinner as well and then it was time to cleanup, sit back and watch Jeremiah Johnson on the computer before heading to the sack for a good nights rest.

Tuesday found us once again heading down the Coppermine Trail and into our blinds well before legal light.  My dad had a spike sneak into him early and it headed our way but stayed low and we never did see it.  We had two come by our setup but too far for a shot and they didn't stick around long.  About 7:30 I get a text message and it was from Raymond who had just shot a 8 pointer about 5 miles down river from us.  Turns out Raymond's deer would be the biggest buck and he would win the big buck pin and have bragging rights for the year!   Billy missed twice that morning as well and young James also had a swing and a miss.  My daughter and had had another encounter with 4 more deer in the brush but never did get a shot at them.  We poked around the woods until about noon and then headed back to the cabin to get packed up and see what everyone wanted to do.

The Muzzle Loader season in the zone we hunt is a 15 day season, but the days are spread over a full month so we only had Monday and Tuesday to hunt.  The other 13 days would occur after the 6 day firearm season ended.  Kaleigh was tired and ready for a nap, so we decided to pack it up and head back to Connecticut which allowed me to beat all the dang traffic.  No deer for us, but we will get back down for another hunt or two and hopefully get lucky.

So final count was 3 deer taken and 3 misses which makes for plenty of ribbing and a little bragging.  as always time spent with family and friends is what really matters at our camp so it was a success for sure.

Nov 27, 2013

2013 Connecticut Goose and Deer Openers - Recap

What can possibly be better then opening day?  Well how about two opening days just a day apart!  That's right last week on Thursday was the opener  for the second split of goose season here in Connecticut and Wednesday was out Firearms Deer opener.  It was definitely a busy week and our crew did well for the most part filling the freezer with deer, geese and ducks.

I couldn't make the goose opener on Tuesday but the boys had a full blind and had a 6 man limit on the ground by 7am and it included one banded bird from Labrador Canada.

Wednesday found our crew out in the woods chasing deer.  My son and I hunted state land and he let 3 does walk looking for a buck.  Most of the shooting we heard occurred before 8:30am.   Bubba shot a nice little spike buck on Private land and Busch Pilot took a doe.

Thursday found me in the office and my son in school while the boys hit the goose blind with a few new faces where they once again ended the morning with a limit of geese and 4 banded birds from Labrador Canada.

Friday it rained hard and once again I was in the office - I have 4 days vacation coming up so I couldn't take any more time off, while Bubba and Busch Pilot fought the wind and rain and chased ducks and geese.

Saturday my son, daughter and I were back out on state land chasing deer.  For the first Saturday of the season it was really quiet.  Too quiet.  It could have had something to do with the high winds which were blowing a consistent 20mph and gusting damn near 40.  We heard a few shots way off in the distance early and that was about it.  Around 9am, we were cold and needed a walk so off we went.  We were working around the thickets making a big loop around and through them when my son hit the ground and whispered deer.  I had never seen them or heard them until I caught a deer butt on top of a knoll.  My son said they were in the thick brush about 30 yards from us, and I never even saw them.  My daughter said one was a buck, so I took out the doe in a can call and played soem sweet music.  Sure enough I caught some movement through the brush and could see deer legs coming our way.  Still couldn't see the deer though but knew it had to be a buck.  No one could see it in the thick brush, but I could catch his legs as I was laying flat on the ground.  So I hit the can some more and saw those legs move closer to us.  I told my daughter that if she has a shot to take it, but she still couldn't see him and the deer was less then 25 yards away.  My son was about 10 feet to our right and he couldn't see him either.  He wanted my daughter to shoot but gave him the okay if he had a shot.  It seemed like 20 minutes but it was only about 2 before I saw the legs turn to my right and I told Brendan to get on him.  My daughter and I still had lots of brush in our way and could only see parts of the deer but he must have stepped into an opening because I heard my son bleat at him, the deer stopped and the Remington 11-87 barked.  My daughter excitedly said, holy crap I just saw you shoot him in the shoulder through my scope.  We walked over to where the deer was and had great blood so my daughter and son took up the lead and fought through the thicket to find a nice little spike buck piled up less then 30 yards away.

Bubba and Busch Pilot hit the goose blind Saturday morning with the kids and limited out once again.  No jewelry though.

Sunday we spent the day processing deer and making all kinds of tasty venison treats like Sausage, bolonga and hot dogs.  It was a busy week with plenty of happy hunters and delicious food in our freezer from natures Pantry.

Hope everyone is having a safe and successful hunting season and we wish everyone a very Happy  Thanksgiving!

Nov 13, 2013

Moose Update and Other Ramblings

Quick update on our resident moose.  We haven't seen here since the previous weekend but we did run into some new moose sign that wasn't there the previous outing. 

I found this tree which looks just like the first one we found and the more I think about it, I don't believe this was done by a bull moose with his antlers, but by our resident cow moose who is stripping and eating the bark.  I'm sure some of you in moose country can chime in here, what do you think?  

I even took my better half out for a walk to retreive a seat we left in one of our blinds so while out there we tried to find Mrs. Moose but we didn't.  We did have a great hike on a cool fall afternoon though.  Very refreshing.

This is an old foundation out on a piece of State forest land.  I sure would have liked to live out here back in the day.

The deer activity out in this area has been quiet and with the rut about to kick in and the cool weather I was a little discourage with the lack of sightings and sign.  We only have one more week until our gun season opens and that will change it even more.

Haven't seen many ducks around lately but the beavers have done such a good job with their damn and widening out this brook, I'm hoping it will stay open through this recent cold snap and offer up a little hiding spot for some traveling ducks.  Just need to get through gun season before I hunt this area.

Nov 4, 2013

Connecticut Moose Sighting

The little Northeast Connecticut town of Stafford Springs that I live in is the third largest land area town in Connecticut with a population of just over 11,000 people and a wide variety of forested land and one that usually isn't mentioned in the same sentence as a moose, but lately it has. 

Photo published on WFSB.COM
We have had a few moose sightings over the past few years as reported in the July/August issue of Connecticut Wildlife Magazine, but recently we just had another.  This past Wednesday morning just a few hundred yards down the road from where I live a large moose was spotted out in the open farm field shared by some cows.  Of course, I drive the other direction to work and missed out on this wonderful sight and I was not happy about it.

Back in late September  while doing some bowhunting the boys and I came across a few different piles of old moose scat and we figured it was left by the moose that was reported back in May, but actually it may have been left by one of the moose being reported to be around in town this fall.  We had talked about how cool it would to see a moose here in our little neck of the woods and at that time little did we know that we would actually see one in this area.

Moose scat we found in late September

This past Friday we had rain and wind in the am so when it stopped that afternoon the boys decided to take advantage of the damp and quiet forest floor and do a little ins season scouting.  They headed out to the same little section of sate forest land near our house that just happens to be up the road from where were the recent moose sighting occured.  As they were nosing around along the edge of  a swamp they came across a small tree that had what looked like an extremely large deer rub.  It was over 6 foot high and there was no way a deer did this, so they decided it was made by a moose and it most certainly would look so.  They got talking a bit about what they would do if they saw a moose and not 40 yards later my son Brendan spotted something large and black under some dark thick pines and thought it was a bear, but it turned out to be the same cow moose spotted on Wednesday.  They watched her a bit, moved around to get a better look and she must have noticed them because she turned towards them, made some noises and started moving their way.  Obviously they were a little concerned and put a little distance between them and the moose but watched her for a bit before continuing off on their walk about.

Brandon and Brendan with their find

When they arrived home and showed me the picture of the rub and then told me the story about the moose I was so wound up I wanted to jump out of my skin oh and just a little jealous.  I have seen moose in the wild, but never one in my home state.   Well Saturday morning we headed out to the same section of state forest for some bow hunting.  Brandon got setup in one of our ground blinds, not far from where they saw the moose while my son Brendan setup along a swamp and I went on a scouting mission.  It was a great morning as well all saw deer and Brendan almost got a shot at a nice doe and we had considered it a win for sure.  Little did we know it would get even better.

I met up with my son Brendan and we continued my walk about over the back part of the property so we could check for some newer deer sign and as we started off the hill and down into some thick brush we heard the sound of branches cracking.  at first we thought we jumped a deer, but the noise was way to loud and a whole lot slower.  We stopped dead and listened. Once again we could hear loud crunching and branches breaking and then we heard something that sounded like the sounds I heard a moose make and Brendan confirmed it was the same noise the moose made the day before.  We both thought there was no way in heck we were going to see this moose two days in a row.  Well we didn't want to push her around so we sat and watched and listened, but the noise went off the hill and away from us in a very slow and methodical manner without a sighting.  I was excited and a little disappointed but I was sure it was the moose.  We continued on our way to pick up Brandon at his ground blind and never did see the moose but we did jump a deer that went running by Brandon at warp speed.  He was amazed at how fast and how far it was jumping and how quiet it was.

When we got to Brandon we told him what had just heard and he claimed he heard loud noises from that direction earlier as well.  I wanted the boys to take me to the rub they found so I could see it myself so off we went.  As we were working through the thick brush about 200 yards away from where we started we jumped something and my son whispered MOOSE!  Sure enough I caught a glimpse of her through the brush.  I quickly pulled out my video camera and waited to see here again.  It was like she had disappeared and I kept wondering how the heck something that dark and large just blends in.  I decided to sneak up on the hill where she ran and I quickly found her tracks and took about 4 or 5 more steps and heard here moving through the brush but couldn't see her.  All of a sudden I heard loud crunching coming my way but I knew it was her and sure enough a nice whitetail doe came running my way and I was happy to have my camera rolling.  At one point she stopped and turned to look right at me before bounding off and running by the boys.

I didn't want to disturb the moose any more then we had already done, so we backed out of there and took another route to the rub.   I did get to see the rub and it definitely looks like a rub from a very large animal, but you can be the judge and comment on what you think it is.

I do hope Mrs. Moose sticks around so I can take her picture.  Gun season is a few weeks away and we will definitely see more hunting pressure in the woods here and that just might push her away.

November is always a magical time in the deer woods here in New England, but little did we know just how magical it would be for us and being able to share that with the boys makes it even more magical.

Oct 21, 2013

Saskatchewan Waterfowl Hunt 2013 - Just a Teaser

Well we made it home safe and sound from a week long Waterfowl hunting trip to Saskatchewan with Living Sky Outfitters in Bladworth SK.  I am still struggling to put this trip and experience into words and have almost 50gb of video to sort through and hundreds of pictures so for now here are some pics and a short video clip to get everyone excited.

Took this after our snow goose hunt were we stopped 5 birds short of a 5 man limit of 100 birds and just continued to watch thousands and thousands of snow geese work over our spread.

Sunset Toll

This Picture is only a small portion of the field across the street from one of our morning hunts and it was literally covered in snows, black geese and ducks - lots of ducks.  We still managed to take our share of birds this morning.   It was an incredible site and the picture doesn't do it justice.
The X

Just a few pics of the snows that kept coming after we stopped hunting.  We just laid back and enjoyed the show.

Yes, they have more then just ducks and geese at this waterfall factory.  We saw moose, deer grouse and plenty of other wildlife.  This nice young muley was trying to hid just a mere 40 yards off a dirt farm road.  He definitely blended in and let us take soem pics and video of him.

Here is a short video clip of a few ducks working our spread after we just finished a 5 man limit of 40 ducks.  Took this one with my cell phone under the hood of the layout while we stayed setup for some geese.

There will be many more posts from this trip to come over the next couple of weeks!

Oct 12, 2013

Gone Hunting - Saskatchewan Here We Come

It's finally here!  We are on our way to Saskatchewan for a week of waterfowl hunting and hopefully sore shoulders and full bellies!  I will do my best to post a daily update either here, on my twitter feed or on my facebook page and I'm sure I will have plenty of stories to tell and pictures to share when we get back.

Wish us luck!

For now we are "Long Gone To Saskatchewan!" - Corb Lund!

Oct 10, 2013

Another First - Weekend Recap

Spent the weekend in the woods with the boys again.  I truly enjoy hunting with my kids and hunters new to the sport as it allows me to see many firsts through their eyes which just streghtens my passion for the outdoors.  This weekend they were both  bow hunting!  Brandon has been practicing and very confident in his shooting so this was his first bow hunt ever.

Brandon and Brendan after a morning hunt

There was no problem getting the boys up and moving Saturday morning even if there were some light showers in the area.  Brendan offered up his blind for Brandon to use on his first bowhunt and considering Brendan had deer encounters during ever sit in this blind, Brandon was definitely excited.   As Brandon and I were sneaking into the ground blind I heard the all too familar sound of a deer snort which stopped me in my tracks.  I turned to look at Brandon and he had a concerned look on his face and wasn't sure what he just heard.  I explained to him that it was a deer snorting at us and he looked less nervous and more confused.  As we stood there I could hear deer moving in the brush just out past the ground blind and then it happened again. Brandon kind of giggled and said it sounded like a train whistle.  I never thought of that, but I guess it kind of does sound like a train whistle - okay not really - it sounds like a deer snort!  After the last snort we heard the deer crashign away so we once again attempted to be quiet and made the last 50 yards to the blind and got all tucked in for a sit.

With the rain still dripping from the wet leaves and trees it made hearing anything impossible so we spent the next 3 hours on high alert only to not see anything.  This wasn't a bad thing, as I spent that time coaching Brandon through and trying to teach him some simple things like marking his yardage, how to scan the woods, paying attention to the wind, etc.  I did also take the time to reminsce about the first time I hear a deer bleat and told Brandon I swore it was a sheep in the middle of the woods.

About 9:30 I headed over to where Brendan was setup and we took a little walk around the back part of the state land to get Brendan reoriented with that piece of state land.  We stopped by the swamp and the beavers have a done a bangup job with their damn making a really nice puddle duck spot and we most certainly saw some ducks in there which will make a nice early morning hunt before work.  The colors along the swamp were really starting to pop and the picture doesn't do it any justice sorry.

We found some fresh rubs and some good sign and an interesting living space made by something, not sure what though.  We never moved a deer but we did finally run into a couple of other hunters on the far back part of the state land and we chatted with them and shared a little information, not all of it though.

Brandon had to head out to work that afternoon so after watching our Penn State Nittany Lions lose to Indiana Brendan and I decided we needed a calming place so back out to the woods we went.  It was hot and buggy but it beat being home doing chores.  We didn't see a thing, but we did hear something that sounded like heavy breathing off in the distance, but it is really thick around there and we never did see anything.  I'm guessing it was a Squatch as there is no other reasonable explanation. 

All in all it was a nice day in the woods!

Oct 4, 2013

My Son's First Deer with a Bow and Arrow

My son Brendan has been hunting since he was 12 years old and was out tagging along on many hunts as early as age 5. He is not new to the hunting sports in any way shape or form, but at 22 he had another first this past weekend.  This past weekend Brendan took a nice young buck with a bow on state land from the ground non the less.  This was not his first deer taken or even his first buck, but it was his first deer taken with the bow.

We found 6 piles of old moose poop in this area

Brendan has had little time in the woods during the archery season since he made the varsity football team in his Sophomore year in high school.  Those 3 years of high school football left little time for chasing deer with the bow and even the gun during most football seasons.  After graduation he headed off to college which once again left little time for hunting.  Now he is in graduate school, but living at home and finding the time to get back out in the woods on a regular basis and it has paid off for him.  He shot a nice long beard this past spring and just last weekend he arrowed his first deer with a bow.

I will do my best to tell his story with the same excitement and passion that he does, but it is so much better to listen to him tell it in person.

We are fortunate to have a few nice pieces of state land within minutes of our house and I have hunted this land for over 15 years and know my way around pretty well and spent the late summer getting Brendan reacquainted with the area and offering up some suggestions on where to hunt.  With the storms we've had the past two falls, there are plenty of new deadfalls that offer some great little ground hides in some key travel areas and I had one such deadfall picked out since last year just for this occasion.  My only concern was how much hunting pressure we would see here especially with the new additiona of crossbows being legal for everyone during the archery season.  For the first 5 days of the season, I would drive around the state forest and check for hunters on my way to work, and Brendan would do the same in the late evening on his way home from school.  In those first 5 days we did NOT see a single vehicle or hunter in the spots we wanted to hunt.  So Friday night before the first Saturday of the season, I suggested we attempt to hunt the area we'd been watching, but warned Brendan that I expected to see other hunters in the area.  It had been a long and tough week as my mother-in-law was in the hospital recovering from bypass surgery and we were getting little sleep so we overslept on Saturday and didn't get out until after first light.  Not in my original plan and I thought for sure we'd lost our spot to other hunters.  When we arrived at the gate to park I was shocked to be the only vehicle there.

Brandon trying to figure out why we are not seeing any Squirrels.

We dropped Brendan off at his ground blind and then Brandon and I headed off to hunt some squirrels.  Brandon is still learning to shoot a bow and has his safety course and license, but needs a few more weeks to gain confidence in his shooting.  About 8:30 I got a call from Brendan saying he just had a really nice buck sneak in to his blind at just 15 yards away, but has he adjusted to get a shot he got snorted by another deer he never saw.   One thing I enjoy about hunting is you learn something new every outing and every encounter with an animal and this was one of those lessons for Brendan.  As is typical with many of us that have had these encounters they haunt our dreams on a regular basis and they sure did for Brendan.  He thought he blew his only shot for the season and the season was just 6 days old!  Lesson learned.

Brendan had to wait until the next Friday to get back out to the woods and as he was sneakign into his deadfall, he got snorted again.  He didn't see anything the rest of the morning, but he did take some time to mosey around and check out the sign and just as weeks past there was plenty of fresh sign so he snuck out and decided to wait until Saturday morning to hunt it again instead of hunting it that afternoon.

The arrow tells the story!
We had a similar game plan for this past Saturday, Brandon and I would squirrel hunt allowing me to spend time teaching Brandon about hunting, scouting, safety and getting around the woods while Brendan nestled into his dead fall again.  This time Brendan made some adjustment to where he was sitting and the cover around the deadfall based on what he learned the past two sits and he obviosulty learned well and made the right decisions.  About 8:29 he texted me to check in, I texted him back a few photos of some really nice rubs. A few minutes after that text, my phone rang and it was Brendan calling.  When I answered I immediately new by the sound in is voice that he had shot at a deer.  When I heard the words "I just shot a buck", I almost started to scream with joy, but realized we had work to do and didn't want him to get too excited just yet.  So I calmed him down and gave him some coaching and told him to sit tight, don't move and watch and listen for anything.

It didn't take Brandon and I long to arrive at Brendan's deadfall where we found him standing there with a grin from ear to ear.  I calmly approached and had him walk me through what had just happened.  Brendan had just put his phone back in his pocket, heard some crunching and looked up and could see a deer moving through the thick brush on a trail that would take this deer right by Brendan's hide.  The deer stepped out of the little hemlocks which had been blocking most of Brendan's view of the deer just long enough for Brendan to see antlers and then he went into that fast shot planning mode that we all have gone through.  He waited for the deer to step behind a tree, went to full draw and as the deer made two steps from behind the tree he bleated at it and as the deer stopped and the pin settled just above the deer's heart Brendan released an arrow.  He said he heard the thud and watched the deer take off tail down.  The deer jumped two deadfalls and after the second he heard a large crash but couldn't see anything or hear anything after.  I'm not going to lie, I was a little excited at that point and was struggling to sit tight for a bit more to give the deer a little more time, but he and I needed it to clam down and get ready for the tracking job at hand.

Blood at the shot

Blood almost two feet up the tree.

I had Brendan line me up where he thought the deer was when he shot and I found no blood or sign and my heart sank into my stomach.  I thought, no way.  So I had him rethink it and I played the deer and he walked me past the shot and off in the direction he saw it run.  still no sign.  I wasn't more then about 10 steps from where he said the deer was standing when he shot, so I spun around and headed in the direction the deer had come from and I found blood.  I had Brendan come to the blood and walk it back to see exactly where the deer was standing.  He was only off about 10 feet but just enough to not find sign where he first lined me up.  I then had him look for the arrow, which is a key part to determining what type of shot you got on the deer.  I noticed a very small drop of blood going away from the blood trail and then another.  So I had Brendan follow those tiny drops and it led him right to his arrow.  Those drops of blood had come off the arrow after it passed through the buck.  Only at that point was I confident that the last jump and crash of that deer was where we would find Brendan's deer, but why pass up a training and learning opportunity so I sat back and had Brendan and Brandon follow up the blood trail as I coached from the back of the line.  They tracked it over one small dead fall and right to a second.  I decided to walk around the deadfall to the right, but stopped after a couple of steps because I could see the buck laying there dead.  Brendan caught me stop quickly and said "You see him don't you?!" and I just nodded and he looked up and there it was. The nice little 7 pointer - we refuse to give him the 8th point - didn't go more then 50 yards from a double lung complete pass thru shot.   There was as sigh of relief and some high fives and more then a few hugs and back slaps, oh and a few pictures and then the work began.  Brendan filled his tag out, and we decided to drag it out of the area and field dress it away from his hunting area so we loaded the buck on the Dead Sled and strapped Brendan in and yelled MUSH!

That Dead Sled is nice to have for dragging.

Brendan dragged the buck out and once we reached a spot far enough from his hunting area we started a new lesson on field dressing a deer.  Brendan has a degree in Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Services and is in Graduate school pursing a Masters in Occupation Therapy so he took the opportunity to turn all "Mr. Anatomy" on us and held a show and tell session showing off all the different things he learned ins school as we worked through the process of dressing the deer.  I was very impressed with his knowledge and the fact that he didn't puke as it had been almost 6 or 7 years since he last shot and field dressed a deer.

Brendan's First Archery Deer!

I'm happy he had a successful hunt for many reasons and I was glad I was there to share it, but I am extremely proud to see how well he learned from all those previous hunting trips and of course from his schooling! His passion for the outdoors is evident and growing every day,   Having fresh venison in the freezer is just icing on the cake!

Being able to share my passion for the outdoors with my kids, family and friends is really what my blog is all about and I look forward to this weeks outing as fall turkey opens up and we will try to get Brandon his first bird.  That is if I can get both of them away from the bow for a day.

It doesn't get any better then this!

Sep 30, 2013

Countdown to Our Saskatchewan Watefowl Hunting Trip

There are just 12 days left until we head out to Saskatchewan for a week long waterfowl hunt.  This will be a first for most of our crew and to say we are excited wouldn't really put into words just how jazzed up we are for this trip.

Saskatchewan once known as "The World's Bread Basket" because it produces over half the wheat grown in Canada, which is obviously good for all those migrating ducks and geese as they need to fatten up for their long migrations south.  It is also known as the " Land of the Living Skies" due to the incredible sunsets, northern lights and ofcourse WATERFOWL!  Every waterfowler has heard about those hunts where the skies are thick with waterfowl that they almost black out the sun.  I've seen video from previous hunts that one of our guys has been on and it was darn close to a black out, now I hope to see it for myself.

Planning for any hunt is important, even for just a day but for a week long hunt out of the country it requires a little more effort and stress.   In the end as long as our guns show up, some clothes and our licenses don't get lost we should be good to go!

I don't know what our access to the world will be up there but hopefully I can post some live updates from the field as well as nightly report.

Wish us luck!

Sep 20, 2013

Recipe - Simple Venison Backstraps and Roasted Vegetables

Well it's official, the freezer is empty of venison as I used the last of it last night for dinner. No need to panic though because nature's pantry is open for business.  Our Archery season opened last week and even though work and family has kept us out of the woods this week, we will be out tomorrow working at filling the freezer.

Simple Venison Backstrap and Roasted Vegetables

Normally I keep cooking venison simple and delicious.  We butcher our deer ourselves this allows us to clean it up the way we like and control the portion size.  I prefer to leave my backstraps in big portions which gives me many options for cooking them later on.  Easy enough to use as is, slice up for steaks or any other need.


  • Venison Backstrap
  • Spices for venison - I use Salt, pepper, onion and garlic or Weber Steak seasoning 
  • Butter or oil for cooking 
  • Beef Stock - Just enough to deglaze the pan after cooking.
  • Vegetables of your choice - cut into bite size chunks
  • Spices for veggies - Your choice.  I use the standard salt, pepper, onion and garlic
  • Walden Farms Balsamic Vinaigrette

Cooking Instructions:

  • Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl.  I used broccoli, peppers and mushrooms, but your favorite veggies will do.
  • Add at least two tablespoons of Walden Farms Balsamic Vinaigrette. Substitute your favorite dressing or oil and season with your favorite seasonings.  I use the standard salt, pepper, onion and garlic.
  • Spread vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until you achieve your desired tenderness.
  • Trim backstraps by removing all fat and silver skin and pat dry. Cut into large chunks that will fit in your pan.
  • Season both sides of backstraps with your favorite seasoning.  I used the standard salt, pepper, onion and garlic.
  • Heat frying pan with oil or butter.  I used a little bit of butter and olive oil.
  • Cook backstraps for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side depending on thickness and desired temperature - I prefer a medium rare for venison.
  • Remove from pan and let rest on a plate for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add some beef broth to the pan and de-glaze the pan scrapping up all the goodness - set aside for later
  • Slice the backstraps to your desired thickness and pour the pan drippings over them and serve.

There is usually a fight for the last piece of backstrap in our house and last nights fight was a little extreme due to it truly being the last piece in the house!

Share your favorite venison recipes!

Happy hunting and eating!


Sep 17, 2013

Connecticut Hunting & Fishing Appreciation Day - Sept 28, 2013

On September 28, 2013, the CT DEEP and Friends of Sessions Woods will be hosting Connecticut’s Annual Hunting & Fishing Appreciation Day at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington.
Fun activities for all ages are planned, along with educational programs and workshops about hunting, shooting and fishing. Best of all, the event is free to attend!

Why we're celebrating

Hunters and anglers have been at the forefront of the conservation movement for over 100 years. They showed their support by requesting taxes and special fees on hunting and fishing equipment to help pay for wildlife and fish management, habitat restoration, and other conservation programs through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program.
To find out more about activities, vendors, times and directions visit their website at:

Sep 16, 2013

Massachusetts Outdoor Expo - Sunday Sept 22, 2013

It's amazing how many great little outdoor events that are close to home and you don't even hear about them.  I found out about one such event last night and even contacted the organizers to get some additional information and it's not so little.

The "Big Moe" as the Mass Outdoor Expo is nicknamed will be held this Sunday September 22 from 9:00am to 4:00pm on the grounds of the Hamilton Rod & Gun club in Sturbridge, Mass.  The best part about this event is that is free!

US Fish & Wildlife Traveling Wildlife Refuge

A quick look at the list of sponsors and their activities page is proof that there is a lot going on for a one day event.

Just a small taste of what is on tap for the day:

  • Rock climbing wall
  • Fly tying
  • Petting zoo
  • New England Raptor & Reptile Exhibits
  • Fly casting
  • Canowing & Kayaking instruction
  • Shooting events and instruction (archery, firarms, air rifles)
  • Birdfeeder Craft stations
  • Ice fishing instruction
  • Wild game tasting
  • And plenty more fot he entire family to enjoy!

Required to participate in all shoot sports

They even have a video promoting the event and you can see it here:

 Visit their website for directions, to volunteer, donate and more information:

What a great reason to get outdoors and enjoy!

Have Fun!

Sep 13, 2013

Asian Goose Stir Fry - Crockpot Style

With the Resident Goose season open and underway what better way to celebrate this season then with a new goose recipe so here it is - Asian Goose Stir Fry - Crock pot Style!

I had a two packages of goose breast (3 full breasts) left over from last season and decided it was time to use them up, but I wanted something different and something that would fit into my new lifestyle - fancy word for diet.  Originally I was thinking of some type of Goose Chili or Stew in the crockpot, but lately I've been making stir fry vegetables to spice things up on my diet and decided I had to do this with the goose.

  • 2lbs of goose breast (skinless and boneless)  - cut into cubes or strips
  • 3/4 cup of teriyaki sauce (or soy sauce) for Marinade - my favorite is Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki
  • 2 to 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger - I use the ginger in a tube as it is easier. Adjust to your taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic - I prefer to use fresh
  • 14oz bags of frozen stir fry veggies - I just grab the mix from the frozen section and I need lots of veggies with my new 'lifestyle' so I used two bags.

Cooking Instructions:
  • I let the goose breasts sit in a salt water bath over night, then rinse them good, dry them and then vacuum seal for the freezer.  Make sure to remove all the fat and silver skin prior to slicing.  I like to slice the goose breast into 1/4inch thin slices cut on an angle across the grain.  
  • Combine the sliced goose, sauce, ginger and garlic and seal in a plastic bag and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  I found that the longer I leave it - up to two days - really allows the marinade to soak in.
  • After letting it rest in the fridge, place the marinated goose breast in your slow cooker set to low and let it go for about 4 hours.
  • At the 4 hour mark add in the frozen vegetables and stir and continue cooking for another 2-4 hours or until the meat and veggies are tender.  Adjust times and temps based on your cooker and your needs.  Low and slow is my motto.
  • About 20-20 minutes before I'm ready to serve, I mix up about 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of  water in a bowl and stir it into the slow cooker. Depends on how thick you want it so start with a small amount and add more if you need it. Set your slow cooker to high at this point.  This will thicken up the sauce.

Serve over your favorite rice, or if you are like me and trying to be a little more healthy I will make a Cauliflower Rice instead or add some additional veggies to the plate and pour the goose on top.

You can always replace the goose with beef, chicken and probably even some pheasant or duck.

Give it a try and let me know how you liked it.

Happy Hunting!

Sep 3, 2013

Crossbows for Everyone, and other New Regulations for Connecticut

This past week the CT Legislature finally passed the proposed set of hunting regulation changes after some fine tuning the wording.  This new regulations package brings some good and controversial changes to Connecticut. 

Changes include: legalizing crossbows for all archery hunters, expansion of youth hunter training opportunities, use of muzzleloaders as a lesser weapon, fluorescent orange exemption for coyote/fox hunters, adjustments to the crow season dates and establishing seasons, bag limits and other restrictions regarding the take of snapping turtles.

Crossbows not just for the injured anymore here in Connecticut.  Crossbows have been added as an approved hunting implement for everyone here in the Nutmeg State.  For some bowhunters, they believe this to be their worst nightmare come true as the woods will now be filled with "those once-a-year hacks with the antler stickers all over their trucks will be trampling our early season" or "FUDDS" as one poster on a forum I frequent put it.  A word of note - it's not YOUR or MY season, it's EVERYONE'S season!   I've hunted other states that allowed Crossbows to be used by anyone and I did not notice an over abundance of "FUDDS" personally, but I did notice a few veteran hunters return to the fall woods with their Crossbow, as well as some youngster join our ranks.  Isn't that we what really need - more kids, more women and the return of many of our veteran hunters?!  If crossbows help, then I say bring them on.  Me personally, I'm sticking to the vertical stick and string!

It will be interesting as people now scramble to get in on the fall archery season with their new crossbow, only to realize they need to have completed and passed a certified bowhunter education course!  It will be more interesting as they struggle to find available classes as most of us that are instructors will be spending our free time hunting, instead of teaching!  You can visit the CT DEEP wildlife website for a list of available hunter education courses here:  CT Hunter Education Courses

No matter what you use to hunt with, it is your responsibility to be comfortable, safe, knowledgeable and proficient with your equipment and we should expect no less from our new fellow bowhunters!

Another change which has stirred up controversy amongst fellow hunters is the extension of the youth training days.   The new regulations allow for 7 youth hunt days (Turkey and Deer) which is up from the 2 in previous years.  Now having had the pleasure of bringing many youths into the hunting sports, I personally believe these youth hunting / training days are the best addition we have seen in a long time and the increase in days is the next step to making them better!  Of course many are complainging how unfair it is to give the kids 7 days of hunting before anyone else, but let's be realistic for a minute.  Of those 7 continuous days (used to be 2 Saturdays only), how many hours is your typical youth going to be out hunting?  They are in school, the weather will have a say int heir time afield as will their other commitments to extra curricular activities.  I may be on the wrong end of this one again, but I'm all for this and I don't have any younger kids anymore!  We need more kids in our ranks and if this helps then let's do it!

I am excited about the ability to use my muzzle loader during the shotgun/rifle deer seasons now as well as the shortening of the October closed hunting season.  Overall I am happy with the recent regulation changes and appreciate the hard work the folks at the CT DEEP put into these changes.  Many hours talking to folks, both for and against, surveys, reviewing what other states have done and finding that balance between our days afield and population control.  Now all we need is Sunday hunting!

You can review all the new regulations here:

Now let's quit fighting with each other and get outside in the great outdoors!

Happy Hunting!