Posted on 2 Comments

Getting in Shape for Your Hunt

If you are going to do almost any hunting, much less go to Africa, you must be in reasonable physical condition.

  Many doctors are telling their patients that the single most important thing that they can do to improve their health is to engage in a regular exercise program. This advice is given by doctors in such diverse fields as General Medicine, Cardiography and Psychiatry as a component in part of a health recovery or preventative program.

  As a young guy, I was never an athlete. I did live a healthy outdoor lifestyle when I was doing field work as a Geologist and would walk every day, sometimes covering 13 miles of overland travel carrying a 40-pound pack through the Alaskan wilderness.

  In later years as a writer my life became more sedentary, my weight started to climb, I began to have pain in my joints as I aged and I had to take meds to control diabetes. I was even, in my mid-60s, thinking that I might need a hip replacement because of joint pain. This proved to be a problem of tendons, rather than joints. I was out of shape with poor muscle tone.  

  I joined the Wellness program that I describe in the video, and am doing much better. The joint pain has disappeared, my diabetes is better controlled and I have a much more healthy outlook on life.  When I get off my exercise and diet for a period of week some of my previous symptoms return. When I resume exercise and diet, these symptoms go away.

   I can’t say that I enjoy it. I can’t say that it is fun. However, for me it is a necessity to maintain a reasonable level of physical capabilities so that I can go the interesting hunts that add much to the quality of my life. In brief, unless you do a variety of physical work in your job, your life will be improved if you visit your doctor and start an exercise program. Any is better than none.

  I live some distance away from  town, and  I go to Wellness  two or three times a week when I am not hunting. I find that hunting activities, by themselves, do not adequately substitute for regular cardiovascular and strength-building exercises.

  A 7-minute video “Getting in Shape for Your Hunt” is posted on YouTube, if you should have any difficulty watching this version. It  can be seen  at

Posted on 1 Comment

Cooking Bear Meat with Red Kidney Beans

Black bear and red beans is a fast-cooking bear dish using canned beans and Italian bear sausage.

  On cross-country hunts I usually grind meat and make sausage before starting home.   On my last Spring hunt in Idaho I did not have time, as I had shot the bear the day before I had to leave. In one day it was as much as I could do to remove the hide, get it to a taxidermidst, cut, package and freeze the meat from this medium-sized bear.  

  When I cut the meat  I made one meat package from each of the two forelegs and shoulders. The leg and shoulder muscles were  too thin to make a roast.  After I returned home, I ground it and made fresh Italian sausage to cook over the next few days. Then I cut a medium Spanish  onion in a heavy pan, put in a quarter of a bell pepper and started to brown that with a teaspoon of margarine.

  Then I added a heaping cup of the lean bear sausage, browning and mixing the sausage with the onions and pepper. Following this I put in two 14-ounce cans of red kidney beans and chipped in about two tablespoons of low-fat mixed white and yellow cheese. Filling and empting the two cans with water into the pot, I sturred and allowed the mix to cook for about 1 1/2-hours. The result was very good.

  The butter and cheese added just enough fat to the lean Spring bear meat to “smooth” everything out on the pallet while the carraway seed, peppers, salt and oregano in the Italian sausage spice mix gave the product a small amount of heat.

  Like most such things, the “Bear and Beans” were even better on following days. I have more recipes for black bear meat in older blog posts and in my books, Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound and Crossbow Hunting. More information on my books may be found at

  Videos on the bear hunt, cleaning and transporting the bear were posted during May, 2010,   on my blog, and there are links on my  Blog to these as well as to longer YouTube videos.

Posted on 2 Comments

Cooking Meat From a Spring Bear


Good tasting stews and other products may be made from the lean meat taken from a Spring bear.

  Spring and Fall black bear must be cooked differently for best results.  After hibernation, the meat from a Spring bear is very lean, and if the bear did not feed well before denning up even some of the muscle mass may have been used to keep the bear alive. Fall bear that have stuffed themselves with fall fruit, nuts and agricultural crops (where available)  will have a layer of fat and better tasting meat. 

  Like hogs, bear meat will take up the taste of what it eats. Fruit-fed bears are the best, while salmon-fed bears can be expected to be quite different. Almost any bear meat can be successfully made into sausage. Except in extreme cases, even lean Spring bear can be converted into high-quality soups and stews. The key to doing this successfully is to be prepared to boil the meat for hours (or use a pressure cooker)  until it is tender. Don’t, and you will chew on a piece of bear meat for a very long time indeed. 

Bear Ribs 

  For ribs, grill them with sauce until they are nearly done, and then boil them into a large pot until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened in the bottom of the pot. The meat will have shrunk back on the bones as is shown in the photograph. 


Ribs as well as the browned meat used in this stew must be boiled until the meat is soft enough to eat.

Browned Meat Stews   

  Cut the meat into chunks removing tendons and muscle sheaths. Coat with mix of flour, salt and pepper and fry until brown in olive or canola oil. Do not overcook – just brown the meat. Drain and blot off excess oil. Pace meat in large pot and add water, a peeled eggplant,  3 small potatoes, 1 medium onion, and a 14-ounce can of stewed tomatoes. Cook until meat is tender to the fork, adding additional water as necessary. This may take two hours or longer, depending on the age of the bear. 

Boiled meat stews 

  In this case the meat is not browned, but cut, remove any tendons and put into the pot. Use equal numbers of peeled zucchini squash and cucumbers. Add 1 medium onion and 2 medium potatoes along with a 14- ounce can of stewed tomatoes, salt, pepper,  1 tablespoon of margarine and 1/4 teaspoon of tarragon. Cook on stove eye or in Crock Pot until meat is fork tender. Again, cooking time will be between 2 and 3 hours. It it has to be finished faster, use a pressure cooker.

Boiled meat stews must also be cooked for a long time to tenderize the meat.

  For more information and recipes go to my website where I have cleaning and cooking instructions for bear and other game in my books, Crossbow Hunting, and Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound.  Although the last book has “deer” in the title, I also cover bear, hogs and other game animals.

Posted on 1 Comment

America’s Best .45 Auto


This Hi Standard "Military" is a better fitted and finished gun than the originals with some minor design modifications to improve functionality.


  I am a Colt Model 1911 guy. Over the decades,  in the U.S. Army and after, I owned scores of the pistols and their near relations, in calibers that ranged from  the .22 LR in conversion units to the 9 mm Luger and .38 Super Auto. 

  One Gun Digest article from the 1980s, “Shooting The 1911s Spanish Cousins,” was republished in the 2010 Guns Illustrated annual. It was interesting to look back on myself as I was 30-years ago. Needless to say I have a fondness for pistols of this general style. 

  Of the various mix and match components, I liked the long trigger and wide hammer spur of the 1911 and the arched backstrap of the A1 modification. I always had a problem with hammer pinch on the web of the hand and wanted to (but never got around to) install a beavertail grip safety. The extended slide models always looked “sexy” to me, but I could never justify getting one because of the generally anemic performance of the .45 ACP  that plodded along at 850 fps. 

  I handloaded with a Lyman Tong Tool and soon had also tried the Colt New Service revolver and the rimmed version of the cartridge. This was a big, interesting, revolver; but it could never generate sufficient energy for hunting. 

  I embraced the .44 Remington Magnum cartridge as a useful hunting round and ultimately disposed of all of my .45 ACP guns when I no longer did bulls-eye competition.  The only hunting use that I did with the 1911 was to take small game in Alaska with the ACE  .22 LR conversion unit. 

  The “cocked and locked” carry never appealed to me. With the wide hammer I preferred to carry a round in the chamber with the hammer down and thumb cock the pistol, rotate it in the hand and fire. Although not as split-second fast as “cocked and locked,” this was fast enough for me. The spring-loaded rebounding firing pin kept it away from the primer until it was hit by the hammer and driven forward. 

  When old service pistols were being imported by the barrel from Europe during the 1960s, I shot various Lugers, Randoms, Lathias,  Mausers, Walthers, Stars, Liamas,  and Brownings in 9mm. I would get one, try it out and trade it in on the next. I enjoyed the mechanical complexity and look of the Lugers, but for functionality preferred the 1911 platform pieces and its near relatives. 

  Ultimately the 9mm fell out of favor with me because of the costs of reloading with full-metal-jacket bullets and the superior performance of the .45 ACP. Many still agree with me. Not only are the original 1911s  still desired, but a plethora of new makers have variants of the old war-horse, such as the new 1911 AI pictured above. This pistol is made by a revitalized Hi-Standard,  which has once again re-emerged as a player in America’s gun market. Even more recently, Remington introduced their version of the venerable pistol at the 2010 NRA Annual Convention at Charlotte, NC.

Posted on 1 Comment

Creative Minds with Writers’ Block

  On a recent cross-country trip I spent time with three creative individuals who were very intelligent, knowledgeable in their fields, had the desire to produce creative products; but had never managed to publish anything. As a writer who has produced 14 books and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, I listened closely to what they had to say.

  What I heard was excuses. Outside of a general interest in human welfare, I had no personal interest in whether these guys lived or died; much less capitalized on their creative impulses. We talked for some hours, and I gave them my considered advice on how to make some quick returns on their talents and accomplish their longer-range goals. This concluded with a verbal “kick in the butt” to get some things done.  

  Unsolicited advise has the reputation of “costing nothing and being worth the same amount.” However well-intentioned, accurate and serviceable my advise might have been; will they act on it? The most probable result was that may remember being harangued by an old guy on the road, but little or nothing of what was said.  No action on their parts is likely to be taken.

  Joe, let’s call him, has a life-long project. He is now in his 40s, has degrees in social science and over the past decades has worked in homeless shelters from Miami to Alaska. He is homeless and lives the same life as his study subjects. His ultimate aim is to write a book that truly documents the “homeless experience” in America based on his personal observations.

  My advise. “It is time to do it. Yes, you could always do more research, but you are running out of life. Time is the only thing of value that you have. If you have something to say to the world, it is time for you do DO IT.

  “You have established useful connections.  Start your own non-profit foundation to solicit funds to sponsor your book, distribute it and get it to where it is needed. You do not have to depend on grants, although these can come once you have established an organization that can accept them.

  “Get somewhere stable, gather your tools and in three months write your book. Pick a topic that speaks to modern times that can reasonably be covered. There is nothing that says that all you know about a subject must be published under a single title.”

   Jim and Ed, again fictional names,  were hitchhiking buddies from Minneapolis. Both are in their 20s, and this trip was a considered a “last adventure” before getting down to serious work.

  Jim asserted, and I have every reason to believe this is true, is a well-trained and multitalentented musician who can capably perform on a number of instruments, write music, but whose chief gift is his ability to mix components into a coherent whole. These components could be scores, instruments, performing groups, computer-generated or modified sound to produce “modern music.”

  Jim had plans for putting together a concert when he returned as well as accepting an invitation to work with a performer that he greatly admired. One problem with this segment of the music industry is that many performers are users, and he said that most of those whose work he really liked were dead from drug-related stuff.

  An appropriate admonishment to stay off drugs was given.  

  We had a long discussion of the topic, “Can music transfer content?” My position was that music can transfer feelings of mood, but if it does not have visual, print or voice support it cannot accurately transmit content. He took a more expansive view of what music could do.

  My consul to him was to find out who the prominent ad agencies were in Minneapolis and put together a pitch for one of their clients that illustrated his talents and gave the agency something that they could immediately use – even if his immediate product was only a Flip video. This had the potential of providing him with some immediate income.

 Ed works as a baker, but has aspirations of being a writer and, in particular, a lyricist or song writer. He said that he had a notebook full of lyrics, but had never shown them for fear that someone would steal them from him. I gave him a recipe for a low-sugar baked product that could be promoted, the suggestion that these carp in the Midwest could sponsor a multi-million dollar food industry with world-wide sales and some more directed suggestions about his songs.

  I told him to collaborate with someone who could put music to them and pitch these with the objective to getting at least one of his things published this year.  Jim, the guy he had been traveling with for days or weeks, agreed to provide some music. The idea of them working together to immediately produce a commercial product had apparently not occurred to them.

 Copyright  protection applies to song lyrics, and this can be obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office.  

  Will Joe, Jim or Ed do anything with the suggestions I gave them? Likely not, but one can try. One can hope. Maybe.

  I have more information on selling creative content on my website and blog:  (February, 2010 in archives). I also have a video on YouTube “Selling Creative Content.” I frequently write about hunting, fishing, cooking and outdoor topics. Do not be surprized to see such content.

Posted on 1 Comment

Industrial Food in America’s Heartland

  The industrialization of America’s food has reached the point where not even apple pie is safe in one chain restaurant in the Midwest. On numerous cross-country driving trips across the country, I had long considered the Midwest the culinary “Gobi Desert” of  North America.

  Interesting foods may be found to the east, south and west; but in the mid-continent chain restaurants often feature “over-processed” food products  whose components arrive in buckets, drums and most could even survive shipment in rail tanker cars. Such products are noted for being high in salt, sugar, corn and soy-derivative products, starches, corn syrup, artificial flavorings,  fats and preservatives. What little natural meat or vegetable product remains often serves the mechanical function of a filler. 

  A new technological high, but culinary disaster, was an apple pie that I ordered two weeks ago at a mid-western chain restaurant. The interior of the restaurant featured a well-lit interior with apples prominently featured on its wallpaper.

  “Surely,” I thought, “These people ought to make a reasonable apple pie as they seem to want to push the ‘American as apple pie’ image.”

  I had requested that the slice be cut in half, to be consumed the next day, as almost all apple pies contain at least twice as much sugar as I like. The pie that arrived was nicely browned with a lattice crust pattern, but the “apples” consisted of a paste more nearly resembling an over-sweet apple butter from Waffle House.  If I had to make a guess at the recipe, I would say that it contained 50 percent crushed apples with the remainder being various sugars, butterfat, flour, animal fats, salt and preservatives.

  This pie was much too sweet for anyone to consume more than a bite of at a sitting.  Many commercial apple pies now sold in the nation’s supermarkets contain identifiable chunks of apples – not so here. I would not be shocked to learn that this pie contained no apples at all, just flavored soy bean meal.

  This restaurant supports the Midwest’s reputation of being able to efficiently fatten hogs, cattle and people. These chain restaurants are well-rooted in the tradition of producing quick-fatening feed products from ingredients that have the lowest possible costs,  keep best on the shelf and continue the trend towards the industrial production of America’s food – even apple pie.

  Congratulations on making a new technological advance in processing foods, but shame on you for ruining one of your grandmother’s masterpiece dishes.  I rather imagine that she would consider this evolution of apple pie, “Not fit to slop hogs.” 

  Midwesterners have the tradition of accepting life without complaint, and these restaurants have apparently capitalized on this to put out some absolutely wretched products that may look attractive, but have little nutritional value and do the diner more harm than good. Food served in many of America’s chain restaurants may set world standards for safety, but nutritional values are often lacking.

Posted on 1 Comment

Getting the meat home

Having the hides processed locally and meat from bear and other game frozen and packaged, greatly reduces the bulk of the animal when it comes time to take it home.

   A problem that instantly faces a hunter who has just driven, or flown, across the country to go on a big game hunt is how to get the meat safely home. Modern ice chests are a considerable help, but even homemade freezer containers can be constructed from waste cardboard, styrofoam, carpet backing, waste paper and similar items.

 Check with your air or land carrier about any restrictions about transporting meat.  

  Key factors in the safe transport of meat are:

   1. Reduce the volume as much as possible by boning out and processing as much of the carcass on site as possible. On driving trips I often take a grinder and make ground meat and sausage. The only thing that I want to put in my ice chests for the trip back is packaged, hard-frozen meat.

  2. Contract to have any taxidermy done locally. This greatly reduces the potential for hair slip, the hide is put on salt immediately and locals, who have done thousands of deer heads, bear hides or gator skulls will often do a better job than someone who has seen few of the particular animals.

  3. Whatever chests you use, pack them as tightly as possible with solidly frozen meat. Leave room on top for a layer of dry ice. (Most airlines will not fly with dry ice and it is sometimes difficult to find. On a recent hunt I drove from Kellogg, Idaho, to Butte, Montana, before I could purchase 12 pounds  to keep my bear meat frozen.) Use  towels, dirty clothes, or anything to take up any empty space in the chests and blankets or sleeping bags on top of it.

4. Putting freezer chests inside freezer chests (or a homemade insulated freezer box) helps considerably. Then ordinary ice can be put inside the larger container to keep the smaller boxes as cold as possible.

 5. Use duct, or other, wide  tape to hold the lids tightly shot and help seal the air gaps between the lids and chests. This keeps out air, even when the truck is on rough roads, hits bumps, etc.

 6. Avoid opening the chest once dry ice has been added.

 7. If there is room, an old empty electric chest freezer can be taken along or an inexpensive new one  purchased. These can be plugged in when you arrive at the hunt location, used to freeze your meat  and then re-plugged in at every night’s stop.  If you are after really big animals like moose, elk or buffalo; even putting a freezer on a utility trailer can be a useful  option.

 8. Remember that your tags, import documents and other paperwork must accompany the meat.

I have posted an 8-minute video on YouTube which shows me unpacking my freezer chests after a 3 1/2-day trip back from Idaho. The bear was shot one evening, cut up, packaged and frozen the following day. The freezer was the last thing packed for the trip back to Georgia. Dry ice was purchased in Butte, Montana, and the first day’s drive ended in Sheridan, Wyoming. The second night found me in Columbia, Missouri. I added ordinary ice around my smaller coolers and made it to Atlanta for the next night. I arrived home the following morning at about 9:00 AM when the video was made. Only two packages in an inexpensive cooler contained any thawed meat. This meat was cooked the next day. 

 This video may be view on YouTube by clicking on the following address:

  For more information on killing, packaging and transporting wild game meat consult my book, “Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound.” Information on this and my other books are available at

Posted on 3 Comments

Buck’s PakLite Knives Become a Recommended Product

Buck PakLite knife used to skin this Idaho black bear without resharpening the edge.

  Three skeletal knives in the PakLite series are recommended based on their use on a late April-early May, 2010,  black bear hunt near Kellogg, Idaho, which followed a visit to Buck’s new Post Falls factory.  The bear were not cooperative. Cold weather which included snow and 50- mph winds kept them from baits at higher elevations.  On the sixth day after relocating to a lower area, an average-size black bear came it. I passed on this one, thinking that one of his larger relatives would appear. None did. 

  The following day no bear came to the bait during daylight hours. The same average-size black bear returned on the eighth day, and I took it with a lucky (and not recommended) brain shot with a crossbow after the arrow was deflected off a limb. The hunt video is available on an older post, and an 8-minute version is on YouTube at

   I liked the knives and appreciated that they were made in the U.S. using the same steel as some other Buck knives and subjected to the same heat-treatment process to give them a hard, sharp edge.  Serious thought had also gone into the handle design; something typically lacking in skeletal knives. 

Buck's PakLite knives include a gun hook (top), skinner and cape knife (bottom) for doing delicate work around the horns and skull.

 I am pleased to award them Backyard Deer Hunting’s seal of approval. 

 A video featuring my endorsement has been posted on the Recommended Products blog. To view the video click on the first entry on the blogroll on the right-hand-side of this page.  A “Guerrilla Ad” endorsing the knives is on YouTube at


  The knives were furnished by the manufacturer.

Posted on 4 Comments

Instant Crossbow Kill on Black Bear

Although congradulations are being offered for an instant kill, the author was not pleased with his performance.

  As an outdoor writer, I am sometimes invited to participate on hunts using manufacturer’s products. This was the case for a Spring, 2010, Idaho hunt for black bear where I had products from Buck Knives and a Parker Tornado crossbow to test.

After a man-killer of a three-day drive from Georgia to Northern Idaho, I had hunted baits in two locations for eight days. A medium-sized black bear came into the bait, I had what I thought to be a small, clear shot window and took the shot.

  I had watched this bear when it had come in previously. It was a bit smaller that I expected, and I had passed on the animal. My hosts and I had invested considerable time and money in getting a bear. Now was the time to get the job done.

  I aimed at the shoulder and fired. The arrow hit an unseen limb and the solid steel point drove 4- inches into the animal’s brain, killing it instantly.  This kill was due more to God’s good graces, than any skill on my part. The result was good; but my execution of the shot was terrible.

  You can see on the video that there is no high-fiving or carrying on after the shot. You see the expressions of a very concerned shooter, who knows that he should have waited for the bear to come to the bait barrel. Because of the very small size of the animal, under the fur, even the shoulder shot that had been attempted was no good. The  heavy leg bones would have deflected the arrow from the vitals – an acceptable shot for a large-caliber muzzleloading rifle, but not for an arrow.

  There is an irony that I do not advocate taking head and neck shots under most circumstances, yet what may be one of my most spectacular kills was the result of a deflected arrow finding its way into this bear’s brain.

  This video was edited while I was on the road back to Georgia. An 8-minute video, “Backyard Bear Hunting”  provides a general over-view of North American bear hunting at: