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Cooking a Christmas Swan, 2010

A swan dinner with roasted swan, ham, swan dressing, swan soup, giblet gravy, rice, sweet potatoes, green tea and homemade pear wine.


  Rather than relying on smell to let me know when the swan is ready as I usually do, I tried to time the cooking process and cooked the bird too long. The breast fell from the carcass, but was still moist and excellent because it had been cooked in moisture and in aluminum foil. I use the same method for wild turkey as described in previous posts and videos.  For a large swan, the optimum cooking time for this method is about 3 hours.

Making swan soup.

  As I cook the bird the day before, I made a swan soup from the bones, leg quarters and odd bits of meat on the carcass. This year I used a Camp Traditions Wild Rice Soup Mix that was furnished by the manufacturer. I did add some extra white rice, dill weed, salt and pepper. The soup was very good and enjoyed by me and my guest, Bill Krantz, who had participated with me on several swan hunts at Lake Mattamuskeet, NC.

  New this year I also had some homemade pear wine that was made from the fruit of the hard southern canning pear. Making other products from this fruit was also been described in a previous post and video where I described making poached pears, pear sauce and pear pies from this fruit. These pears are hard and only after they have been frozen are they easily eatable as an uncooked product.

  This video is also up on YouTube. If you have any problems viewing it here go to:

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Cooking Black Bear: A simple and tasty stew

Much black bear meat is discarded each year because people do not know how to cook it well.

  Black bear meat has the reputation of being tough and stringy. If it is put into a fry pan and fried, that is the usual result. A far better way to cook this meat is to make a bear stew from the tendon-rich cuts from the shoulders and lower legs. This is aided by using a pressure cooker. First the meat is floured and browned, then mixed with vegetables, and pressure cooked for about 20 minutes after the cooker has reached operating pressure. Serve with a robust wine and with vegetables like butternut squash that have distinctive tastes.

  Prepared this way, black bear, even the lowest quality cuts, may be turned into delicious meals as shown in the following video. If you have trouble seeing it here, an identical version is on YouTube at :

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Minimum Deer-Killing Muzzleloading Loads for Young and Small Shooters

A .50-caliber Traditions Deerhunter which is a light-weight muzzleloader often selected for a young shooter's first muzzleloading gun.

  This is an  arguable topic because close-range deer have been killed with almost everything that would throw a bullet out of the muzzle of a gun, including the .22 L.R. The fact that a given load has sometimes killed deer does not, of itself, mean that it could, or should, be used under all circumstances. Obviously, a survival situation is different from hunting where every effort should be made by the sportsman to deliver a projectile into the animal that will be quickly lethal.

  Shot placement is more important than power. An ill-placed shot from a powerful gun will not reliably kill deer, but a well-placed bullet will. The selection of a load for a young hunter should be an accurate one that he, or she, can shoot well. Because we are discussing threshold loads, it also follows that the range needs to be short, 50 yards or less. It is also of assistance if the deer is relatively small with weights in the range of 90-120 lbs. These are good-eating-sized deer and fine for a young hunter’s first deer.

  In muzzleloading the  .45 is considered a medium caliber. The lightest projectile in this caliber is a patched round ball. In the typical light-weight rifles that a young hunter can handle (6-7 lbs. with 28-inch barrels) I recommend 85 grains of FFg GOEX black powder and a patched round ball for well placed shots in the heart-lung area at 50 yards and less. This load will develop about 900 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy, but at 100 yards its muzzle energy will have decreased to less than 300 ft./lbs.  At 50-yards it will still be producing about 500 ft./lbs. which most consider the threshold value for taking deer-sized game.

Sharon Henson used a CVA Youth muzzleloader and a BallEts on this hog.

  Although once more common than .50-calibers, today it is difficult to find .45-caliber muzzleloading rifles  that have suitable twists for round-ball loads. In the easier to get .50 caliber-rifles,  the heavier balls are more effective using the same charge of  85-grains of FFg. Because the bullets are slightly heavier there will be more recoil. At these velocities, pure lead balls will expand on game with notably more expansion if it drives through the shoulder blade.

  Muzzleloaders are nice in that there is no reason to start a shooter out with maximum loads. Initially, the load with either-sized bullet can be between 40-50 grains of FFg which will give a satisfying amount of  recoil and smoke but not be punishing. For any shooter, start out with a low-power load and then increase the powder charge to the point where the shooter can tolerate it before  moving up in power. 

  If shooting patched round balls is considered too much trouble, Buffalo Bullet’s BallEts, are available in both .45 and .50 caliber. These are hollow-based pre-lubricated bullets that weigh more than round balls, have slightly better penetration, are faster to load and are a little less messy to handle. They do not clean the bore with each loading as do the patched round balls. For best shooting with the BallEts  it is necessary to wipe the bore between shots. When hunting it is not usually necessary to clean the barrel between shots because of the few shots fired,  but when targeting the rifle  wiping the bore between shots will keep fouling from building up in the bore to the point where you can no longer load the gun.  BallEts will shoot to a different point of aim than round balls (both horizontally and vertically) and sights will often need to be adjusted.

  Some traditionally patterned muzzleloaders have set triggers. These help precision shooting, but do require extra care in their use. Those on Thompson/Center Arms guns are double-set,  meaning that a strong pull on the front trigger will also fire the gun should the user need to make a quick snap shot.  It is also more difficult to silent-cock a gun (Pulling the hammer back while also holding the trigger back and then lowering the hammer into the full-cock notch – practice before doing this in the field.), but set triggers allow more precision and help shooters fight flinch.  I prefer to start beginners out with a standard trigger.

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An Illustrated “Visit from Auntie Thresa Claus”

Auntie Thresa Claus
Auntie Thresa Claus, Santa’s not so  nice sister, is a hard supervisor of  North Pole’s elfs who wants to get presents as well as be involved in their distribution. Each Christmas she visits six families around the globe and gives out the presents. If she likes a present she gets to keep it. If refused, she has the power to take all the presents and anything associated with Christmas away. She is summoned to join the Jay family Christmas by a unknowing act of Jennifer, the Jay’s young daughter.

James Jay

  James Jay is the father. He was previously discharged from the factory where he worked for the past 25 years. He continued to support the family on reduced circumstances by doing handyman jobs around the town. However hard things were, he was determined to provide a good Christmas for his family including getting the children one nice present each and a warm scarf for his wife.

  Jay is surprised when he comes home on Christmas Eve to find Jennifer on the front porch reciting a charm which when said at the wrong time, invites Auntie Thresa Claus to come, rather that keeps her away. Thresa Claus does come on Christmas morning at sunrise and must be invited in. She joins the family for breakfast and then announces that it is time to give out presents. James tries to give her his present, a watch that his wife purchased for him, but she refuses. “There are others,” she said.  

June Jay

  June Jay has a part-time job at a department store and has now become the family’s chief breadwinner. One advantage that this job has is that she can get store items at reduced prices. She knows that Jennifer wants, more than anything else, an expensive princess dress at the store. Using her employee discount and the store’s Christmas-club account, she has been paying on it for months.

  For days before Christmas the house has been decorated, the tree put up and Christmas Eve finds the family making ready for the Christmas meal. A fat goose has been donated by James’ brother and this will be the centerpiece of the meal along with dressing and sweet potatoes. A special dish that is cooked is an English-style plum pudding that has a small silver coin in it that has magical powers on Christmas day. Whoever gets the coin in their slice may make one wish.

  The kids have been helping getting the meal ready, and Mrs. Jay explains why she cooks a special meal for Christmas  and makes many of the same dishes that her mother and grandmother served their families.

Jimmy and Jennifer Jay

  Both Jimmy and Jennifer wake up in a cold house on Christmas morning to the sounds of their dad pouring coal into the pot-bellied stove in the living room. They rush down to make sure that their presents are still there, knowing that the presents may be opened only after the family is assembled. Jimmy is assured that is Daisy Red Rider air rifle is still in its long thin box under the tree. He had been wishing for this for a long time, and had been pleased to find that his dad had brought home a suitably shaped box that made a satisfying “thunk, thunk,” sound when it was shaken.

  Before breakfast Auntie Thresa Claus arrives at the door. James must let her in, and after breakfast, she announces that she is to give out presents. She selects both the air rifle and princess dress. Both children must say that they give them to her of their own free will or else they will keep their one present, but everything else in the house will be taken away. Tearfully, both children give up their presents to their, “Dear old Auntie Thresa Claus.” 

A plum pudding

 Thresa Claus announces that she is already full from consuming three Christmas dinners that day, but decides that he would like a little plum pudding to finish up. The putting is brought out and cut. James attempts to find the magic coin because he knows that only one wish will reverse the day’s events. He fails. The coin appears in Jennifer’s slice.

  Jennifer thinks hard about her wish. She makes an appropriate wish and finds herself back on the stoop of the house on Christmas Eve with her dad walking down the sidewalk. She grabs him and blurts out that “Auntie Thresa Claus will not come. She will not come.”

  Surprized by this, James assures his daughter that Thresa Claus is a person that no one wants to have at their Christmas table. They go inside with the promise that James will tell the kids, “All about Auntie Thresa Claus.”

  “A Visit from Auntie Thresa Claus” is available as a short story, stage play and screenplay. A radio reading of the short story may be heard over VoiceAmerica Sports Radio and WebTalkRadio.Net. To hear the story, go to my website and activate the show links just below the banner. The VAS show is the only November show listed and the WTR show is listed as the “Christmas Show.” Copies of the stage play may be ordered from the website. If demand is sufficient, a CD recording of my reading of the short story can be produced. 

  If interested in publishing the short story or producing the play or screenplay contact me at

To go directly to the show page click on the following URL. Listen now at:

  Merry Christmas, 2010

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CO2 Does Not Cause Global Warming On Dec. 27 Broadcast

Mine-mouth generating plants near Gillette, WY, discharge tons of CO2, but this gas does not cause climate change.

An Incorrection description has been tagged on the show page. The Ice Fishing show will be next week.

To go directly to the Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures radio show page click on the following URL. Listen now:  Click here:

    The Decem ber 27, 2010, broadcast of  “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” on WebTalkRadio.Net will show how carbon dioxide gas, which is a by-product of many natural and industrial processes, does not cause climate change, but increased CO2 is the result of the process of increased warming of the earth that is dominantly caused by the sun, rather than anything we humans do. Attempting to control CO2 from power plants, cement plants and other industrial processes, like brewing, will result in enormous increases in energy costs with no benefit to man or the earth.

Mark Wilson Thomas, Wildlife Biologist, Forester and Head of the Board of Directors for the Quality Deer Management Association.


As discussed with Wildlife Biologist and Forester Mark Wilson Thomas, who has extensively researched this subject, the earth’s climate has frequently changed even to the extent that only 10,000 years ago there were glaciers in mid-continental North America, Europe and Asia. The content of atmospheric gases, including CO2, has at times been many times greater than at present. Sea levels have also changed over the past glacial periods on the orders of hundreds of feet, drying the oceans to the extent that a person could walk from Alaska to Siberia.

  The data supporting CO2’s supposed cause of climate change has been very often “cooked” with conflicting information omitted to promote the sale of worse that worthless securities based on nothing but “hot air.” The collapse of this market can generate another economic crisis resulting in the economic  ruin of a society that will have already seen its basic industries crippled by the very high costs of having to comply with expensive CO2 disposal methods or pay to purchase carbon credits that will often go to third-world countries and have unreliable verification. The money to finance this scheme will come from the pockets of the world’s, and America’s, homeowners through increased electric bills, fuel costs and added costs for manufactured goods and raw materials such as concrete.

  The late Jay “Buzz” Downs, the author’s Arizona duck hunting mentor. 

  To continue the “hot air” theme, the cooking segment of the show is about making homemade wine (A CO2 generating process.) and other products from the hard southern canning pear, which now grows as wild trees around many old home sites. The hunting story segment of the show relates several stories of  waterfowl hunting in southern Arizona, where this arid climate hosts ducks, geese and some surprising other species of waterfowl.   

  New ads this week are from Hot Air Radio where you can be woken up by being cussed at in a rotation of  47 different languages and SIN, Inc.’s new gas-charged drink mixes, including the new puke flavor.  “If this is going to be how you are going to end the night, you might as well enjoy the flavor of the experience to start with,” a company spokesman asserted.

  One of the best recent references on CO2 and global warming is the British documentary film, “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” which may be found and viewed on-line. I will post a YouTube video on my wine making and pear cooking experiences in a few weeks. I already have a Video, “Simple products from the hard canning pear” on my channel wmhoveysmith at YouTube.  My books, “Backyard Deer Hunting,” “Crossbow Hunting” and which contain game cleaning instructions and recipes may be found on my website

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Wing-Bone Calls from Wild Hen and Tom Turkeys

Wing-bone turkey calls made from the bones of hen, jake and tom turkeys have different tones compared to each other or their synthetic equivalent.

 A historic turkey call was made from three of the wing bones of a wild turkey hen and these trumpet-style calls may also be made from the wing bones of  jakes and adult toms as well as from other fowl such as geese and swan.  Depending on the size of the bones, the configuration of the sound chamber and the user, different tones result from different calls. Generally, the smaller the bones the higher the pitch of the call and the more nearly it matches turkey vocalizations.

Calls made from tom (top) and hen (bottom).

  Although most of the calls shows on the video were freshly made, I cement the bones together with Elmer’s glue and wetted paper to fix the bones in place and so the call does not become disassembled in the call bag or turkey vest. This video is also on YouTube, on my channel wmhoveysmith, along with videos of me taking and cooking the jake and hen birds whose bones were used to make the calls.

  I have more information on turkey hunting and cooking in my books Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound and  Crossbow Hunting.  There is also more information on turkey hunting and cooking on my Thanksgiving Show on and my blogs. These may be accessed from my website which has a live link to my radio shows.

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More Wild Turkey Cooking Hints from The Backyard Sportsman

The start of a turkey dinner. This small hen was purposefully taken as a "eating" bird during the 2010 Fall Idaho turkey season.

  This posting is provided for those with slower connections who can’t easily view my previous video posts on taking and cooking a small hen turkey to provide an excellent bird for the table. This hen was taken from an Idaho ranch. It was one of a flock of more than 30 that lived in the barnyard on the feed put out for the rancher’s stock. While no one objects to an occasional wild bird coming in to feed, when numbers climb to a dozen or more they consume significant feed, drive off other animals from their feed, kill smaller fowl and even occasionally injure larger stock animals.  Taking and eating these birds, even if they live near someone’s house, is needed to control the population.

A plucked, clean turkey ready for freezing or roasting.

  Turkeys pluck much easer when they are still warm from body heat, and this bird was plucked in the barnyard where it mostly lived and the feathers captured in an old feed bag. I took it to my motel room and finished the cleaning and washing where I had water and cleaned up after myself. This bird was frozen for my trip back to Georgia from Idaho. The wings had been removed to recover the bones for a wing-bone turkey call.

Now back on my kitchen table in Georgia, this turkey is in a roaster where it is tented in aluminum foil, had its breast buttered and salted and onions, celery seed and a half-cup water put in the pan prior to cooking.

   With added water and cooking tented in foil, the result is a moist, tender bird; even with simple cooking methods. The giblets, (liver, heart, gizzard and neck) were boiled separately and might have been used for giblet gravy, but were used here in turkey soup.

The cooked turkey just out of the oven. The watery stock at the bottom of the pan was used for turkey soup, although I more often make turkey dressing from it.


  I do not brown my turkeys because this only dries out the meat. From this turkey I had some very tender, good tasting sliced meat for sandwiches, made Cornish pasties (see video for details) and turkey soup. After the breast meat had been removed the bones were boiled, and the meat removed. To this fluid was added the stock (drippings) from the cooked bird, a can of tomato paste, onions, potatoes and rice along with some chopped tomatoes salt and pepper. Many other things might have gone into this soup. I also used the cut meat from the legs and quarters.

  This young bird provided a variety of excellent products for the table. I could have also made a dressing from the stock,  turkey dumplings,  turkey-pot pie, turkey hash or used any of a large number of recipes for turkey or chicken. There was absolutely no off or wild taste to this meat. There is no reason, outside of the trouble of doing it, of using any of these legally harvested birds for family food. Idaho allows residents in some counties to obtain tags to allow them to take five a year per license holder to manage these fowl.

  As always, safe and legal hunting methods must be used; even when shooting these backyard birds.

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Backyard Elk Hunting During Idaho’s Muzzleloading Season, 2010

An elk like the one shown here, or any other bull elk, eluded the author during Idaho’s late November muzzleloading elk and deer season.

   The challenges of elk and deer hunting during Idaho’s muzzleloading season are that only open-ignition system muzzleloaders, loose powder and lead-alloy bullets (Excepting PowerBelts non-copper-clad bullets which have a plastic skirt.) may be used under conditions which usually include hunting in snow.  The advantages are that deer are in rut during this season and more heavily-horned deer will be seen during daylight than at any other time and the elk are usually moved by increasing amounts of snow to lower elivations by the end of November.

Snowy conditions dominated the hunt and the author's 9-day drive there and back.

This was a buddy hunt with Clint Boone, who I hunted with last Spring for black bear. We hunted a combination of private lands, public lands and I paid a tresspass fee to hunt a particular pasture where elk were grazing at night and where some spikes and low-rank bulls had been seen. This was useful because only antlered elk may be taken during the muzzleloading season on this hunt.

  I took two muzzleloading guns. One was a .75-caliber original Brunswick rifle that shot a patched belted ball and the other was a Traditions Magnum Hawken muzzleloader. Both were equipped with musket nipples, and I used a mule’s knee to protect the Brunswick’s action from snow and took the other gun to my blind (An Ameristep Crossbones Blind firnished by the maker.). This blind was noisy, but is a pop-up blind that was quick to errect and could stand up under snow loading.

  Although we hunted for six days we could not locate any shootable elk. Boone did see

Clint Boone with a hen turkey taken with an antique Stevens Long Tom 94-A 12-gauge.

numbers of  big  buck deer – more than he had ever seen in so short a time while hunting in that area his entire life. I also saw ample fresh deer tracks as the rutting bucks tried to find does. There were elk in the area, but I did not have the luck to connect with any of them.

  As a side event, I also hunted and took a wild turkey hen from a near-barnyard situation to use an un-used Idaho turkey tag remaining from the Spring season. This hunt is described and shown on a video, “Backyard Turkey Hunt,” that is posted on this blog as well as on YouTube.

  The video show below is also on YouTube, should you have any problems viewing it here.

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Wild Turkey Cooking No. 2: Sliced Meat, Cornish Pasty and Soup


Cornish Pasties may be made from a variety of meat and vegetable products, including leftover meat from a wild turkey.

  The young hen turkey from Idaho described in an earlier post was used to make a traditional roasted turkey, Cornish pasties and turkey soup. One reason that I took this bird was to demonstrate to area ranchers who may have flocks of 50 or more birds wintering in their yards,  that these birds can make excellent meals.  With such a superabundance of wild turkeys, there is not reason for not using every legal opportunity to take some of these animal-feed-fed birds for the table.

  Just as one would not take the oldest rooster in the flock for frying, the best meat will be obtained from young hen turkeys taken in the Fall and Winter. Leave the tough old toms for the sport hunter and the old hens to raise their broods.

  As described in my books, pluck your bird, bake it in moisture with onions and celery completely tented up in aluminum foil. Do not brown. Browning only dries out the meat. The bird is done when the legs freely wiggle, as is demonstrated in the video.

  I utilize the dark meat from the leg quarters and legs to make a Cornish pasty. This product is something like a turkey pot pie, without the container. It is cooked completely in a bread crusts that is stout enough to be handled without breaking. The recipe is highly variable, but usually contains some root product/s, such as carrots or turnips, potatoes and often English peas along with chopped onions and whatever meat is handy – deer, bear, or in this case wild turkey.  If no wild meat was available, beef or mutton was often used.

  Start boiling the root products first, then as they start to become tender add the potatoes and lastly the chopped pre-cooked meat, onions and a cup of the turkey drippings from the roasting. Salt and pepper to taste. The crust is rolled out from white flour and shortening to which a half-teaspoon of salt has been added. I use no baking powder in this, although you can add half a teaspoon of baking powder to the flour to make a softer bread covering.

  After allowing the meat and vegetables to cook nearly dry, spoon them into the rolled-out crust, crimp and bake until browned in a 400 degree oven. You can serve with a mustard- horseraddish sauce or a tomato-catsup-horseraddish sauce, or without any at all. The most convenient size to make is one about a foot long that will easily feed two people.  

  My turkey soup is equally free-form. I boil the bones from the turkey carcass and in this case also the giblets from the bird. The meat from the back and any clinging to the carcass was chopped up and returned to the boil water and the bones fed to my large adult dogs (Not puppies.). Any left-over drippings from the bird was added to the pot. In the recipe shown in the video I used a few carrots, Irish potatoes, rice, onions and a small can of tomato paste. When vegetables are nearly tender, add rice and cook until rice is done. Adjust seasonings by adding salt and pepper to taste.

  A video of this meal that also shows this year’s making of Cherry Bounce, (a vodka product, or other distilled spirit, which has been allowed to leach wild black cherries for some months) is shown in the accompanying video. If you have trouble viewing it here it is also on YouTube.

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Starting Your Backyard Business: 21 Steps to Success


Tony Knight started a successful business from a tin workshop and store after he lost his railroad job. This business became a world-famous maker of muzzleloading sporting rifles.

Starting Your Backyard  Business: 21 Steps to Success 

This is the outline of 21 Business modules presented as part of my radio shows, “The Backyard Sportsman” and “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.” An expanded version of this outline will be written up as a White Paper in 2011 and made available from my website, I will also produce 21 short videos expanding on these themes.  

I. Why start your outdoor business?

    Control own destiny

    Enjoy nature


      Financial security

    Productive use of time

    Social interaction

      Improve family life

      Meet interesting people

      Social mission

    Learning experience



    Psychological comfort

      Maintain mental acuity

    Hone skills

    Satisfy life goals

      Leave a legacy

 II. What is your passion?

      Can your hobby be your business?

         Creative work



            Fine Arts






         Mechanical skill



         Business facilitation


         Trading and speculation

         On-line facilitation




              Physical objects

            Own works and skills

III. What are your skills?

         Long-term project tolerance


           Professional training








 IV. Weighing your objectives

         Income game or loss

            Tax consequences

         Material accumulation

         Stop-gap employment

           Resume enhancement

           Income producing

         Supplemental income

         Learning enhancement

         Advancing towards life goals

V. Market Reach





 VI. Prototyping your business model

         Time required

         Financial return


           Loss tolerance

         Physical facilities





         Supporting activities

         Inventory costs

         Advertising and promotion

         Equipment needs

         Break-even point

         Return on Investment

 VII. Judging the competition

















 VIII. Fire in the belly

       Time commitment

         Enthusiasm quotient


         Overcoming nay-sayers

         Association with a culture of winners    

 IX. Partnering

        Gathering people with complementary skill sets

         Recognition of excellence in a field of knowledge

         Barter skills

X. Gathering Resources

       Physical plant



       Personal comfort

XI. Training

       Independent study

       Community colleges


       Spouse and family

       Colleges and Universities

         Special courses

         Continuing education

       Seminars, teleconferences

 XII. Naming your business




       Poor names

         Alphabet soup

         Cute, but meaningless

 XIII. Legal issues

      Registering your brand

       Registering your business

       Deciding legal framework

 XII. Financing

       Self financed

        Bank loan

        Credit cards

        Small business loans

XIV. Launch


         Paid advertising

        Public Relations



           Local newspapers radio and TV      



            Press Releases


            Radio talk shows


            Own Radio Show

            Private video-TV productions


 XV. Evaluation

          Bottom line

           Sales vs. expectations


            In house



XVI. Launch II, Expanding your reach

       Expanding market to next level



 XVII. Going global

        International opportunities

 XVIII. Liquidation

         Selling your successful business

         Liquidation of assets

 XX. Restarts

      Starting a second business



 XXI. Legacy

       Passing on your business




          Non-profit groups