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Archive for October 2013

Deer Steak and Kidney Pie for Your Dear on Halloween

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Halloween Deer Steak and Kidney Pie

Halloween falls during deer season in most states and this unique U.S. holiday is marked by the consumption of large amounts of candy that is beloved by kids, but which no one really needs to eat. As an alternative, I often cook an unusual wild game dish such as the following recipe for Steak and Kidney Pie.

This is a traditional English dish that I knew only by reputation. My English friends here in Central Georgia and I discussed it a few years ago when they taught me to cook Cornish Pasties. They, like generations of Cornishmen before them, had come to the U.S. to work in the mining industry (kaolin, or China clay, here in Georgia) and had brought their traditional recipes with them.

Steak and Kidney Pie was a dish that I had never seen, never eaten, and if I had ever read a recipe, I had forgotten it. These preconditions and the fact that I had recently killed a 180 pound 140-class deer with large kidneys, made this an excellent choice for my annual Halloween YouTube cooking video. In England I was told that they use lamb’s kidney, but I don’t shoot many lambs. Deer I got, and deer I used.

Perhaps my most noted previous effort was in 2012 when I cooked “Bear Paw Pumpkin Soup for Halloween.” This was a dish that I described, “as being eatable, but I would not go out of my way for it.” In sharp contrast, “Deer Steak and Kidney Pie for your Dear” turned out to be an excellent dish, even on my first attempt and although I used the last of some left-over ingredients that I needed to clean out of my freezer and fridge.

The current video may be seen on my YouTube channel at: http://youtu.be/ziv62aKdmgo. .

Kidneys are found attached to the rib cage on the backs of all species of mammals by fatty connective tissue. Not unexpectedly, they have the shape of kidney beans, although the beans were named for the organ; not the other way around. Kidneys are dark red in color and vary in size, depending on the type and age of the animal. The set that I had weighed between 4 and 5 ounces, and each one had a mass that was about like a tennis ball. My deer was shot through the shoulder and lungs, so the kidneys were cleanly extracted and put in a plastic sandwich bag to be stored in the refrigerator while I cooked other parts of the deer.

From this deer I cooked, in order, Deer Liver and Onion Gravy with Grits and Bar-b-qued Deer Ribs while I packaged the deer and made two varieties of deer sausage. I had already decided that I was going to cook the Deer Steak and Kidney Pie, and I even made a special trip to town to get some fresh baby carrots.

Filled with ignorance and expectations, I decided that the appropriate ratio of kidney meat to deer steak was likely something like 1:3. This meant that to my relatively small amount of kidney I would use three times as much deer meat to bulk up the dish. I retrieved a small deer roast from my freezer that was dated 2010, and I decided that this would be a fine time to consume it.

I cleaned the roast by cutting away the oxidized meat and connective tissues. I removed and discarded the fat from the kidneys, sliced and diced them into 3/8th-inch cubes and soaked them in a little water. I thought about skinning them, but did not. Skinning turned out to be unnecessary.

In my relatively free-form style of cooking, this is about what I used for the pie filling.

2 diced kidneys from a large deer cut into 3/8-inch cubes
¾-1 pound of diced deer meat cut in about 3/8-inch cubes (About three times the volume of meat from the kidneys. The exact amount is not critical.)
1 pound cut up mushrooms
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 cup of large sweet peas (frozen package)
¾ cup of diced baby carrot
1 large Spanish onion
2 3-inch long baking potatoes skinned and diced
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
¼ teaspoon of garlic salt
2/3 teaspoon of dill weed
3 tablespoons of bear grease (Any clean cooking oil may be used. The objective is just to lightly brown the deer meat.)

In plastic bag put flour, salt, pepper and dill weed and mix by shaking. Then add cut-up deer meat and shake until coated. Place the bear grease in a small fry pan to heat until starts to smoke, add floured deer meat and fry until light brown. Do not cook done as this will unnecessarily toughen the meat which will be boiled with the vegetables. Remove the browned deer meat and drain on brown paper bag.

In pot with about three quarts of water start boiling carrots until they will stick with a fork and progressively add browned meat, cut-up drained kidney meat, potatoes, onions, peas and kidney beans. As the mixture cooks it will thicken and turn dark brown. The kidney meat will rapidly soften. Allow to cook down and thicken adding mushrooms about 5 minutes before taking off the stove. When vegetables are soft, remove from stove and allow to cool while you make the biscuit dough.

The non-traditional can of kidney beans was put in the pie for the benefit of those who would not believe that this dish actually used the kidneys from a living creature.

Most of the associated YouTube video shows me making and working the biscuit dough, rather than cooking the filling. For taste, I much prefer my homemade biscuit product, rather than pre-made pie crust or packaged biscuit mixes. Even though I did not get my hog-fat biscuit recipe quite right in the video (it needed a little more milk to roll out well), the taste in the finished pie was much better than the store-bought products. Try making your own. It’s fun, does not have to be perfect to work and will taste much better. Add no baking soda to this recipe.

Hog fat biscuits

3 cups self rising biscuit powder
2 teaspoons added baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of rendered wild hog fat
1 cup of milk

Mix ingredients in large bowl and work dough into a ball to give it added strength. Flour and roll out on waxed paper, freezer paper or aluminum foil. Cut and use to line cooking dishes and put strips on top. If necessary, add additional water to filling to the point that the mix freely pours from the bowl. Fill containers and bake at 350 degrees until bread starts to brown. Remove and serve with a red wine. On re-heats dice up the entire pie and add a little more water to restore fluidity to the filling.

Because of the use of large sweet peas, baby carrots and onion, the pie has a slightly sweet taste, but you can taste the deer meat and kidneys. The kidney meat has a mellow, mild flavor that is much less strong than liver. Its chief utility in the dish is to give it a dark brown color and mellow it out – something like putting butter in a stew to cut the sharp edges of the flavors and make it into a coherent dish; instead of a bunch of vegetables that happened to be boiled together.

Written by hoveysmith

October 28, 2013 at 10:54 pm

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Round Balls Are Effective on Close Range Big Game Animals

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Patched round balls, even in .45-caliber can shoot well and kill well.

Patched round balls, even in .45-caliber can shoot well and kill well.

Not much has been written recently about the effectiveness of round-ball loads on deer and larger game. I was reminded of this fact last month when I used an original .45-caliber muzzleloading rifle that was made by Alonzo Selden in the 1860s-70s to take a 180 pound, 140-class Georgia deer on family property. The bullet clipped the upper shoulder, blasted a 3/4-inch hole through the spine, went through the off-side shoulder and was found imbedded in the flesh on the other side of the shoulder blade. This shot was taken at about 70 yards and used a load of 85 grains of FFg black powder, a .45-caliber Wonder Lube wad and a .451 round ball with a Bore Butter lubricated canvas patch.

Selden rifle and Young Blunderbuss took this GA deer with round-ball loads.

Selden rifle and Young Blunderbuss took this GA deer with round-ball loads.

Hole from .54-caliber round ball.

Hole from .54-caliber round ball.

As is usually the case with spine-shot animals, the deer went down in its tracks. Because none of the buck’s vital organs were hit, it continued to paw the ground in an attempt to get up. I had Young Blunderbuss as a back up gun loaded with 80 grains of Hodgdon’s Triple Seven and an un-patched .535 round ball. I approached the deer within 30 yards and gave it another shot through the back which penetrated the ribs, passed through the heart and exited the animal. The buck quickly died after the finishing shot.

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The present deer was not the first deer that I had killed with .440, .451 or .457 round balls shot from muzzleloading rifles or pistols. Counting up quickly, about 10 come to mind that were taken with various .45s as do about half that number shot with .50-caliber round-ball loads. Nowadays it is much more common to recommend the .50-caliber as the optimum round-ball deer-killing gun if you must use them on some hunts in a few states, and sales of .50-caliber guns far outnumber sales of .45-caliber muzzleloaders. This trend is also true of rifles designed to shoot elongate bullets. I have also taken deer and other game with .54 and .75-caliber round ball and belted-ball rifles. Logically the .58-caliber would fall in between these two ball sizes, but I have never done much with .58-caliber guns.

Back in the 1950-60s, .45-caliber round-ball rifles commonly bored for patched .440 and .445 round balls were the most common replica rifles that were available. These were mostly in traditional style guns including the Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles, in Thompson/Center Arms’ Hawken and Senica as well as the Mowrey, which used a brass frame. These rifles were used for deer and black bear and even tried, not very successfully, on African plains game on Turner Kirkland’s trip to Africa. Kirkland was the founder of Dixie Gun Works and he as well as Val Forgett, the founder of Navy Arms Co., came to the decision that although the .45s had performed reasonably well on deer, that most of the muzzleloading-shooting public might have better success with .50-caliber rifles. Kirkland had already “bumped up” the common bore of his muzzleloaders from the .40-caliber, for which many original Tennessee muzzleloading deer rifles where bored, and offered/offers .40, .45 and .50 caliber traditionally-styled rifles in Dixie’s line. Other makers like CVA and Traditions steadily reduced the numbers of .45-caliber rifles that they offered and this trend continues today. CVA has now completely stopped making traditional muzzleloaders, Thompson/Center has only two models and of these three companies only Traditions continues to carry a reasonably complete line of traditional designs. Muzzleloaders that are more exacting replicas of historic firearms are sold by Davide Pedersoli through Dixie Gun Works and other firms.

To make their guns more versatile, Thompson/Center Arms and many other companies offered their guns with medium-twist 1:45-inch barrels. This means that the bullet makes one complete rotation in 45-inches, compared to a slow-twist barrel of 1:66-inches and a fast-twist barrel of 1:22 inches. The fast twist is designed to stabilize long bullets that may weigh 400 or 500 grains in .45 or .50 caliber. This twist is also used in black-powder cartridge guns such as the .45-70. Generally unappreciated is that if you load down to about 50 grains of black powder, these fast twist barrels will also shoot patched round balls with good accuracy. The 1:45 twist barrels would accurately shoot patched round balls using deer-killing charges of powder and also allow the stabilization of the Thompson/Center elongate MaxiBalls which were cast of harder lead and weighed three to four times more than the same-diameter round balls. I have taken much North American and some African game with the .370 grain .50-caliber Thompson/Center Arms MaxiBall.

Pure lead is advantageous in a muzzleloading projectile because it is deforms easily if you push it above about 1,000 fps. If it does not impact bone it will expand into a disc that is 50-75 percent larger than the original ball size. If it does impact bone, as did my last shot on that deer, it will not only expand but also shed some secondary fragments while also sending bone fragments into nearby tissues. This expansion reduces penetration, but increases shocking power. Hard-cast lead balls will penetrate deeper and are recommended for really big animals such as bison, caribou, moose, big bear, huge hogs, etc.

The take-away from this post is that round-ball rifles, including the .440s and .45s, will kill deer very well and provide less recoil. The recoil factor may be significant for younger or older shooters. The key is to use sufficient powder to kick velocities up to about the 1,000 fps. level to provide maximum bullet effectiveness. I have found that 85 grains of FFg works very well in .45 caliber rifles. For small deer you can get away with 60 grains if the shooter is recoil sensitive, but 70 grains adds a bit of insurance in case the deer is a little bigger than expected or a bit more penetration is required.

Barrel length is particularly significant in increasing velocities when light-weight bullets are fired with black-powder charges. More efficient powder utilization occurs if the shooter uses either a Wonder Wad, heavier bullet, a sabot or kicks the entire thing off with a more powerful primer. Another alternative with shorter-barreled guns is to use a more efficient granular powder such as Pyrodex RS or Hodgdon’s Triple Seven. Pelletized powders do not do particularly well in no. 11 percussion-cap-fired side-lock guns. In these guns, granular powders are the better choice. Black powder leaves more gunk in the barrel, but is the real deal so far as muzzleloading rifles go. Pyrodex RS is a bit easier to clean up and TripleSeven is the easiest of the three and gives less in-barrel residue. All of these powders are corrosive and these guns must be cleaned with a water or water-alcohol based solvent to dissolve the corrosive residues.

Nowhere is the need for more barrel length demonstrated than with muzzleloading pistols. Last year I finished off a wounded deer at 50-yards with rounds fired from a 1858 Remington .45-caliber revolver with a 5 1/2-inch barrel loaded with a chamber full of FFFg black powder. This load killed the 90-pound doe by passing through the ribs, both lungs and lodged in the opposite shoulder. This bullet did not expand. It was scared from its passage through bone, but did not upset as did the nearly-same-size ball shot from the Selden rifle. However, with the 12-inch barreled stainless steel version of the gun sold as Cabela’s Buffalo Revolver using a more energetic charge of Hodgdon’s TripleSeven, the ball develops nearly 500 ft./lbs. of energy and has killed a 150-pound hog as well as two others with four shots along with another 90-pound doe. I recovered one bullet from this pistol and it had expanded to about .50-caliber on soft tissue.

Surprising to many, side-lock flintlocks can successfully use pelletized powders if sufficient FFFFg priming powder is teased through the touch hole of the gun to insure that the pellets are ignited. The concept of pellet-shooting flintlocks was commercially investigated by Thompson/Center Arms with their Firestorm and by Traditions with their PA Hunter. Both of these guns are offered in .50-caliber and shoot either round balls or elongate bullets. Of the two, I find that the Traditions PA Hunter is the more reliable. I have extensively shot both the original flintlock Thompson/Center Hawken rifle and the newer Firestorm (for a year) and these coil-spring locks do not work as well as the leaf-spring versions. RLP (replacement) leaf-spring locks are available from L&R Lock Company (also sold by Dixie Arms) for Thompson/Center and Lyman coil-spring flintlocks. These locks require a small amount of stock fitting because of the replacement lock’s larger internal parts, but the result is that you can get more positive ignition and more shots per flint.
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Written by hoveysmith

October 25, 2013 at 10:00 am

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X-Treme Muzzleloading wins Prize at Southeastern Outdoor Press Assoc. Conf.

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X-Treme Muzzleloading took a third place price at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association's (SEOPA) 2013 meeting at Lake Charles, Louisiana.

X-Treme Muzzleloading took a third place price at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA) 2013 meeting at Lake Charles, Louisiana.

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Wm. Hovey Smith’s book “X-Treme Muzzleloading: Fur, Fowl and Dangerous Game with Muzzleloading Rifles, Smoothbores and Pistols” took the third place book price at the 49th Annual Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA’s) annual conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana. This 9 1/2 X 11-inch book is noteworthy for recording the details of the guns, loads and hunts that the author has done with muzzleloading guns over the past 50 years. Contained in the book are over 100 illustrations, load tables, an index and wild game recipes. Hunts covered in this book include those for small game, big game in the U.S., Europe and Africa and also unusual species such as alligators, armadillos, ostrich, swan, warthog and zebra. Guns used include matchlocks, flintlocks, percussion guns, 209-primed in-lines as well as with original firearms in cleaned, but unrestored, condition.

The book is available in softcover and as an E-book from Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and other book and E-book outlets.
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Written by hoveysmith

October 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm

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Kayaks are Not for Everyone and Never Again for Me

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I wanted to experience what kayak boating was like and did on a 5-mile paddle.

I wanted to experience what kayak boating was like and did on a 5-mile paddle.

First exposures to new technology are sometimes not very satisfactory, and this was the case for me on my first paddling trip with Donovan Garcia in a kayak. My less that satisfactory experience was not because of improper instruction or because of any defect of the craft, it was because this boat did not fit me and had no practical applications for anything that I regularly do with small boats.

At 5 ft. 7 in. and a present weight of 165 pounds, I am not a huge guy. I use boats for bowfishing, duck hunting and occasionally for transporting camp and/or game to/from my hunting areas. I am not a pleasure boater in any way. If I am going to put a boat in the water it is because I need it to haul something or get me and sometimes considerable gear to a hunting area. Kayaks are, by design, tight one-person crafts with a covered deck that can carry minimal amounts of gear. There are those who can, and do, fish from kayaks, but almost any open boat is more suitable for the task.

Bondo Boat in Sprague Lake, Washington.

Bondo Boat in Sprague Lake, Washington.

The boats that I typically use are an Otter Outdoors Stealth boat which is a small twin-hulled molded plastic boat that is stable enough to stand up in and duck hunt or bowfish from that has a sufficiently shallow draft that I can float it in a few inches of water. It is also light enough that I can haul it in the back of my pick-up and load it by myself. A trailer-transported boat that I use is a 14-ft. Ganeau-style boat called a Satilla that was once made in Douglas, Georgia. This boat used plywood, laid-on fiberglass cloth and has the large side-wall flotation extensions that provides unusual stability for a canoe. Again, this is a very stable boat that I often power with a 4-hp. engine or paddle standing up. The third is an Aluminocraft outboard with a semi-V bow, flat bottom and 40 hp. engine. I run this boat in protected waters such as lakes and the Intercoastal Waterway to go fishing and duck hunting.

Each of these open-boat designs allow me to carry a cooler, various amounts of gear and my hunting and fishing stuff wherever I need to go. The kayak was very seriously lacking in carrying capacity. This particular kayak did not fit my body very well. I could get into the cockpit, had clearance for my hips once inside, but I had to remove my shoes because of the lack of space between the bottom of the hull and the front deck. The worst feature was that the seat offered no back support, and a 5-mile paddle on nearly flat water was all that I wanted to do. This particular kayak did not track well, and I had to paddle constantly to keep it on a straight-line path.

The other participants used smaller kayaks.

The other participants used smaller kayaks.

My three companions all used smaller boats, and I had to expend more energy to keep up with this larger boat. Even so, they often pulled ahead and had to wait for me to catch up. While I was in the process of doing so, they rested; but when I caught up they proceeded on. Consequently my arms seldom had a chance to rest. They got a little sore and still are the next day. However, the most uncomfortable part of my trip was caused by a painful back. I could not comfortably paddle the boat sitting up straight or leaning back in the cockpit.

At 72, I have some minor back problems that give me problems with long-distance driving or even when sitting in a chair for long periods. I must sit nearly erect or my back will start to hurt. This is exactly what happened starting at about mile 2 and worsened throughout the 5-mile trip on the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge Paddling Trail. If I only used a boat to transport me from place to place, perhaps I might rig one to fit me and might enjoy using it. However, I already have too much in the way of boats and associated stuffs, and don’t want another item in this category.

Kayaks allow closer approaches to wildlife such as with this alligator.

Kayaks allow closer approaches to wildlife such as with this alligator.

On the other hand, if you are younger and want to explore the waterways of the U.S., including hundreds of miles of potential paddling water in Louisiana, and are stout of body and limb, the kayak may be just the boat for you. They don’t take much room to store, there are active clubs all around the country, members of both sexes are participants and you can get closer to wildlife with a kayak than in any other watercraft. Although I have absolutely no intention of experimenting with them, them there are larger sea kayaks for those who want a little salt in their paddling experiences to say nothing of fast-water paddling and competitive kayaking. All of these are interesting and attractive sports for lots of people; but not to me.

My tight-fisted Scottish genes and near-Puritanical upbringing will not allow me to spend my hard-earned cash on transportation items that will only give me pleasure. If I have no useful purpose for it, I have no desire to own it. This is exactly the situation with me and kayaks as practical watercraft.

Donovan Garcia host a variety of kayak activities ranging from part-day paddles to long-distance trips of up to 100 miles. You can contact him at needtopaddle@yahoo.com or give him a call at (337) 923-9718. He is also associated with paddle clubs who have regular activities around the state in near-shore and interior waters. He is extremely knowledgeable about wildlife, plants and local history and provides a running commentary throughout his tours.

Kayak 7
This extension is an interesting way to transport a long boat in a short-bed truck.

Written by hoveysmith

October 9, 2013 at 4:00 am

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Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Days: An Unintended Beneficial Consequence of Oral Surgery

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Although my face is thinner and there has been a loss of body mass, I still look much the same after losing 20 pounds.

Although my face is thinner and there has been a loss of body mass, I still look much the same after losing 20 pounds.

I am sure that my dentist, Dr. Vic Etheridge, D.M.D., P.C. or the Oral Surgeon, Dr. Clyde Marlow, D.D.S., M.Sc., did not realize that they were running an unusually effective weight loss clinic when a biopsy was taken of tissue my upper pallet to insure that a discolored area was not cancerous. I was equally ignorant of the nature of the biopsy procedure, which I supposed would be sampling some tissue with a biopsy needle as is usually done with internal organs.

I should have been suspicious when I was not only attended by Dr. Marlow, but also two nurses, was taken under anesthetics and warned prior to the procedure to have someone drive me home. The anesthetic was effective, and I quickly went under. After the procedure my mouth was numb. I was prescribed some opiate-based pain medication to see me through the next few days and warned that oral surgery often took a long time to heal. I was also given an antibiotic, told to rinse my mouth with salt water ten times a day and call if I had any unusual difficulties.

As the initial anesthesia wore off, I could feel swelling and clotted blood inside my mouth. The entire upper rear half of the pallet felt swollen and extremely sore to the touch. Almost as if it had a mind of its own, my tongue wanted to explore these new features of its environment. Each time it touched the back of my mouth I could feel pressure, pain and some hanging skin. I cannot say what instrument Dr. Marlow used, but it felt like he had scraped the roof of my mouth back to the tonsils with the dental version of a garden rake.

I was glad to have the medication, as the pain quickly began to build up. After leaving the Dentist’s office I had the prescription filled. As I had no breakfast prior to the surgery, I ate some Jell-O and pudding that I had brought along and had a couple of popsicles. I threw all of that up in the parking lot. Sorry about that folks, but there was nothing I could do about it.

When the pain started to build, I took the first of the pain pills. I was still very hungry when I arrived at home and attempted to eat. Each spoonful of soup felt like I was attempting to swallow acid. The burning pain on the pallet and throat was intense. Slowly I would take a teaspoon of soup, wait until the pain subsided somewhat and then attempt another. It seemed like it took 10-15 minutes to get a cup of soup down. Even the act of trying to swallow produced pain akin to hitting a toe with a hammer. After the throbbing stopped, I could take another spoon of soup. My pain was directly proportional to the amount that I tried to eat, which was a disincentive to eat anything.

In five days I had a 1000 mile drive to make to Lake Placid, New York, for a conference where I was to participate in a panel and give an hour-long presentation. I also had a follow-up visit with Dr. Marlow the day that I started my trip. Feeling as I did the first couple of days post-surgery, I did not know if I was going to be able to present on my topic, Staying on Message for Obtaining and Keeping Sponsors, to the radio section of OWAA (Outdoor Writers Association of America). In addition I had a goose hunt with a blunderbuss to do on the way to the conference and a four-day bear hunt in the Adirondack Mountains following the event.

My mouth, by painfully slow degrees, was getting better every day. I was slowly able to increase my food intake to up to three cups of food a day and take more and more solids. Not surprisingly, I began to notice that I was losing about a pound a day. By the time of my follow-up appointment with Dr. Marlow, I had lost about 10 pounds. Even during the conference I was only able to eat sparingly, but at least I could now slowly manage salad, lightly seasoned vegetables, meat and soft breads. As a diabetic, I usually avoid sugar, but my diet was so restricted that I consumed small portions of sugar-rich apple pastries and soft ice cream, items that had been off my diet for ten years or more.

I could tolerate a beer or glass of wine a day, which cut my pre-surgery alcohol consumption by about 75%. Although I did not have much direct exercise at the conference, I made up for it during my bear hunt. My hunting clothes were noticeably lose on my body, and I noted that shirts that I had not been able to button at the neck for years now fit.

Prior to the surgery my weight had been fairly stable for at around 185 pounds. I could lose down to the 170s, but had real problems breaking that threshold, despite whatever I did so far as diet and exercise. Returning home after the conference, I noted that I now weighed in the 170s and my weight was continuing to drop. My restricted food intake had made me less hungry. As I cook for myself and seldom eat out, I cooked a variety of stews and soups using meat from the geese that were taken on the hunt and had now progressed to the point where I could eat an apple.

As I write this about a month following the surgery, the associated swelling of the mouth and back of the throat is almost completely gone and my weight has fallen to 165 pounds, down from about 185 before the surgery. Ironically, on my last visit to the Veterans Administration’s Hospital in Dublin, Georgia, my new lady doctor asked if I wanted to consult with an dietitian who might recommend some changes in my diet in order to lose weight. I certainly have lost weight, but not in the way that she or I had anticipated.

This unexpected beneficial consequence of my oral surgery helped me break through my weight-loss threshold, but now that had been achieved and I was approaching what most charts said was my recommended body weight, my real challenge is not to gain it all back. This I plan to do by watching my diet and continuing my regular exercises at the Wellness Center where I was doing two hours one day a week, or however more often I went to town and could spare the time.

There are concerns about very rapid weight loss. Thus far apparently fatty tissues are what are mostly being reduced. I have been actively walking, hunting and moving during all of this period, although during hunting seasons I don’t visit the gym as often. I had frankly rather spend time in the woods. Nonetheless, I feel that continuing exercise even through weight loss is the best insurance for staying healthy during the process. Now that I weigh less, I am curious as to how my body reacts when I get back on the treadmill. I suspect that it will do better, although sitting for hours in a deer stand is not a healthy practice.

I recognize that a good diet and regular exercise are my friends at age 72; and I neglect any these at my peril. Now that I have been provided the “gift” of losing these pounds, I want to establish this new 165-pound weight as a threshold while building and maintaining muscle tone and strength. Regular exercise, much as I hate to do it, is my best guarantor or success.

The biopsy report, received two weeks after the surgery, was negative. This was certainly a relief. For a few years during college and intermittently at later intervals I had been a pipe smoker, although I quit smoking anything more than 20-years ago. I have no doubt that the change in the appearance of these tissues was caused by smoking. I had apparently quit in time, although I know of others who were not so lucky and contracted oral cancer.

Photo taken in 2005  for book chapter on spear hunting.

Photo taken in 2005 for book chapter on spear hunting.

As a vet and having now achieved “a certain age,” I lost all modesty decades ago. A gal friend of mine took a couple of recent non-revealing nude photos of me doing spear hunting and bowfishing which I have previously posted elsewhere. In the near future I will take some of me at my present weight so that anyone who cares to look can see the contrast. I will do a YouTube video using these and post them on Pinterest. One of the reason that I had her take the photos was to spur me into continuing my efforts towards staying more nearly fit, which I was certainly not achieving. I was stable, in better condition than many of my same-age contemporaries; but still had a long way to go towards being “really fit.” I am now closer to that goal, at least so far as gross body weight is concerned. Now my goals are to build muscle strength and stamina.

If you would like to see the video that I made about this go to: http://youtu.be/bG9u4oF5zO0. My first attempt to download it here failed, but you can always use the live link if you have problems with the imbedded version.