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Deer Cooking: Cleaning out the freezer.

  Now is the time to start seriously eating your deer, and other wild

Except for the pie and bread, every dish on this table contains deer meat or is seasoned with it.
Except for the pie and bread, every dish on this table contains deer meat or is seasoned with it.

game, out of the freezer to make room for next year’s animals. The first thing is to look at are the largest packages that you have in the freezer. What are they?

  Maybe this is a deer head or hide that you were wanting to do something with all Winter, but never got around to it. Now is the time. Either tan those hides or have the head mounted or throw them all out. Your choice, but you are going to need the room.

 Perhaps the next largest package are some dog bones. Dogs have been waiting very patiently. I can safely say that they would like them right  now, preferably boiled with a little salt.

 If you have big hunks of meat, like huge roasts or even an entire hind quarter, go ahead and thaw it. Wrap it in aluminum foil with some onions and potatoes and roast it in the oven. Cut what you can eat within a few days and make sausage from the remainder. This will reduce the volume and give you a product that you can safely freeze for later use. I am willing to bet that you are out of sausage anyway. Similarly, ground meat can be turned into spaghetti sauce. What you don’t use can be frozen for later.

   At this time of year groups often have wild game cook-offs, wildlife meetings, trade shows and the like. If your community, or club,  has such an event, or would like to, such an occurrence can empty a freezer in a hurry.

  Maybe you might want to even try some of the recipes that I have in Backyard Deer Hunting or Crossbow Hunting. You have plenty of meat, so now is the time to be inventive. Perhaps you will discover a unique way to make your deer taste better that you ever imagined. Wild-game meat is too good and versatile to allow to get so old that it must be discarded. Even if  old, I bet hound dogs would still enjoy it if you cooked it up for them.

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Backyard Deer Hunting now available for purchase

E-mail new cover backyard deer Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound  became available on July 20,  for purchase at the  AuthorHouse.com website, at  Amazon .com and the first books are being sent to bookstores.  The softcover book  has a suggested retail of $19.95, but AuthorHouse offers a discount for books bought directly from its site.  Within a few days the electronic version of the book will also be available. Orders placed now should be delivered in three-to-four days.  The easiest way to order is to go to www.authorhouse.com, click on the bookstore box on the upper right of the page and follow directions. You can request the book from your local bookstore by supplying the ISBN 9781438984186. This will make it easy for the clerk to order the book for you if they have not stocked it.  The electronic version of the book will soon be available for on-line purchase from AuthorHouse. The price for this version of the book will be $7.99, which will allow for two down-loads.

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For Index and Contents of Backyard Deer Hunting

For the Index and Contents of  Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound, click on the ” April 2009″ entry under  “Archives” on the right had side of the page. To see this part of the page move the space bar on the bottom of the screen to the right. There you will also find a connection to another of my blogs, The Southern Home Bestuary. As the Index and Contents were were among my first entries, they have been kicked back into the Archives section.

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4th of July Hogs

For us in the deep South the 4th of July typically requires some sort of hog meat, and wild hogs work very well in providing it.

This roasted boar's head provided both sliced meat and the start of Brunswick stew.
This roasted boar's head provided both sliced meat and the start of Brunswick stew.

Sometimes I have gone a little exotic with whole roast wild boar’s head which provided both sliced meat and Brunswick stew, while on other occasions I have only char-broiled a side of ribs.

For those who do not know what Brunswick stew is, this is a meat-based stew which employs a variety of game meats to which is added tomatoes, corn and perhaps other vegetables. In my part of Georgia this traditionally started with a boiled hog’s head along with deer meat, raccoon, squirrel or whatever wild-game meats might be available.

Brunswick stew made from a wild boar's head and deer.
Brunswick stew made from a wild boar's head and deer.

Commercial Brunswick stew is now mostly made of chicken, which is something of a travesty.  In coastal South Carolina snapping turtle was a common additive and this is truer to the original nature of Brunswick stew. One definition I read called this dish, “a meaty stew made from the eatable parts of the head of a hog.” On reading this to Thresa,  my late wife, she quickly informed me that there were no eatable parts on the head of a hog.

Well there are. A roast boar’s head was a part of the English cooking tradition and gave rise to many Boar’s Head taverns and even a line of cured meats by that name.  

A European presentation of sliced wild boar with mustard and a Polish table service from Wild Boar Blades.
A European presentation of sliced wild boar with mustard and a Polish table service from Wild Boar Blades.

 A boar’s head also is part of the annual Christmas feast in Oxford, England, and is brought out with ceremony and its own song.

The head should be boiled and the hide scraped prior to cooking. Unfortunately, my head was previously frozen and the scraping was not successful as boiling did not loosen the hair. I skinned it and then roasted the head giving the results seen. The leaner portions of meat from the neck and head along with some roasted deer provided the meat base for the Brunswick stew to which was added tomatoes, corn and butter beans.

Both Brunswick, Georgia, and Brunswick County, Virginia, strongly assert that they originated Brunswick stew.

For those that might find Boar's head a bit much, grilled wild hog ribs are difficult to beat.
For those that might find Boar's head a bit much, grilled wild hog ribs are difficult to beat.

Like the bar-b-que that this dish often accompanies, it is very difficult to find a restaurant that does true justice to both.

The meat from wild porkers is usually best when the animal weighs about  200 pounds, has been feeding on crops or acorns and is quickly cleaned, cooled and processed.

Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning wild hogs or working with the meat.  This is also a good policy when cleaning with any wild game animals or working with fresh meat.

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Flood of New Hunters Expected

 

Millions of unemployed in the age of Paul Presley, shown here with his first muzzleloaded deer, will be joining hunters in the woods this fall, and present hunters will be hunting more special seasons than ever before.
Millions of unemployed in the age of Paul Presley, shown here with his first muzzleloaded deer, will be joining hunters in the woods this fall, and present hunters will be hunting more special seasons than ever before.

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A predictable result of the current economic downturn is that millions of unemployed will be seeking to kill deer and other game during the 2009-2010 hunting season to feed their families. This may be the largest influx of new adult hunters into the woods since the return of veterans after World War II.

 An unknown number of these hunters will have infrequently or perhaps never hunted before. Their first impact will be on the states’ Hunter Safety Courses. This is doubly unfortunate since all agencies in almost all states are facing budget cuts, and fish and wildlife agencies are amoung the first to feel these reductions in funding.

 Hunter safety instruction is typically done by volunteers, but even so some funding is necessary as well as the likely need for more courses. Some of these hunters will have been so long removed from hunting that they might not even know that such hunter safety training is required to say nothing of the many changes in laws and rulls that have been enacted since they  last hunted as many as 30- years ago.

 Two immediate things are necessary. The first is to look for and initially seek to measure this probable impact of new hunters on  the states’ hunter safety programs. The second is to do primers outlining what steps are necessary for a person to legally hunt deer, and other game, in each state. These need to be published in newspapers and aired on radio and TV outdoor programs.

 With my book Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound, I am doing a part, but there is much that also needs to be done by state agencies, hunting organizations and shooting associations to help these new hunters hunt safely, legally and ethically. 

 I recently sent a letter to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, informing them of this probability. I have also spoken to members of the National Shooting Sports Association. The NSSA tracks trends in the hunting industry and confirmed that last year there were more hunters in the field when this downturn started, which was partly attributed to unemployed workers going into the woods after food.

 There is no doubt that a percentage of those who are now unemployed will hunt this fall. If their entry into the woods is made difficult, cumbersome, or inconvenient they will become poachers instead of the ethical hunters that we all wish to be in the woods with us.  Education is a much less expensive tool to employ than law enforcement. These educational programs need be started immediately.
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Sheet-Iron Cookery – A Guift

  Cooking outdoors on a sheet of iron is a technique that is likely as old as the bronze age, when the material used was the copper-tin

The most inexpensive and environmentally green outdoor cooking surface available.
The most inexpensive and environmentally green outdoor cooking surface available.

alloy, rather than iron. This process consist of placing a flat sheet of iron on top of  rocks, or salvaged concrete blocks, and cooking on it. With a little work, a commerically saleable product can be made that will not only provide an easy way to cook outdoors, but make you some money too. Entire companies have been founded on thinner concepts.

 To fabricate the cooking surface cut out a rectangular piece from 1/4-in. thick  cold rolled steel  about 2-feet wide by 2ft. 8in.  On one side of this either cut a D-shaped hole for a handle or weld on a half-moon of 3/8-ths in. rebar. To make the product more user friendly, take off the sharp edges with a grinder and round the corners.

To use, place on two used concrete blocks. Build a fire under it withE-mail Ham steak and egg on the iron sticks picked up in the yard or any other salvaged wood. After the fire starts burning, dress the cooking surface with lard, animal fat, or cooking oil. Now you can cook anything on this that can be cooked on a Waffle House grill – steaks, eggs, hash browns, etc.

With a little more trouble you can cut a well, a circular hole, in a corner that will fit whatever cast-iron pot that you might own. This now provides a place where food, like deer stews, may be boiled or deer burgers may be cooked in a frying pan with  the water that is needed to keep them moist. Now the utility of the cooking surface has been considerably enhanced. The same well with a Dutch oven can be used for baking.

The advantages of this system is that it is inexpensive to make, convenient to carry, does not require the bringing of external fuel, stores as one flat sheet of metal and it can cook fried, boiled and baked products. It is as environmentally “green” as you can get.

With the publication of this document, this product is now in the public domain. It is non-patentable, and anyone with a minimum of welding and metal-working skill can make it. The maker can fabricate and sell it in any numbers with any individual modifications that he/she would like.

If you are unemployed and have some metal-fabrication skills you can make this product, sell it and garner some income for youself and your family. Because this product is heavy, it is best that it be made locally, rather than shipped for long distances.

I hearby give the rights for anyone to make and sell this product. After you have made it for a month, send me a dollar for each one you sell. This is not an enforceable contract. If you cannot pay me now, do so when you can; or not at all. That is strictly up to you.

What I would request that you do is to direct people to this site and to my book Backyard Deer Hunting for recipes. When there is interest I will have a continuous series of postings on this product and new recipes.

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Placing deer stands

 

Selection of optimum tree stand sites is the key to deer hunting success.
Selection of optimum tree stand sites is the key to deer hunting success.

The optimum time to put up deer stands is well before season so that the deer can get use to them, and you can also start trimming out shooting lanes without leaving recent signs of disturbance and changing the ambient scents in the area.

  If there is a truism, it is that in deer hunting nothing works all of the time. Locating deer stands should seek to maximize your possibilities of seeing deer by being located near where a deer can find food, water and social interactions.  If there is a persimmon tree near a waterhole next to a cedar tree that generations of deer have scarred, that would be an ideal place.

 I think you get the idea. Try to locate where at least two of the three things that are listed above are happening. If you are inventive, you can even make an artificial branch that the deer can hook and play with even if there was not one there before. If this is located near a travel path he will hook and thrash the branch to scent-mark it and make a scrape beneath. If  nature does not provide some things a deer need in the way of food and water,  you can – even to cutting a clear path through some thick stuff that was not there before.

  Always put up several stands so that you have the option of rotating between them and also to take advantage of prevailing winds that might favor one stand over another. When time comes to hunt take a seat cushion with you (if your stand does not have one) so that you can sit for six hours or more at the time.

  Very often the reason hunters do not kill deer is because they were not on stand when the deer came. If you are not there you cannot kill deer, regardless of how well the stand was positioned.

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Blackberry time

Rather than being about the increasingly common communication devise, this post is really about blackberries – the kind that grow on thorny vines. Each year I look forward to having at least one meal of blackberry-Bourbon pancakes, and the hound dogs and I go a’picking.

Many people don’t appreciate that a dog’s diet normally includes some greens and fruits along the meat and bones that they love so much. My dogs go berry picking with me. There are sometimes snakes among the vines too.  Snakes don’t eat the berries, but they do eat the small rodents that come to feed on the dropped and low-lying fruit.

Once the dogs see me pick, they do too, pulling the berries off the vines with their teeth. One of my dogs found that it was much easier to just graze out of my bucket, instead of risking being pricked by the thorns. I was more amused than mad. He got mildly scolded, and we all resumed our gathering and eating.

If you want to put blackberries in your own pancakes, add about half-a-cup to your mix and mash them fairly well. About a teaspoon of Bourbon is appropriate – just enough to flavor. These pancakes will still be a little soft even when they are done, and might tend to stick a little more, so use a little butter in the bottom of the pan.

Blackberries freeze very well. There is no need to do anything except wash them, put them into plastic bags and freeze them. They also make a fine cobbler, or if you really have lots, even a wine as well as the blackberry pies that will tempt almost anyone.

In the deep South we have been largely deprived of blackberries for the past several years because of a prolonged drought, but this year’s rains have been  more abundant, and these will bring us plenty of blackberries throughout the Southeast. Happy munching.

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Road kill is certainly under the $10 mark

This deer was struck and died in a front yard. After seeking permission, I removed and ate it.
This deer was struck and died in a front yard. After seeking permission, I removed and ate it.

The first comment about Backyard Deer Hunting  was submitted by Jilie and  posted on the blog “Fresh Basil” on May 7. She ran into my recipe for Road Kill Deer Stew which I submitted to  National Public Radio (NPR)  in response to their request for meals that would feed a family of four for under $10.  This is what Julie had to say:

“NPR is asking for readers to submit meals that will feed four that come in under $10. There are over 300 recipes submitted so far! (This radio event is now over, and no more recipes are wanted.)

“Many of the recipes contain rice and beans — the cheap pantry staples — but some are so creative and fun. Sweet potato kale quesadillas, brined pork with strawbetty chutney, Moroccan chicken tagine, and on and on.

“An entry from William Hovey Smith takes us way beyond rice and beans with a recipe for Road Kill Deer Stew. Luckily for us, William (I go by Hovey) has a book coming out soon: Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound! I think I speak for everyone, William: Thank you for this amazing gift to literature.”

 

Thank you Julie,

I am not so sure about the book’s value as a piece of literature, but it certainly will be valuable to those who are out of work and need good, inexpensive food. It is also a fun read, or so my editors and book designers tell me. They are working with it now and are the only ones who have had a chance to see the entire manuscript.  I am told by mid-July you should be able to judge for yourself.

I am eating Road Kill Deer Stew for my Sunday dinner today. The meat came from the same animal I show being butchered in the book.  

Good eating,

Hovey

 

 

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Hunting Africa’s Real Big Chicken

Africa's ostrich is among the world's largest fowl and is a good-eating bird.
Africa's ostrich is among the world's largest fowl and is a good-eating bird.

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Besides hunting deer and bowfishing, I also have been known from time to time to take on the world’s large fowl with muzzleloading guns. I regularly hunt ducks, geese, turkeys and swan (quite legally in North Carolina where there is an annual regulated harvest). Well, this year I was in Africa during Georgia’s turkey season, and it appeared to me to be particularly appropriate to also hunt their largest fowl, the ostrich.  

Earnst Dyason, my professional hunter and the owner of Spear Safari, had never hunted ostrich, although he had grown up with them and there were some on his brother-in-law’s farm. These were wild birds and quite unlike the ranched ostrich that are raised elsewhere in South Africa. This farm was also covered by very thick brush,  which made hunting them much more of a challenge than shooting one at 200 yards across a pasture.

We found ostrich all right, the problem was getting the one adult that we wanted away from a bunch of cows. He was quite happy to live among them, and would not leave them. We stalked him three different times, but could never get a safe shot. There was also a hen and a young male, but they left never to be seen again. This was well, as we would not have shot them anyway.

We found another in a separate part of the farm well away from any domestic stock. It was also in thick brush, but he wanted to stay on a road where it had a good clear run. Run he did. We could not approach within a 150 yards of it, too far for a shot with my muzzleloader. We tried a couple of loops around through the brush, but with its excellent eyesight, very long neck and equal facility with its long legs, he avoided us.

Finally we repositioned our truck along a road and made another half-circle around through the brush to intersect it. Being a quarter-century older than Earnst and also lugging a 13-pound gun, I could not keep up with my long-legged PH or the ostrich. By the time I got to the road the ostrich had proceeded in the other direction.

He saw the vehicle, reversed his direction and came running back towards us. I took a shot at 30 yards. The fowl just shook under the impact of a 444-grain bulled propelled by a 150-grain powder charge and remained on its feet. He absorbed some 2000 pounds of energy, as the projectile did not exit. He reversed his direction and we followed him up. Another shot through the body downed him.

Wow! This was a huge bird. It weighed something over 125 pounds, had at least four feet of neck and unlike any fowl that I had ever seen, only two toes. It had a large claw on its toes, like the raptors in Jurassic Park. These birds can kill people, and  they do.

Now what? Neither Earnst nor I had ever cleaned one. It got plucked,

Plucked it can be appreciated that most of the meat is in the legs, thighs and neck.
Plucked it can be appreciated that most of the meat is in the legs, thighs and neck.

 and it had no breast meat. All the meat was in the leg-quarters and neck.  The leather, feathers and meat were salvaged. When cooked, the meat was quite tender. The neck meat is often used like ox-tail to make soup. The taste of the meat is more like a mild-tasting veal than chicken or beef.  

My trip to Africa lost me two weeks of Georgia’s turkey season, but I got a good fowl anyway. I will certainly never forget my hunt for Africa’s real big chicken.
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