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,
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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Although not discussed in my book Backyard Deer Hunting, but completely covered in Practical Bowfishing; carp have almost started to come into spawning mode where I live in Central Georgia . As temperatures warm in regional lakes, they will start to spawn there too. This is the time to bowfish carp and either put them in the freezer, canning (making salmon in common speak) or smoking them. It does not take elaborate equipment to bowfish carp. An old recurve bow, boat and trailer such as I use can do the job very well. They may be also be shot by wading in the shallows. May is a prime month for taking carp in most of the country.
These six carp and two gar were bowfished one day, and one of them became my dinner the next day. The others are now in my freezer. I like to use carp for baked fish and then make a fish salad with diced pickles and mayonnaise of the remainder.
Gar are dressed by cutting off the tail and cutting straight up the back with a pair of tin snips. Then use the snips to cut down both sides and remove two “ropes” of boneless meat, like removing the backstraps of a deer. This may be cut into 1/2-inch sections and fried with Chinese vegetables like scollops. The meat has a very mild taste and is good fried, baked or even grilled. One precaution is that the roe of gar is toxic. It will kill you. Any meat that is contaminated with roe products must be cut away and discarted. On huge gar I grind the meat, (make a paddy by mixing in salt, pepper, an egg, and dill weed) flour the paddies, coat with a flour-egg batter and deep fry it in canola oil. This will make the best fish sandwich that you ever had.
Practical Bowfishing may be ordered from me by sending a check for $17.95 to Wm. Hovey Smith, 1325 Jordan Mill Pond Rd., Sandersville, GA 31082. This book not only contains information on gear, fish that may be bowfished but also has recipes for cooking carp, gar and other fresh and salt-water fish.
This book is about providing information on how to find, kill and ultimately eat deer and other game animals that live near your home. North America. The information is also applicable to wild hogs, bears and other big-game species.
My objective is to explain how to put meat on your family’s table as inexpensively as possible. I used deer in the book’s title because whitetails are the most frequently seen big-game animals in
Although outdoor writing may appear to be a glamorous profession; it is more often an obsession, rather than a vocation. Writers are paid little, late, have their work as often rejected as accepted and may spend hundreds of hours producing materials that never see print. I have often fed my family on deer and other game shot a few hundred yards from my house. I have drawn on my experiences in feeding a family when my income was sharply reduced. You can do the same. This book is designed to take someone who has never hunted through every step required to kill, clean, process and cook big game.
I have done everything that is described in this book. I have salvaged thrown-away hunting clothes from a Dumpster, drug road-killed deer off the roadside and safely consumed them. I have used nearly every knife, gun and crossbow that I have described. Where expedient items can be used or adapted, I have recommended them. Although in some categories it is impossible, most of the products that I have recommended are American made. I have concentrated on the least-expensive really workable items of their types that are available.
This book is not about looking good, owning fancy gear, impressing anyone or putting trophy heads on the wall. This book is about killing deer, wild hogs, bears and other meats-on-the-hoof and eating them. Although born in Georgia, I have spent significant parts of my life in Arizona, Alaska and Minnesota and have commonly hunted elsewhere. These experiences have been used to provide much of the information in this book.
I have always felt that my books should consider topics that were not beaten to death by other authors. My two previous outdoor books, Practical Bowfishing (Stoeger, 2004) and Crossbow Hunting (Stackpole, 2006), have been noted for their complete treatment of the subject and the inclusion of information on game processing and cooking. Backyard Deer Hunting follows the same format.
You, the reader, will be frequently addressed in this book, and I will offer my best guidance on a given subject expressed in simple language. Does this mean that I know everything about everything? No. However, I have hunted all of my life, lived in many parts of the country and mostly eaten things that I shot. I almost never buy meat, but live off the deer, hogs, wildfowl and small game that I hunt. I have published 13 books and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles. I have accumulated in some 67 years a great deal of knowledge that I am more than willing to share in as straight-forward a manner as possible.
Some photos in this book show big-game animals being killed and butchered. If you are going to kill and clean animals, you need to be prepared for the results. I will attempt get you ready to do these necessary tasks. I have seldom met people that I could not teach something to or learn something from. You should adopt the same attitude in using information from this book.
You can also learn from other hunters’ experiences to add to your store of practical knowledge. Grandpa or even Great Grandma may also have useful information about wild game from a time when much of the meat on the family’s table was killed by the same hands that served it. It is proper that this should be so. It does honor to the animal that gave its life and to the hunter who killed the animal to provide food for his family. This is a practical demonstration of the eternal cycle of life, death and renewal that is much more realistic than the plastic-wrapped packages of meat at the butcher counter.
Women can hunt too. Although hunting is often considered a “guy” thing, women can be as good hunter-providers as men. The typical stereotype is that men hunt and women cook, which is bullshit. I know, and have known, many women who were excellent shots and hunters and many men who were marvelous big-game cooks. In a family, it is most true that the person who kills something is the one who is also going to have to clean and cook it. When it can cost more than $150 to get a deer processed and you can do the same job with $15 worth of materials, it makes since to do as much of this as possible. Particularly, if you are out of work and have more time than money.
Teaching yourself to hunt is a productive activity that brings financial and psychological benefits. Although every hunt may not produce game, you are going to do it better next time, and hunting gets you out of the house. Financial hardship brings stress on families, and it is good to periodically step away from the noise of everyday life, enjoy nature and accept any gifts that might be offered.
There is no reason why your spouse and kids cannot participate. It often helps to have another pair of hands when processing meat or cooking. This provides the spirit that “we are all in this together.” Think about the life that your grandparents had. Everybody in the family did something to keep the family going. There was work about the house, in the garden, in the yard, with the livestock, in the kitchen and keeping the family in clean clothes. This was more about doing the job that needs to be done and not about “my job” or “your job.” I have lived alone most of my life, and with the death of my wife five years ago am alone again. Whatever gets done at my house, I do. If I can live by myself and maintain a reasonable lifestyle, that means that a family with more pairs of hands can, at the least, do equally well.
Some very practical reasons for consuming wild-game meat are: 1. It taste good. 2. It is free of antibiotics and other things that may be injected in commercially-prepared meats. 3. Wild game meat is naturally a low-fat product. 4. You know exactly how your meat has been treated and what went into it.
5. Removing excess game animals keeps the wildlife population healthy. 6. Animals taken from near-urban areas reduce deer-car collisions. 7. Hunting provides a psychological getaway while also providing outdoor exercise to relieve stress. 8. When done close to home, hunting provides low-cost, high-protein meals for better family nutrition.
The need for this book was recognized by many publishers once I presented the concept, but none felt that they could publish it rapidly enough to be available on by mid-summer of 2009. Fortunately, Author House, a print-on-demand publisher, provided a means to produce this book in time for it to reach the hands of those who needed it.
Thanks also go to fellow Georgia outdoor writer, author and friend, Jeff Samsel who edited the book. Samsel’s contribution was valuable because he is a fisherman who seldom hunts and could view this material as a perspective user, rather than as an expert advisor.
Wm. Hovey Smith
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