The Spirit of the Hunt
Apr16

The Spirit of the Hunt

Photos document a moment in time, but they only tell part of the story. Our hunting stories come to life every time we tell them, but no story is as vivid as the experience when it happened, and the words pale in comparison to the actual hunt. But for me, as with most hunters, the storytelling is part of what we love about hunting, along with the connection to nature that surrounds us. Opening day for turkey hunting on private land in South Carolina started with the threat of powerful thunderstorms, but we decided to make the hour-and-a-half trek to our hunt club regardless, knowing that the weather often changes quickly. Quite sure that it would be a short hunt with the storm threat, we decided to sit together in a blind that we had originally set up for my husband, Trippett. Being a gentleman, he was good with letting me take the lead with the calling as we worked together to get the decoys set up and got ourselves situated so we could quiet down and listen for the sound we dream about hearing . . . gobble, gobble, gobble! Daybreak was a good 40 minutes away, and we sat quietly and waited for the forest to wake up. The skies cleared, the rain stopped pelting on our blind, and we were so happy we didn’t forgo the opening day hunt because of weather. One of the things I love most about hunting is the spiritual connection I feel as I sit and wait. Day after day, we find ourselves exhausted from the constant stimulation we are exposed to, both physically and mentally. The opportunity to sit quietly and peacefully grounds me, and this is a spiritual break that I look forward to so much. Typically, I would be by myself, but today I shared this sanctuary with my hubby, who is not too proud to get comfortable and take a nap, knowing that I was on full alert watching for signs of turkeys. As for me, I soak it all in . . . every tree frog that croaks, every crow that caws, every owl that hoots, and every noise I can’t make out keeps me in the moment. This spiritual break is what I seek when I hunt. The big bird in the photo is very important, trust me, but bringing home my quarry is only a part of what compels me to hunt. As I sat there in the darkness of the blind, armed with my favorite slate call, I gently sanded the surface of the slate and sat ready to respond to the sound...

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Dinner at a Hunter’s House!  Recipes!
Mar27

Dinner at a Hunter’s House! Recipes!

We look back with pride on our freezer, which is filled with wild duck, quail, pheasant, deer, and wild hog. Our doves never make it to the freezer, since we find no trouble enjoying them as soon as the hunt is over! If we were as good at fishing as we are with hunting, we would have some fish in our freezer as well, since we are lucky enough to live right on Murrells Inlet. But that is another story in itself. We have been blessed with a very good harvest and love knowing we have been generous sharing game meat with friends and family. A typical week at our home consists of several meals prepared from our hunts. There are so many ways to use the cuts of meat we have, so I have chosen a couple of our favorite recipes. Shanks are my favorite to work with when preparing venison. Bone-in cuts are the most flavorful, and I always love using my crockpot when preparing wild game because it gives me an opportunity to slow cook the meat, which helps with tenderizing it so that it falls off the bone. The extra bonus is that I use the bones the next day to make bone broth, which we consume as a drink and as a meal. I’ve attached a link to basic bone broth in case you would like to explore this amazing and worthy trend. https://wellnessmama.com/5888/bone-broth/ Venison Shanks! Ingredients: 4 whole deer shanks Olive oil for rub Grass-fed butter 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil Sea salt Fresh rosemary sprig Dried thyme 1-teaspoon garlic powder Crushed peppercorns 2/3-cup stock of your choice 4 oz. canned mushrooms or fresh mushrooms One carton (12 oz.) Pacific Organic cream of mushroom soup I start with seasoning my shanks with sea salt and crushed peppercorns and then rub the shanks with olive oil. In a large skillet, I put 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (it is much better than other oils to use when cooking at high temperatures) and two tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Next, I brown the shanks on all sides.This quick sear makes the shanks very tasty. Butter is a key ingredient when working with venison. I get a nice sear on all sides and place them in the crockpot on high. For moisture, I add whatever stock I have on hand, mushrooms, and a tab of butter on each shank. A sprig of rosemary, dried thyme, and garlic powder tops the shanks and you are ready to get this meal cooking! Once the crockpot is hot, I reduce the temperature to low and cook for six hours....

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Snake in the Grass… Gobble Gobble!!
Mar18

Snake in the Grass… Gobble Gobble!!

Finally! Turkey hunting starts on private land in South Carolina on the 20th of March! Many hunters spend the months and weeks prior to the season preparing and counting down the days.  Like many regions, we have a good many venomous snakes to be aware of when we hunt, especially when turkey hunting.  I don’t have a fear of snakes, but I do have a healthy respect for them.   I like to start out in a blind, and if I don’t have any luck, I like to run and gun and that means I may find myself sitting up against a tree or stalking through some dense woods to get closer to a gobbler. Snakes are expected to be in the woods, so you just need to be careful especially where you put your hands. I like to take an extra chair in my blind so that I can set my backpack on it instead of on the ground. Wearing snake boots is a given and I feel comfortable wearing them year round when hunting.  Checking your blind with a flashlight throughly is a very good idea before you get too comfortable and carry a stick which makes a good first defense should you come upon one. I had a snake in my elevated deer stand this past year so that told me that you need to be prepared. Here are some of the most interesting ideas I found on some forums about dealing with snakes when turkey hunting:  If you are hunting in a blind, when you first approach the blind, give it a good shake so that if there is a rattle snake in it, it will alert you. Make sure there are no snakes nearby and then sprinkle Snake repellent or moth balls around your blind. The snake repellent I found smells just like moth balls and I find it too strong for me to consider. Snakes do not like to crawl over hemp rope.  Surround your hunting space or blind with a rope. Snakes hate cinnamon and clove –  In a gallon bucket, add 10 drops of each essential oil in the bucket and mix.  Use a spray bottle to spray the outside of your tent. Snakes also do not like tick spray- spray the outside of your blind thoroughly with tick spray. Take a plastic container in the blind to keep everything dry and in one place so you don’t have to search in the dark for gear. Make sure your blind has been completely cleared of all plants, grass, or anything that would make a cozy place for a snake.  I shoveled...

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What Am I Crowing About Now???
Mar02

What Am I Crowing About Now???

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised at all that I have another obsession. And this time, it is all about crows. I went on my first crow hunt in mid-January, and I could not wait to get back in the woods to take on another hunt with these incredible birds. However, this new infatuation is not just about hunting crows, it is about anything and everything to do with crows. I guess you could say that I was first charmed by crows at a very young age, watching one of my all-time favorite cartoons: Heckle and Jeckle, the two lookalike crows who were always up to mischief. This may be where my rambunctious nature took root. Their names perfectly depicted their behavior as they took on the best characters, even my beloved Bugs Bunny!  However, while I was researching about crows, I learned that Heckle and Jeckle were actually magpies, which are in the crow family along with about 120 other species. Nonetheless, I loved their antics and shenanigans outwitting the other characters they came in contact with. Later, I was held spellbound watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as an incredibly large flock of aggressive crows massed near a playground full of children. The resulting frenzy created such chaos that the children were led out of the area, most running and screaming to get away. Whew! Seeing the kids being attacked by those birds was certainly terrifying! Crows have long made fascinating subjects for many writers. A poetic term for a bunch of crows is a “murder”—who knew? It is really just a flock, but poets have all that poetic license, right? Folklore passed down from generation to generation has provided us with a lot of great sayings, and most of us have no idea where they originated. One of those sayings is “as the crow flies” and is said to have begun back in the days of sail, when sailors carried crows on their ships and then released them when they thought they might be close to land. The theory was that these intelligent birds would take the most direct route to solid ground. Another well-known saying is “something to crow about,” and this one may have ties to loud, boisterous talking. Nothing that I do, of course!  Besides all the great sayings and folklore, there is so much more interesting things to discuss, such as hunting crows and why it is important. Those of us who often hunt at first light know that the first sound we’re likely to hear in the woods is the calls of crows. They seem to relish the opportunity to...

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Hey Buzzard, Get Away From MY Hog!!!
Feb22

Hey Buzzard, Get Away From MY Hog!!!

After deer season is over, hog hunting is in big demand  at Deerfield Plantation,  St. George, South Carolina.   Like deer hunting, we hunt in stands, typically near the swamps and creeks.  With unusually high temperatures expected to climb to the upper 70’s, this February morning starts out cool and comfortable for hog hunting.  Getting settled in the stand by 5:45, there was plenty of time to “get quiet” and prepared for the hunt.  Fog had rolled in giving a misty view of the woods and food plot.  I brought a Thermacell just in case the mosquitos start to act up, thinking they are not aware that it is still winter!  Immediately, I noticed evidence of hog activity – my stand overlooks a good size food plot and and it was clear that the hogs had been rooting in the field. As I settled in my stand, the cool breeze is in my face so I am not too worried about giving up my position,  since hogs have a great sense of smell and more than likely would be coming from an upwind position.   The darkness slowly gives way to dawn,  with each minute that goes by, and the view to the woods at the far end of the food plot is more visible.   I can see a lot of motion with hogs running back and forth as I ready myself, knowing that first light is the best time to hunt hogs.  As I focus on the the wood line, I am surprised to see hogs running into the middle of the food plot.  The action is very fast as hogs move around a lot.  It was a few minutes after 6:30 so my vision was good enough to take a hog and I concentrated on finding the biggest hog.  There was one in particular that stopped and looked in my direction.   Hogs don’t have great eyesight, but she obviously was alerted to my presence probably with her strong sense of smell.  Hogs have a way of bolting as fast as they appear, so I knew I had to take the shot.  I did and she dropped there in the middle of the plot.   My husband was in a stand in the same swamp area  and surely he heard my shot.  Luckily, texting worked well in this location, unlike some areas that don’t get any reception, and I told him I got a good sized hog and was excited about the activity so far.  He was not as lucky, only seeing a couple of does. As the time passed by, around 9:30 AM, another big...

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