Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Warm weather slowing the hunt

I always struggle this time of year with whether to deer hunt or trout fish.  Typically, since my family prefers deer to trout that usually makes the decision for me.  This warm snap is really playing havoc with the deer this fall/winter.  After a crazy couple of weeks during the rut, things have totally calmed down.  While it has made for comfortable sits, the weather has prevented much movement after 9AM.  However, it has still been nice taking in the scenery.

Found these mushrooms the day after Christmas and thought they were oyster mushrooms, but not sure.

After passing on lots of does during archery season I was praying for a decent 1.5 yr or older doe to walk past during the either sex rifle season.  Thankfully, my prayers were granted and I was able to put more 100% organic locally sourced healthy protein in the freezer!  As always I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifice and the food it will provide.

My family consumed almost 90 lbs of deer meat last year, and that allowed us to not buy any beef all last year.  To date, my two deer this year only come out to around 65 lbs, so I will need to try and pick up another over the next week or so.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

No Time to Fish, it is Deer Season

In addition to extremely high workloads and travel every other week, it is also deer season.  Therefore, I have had no opportunities for fishing.  Unfortunately, that means I didn't even take advantage of some of the fabled trout waters of central PA where I have been for a few weeks this fall.  Regardless, below are a few pictures from the deer season so far.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rabbit snack-its

I thought that I would share a recipe that my kids really enjoy.  Lacking a better name, I am just calling it rabbit snack-its, and it consists of heart, liver, and random meat clippings that were left over during the cleaning stage.  

I start by prepping the pieces.  The liver is quite large and needs to be cut into thirds (follow the natural shape of the liver). Thoroughly wash all pieces.

Next roll the chunks in a mixture of flour and seasoning of your choice (I use garlic salt and a little chili powder).
I like to fry the pieces in a Teflon coated wok with the oil of your choice.  I prefer corn oil or peanut oil, but for the picture above all we had was canola oil.
Cook all pieces until the oil is mostly clear and the pieces are cooked throughout.  The heart and little meat chunks typically finish before the liver.
Serve and enjoy!  Here my son enjoys his with a side of barbecue sauce and chips.  Another popular side is mashed sweet potatoes.

Give it a try next time you kill some rabbits, it is an extremely tasty treat!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Spring 2015 Turkey Season

There was lots of anticipation building up to the 2015 turkey season, including a trip to the NWTF Convention in Nashville.  So, I took a camera with me on most days, but unfortunately the turkey did not cooperate for the most part.  I did patch together some clips from the season, primarily at my son's request, and figured I would post it here for those who may be interested in watching it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Short Clinch Trip with a Friend

This past Wednesday I chose to take the afternoon of and meet a buddy on the Clinch.  I left work around noon, and it took a little longer than I expected to get to the river.  However, I was surprised to see only one person wade fishing below the weir dam...  This is usually a bring your own rock kind of place, so this was very strange.  We figured that we had about 3 hours fish, so we geared up and hit the water.  Before long we were wading out to our first spot, and Buzz hooked up before I even had my fly tied on.  He yelled at me that I needed to get my fly in the water and stop tinkering around with my gear.  It was all in good humor, but he was right.  I quickly waded out and made my first cast with the fly rod in about 6 months, and was very pleased to feel the tug of a trout on the other end.  I even took my stringer with me on this trip with the intention of keeping some fish for my kids, but that usually is the death blow on my trips.  When I bring a stringer along, no fish are caught.  The first fish was too small, so it was quickly released.  Unfortunately, about this time I really was starting to regret not having my camera to document what seemed like it would be a fast paced day.  This pace continued on for a while with rising fish all around, and we would pick up a fish every few minutes.  When I arrived at the river I discovered that I was completely out of 6X fluorocarbon tippet, so I had to move on up to 7X (I couldn't buy a strike on 5X).  This turned out to be a double edged sword as the smaller size enticed more strikes, but it also allowed three fish to break me off.  Eventually I got things dialed in and managed to land a 15" rainbow on a very long downstream drift, and it was exciting to feel a good solid tug on the end of the line.  What was most enjoyable about the trip was that Buzz and I were fishing relatively close to each other and were able to carry on a conversation and make jokes about various things throughout the trip.  That is something I have missed over the past few years as either I fishing by myself on tailwaters or when fishing the park streams we are usually too far apart to communicate with each other.   

I am now in the process of restocking my fly box with flies that I discovered I was out of, and replenishing some of those that were broken off while using my 7X tippet.

Of another positive note was the fact that this trip marked the first time I got to wear my new Patagonia Rock Grip wading boots out on the river.  I picked these up over the winter on clearance at about 60% off, and was skeptical about their performance.  I have lots of Patagonia gear and know it is top notch, but these were rubber soled boots and I didn't know how they would stand up to the rock snot in the Clinch.  The night before I chose to only screw in 6 of the supplied studs into each sole, and I spaced them in such a way that I thought would best distribute my weight.  My concern over previous studded soles is that they often left me feeling as if I was ice skating since there were so many studs that the rubber or felt never actually contacted the rock.  These boots were quite possibly the most sure footed boots I have ever worn, or at least they were in the bottom type that we were fishing on below the weir dam.  The next big test would be to try these boots out on either the South Holston or Watauga river with their perfectly smooth and round rocks the size of bowling balls.  That requires a totally different walking technique, and would be a good test for these boots.  Maybe I should take a drive up that way to give it a test, and while there maybe wet my fly line for a few hours.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble on, and until next time...

Tight Lines and God Bless

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Kids' First Fishing Trip of 2015

I was supposed to be in Saudi Arabia this week, and when my trip was unexpectedly (and thankfully) cancelled I chose to take the kids fishing.  I wanted to get up early and start the day below Melton Hill dam searching for yellow or white bass.  However, we ended up sleeping in and going to the upper portion of Melton Hill lake, although I had to stop first and pick up my 2015 TN Sportsman's License before they raise the prices ~20% next month. 

After about an hour and a half of sitting in the sun with no activity, the kids wanted to grab some lunch.  So, we drove into Oak Ridge and grabbed a burger at our favorite burger joint, The Other One. 

After lunch was over, the kids wanted to go back at it.  They did excellent today, and we extremely patient especially considering we caught no fish.  I honestly dislike fishing in public areas as I know they get hammered and the fish are ultra spooky.  However, on short notice and without access to a boat we had to make do with what we have.  Today really makes me wish I had a two person kayak to take the at least one of the kids out to an area where they have a much better chance of catching fish. 

We ended up calling it a day around 2:00, but the kids smiling faces were completely worth it.  This week is my son's birthday, so I will probably try to take him out again.  In addition to that, I may even try to get over to the Clinch considering how favorable the generation schedules have been for the past couple of weeks.  I have spent quite a bit of time over the past couple of weeks working to get the master bathroom remodeled, and it should be finished this week.  So, some time out of the water will help me to unwind from the stressful past few weeks.

Until next time...

Tight lines and God bless!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Just Checking In

It has been a while since I last posted, so I felt like I would check in.  I am shocked at how difficult it has been to stay up to date on the blog.  Between work, church, duties at home, two kids, and trying to get in some hunting or fishing in my spare time it leaves virtually no time to post any reports or gear reviews.  I have recently purchased quite a bit of hunting and camping gear, all of which I would like to do a video review of.  Although I don't know how long it will be before I will get around to uploading it.  So, in the meantime I hope everybody is out there hunting, fishing and camping.  Please stay tuned for upcoming reports and reviews.

God Bless,

Monday, February 16, 2015

NWTF Show 2015

Ever since I learned last spring that the NWTF show was held in Nashville, I had made plans to go this year.  Additionally, I wanted to make it a three generation trip by taking my dad and my 6-yr old son.  So, as the time drew near the anticipation began to build, but surprisingly the most excited was probably my son.  We arrived in Nashville on Thursday afternoon and got checked into the timeshare and the convention.  Unfortunately the exhibit hall had not yet opened, so all we could do was look at the taxidermy competition entries on display.  Since this was my first time at the convention I didn't really know what to expect regarding the crowd and how busy it would be. The wife and I have been to Opryland hotel numerous times before, and because of this I know that while the restaurant choices are plentiful the prices are pretty excessive.  So, we opted to head down the street to a steakhouse (at my son's choice) and found ourselves in a waiting area surrounded by hunters.  Once we were seated I scanned the dining room and found that everybody in the room was either wearing camo or clothing with a hunting manufacturer logo on it.  I do admit that was pretty neat to be in an environment where everybody around you shared a similar passion and were not ashamed to show it.

The next morning we decided to head on over to the hotel about 30 minutes before the exhibit hall opened and grab some breakfast.  Once again thanks to a previous trip there, I knew of a little out of the way pastry shop in the hotel where we grabbed a tasty and fast breakfast.

After breakfast we slowly made our way into the exhibit hall, and the first thing we saw was all the tables featuring the custom made turkey call competition.  I didn't expect to see that, and the craftsmanship in some of these is outstanding.
One of the decorative call entries

Dad carefully studying them
I would estimate that we spent probably the first hour looking at these entries, and had no idea how much more there was in store for us.  The exhibit hall was filled with the constant sound of yelps, cuts, gobbles, etc. that set the mood for the area.  Booths were lined one after the other with small mom-n-pop call manufacturers, accessory suppliers, food condiment producers, and exotic species guide services.  Then we began to transition from the small startup company booths to the major players in the industry such as Flextone, Primos, Zink Calls, HS Strut, etc.  What I found surprising was that many of the small companies that manufactured custom calls were not charging much more than many of the major manufacturers.  Another surprise was how many suppliers were selling their products, and many of them were selling them at a pretty good reduction off of MSRP.
Trey checking out the Avian-X decoys
One thing my son had been excited about during the week leading up to the trip was meeting Jana Waller from Skull Bound TV.  Before Knology dropped the Sportsman Channel, this was probably his favorite outdoor show.  While wandering around the Avian-X booth he saw her walk by, and we were off to track her down.  When he caught up with her she was so extremely friendly and took time talking to him and even asked for a photo.
Trey and Jana Waller of Skull Bound TV
After meeting Jana we continued to walk around and came across a really interesting booth that featured barnwood mounting plaques for deer and turkey.  The company was called Custom Barnwood Plaques.  They are a small company located in TN and I highly recommend looking at their products if you are looking for an interesting way to display that turkey fan or skull mount.  They also make some very interesting furniture pieces, and their prices are incredibly reasonable.  I especially like their three skull euro mount plaque, very unique and attractive.
One of their triple fan and multi-beard plaques
We poked around for a few more hours checking out some of the guide services and admiring the taxidermy on display. 

By about 2:30 Trey starting getting tired, so we decided to call it a day and go back to the room to get ready for an early dinner treat.  On the way out, he posed for a photo by some interesting mounts featuring eastern and oscellated turkey displays.

I had planned a little dinner treat for my dad and Trey.  For years my dad and I would drive out to Dickson, TN every weekend during gun season and hunt from Friday through Sunday.  We did this basically every weekend during gun season between my ages of 10 and 17.  It was a great time, and it has been 17 years since I last took a trip out there.  Every trip we would stop to eat at this little catfish joint appropriately named Twin Lakes Catfish Kitchen for all you can eat spicy catfish, coleslaw, white beans, hush puppies, and fries.  So, we made the one hour drive from the Opryland Hotel to the restaurant and enjoyed one of the tastiest catfish comfort food meals I have had in a long time.  It was just like I remembered, and I will not wait another 17 years before I return.

After than large meal we went back to the hotel and crashed for the night.  The next morning we weren't in a hurry so we took our time loading the car before heading back to Opryland.  That was a mistake, because the crowd between Friday and Saturday had probably tripled.  It was difficult to walk amongst the mass of people, and on future trips I plan to just make a whole day of it on Friday and avoid Saturday.  That being said, there were still deals to be had as some suppliers had marked down their prices from what they were on Friday.  We spent most of the morning on Saturday at the Flextone/Tenzing/Plano booth where I picked up a few items at a discount and walked around the small custom call booths where many of the people took time trying to show Trey how to use various friction calls.
Trey picked out his Christmas present for 2015
Shortly afterward Trey asked to go see Jana Waller again, for the third time now.  Amazingly she called him by name as soon as she saw him and gave him another big hug.  I am very appreciative of the fact that while she signed numerous autographs those two days she remembered his name and took time to talk with him multiple times.

She is a class act, as was Steve Tittsworth from Greenback Tactical Hunters. Ironically I met Steve a week prior to the convention when I purchased a hunting jacket from him on Facebook.  When I walked up to the Orca booth to say hi Jana was standing beside him and she immediately intercepted me and proceeded to introduce Steve to Trey and I.  Steve and I let her in on the fact the we had previously met, and I got a little chuckle out of it.  Another TV personality I had some interaction with and I found very interesting was Eddie Salter (The Turkey Man on Sportsman Channel). 

This was a great convention and we are already making plans for a return trip next year.  Now that we know how things work, I will be more prepared.  I will definitely bring a backpack (something I didn't do until Saturday this year) and spend all day Friday 9AM to 7PM at the exhibit hall and avoid Saturday's crowds.  I also think Amy would enjoy attending as there were lots of arts and craft type exhibits, not to mention the detailed craftsmanship involved in making the calls.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out some additional booths that I thought featured some of the most innovative products at this years show:
  • Fanatic Outdoors - Hammock Seat is very innovative
  • Tenzing Packs - Packs that are innovative both from functionality and materials
  • Orion Coolers - Based in Sparta, TN and I think offer a better feature set than Yeti or Orca.  If you are looking for a high end cooler give these guys a look, I think you will be pleased.
  • Avian-X - These guys aren't new comers to the turkey hunting game, but their decoys set the standard for lifelike and portable decoys.
  • Dad's Custom Calls - It was hard to pick one manufacturer, but I think I liked these guys the best.  They are a small business and they have some interesting products including the tiny peg & slate call. 
Trey checking out a DSD jake decoy while I eyeballed the new Sitka gear hanging above it

19" Clinch River Brown