5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

by Andrea Haas

Team member EvoOutdoors/Huntress View

Spring is near and soon the weather will be warming up, flowers will be blooming and everything will be turning green. Why not get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors? Here’s a list of 5 fun outdoor activities to try this spring!

  • Geo-caching

Geo-caching is hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. You will need to go to www.geocaching.com and register for a free membership, enter your zip code to search for geocaches in your area, and then enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS device. Basically, geocaching is a real world outdoor treasure hunting game! Not only would it be fun to try and find each hidden geocache, you will get to enjoy the different scenery along the way to the different locations!

  • Morel Mushroom Hunting

DSC_0016_copy2Morel mushrooms usually start to pop up around April, when the temperature starts to stay in the 60’s. Not only are they fun to look for, they taste amazing! Trust me, they are worth searching for.

South facing slopes will get more sun and that’s where you will probably find the first ones. I had the best luck finding them under oak trees on my property last year, but they also tend to grow under Elm, Ash and Poplar trees. Searching for them on a muggy day after a rain shower will probably be your best bet. Once you find one, keep looking around that area, as you will likely find more close by! Once you get home soak them in water for a couple of hours to rinse out any bugs and then they’re ready to eat!

Here is how I made mine: (link for recipe, or feel free to post the recipe in this blog) http://huntressview.blogspot.com/2015/04/fried-morel-mushrooms-recipe.html

  • Photography

Learning your way around a digital camera can be tricky, but you don’t have to be a professional photographer to enjoy taking pictures. I feel one of the best ways to learn is to just get outside and do it! I have had a digital camera for a few years but have never tried to use it outside of auto mode until about a month ago. Taking pictures of wildlife has proven to be a great way for me to learn and spring is a great time of year to do just that!

I started by getting my camera off of auto and taking multiple pictures of the same object, but changing the settings as I go. This helped me identify the effect that each setting change had on each photo.  After that, I tried photographing wildlife. I noticed there had been a lot of ducks on our pond so I set up a ground blind on the pond bank and got in it the following weekend before the ducks arrived at sunrise. I was surprised that they paid no attention to me and I actually got some decent photos for my first try off of auto!

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  • Remote Photography

11150154_1072240759459432_4198246813710117181_nIf you’d like to get unique photos of wildlife but don’t want to take the pictures yourself, I recommend my personal favorite outdoor hobby, trail camming, aka remote photography.  Trail cameras are mostly used by hunters to scout for wildlife during hunting season but you don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy using them! Some of my favorite trail camera pictures are from spring and summer when there’s not even a hunting season open.

I__00034If you have private property, try finding a unique spot to hang a camera and see what shows up! You’ll be surprised at the variety of wildlife that you’ll get on camera that you never even knew were there!

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

To paddle board you stand on the board, which looks similar to a surf board, with a paddle in hand and use the paddle to propel yourself forward on the water. This can be done on the ocean, lake or river and is an excellent full body workout!

Some places will rent you the equipment that you’ll need, that way you won’t have to go out and buy it all yourself. If you do choose to buy the equipment, here’s what you will need:

-Stand up paddle board

-Paddle

-Life jacket or personal flotation device

-Leash (It attaches your SUP to you, in case you fall off)

Although I have yet to try paddle boarding for myself, it is something that I plan on trying this year! I’ve heard from people who have tried it that since you are standing at your full height on the paddle board you get a better view of the surroundings than if you were sitting in a boat, and you are able to see the fish swimming below you!

My friend Samantha Andrews shared this photo with me on her SUP

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Spring is a great time to get outside and try something new. Whether you live in the country or in the city, you should be able to find somewhere close to you to try at least one of these outdoor activities!

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“During the months leading up to hunting season I can be found on our tractor plowing and disking our fields, planting food plots, scouting for deer sign, hanging tree stands and checking trail cams. By being a part of this preparation process I have a deeper appreciation for hunting and more respect for the animals that I harvest.” -Andrea Haas

 

9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

 9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

Sarah Gaffney

EvoOutdoors Team Member

lab 1 Even though hunting season is over, your hunting dog needs consistent work to stay in shape for next season. Without work during the off-season, your dog will become out of shape and likely forget many of the lessons it learned during last season. A year-round conditioning program offers the obvious benefits of making your dog more productive during the hunting season but it also provides for an overall healthier dog too. Healthy physical condition will likely mean a longer, more comfortable life for your hunting companion.

Williams 1Sloan and Samantha Williams of S&S Outdoors have a passion for the outdoors that developed at an early age. Hunting dogs have been a part of their lives since the day they were born. They were raised by a dad that loved to hunt and a mom that loved dogs which promoted a lifestyle that is often not enjoyed by girls. Sloan and Samantha have proven to be exceptions.  To them, it made sense to combine both of the family’s passions into a career that they not only excelled at, but love.

The sister’s share, “A dog that stays in shape throughout the summer will hunt harder and last longer in the fall.”

The Williams’ sisters use this time to also keep their retriever’s hunting skills sharp through regular training. Therefore, killing two birds with one stone [pun intended].

Arguably, nothing is more important than keeping your dog in top physical condition. There’s no better way to keep any breed of hunting dog in good shape than daily exercise. Whether you throw a ball, a stick, or a bumper—get your dog on their feet and moving. Here are some tips given by the Williams’ sisters that will ensure you and your companion a long and healthy hunting season.

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  1. Your dog may not admit when their tired, so be careful not to overdo it. Keep an eye on them and know your dogs limits. Short fun training sessions are just as important; remember your dog misses hunting season just as much as you do—so keep training enjoyable.
  2. Labs and other retrievers are built to swim. Swimming is extremely gentle on dog’s joints and provides a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Simply exposing your dog in the off-season to the scent of birds. This is especially important for puppies and young dogs with little experience on live birds.
  4. Keep challenging your dog, but also add some fun simple days in the mix. If you noticed something your dog wasn’t as strong with, work on improving that area. You will get out of your dog what you put into them!!
  5. DIET- You want to make sure you are feeding your dog high quality food to help them perform to the best of their abilities. A higher protein food will help keep the “good” fat on your dog that they need!
  6. OBEDIENCE- You want to make sure your dog is going to follow your every command. This is a great tool to keep your dog safe and out of harm’s way!
  7. HUNTING SCENARIOS- You want to make sure you set up some hunting scenarios to prepare your dog for the season. (gun shots, decoys, birds, water- whatever type of hunting conditions you will be in)!FB_IMG_1456538752968 (1)
  8. FIGURE- Your dog needs to be in good shape. You don’t want them under weight or over weight. Either way you are putting their health and well being at risk. Your first priority should always be doing what’s best for your hunting companion!!
  9. Always make sure to keep a good eye on your dog – their safety comes before everything else! When training or hunting make sure they don’t get over heated, too cold, or worn down! Your dog can be the best hunting partner of your lifetime if you give them the right skill set to do so!

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Sloan and Samantha of S&S Outdoors combined their love for hunting and the outdoors with their love for dogs. Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, S&S Outdoors offers retriever and gun dog training, upland training, HRC Event training, obedience, boarding, puppy socialization as well as Labrador Retriever breeding. The award winning sisters are some of the best dog trainers in the area and are eager to meet your pup and get them ready for the hunt. For more information contact info@sandsoutdoors.com  or call (704)577-2511

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Sarah was born and raised in South Eastern Pennsylvania where she followed the footsteps of her father pursuing all the game the land has to offer. Her passion ranges from coon-hunting to trapping as well as hunting whitetails. As with family traditions Sarah has embraced the outdoor lifestyle. She is an avid hunter whose focus is her hunting dogs. Sarah raises, trains and hunts Redbone Coonhounds and Black Labrador Retrievers.

Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

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Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

By Sarah Fromenthal

EvoOutdoors Team Member

So you’ve gone out and harvested yourself some wild game. What pairs well with the fresh, “free” food you just harvested? That’s right…. fresh, “free” vegetables from your own vegetable garden in your back yard! What could be better than a meal prepared by yourself, from items you harvested yourself?
Growing up, I had the benefit of watching my parents and grandparents, year after year, grow a fairly large, successful garden. When it came time to do mine own, I began to do my research and realized there is a lot more to it than just throwing seeds into dirt.

A backyard garden can be the most rewarding or the most painful process, depending on the amount of effort and forethought put into it.

It takes the realization that gardening is more of a long term process than a weekend project to be successful. I compiled a list of a few things you may want to research on your own before starting your first garden.
What are you planting? This part should be fairly simple right?

  • First take into consideration what do you like to eat. Think of the recipes you most commonly eat and what fresh produce it takes to prepare that meal. Does your family consume more venison spaghetti than the law allows? Plan on planting some tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and possibly fresh herbs.
  • If you produce too many, will you have a way to preserve it such as canning, freezing, donate to more than happy to accept neighbors, sell at a local farmers market, etc?
  • Do you plan on getting small plants from a local nursery or starting from seeds? If getting seeds please read the seed packet carefully for planting instructions. Some seeds need to be sewn indoors before being planted outside, while others prefer to be planted directly into the garden.
  • Keep in mind there are hundreds of varieties of the most basic vegetable. Look at your local agricultral publications to find varieties that have proven to work best in your area.
  • Some plants benefit from being grown next to certain plants while others when planted close by will cause problems for each other through disease, bugs, etc. This is called companion planting. Think its just by chance that basil pairs well with tomatoes in many dishes? Nope! Basil is often grown in the garden next to tomatoes. This pairing helps with repelling pests while attracting bees for pollination. In addition, it improves the flavorings of your tomatoes.

Where to plant?

  • What kind of garden do you want to have? Old fashion rows in the dirt, raised bed, vertical gardening, flower pots, etc. I’ve also seen people plant directly into a bag of potting soil.
  • How much of a space are you are willing to sacrifice from your yard? How much do you plan on planting? Are you feeding yourself, your family, or the whole neighborhood? Keep in mind a larger garden is a larger time spent tending to the garden. Also remember bigger plants (tomatoes, eggplants, squash, etc) need more space per plant
  • Take into consideration you will need a spot that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Also think about water drainage; you don’t want a spot that water collects in your yard. Most importantly you will need access to a water source near by unless you want to haul pails of water.

Get into your “zone”!

  • What is a zone you ask? The USDA has established a map called the Plant Hardiness zone map.  This map helps to determine minimum temperature ranges of your local area. When choosing your plants, look closely on the plant tag or seed pack and they will often tell you planting schedules based on this or similar zones.
  • Each plant has a specific “growing season” in which they thrive. For example, tomatoes love warm weather and aren’t very cold hardy. Because I live in Louisiana where it warm for most of the year, I have a larger “growing season” for tomatoes compared to my friends further north who may only get warm enough weather for only a few weeks a year. All this information on the plants you chose can be found with very little effort online.
  • Soil types, minerals, and pH vary from place to place. You should send off a sample of your soil to your local Ag center for soil testing. They should be able to tell you what needs to be added to your soil prior to planting. Either amend your soil according to their suggestions or chose plants to fit with your soil type.
  • Warmer areas tend to have a larger bug problem. Have a pesticide plan in your mind. If you are choosing to go a more natural route with pesticides, research more organic options and ideas on companion planting to help reduce the bugs.

Use some common sense:

  •  Don’t “Go Big or Go Home”! Start off small and manageable. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at first and you can always expand next season. Also, you won’t need the fanciest of tools to get started. A simple, rake, spade, trowel, and pruners will get you far.
  • Ask plenty of questions. Online resources are there by the millions (just be sure to look up more area specific information) or go to a local nursery. Use local Ag center publications. They are often free and full on great information. Youtube is also a great tool to see other’s techniques.
  •  Recognize symptoms before they become a major problem and fix it before the problem turns into a disaster. For example, if you see a couple of bugs on your lettuce, look into a way to get rid of them before you come back to a half chewed up plant or they spread to others.
  • Don’t forget some plants require a little extra support from trellises, stakes, cages, etc. Some require special pruning, fertilization, etc. Want free, easy, fertilizer? start your own compost pile from uncooked kitchen scraps. Anything from paper products, uncooked fruits and veggies, the fish you filleted for dinner, shellfish peelings, egg shells, etc. can be collected and made into a compost pile while cutting back on your waste.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. -Audrey Hepburn

Now that I’ve given you enough to get you a good starting point to begin your research, I will tell you how I started my garden last spring. I first decided I wanted a raised bed. This would help decrease my weeds, give me good soil drainage when we get our crazy spring monsoons, and I could personally keep better control of my soil type. I simply picked a spot, laid out my timber, and got to work. I first took my shovel and removed the top layer of grass (not a required step but it will definitely cut back on the weeds). I then screwed together my timber and I drove some heavy duty angle iron into the ground and screwed it into my timber for support. The angle iron step is not a necessity, but the weight of the soil can easily cause your boards to bow outwards. I then laid out a layer of flattened card board boxes and news papers as an additional weed barrier before adding my soil. I personally used a 25:75 mix of bagged topsoil and garden soil to promote good drainage and aeration. I also chose to go the “difficult route” and start all my plants from seeds.  Yes, over the course of the growing season, I struggled with bugs and plant disease, but as i previously mentioned, it is important to make these observations early and correct them. After long weeks of drawn out anticipation but very little effort, I began to see my little seeds grow and turn into huge plants which then turned into vegetables that we were able to eat.

A few things that I learned along the way in my first year:

  • Do not lose your cool when one plant seems not to be growing as hearty as the others, it may just need a little more TLC but will soon catch up with the others.
  • Checking the buds every twenty minutes will not help them grow faster.
  • Bees love the garden. They will pay little to no attention to you working in the garden and are not there to attack. Lizards are also a necessity to keep some of the bugs at bay.
  • I needed stronger stakes for my tomato plants that got carried away and had the tiny metals ones nearly bent in half.
  • Try growing something you’ve never tried before and it’ll force you to get creative with recipes.
  • I just love my garden. Growing and hunting my own food gives me a true appreciation for what I’m putting in my mouth and how it affects the way my body functions compared to junk food.

 

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I was born, raised, and am currently living in Thibodaux LA (about an hour SW of New Orleans). There is nothing I don’t at least attempt to do. Gardening, cooking, kayaking, bow fishing, crafts, hunting, etc. I like to stay constantly busy.

Slow Cooker Venison Burritos

Slow Cooker Venison Burritos

Scott Emerick, EvoOutdoors Team Member

Are you sick of the same old venison recipes you have been cooking for years? Try these delicious and extremely easy venison burritos and I guarantee you wont just cook them once.

This recipe wins no awards for being the fanciest but is by far my family and friends favorite.

scottWhat you will need:

-1.5 – 2 lb boneless venison round

-1 (16 oz) Jar salsa (hot if you like spicy)

-1 (15 oz) Can corn – (drained)

-1 (15 oz) Black beans – (half drained)

-1 (8oz) Package cream cheese (4 oz needed)

-1 Package of your favorite flour tortillas

-1 (8 oz) Package shredded Mexican cheese

Lets get cooking!

  1. Place your venison into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Cover with the jar of salsa, drained can of corn and half drained can of beans.
  3. Set the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 6-7 hours or until the venison pulls apart easily with a fork. It is easiest if you remove the venison from the slow cooker and pull apart on a cutting board. Return the venison to the slow cooker.
  4. Cube 4 oz cream cheese and stir in until melted.

That is it, time to eat!

Place the desired amount on a tortilla, top with shredded cheese, along with sour cream and hot sauce if you prefer and simply enjoy!

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Scott Emerick was born and raised in Michigan. He came from an outdoors family but aside from fishing, they never hunted. “I always was and still currently am the only one out of my family who hunts. I was introduced to hunting from a buddy in college. After a few hunts I was beyond addicted.”