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.

BBQ Shrimp: A Quick Cajun Favorite

BBQ Shrimp: A Quick Cajun Favorite

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors Team Member

www.evooutdoors.com

Do you love seafood, spices, butter, and crusty bread and want a quick weeknight meal (approximately 20 minutes total)? Well this is a meal that will quickly grab your heart by the tastebuds! Unlike the name suggests, this is far from your traditional ” BBQ” and requires no grill or BBQ sauce. Also, be warned in advanced that this is a finger food that is NOT meant to be neatly eaten, but instead, it encourages finger licking.

Now the original version that I have indulged in over the years contains an inordinate amount of butter, but I have knocked the butter content down from a pound of butter to under an individual stick of butter. Its also traditionally served with crusty bread to sop up all of the juice, but since we are going healthier I chose to use lightly steamed cauliflower.

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You will need:

  • About one stick of butter (my conscious only allowed me to use about 3/4 of a stick)
  • One can of your favorite beer
  • 1/2 Cup of green onion
  • 1/3 Cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of liquid crab boil (I use Zatarain’s)
  • 1 Tbsp if cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tsp of hot sauce (I’m partial to Louisiana Hot Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of dried thyme leaf
  • 1 Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 6 Cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 whole bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • 1 Lemon
  • Approximately one pound of large shrimp- de-headed but not peeled (the peelings enhance the flavor)
  • Juice sopping option (crusty bread, cauliflower, etc)

Melt the butter on a medium heat in a large saucepan. Once melted, add the beer and allow to simmer until some of the beer begins to evaporate. Once the beer is slightly reduced, add the green onions, garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire, crab boil, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary sprig, and hot sauce.

Roll the whole lemon on the cutting board before cutting in half to release its juices, then squeeze the juice of the halves into the pan then drop in the whole lemon (don’t let the seeds fall in because it will add an unwanted bitterness).

Stir all the ingredients well and let them come to a low boil without allowing it to smoke. If for some reason you think it needs more liquid, add additional beer.

When ready, add the shrimp in but be sure they are laying in one flat layer to ensure they cook evenly. After approximately two minutes depending on size, flip them over and allow that side cook until shrimp is all evenly pink in color but not overcooked. Remove the bay leaves, then pour all this deliciousness into a large plate and serve with your favorite bread (or other option to soak up the juice) with a handful of napkins!

Enjoy!

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Sarah Fromenthal was born and raised in Southern Louisiana and has a strong passion for hunting, fishing, the outdoors and cooking.

 

Healthy Living: The Effects of Western Hunting on a Southern Girl

In Louisiana most whitetail deer hunting is done on private land. You can ride an ATV up to any spot, throw a lock up in a tree and sit for hours. Do not get me wrong, many south Louisiana hunters put in a great effort working on the land, sometimes walking through waist deep water. Tackling the swamp while being mauled by mosquitoes for hours on end. However, it is very easy to get complacent in ones physical health, clothing/gear choices and still be able to perform the tasks required to hunt down here.

My eyes were opened to a new world of hunting necessities when I set out on a new (to me) adventure of elk hunting in the public hunting land of Colorado. 

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Heading out west, I had no clue what to expect nor had I ever seen mountains before.

I studied articles and videos to prepare myself for what was to come however, nothing prepared me for the way it would change how I thought about myself. The mountains showed me that although I was physically fit enough to be able conquer the hikes we took from the base camp, I was in no way fit enough to accomplish a pack in hike. My dream was to be able to hike in for miles with a heavy pack and sleep in the wilderness away from everything. To hike further and higher everyday than I had on that first trip. I knew doing this would take months of preparation to ensure that I was fit enough to do not only the long hike in but to also recover quickly in preparation for the following days hikes.

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As hunting season in Louisiana wrapped up, I decided to buckle down and start living a healthier life. My first step was to build a raised garden bed in my tiny back yard. Growing up, my parents and grandparents always grew a beautiful garden therefore I knew with the knowledge I had gained from watching them over the years I could grow my own veggies. It was a huge money saver. A few dollars spent on seeds translated into many meals and even some vegetables preserved to be enjoyed all year. As every hunter knows there is a sort of “slump” that sets in after season ends. My garden kept me physically and mentally active.

I quickly found working in the garden to be very therapeutic, rewarding, and a huge confidence booster to see the tiny seed that I planted flourish into a huge plant.

I decided I needed to do more than integrate a few vegetables in my diet so I joined in on an “accountability group” 9D144EC0-0EA2-49BE-8C1A-06003E9DCC9B_zpsdef38gtsthrough work.  This forced me to weigh in weekly. The fact that I was doing it with coworkers forced me to stay focused. I didn’t want a simple diet where I was omitting a certain type of food completely; I wanted a lifestyle change that would change my way of eating forever. I worked on portion control, which I have always struggled with, by weighing and measuring everything until I had a better idea what a serving size actually looked like. In addition, being creative with my wild game, seafood, and fresh vegetables, I recreated my favorite dishes into a new healthier version of its previous self. I used seasoning and spices to give food more flavor so it was more filling. By making these simple changes to my diet, I began seeing a change on the scale.

858DB16B-58B1-4135-AE06-1E2F126229B7_zps9hvnk1qhI quickly realized that in addition to eating correctly, I needed to start a workout regiment for myself to be able to get stronger and gain muscle. I started off slowly by walking around the local university. Slowly it progressed into a walk/run and further distances.  I incorporated various weight lifting workout videos I found online. After I felt that I was strong enough, I decided to start working on building “mountain muscles”. I started off with a fifty pound sack of deer corn in my backpack I planned on using for my Colorado hunt. I walked to the university stadium and did the bleachers, then I walked a lap around the campus. Over time, I slowly added more and more weight until it was time to leave for the hunt.  Not only was this building muscles but it helped me get my pack adjusted correctly with heavy weight. By adding these additional exercises to my daily routine, I was able to drop weight even quicker and I was seeing a big boost in my energy levels.

The next part of my “elk ready” process was to re-access my gear and clothing choices. I knew we would be doing a pack in hike so I worked to find lighter alternatives to the supplies I had and reduced the amount of unnecessary supplies. I planned to bring dehydrated meals, vacuum sealed “harvest kits” containing such items as game bags. I planned out how to stuff all of these items into my pack. I weighed each item and then the pack as a whole to be sure that I could easily carry everything I needed. When I went to access my new choices of clothing, I tried to pinpoint problems I saw in my previous gear and worked along with EvoOutdoors CamoConcierge service to find products that would best solve these problems.

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aProblem 1: Stretch and maneuverability in durable pants. I quickly realized that my previous clothing was actually working against me while hiking because of its lack of stretch, especially in the pants. I decided to get a pair of the FirstLite Kanab 2.0 pants and the Corrugate Guide pants. Both offered a unique fit that was looser in the hips and thighs but more fitted in the lower half. This fit allowed for full range of motion. Both have high waisted fits and can be worn with suspenders, preventing them from riding down over time with a heavy pack and impeding maneuverability.  The Kanab 2.0 pants are made of ultra light merino wool with body stretch 1441587702159-1927885061nylon and also feature a rip stop pattern making them perfectly silent for a spot and stalk while being durable. The Corrugate Guide pants are made of a lightweight, durable, breathable nylon fabric that makes them nearly bombproof against all but the most extreme weather. While they aren’t as silent as the Kanab’s, they truly proved themselves to me in the rain we endured on an almost daily basis while in the Colorado mountains.  Not only were they somewhat water resistant, but when it came to getting drenched in the downpours, they dried very quickly making it possible to wear them again day after day. First Lite also features a “shooters cut” on their shirts (see problem 2) that have specially designed shoulders to allow full range of movement and fitted lower sleeve to prevent bow string interference.

Problem 2: Odor control after days of continued use. Knowing we would be in the back country for a number of days1430188149902-2353460841430071241262694008033a with limited ability to wash clothing, I needed clothing that would naturally neutralize odors, even after days of continued use. It was suggested that I use a merino wool based product because wool naturally wicks away moisture (as much as 30% of its weight) and releases it into the air. By doing this the moisture doesn’t remain on the skins surface, allowing bacteria and therefore odors to be created. First Lite created a women’s line of merino wool base layers that fit my needs perfectly. The set of the Lupine crew shirt and Larkspur bottoms created naturally odor resistant base layer that I topped with the Artemis hoody and finished it off with a pair of their Mountain Athlete Compression socks. Even after days of wear, these products remained relatively odor free (except for the socks, but I blame the waterlogged boots). Minus 33 has a line of merino based underwear that I also used and highly suggest.

Problem3: Reusable gear. Lets face it, I am a tight with my money so I wanted gear that not only worked well in the mountains but would also be good for hunting at home so I needed something that could span from the heat of 14301875240601376827267Louisiana early season but could stand up to a cool Colorado mountain archery season morning. I also wanted a pattern of camo that would work for both areas. First Lite accomplished these as well. Another 1409588562924-768062539great attribute of merino wool is because of its extreme moisture wicking abilities, it helps maintain the body’s natural micro-climate by removing the excess moisture in the air between the skin and clothing. This makes the wearer cooler in the heat and warmer in the winter. Previously, I was using a well known popular brand of camo that blended well in some locations but not in others. The fusion camo is a unique pattern described as “crackalature” by First Lite is designed to distort the hunter’s silhouette while avoiding “color blobbing” that has truly14398583972051093645653proven to blend in with everything from the rocks to the swamp. It uses large and small shape disruption to cause distortion of not only the general shape but of “texture” and depth also. Their website truly has some very interesting literature on this subject, but I can tell you from first hand knowledge that it is easy to lose someone sitting only a couple feet away from you in the fusion camo.

 

With these changes to myself and my gear, I headed west again with confidence and the ability to conquer whatever mother nature could physically throw at me. After a little over a ten mile hike, uphill, in the pouring rain into our designated camping spot and spending nearly a week in the back country, I could not conjure a single negative statement about the First Lite gear that had been suggested to me. As for my physical fitness, I had advanced leaps and bounds over what I would have been able to accomplish had I stayed on the path I was traveling.  I am no miracle worker or extraordinary case.

If I can change my life for something I am passionate about, just about any one can if they put in the time and effort.

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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Sarah Fromenthal was born and raised in South Louisiana. Sarah has a strong passion for hunting, fishing, the outdoors, and cooking what she catches/kills flowing throw her veins. She believes archery is a sport you can never completely master and is always reading, listening, and observing to become the best archer she can be, but she also loves to share the knowledge she does have with others.

I ♥ Deer Heart

 grilled venison heart recipe photo by holly heiser

In the pursuit of big game a lot of hunters aim for the heart however, I try to avoid making a direct heart shot if possible. “Why?” you might ask. Many people are familiar with using deer quarters, the loins, the backstrap, etc., but have you ever tried the heart?  Yes, the good ol’ pump station! Now do not be quick to blame my Louisiana roots on this craziness. The crazy Cajuns down here have been known to eat just about any part of any critter. Even here in Louisiana not many people have been brave enough to try the heart, but those few brave souls that have are delightfully rewarded with a beautiful cut of meat.

 

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Tips on Preparing the Heart (think back to your old anatomy classes):

  • Remove all of the blood and blood clots by rinsing thoroughly. Be sure to get deep down into the chambers of the heart and even submerging it in cold water while giving it a few squeezes will help flush any remaining blood out.
  • Cut away the “crown” of the heart leaving behind the main muscle. Cut away excess fat and connective tissue from the outer part of the heart, then butterfly and trim the remainder of the main artery, valves, and the fibrous tissue. What you are left with is gorgeous, filet-like meat that lacks the grainy, fibrous texture of the more traditional cuts of venison. The overall misconception is that it has a liver-like flavor when infact it does not.
  • Need step by step instructions? Click here!

 

 

 

“The Instant Grill”: Because what better way to enjoy your fresh wild game then on an open fire after skinning and quartering it?

IMG_5666Simply prepare the heart as previously mentioned, then season it as you would your favorite steak. I like to use garlic powder, season all, salt, pepper, and olive oil ( I also sometimes marinate it in beer, but its not required).

Light up the fire pit and sit back and relax until the embers and coals are nice and evenly hot. Throw the meat on the grill and cook to a medium rare and then remove from heat.  Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing to ensure that the juices do not run out. Enjoy! Best served with some awesome garlic mashed potatoes!

“I ♥ Fajitas”: Bring your typical boring fajitas to a new level with all fresh ingredients and a little venison love. 

Fajitas can be as extravagant or as plain as you like but this is my favorite way to eat them! After preparing your deer heart, slice into strips and season with your favorite fajita/taco seasoning mix and a little bit of garlic and cilantro. While that is resting, slice up some green onions, purple onions, yellow and red peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and more cilantro. Toss the mixture in lime juice and sear the veggies in a screaming hot skillet and cook until they are barely limp, then remove from the skillet. After the veggies are done, toss in the heart slices and cook until medium rare. Best served on a corn tortilla with the heart, veggies, avocado/guacamole , fresh cilantro (yes, I use a lot of am obsessed with cilantro), pico de gallo, and a drizzle of sriracha sauce on top.

Over the years I have had venison heart prepared in a few different ways, so be adventurous. Above are a few of my favorite ways to prepare the heart. In addition, a couple other good ways to prepare the heart include smothering it with onions, stuffing it with sausage or another stuffing of choice, and this awesome looking bruschetta recipe.

To those that have never tried it or were afraid to try it, would you be open to the idea of keeping and cooking your next big game heart? If so, which recipe would you indulge in first?

 

Sarah Fromenthal
EvoOutdoors Prostaff

Scouting New Land

EvoOutdoors ProStaff Team member Dale Evans shares tips on how to figure out and scout a new area:

 

In late May, I made the decision to move out West to Wyoming from Florida after separating from the Air Force. Without a Tag in my pocket for the state of Wyoming, I knew it was going to be a difficult year in the hunting woods. Being the avid hunter that I am, I knew I couldn’t take a fall off from hunting, so it was time to start looking into whatever tags were leftover. Luckily, I was able to find a few elk tags available close to where I live for. Knowing absolutely nothing about these areas, I knew I was going to have to do my homework in order to have success in these tougher units. That these areas were going to be particularly difficult I had no doubt, since that was why there were so many leftover tags.

 

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First things first, I ordered OnX Map software for the state of Wyoming. I’ve never used this software before, but was amazed at its’ ease of use. I set it up with the Google Earth software already installed on my computer and began doing my research. With the OnX Maps, you are able to clearly see Unit Boundaries for each major species within the state (i.e. Elk, Deer, Antelope), see the different land ownership around the whole state, and the landowner information for each parcel. Having this Overlay system at home helped so that I could have a game plan in place before ever leaving my house. Scouting a new area can be very intimidating, especially when you are looking at a large piece of land and have no idea where to start. OnX Maps has a lot of useful information and makes the task a lot less daunting.

After I familiarized myself with the boundaries of the specific unit, and somewhat familiarized myself with the Public and Private land, my next stop was to go and talk with the local Game and Fish Warden and State Biologist. These professionals are a wealth of knowledge, and I found the folks I spoke with to be extremely helpful. They helped with leading me down the right path of where to start scouting, when to expect the animals to be in a certain area, and what places I should stay away from. They also highly recommended having a good GPS with the OnX software, to help ensure I wouldn’t be trespassing and that I would have the necessary landowner information should I decide to request permission.

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The next step I recommend is to get yourself a good handheld GPS unit. I personally own a Garmin Oregon 600t, and have the OnX Wyoming chip installed. This is a great GPS that won’t break the bank, and I have found it to be very accurate. When you’ve made your game plan of places to go and scout in a new area, make sure to use your GPS. I like to have a few places already in mind that I want to check out and give a closer look when I’m heading into a new area. I’ll put waypoints into my GPS prior to going out to make it easier. Like I said before, a new area can be large and seem intimidating, so having a game plan is crucial: Have your predetermined points picked out, use the GPS to get to them, and have fun with your scouting. Unfortunately, sometimes the place that looks like a mecca on Google Earth, won’t be worth the time it took for you to get there. But, sometimes just walking around a bit will open your eyes to something you might have overlooked, or a little honey hole that couldn’t be seen with a computer program. Scouting is all about checking out places that you’ve never seen before, and finding where you will harvest your next trophy.

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Dale recommends the Garmin Oregon 600T

Figuring out new land can sometimes be very simple, and other times it is incredibly difficult. It can be anything from a small 20-acre parcel that you receive access to from the local farmer, or maybe you find yourself scouting out a vast wilderness area. Doing your homework definitely helps to eliminate obvious places, so you can use your time wisely and make the most of it. You also need to understand that scouting and figuring out the land is an ever evolving art. The animals may change their patterns from year to year so you should also be constantly looking for fresh signs and new places to be. Using these small tips will definitely help to shorten your learning curve, but a skilled hunter must be flexible and willing to change at the drop of a hat.

Game on the Go: Quick and Easy Meals for the Busy Hunter

As many of you know,  I am ALWAYS on the go between working full time as a Medical Technologist and being an outdoors obsessed woman.  Although I do not always have a large amount of free time, cooking a home cooked meal using the game and fish that I have harvested/caught is always preferred over a fast food burger or boring salad.  So here are a few of my favorite “quick” meals that I throw together when in a time crunch.

Crock Pot Wild Game Spaghetti:

Deer Spaghetti What you will need:

2 Large onions, 2 bell peppers, and garlic (chopped)

Wild game meat of choice (my personal favorite is to use green onion seasoned ground deer and deer stew meat together to have varying textures)

Can each of tomato sauce and tomato paste

2 Cans of stewed tomatoes

Mushrooms (canned or fresh)

Seasonings: Italian herb blend, garlic powder, “Tony’s” Season All, Salt and Pepper

Large Slow Cooker and a Large Skillet

 Before bed, brown your wild game thoroughly and saute the vegetables until tender. Throw this along with the cans of  stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste,  mushrooms, and two cups of water into the slow cooker and stir well.  Season to taste using the above seasonings (for added spice I throw in cayenne also).  Set the slow cooker to low and get some rest it will be there waiting for you after the morning hunt!

**CAUTION: IT WILL BE HARD TO SLEEP WITH YOUR HOUSE SMELLING SO AMAZING**

 

Grilled Fish with Creamy Crab and Mushroom Sauce

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Fish and Veggie NoodlesWhat you will need:

Fish of choice ( my favorites: redfish “on the half shell” or scaled whole bluegill)

Can of  low fat cream of mushroom soup

Lump crab meat

Onion (chopped) , Garlic (minced), and Mushrooms (now is a good time to use the morels you’ve been collecting)

Butter and Lite Italian Dressing (I prefer using the Olive Garden Light dressing)

Seasonings: Garlic powder, Louisiana hot sauce, “Tonys” Season All, Cayenne, Lemon juice

The fish: Marinate the fish with the minced garlic, hot sauce, Tony’s Season All, Garlic powder, lemon juice, and a little Italian dressing.  Make a basting sauce of softened butter, Italian dressing, hot sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and Tony’s/Season All. Grill until fish is thoroughly cooked basting regularly throughout the cooking process.

The Sauce:  Saute onions and garlic until tender, then add cream of mushroom and a half a can of water. Toss in crab meat, mushrooms, and desired seasonings then simmer on low while you grill your fish.

I like to serve the fish and sauce along with fresh vegetables from the garden such as squash and zucchini which are delicious grilled on the pit or cut into “noodles”.

Back Strap Salad

Back Strap SaladWhat you will need:

Whole Deer Back Strap (or for the brave… same recipe can be used on deer heart)

Baby Spinach or Spring Mix Salad

Red onion and garlic

Feta cheese and Parmesan cheese

Beer or wine (or for the non alcoholic version… Italian dressing)

Seasonings: (I think you get the hint by now that I put Tony’s, hot sauce, and garlic in everything)

Marinate the back strap with garlic and seasonings along with beer/wine/Italian dressing.  Sear the back strap in a skillet until cooked medium/ medium rare.  Set strap aside and DO NOT CUT until the meat has rested 5-10 minutes to allow for the juices to soak back into the meat. In the same pan, add a handful of chopped onions and some garlic and cook down until tender then add any remaining marinade and more of the beer/wine/dressing and reduce by half.  Mix together your salad, cheese, and raw red onions. Top with the sliced back strap and the reduced pan mixture.

 

Sarah Fromenthal – ProStaff EvoOutdoors

Hog Wild: A Porky Predicament

Wild Boar

 

After seeing many posts on social media such as ” You are so lucky to have so may hogs” and hearing of people hunting hogs that were “brought into the area”, I was completely blown away! LUCKY?! TRANSPORTING HOGS?! YOU’RE KIDDING ME RIGHT?!? So I figured a little education on hogs was in order.

Most Wild hogs originated from escaped free range domestic pigs that turned feral over time or European boars imported in for the hunt. They can weigh on average 150 up to 400 lbs and will live about 4-8 yearsWith a wide variety of habitats from marsh to timber land, they can thrive just about anywhere with access to water, cover, and food supply, but become very nomadic when food supply or human pressure changes.  Originating in the southern and western parts of the US, they have spread into new territories because of both legal and illegal introductions into new territory as game animals. (NEVER TRANSPORT LIVE HOGS!!!) Also a very rapid reproduction also leads to invasion of new regions to support growing population.  A sow can reach reproductive maturity after only 6 months, can have up to 10 piglets after a 115 day gestational period.

 SO THEORETICALLY :

365  days a year÷115 day gestational period ≈ 3 litters a year

3 litters per year × 5.5 years (avg life span of 6 years minus maturation time)

≈  16.5 litters over a lifetime

16.5 litters over their lifetime × average of 8 piglets per litter ≈ 132 piglets 

All from a single sow!

Mature boars usually live a solitary life and the sows and their piglets will stay in groups called “sounders”. Even alone and in small sounders, their extremely destructive rooting and wallowing can demolish more than a football field size area in a matter hour a few hours. All those piggies cause major havoc on the agricultural and forestry industries causing over 1.5 BILLION dollars in damages annually (not including the damage to wildlife, person property damages, and destroying the sensitive wetlands we fight to conserve).  . 

They can totally push out other wildlife populations from a desirable habitat because of their aggressive nature and ability to eliminate food sources. The best part? They have no natural predator except for humans … and themselves. That’s right hogs are omnivores! So besides eating up crops, acorns, saplings, and just about anything else they come across,  they also will eat other young and/or wounded hogs, turkey poults, fawns, turtles, fish, snakes, and other assorted small mammals and reptiles. They have even been known scavenge for diseased, wounded, or dead animals and have also known to attack and eat adult livestock. They will actually consume the entire carcass and not leave behind a shred of evidence.

Not only do hogs destroy property and consume livestock, they are a significant source of disease (usually without showing any physical sign). These diseases can be passed onto wildlife, livestock, humans and pets.

Cleaning the Hog

ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES!
Just because a hog appears healthy, doesn’t mean it isn’t infected.

Brucelosis: A bacterial infection that is transmitted to animals and humans through infected tissues or fluids (specifically reproductive organs, tissues, and fluids).  Symptoms: severe flu-like symptoms along with possibly crippling arthritis and/or meningitis.

Trichinosis: Microscopic intestinal round worm found in pork. To prevent infection be sure to cook meat thoroughly by allowing meats to reach an internal temperature of >170°F or by freezing at the meat 10°F for at least 10 days.

 Leptosporosis: bacterial infection transferable to humans via infected tissue/fluid causing flu like or hepatitis like symptoms

Pseudorabis Virus (PRV): Not a type of rabies; Viral infection transferable to animals only which can be spread to livestock and pets through contact with infected tissue or contaminated clothing, footwear, equipment, etc. PRV attacks the central nervous system, common cause of death in mature hogs. 

MORAL OF THAT STORY IS: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES, WASH HANDS AND EQUIPMENT WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER, AND COOK MEAT THOROUGHLY!

While their keen sense of smell, wariness of humans, and aggressive nature make them an ideal challenging big game animal to hunt, they are not to be hunted as you would a trophy whitetail or elk.  With all the negative aspects of the hogs presence, there is only one thing to do: reduce their numbers humanely and by any means possible (snaring, trapping, shooting, dog hunting, etc)! BIG OR SMALL–KILL THEM ALL!

Many states (Louisiana included) have made hog hunting a year round season and even have special designated times of the year where they can be hunted at night in effort to control the population.  Even with constant efforts to reduce numbers, it is nearly impossible to totally eradicate them (see previous astounding number of piglets per sow).

Erik's First Hog

 

 

photo 2

 

 

My Largest Bow Hog

 

 

So besides all of the negatives, there is one positive aspect of them: THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Besides the occasional extremely musky boar, wild pork tastes very similar to and can be prepared much in the same way as the store bought variety and can be just as tender.  A great way to eliminate any “wild” taste the pork (or any big game) may have is to “bleed” the meat in an ice chest for up to a week, adding ice as needed and draining the water.   Just be sure to take the proper precautions when cleaning and cooking to keep yourself safe from the previously mentioned bacteria/parasites.

Feta, Red Onion, and Spinach Stuffed Pork

Stuffed Pork:
-Marinade Pork loin/Roast with olive oil and seasonings
– Butterfly pork and top with fillings of choice (I used feta, spinach, and red onions)
-Roll the pork back on itself and secure with twine or toothpicks
-Sear in a hot skillet then roast in the oven until pork is cooked thoroughly.
-Enjoy

 

Got Wild Turkey?

Wild Turkey (Eastern) Feathers

Bagged a few wild turkeys this season and tired of frying it or cooking it the same old boring way? Try adding a little Cajun flair by transforming it into a sauce piquante (pronounced: sos-pee-kont).  Sauce piquante (which literally means hot; spicy)  is a spicy tomato based stew and can be made with a wide variety of meats including just about any wild game (and some fish).

Sarah Turkey HuntingBecause this was my first season actively pursuing turkey, I spent it tagging along with my dad and a few friends, observing and soaking in their every move like a sponge.  Although I had a few close calls, the score is still Longbeards – 1  Blondie – 0.  Knowing this, an awesome friend of mine graciously donated some of their surplus turkey meat (and even a turkey fan to add to my collection of antlers and various animal tails until I can get one of my own).

After the rush of having my hair stand on end from getting gobbled at up close and personal, I am officially hooked and have made it my personal mission to become more proficient at calling before next season. Heck maybe I’ll even luck up and bag my own trophy.

Wild Turkey Sauce Piquante:

 Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs of chopped wild turkey breast
  • 3/4 Cup White flour
  • 3/4 Cup of Vegetable oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion & 2 green bell peppers chopped small
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/3 cup Fresh chopped Parsley
  • 6 Cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 8 oz can of stewed tomatoes (drained)
  • 8 oz can of diced tomatoes (drained)
  • Cooked White Rice
  • 6 Whole dried bay leaves
  • Seasonings: Black pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic Powder, Louisiana Hot Sauce,  Onion Powder, Tony’s Creole Seasoning, and Zatarain’s Liquid Crab Boil (optional)

 

Roux (French thickening agent):

Mix flour and oil and cook until chocolate-brown.

  • Stove top method:  Cook on medium heat stirring frequently until desired color is achieved. 
  • Microwave method: Cook for 1 minute on full power. Stir. Continue cooking in 20-30 second intervals stirring between each until desired color is achieved. (I personally use the microwave method because it’s basically fool-proof)

Caution: If roux smells burnt, then it is and will ruin your dish! Do NOT try and save it by adding more flour or oil.   Start with a fresh batch and stir more frequently.

Sauce Piquante:

  • Season turkey with seasonings listed in ingredients (WARNING: Only use a drop or two of crab boil) and sear in a large pot until thoroughly cooked. (This is a good time to begin to prepare your roux… either microwave or stove top method)
  • Toss in bell peppers, garlic, green onions, yellow onions, and parsley and cook until tender. Mix in cans of  diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, and tomato paste with the vegetables, and let cook down for about 7 minutes before adding tomato sauce and about 8 oz of water.
  • Once sauce is bubbling, slowly stir in roux until well integrated.  Sauce should have a consistency of a thin spaghetti.
  • Add in Bay leaves and any additional seasonings to taste. Remember flavors will enhance during cooking so don’t over season. ( I do not feel that I am qualified to give measurements on seasonings being that I’m from south Louisiana and prefer mine blazing hot!)
  • Allow to simmer on low heat for a few hours (or overnight in a slow cooker).
  • Serve over white rice with green onion and parsley for garnish.

 Wild Turkey Sauce Piquante

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