Hunting

Venison Jerky a Tradition in the Mountain State

Drying meat into Jerky is a tradition in the mountain state and has always been a safe convent way to store meat over the winter. Our family makes it and shares it at the holidays as gifts with friends and family alike. We make several flavors and some are savory and some are more sweet but all of them taste great and make great snacks for the woods or the car.

As the last day of deer season approached this fall I had my older son and his family come to our house to help make venison jerky. I made a quick trip to the local store to pick up supplies and flavorings for the jerky. My whole family likes a traditional recipe that uses Soy Sauce and Worcestershire as the salty marinade for the preservative marinade for the Jerky but when heading to the sauce section of the grocery store I found empty shelves. No Soy Sauce of any kind and only a small selection of Worcestershire sauces.  So I added a selection  of A-1 sauce and Teriyaki sauce and a small bottle of Worcestershire sauce, thank goodness I had Soy Sauce on hand at the house.  So we made 4 flavors of Jerky with 8 pounds of Venison Roast.

white tail deer meat

white tail deer meat ready to be boned

With several hind quarter roasts that were lightly frozen we cut the meat into thin slices. Using slightly frozen meat allows us to control the slicing better. Setting my slicer to #1 we were able to get a slice that was about the thickness of a coin.  I placed a forth of the meat into individual Ziploc bags. Added a selected marinade and sealed the bags and placed them in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The following morning I removed the thawed steak and marinade from the refrigerator and prepared my drying racks. I also have a dehydrator but it is to small for large amounts of jerky that we were making on this day. So I placed a bakers cooling rack on top of a standard cookie sheet and sprayed both with a non-stick cooking spray. Pulling the marinated meat from the bags I placed one thin row of steak on the rack trying not to over lap the edges. Then placed the rack and cookie sheet into an oven that was preheated to its lowest setting. My oven will only go as low as 140 degrees and set timer for 6 hours. My dehydrator goes as low as 120 degrees and can run as long as the power is on. 8 hours is good for drying overnight and works great for about 1 pound of meat.

marninated-deer-steak-for-jerky

Soy Sauce Jerky ready to dry

 

After 6 hours I tested the Jerky for dryness. Jerky stores best if there is no fat and the moisture level is low but not so dry that the meat breaks when bent. I like my jerky slightly chewy and will cut the meat thicker to make it chewy. The meat will reduce in size about twice while drying, the thicker the meat the longer the dry time, and the chewier it will be when finished.

The recipe that I fallow “Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Jerky” comes from one of my favorite wild game cook books (North American Hunt Club Wild Game Cookbook). The A-1 sauce was a random idea and I would make it again any time my son asks for it. I have made the Teriyaki before and it is my personal favorite. The A-1 and the Teriyaki are used straight out of the bottle with out the addition of any other ingredients.

cookbook-with-jerky-guide

I used  4 pounds of  roast to make this jerky recipe and it worked wonderfully.

Oven-Dried Soy Sauce Worcestershire Jerky

by J.W. Kaufman Jr.

4 pounds Venison sliced or ground

1/2 cup Soy Sauce

2 Table Spoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Trim and Discard all fat from meat.Cut meat into 1/4 thick strips cut across the grain. Mix remaining ingredients together. Stir to dissolve as much as possible.Add meat,mixing thoroughly to coat meat well. Let stand 1 hour to over night, stirring occasionally.Place meat strips on drying racks or on oven racks covered with foil. Dry at lowest temperature until dry. 4-6 hours. I personally used the oven setting of 140 degrees and dried my jerky for 6 hours.

dried-jerky

Soy Sauce Jerky dried at 140 degrees for 6 hours.

 

I made gift bags after the jerky was totally dry and ended up with 6 bags of jerky. The first two ended up in my husbands and sons backpacks for the next hunting trip and work. The other 4 was given as gifts to friends of our family. The response from everyone who received a bag has been wonderful.$5.00 for 6 oz  bag for store-bought Jerky  Vs a 10 oz. bag of free jerky as a gift is always well received by the men in my family.

Hope you all have a happy and productive New Year as I cut up the last of the deer from the 2016 hunting seasons.It has been a busy year, my family was successful in filling my freezer and pantry once again.I am personally looking forward to spring and getting back out in the woods fishing and turkey hunting. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: country cooking, deer, Dehydrated Foods, Dried Foods, Hunting, Preserving, snacks, Venison, Venison Jerky, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Virginia’s Newest Predator

No matter how you stand on the issue of hunting/trapping it seems to take a different tone in rural places where farming is a way of life and predator hunting is seen as a vital part of protection for livestock. West Virginia like many eastern states is seeing an invasion of a new kind of predator. The Coyote is a relatively new member to the Appalachian ecosystem as migration of the Eastern Coyote ( a cross bred coyote and wolf)  has taken generations to happen. But the population is growing and more people are discovering what western folks have always known. No one wants a Coyote in the chicken house! So what to do with the increasing populations of non-native predators in our state?

coyote-pa-sports

Shy Coyote in Pennsylvania

The West Virginia Department of Wild Life has stated this on their Coyote research website page. “Predator control of coyotes preying on livestock should be restricted to targeted animals. Although bounties have been liberally used on coyotes in the west, no bounty system has ever worked. Liberal trapping seasons for the coyote should continue. Methods to encourage the sport of predator calling and means to target the coyote as a fur-bearer and game animal should be explored.

It is a challenging to be a farmer or rancher to start with, but to hear the yipping and howling of a pack of Coyotes from the front porch of your farm can be unnerving. Over the 18 years that we lived and worked our farm Coyotes were only in our area the last 6 to 8 years. It was often in the fall and winter that we heard the late night howling of the dogs.  Often it was during the early spring foaling season on the farm and same time of the year that our neighbors cattle were calving out in the pasture. By the end of  February  and March we would often see our friends out tending to the new-born calves and would meet along a fence row and talk about the winter weather and how the babies were growing. Often Tom and I would hear about the calves that were killed by Coyotes. It is tragic but one new born calf is no match for 3 or 4 Coyotes. Even today  we often spend time with farmers who raise sheep and goats who have purchased “watch animals” like Donkeys to protect the herd from the preying eyes of the dogs. The Coyote topic is becoming more common in my circle of friends. No farmer wants to lose his income to a predator. Losing one calf is a real financial  blow to a farmer. So hunting the mysterious animal is becoming big sport in the hills and hallows.

Within a 50 mile radius of our home there are 3 Coyote hunting contests every winter. Coyotes are legal game year around and electronic calls and artificial light or night vision hunting is legal from Jan to July. There are no bag limits, daily,seasonally or annually. So all a person needs is to hold a legal West Virginia hunting / trapping license to pursue a Coyote. Even with this liberal policy the Coyote population is growning and the conflict continues to rise.

So this fall as my husband and son were out deer hunting they watched a pack of three coyote running through the woods chasing a doe deer. It was a within a five-minute walk to a friend’s house where they roamed. They were close enough that if you walked your dog you may be confronted with them. I was shocked even after hearing them in the darkness night after night to think that they were hunting so close to our families farm and even closer to our nieghbors house.

What would you do? What will most of the rural farm families do when this happens to them? When is wild life to close for comfort? Do we need to lose life stock and small pets before it is allowable to remove the threat? The need to answer these questions are being raised in West Virginia, Pennsylvanian and Virginia.The Department of Wild Life of West Virginia says it is OK to protect and defend, so my husband felt that it was in the best interest of that doe and my neighbors dogs and cats to harvest two of the three Coyotes that day.

coyote-in-woods

Coyote dead in the West Virginia Woods 2016

I sit here and wonder if the Coyote will be to West Virginia and Pennsylvanian what the wild boar is to Florida and Georgia. An animal that causes more damage than good in the ecosystem and ends up on the front page of the DRN’s list of problems. I know for now that with the help of hunters and trappers we may have a chance to keep the Coyote out of the chicken house but we may need more professional help like Florida and Georgia have resorted to for their pig problems. What the future holds for farmers and Coyotes is unknown but I do know that the problem is not going away any time soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, coyote, deer hunting, equine health, Farming, Hunting, natural resources, West Virginia, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Venison, Wild Mushroom, Lasagna

Deer season started today, so to honor my husband and all the wild game he provides for my family, I made this wonderful venison  meal.

I love to cook with wild foods and two of my favorites are Venison and Wild mushrooms. I had a few pounds of ground venison in the freezer from last year and about a pound of frozen wild mushroom from summer.The mushroom I am using is a  Chicken Mushrooms ( Laetiporus- Cincinnatus) the orange verity. I also had home-made Marinara sauce out of the garden. All that I needed from the store was cheese and noodles.

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

This was the foraged mushroom that I had a portion of frozen.

white spore, Chiken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

white spore, Chicken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

The stems of the mushroom can be woody, I saute’ them  chopped in butter with a little onion and garlic before I brown my meat. It can take several minutes to make the mushroom stems soft. I like to use bigger pieces so they do not lose their texture in the cheese mixture. I cook the mushroom mixture a little longer then what it takes to soften the onions. Set it aside to wait assembly of the lasagna.

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

I then brown about a pound of ground venison with a little oil to keep it from sticking to the pan.

Browning ground Venison

Browning ground Venison

Because Venison is so low in fat the moister you see in the photo is not oil but moister from the meat. It will cook off and I add Salt and little pepper and one quart home-made Marinara Sauce or your favorite sauce. Adding 1/2 cup water to store-bought sauce or 1 cup to my thick sauce to add the additional moister for Oven Ready Noodles. If you use regular cooked noodles you would skip the water.

Then mix together in a large bowl the Cheese mixture of your choice. I like ricotta cheese in my lasagna for two reasons. First it has a lower moister content and will not get really runny with the Oven Ready Noodles. Secondly the flavor to me is better when mixed with Italian seasonings.

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Then add sauce to venison and place about 1/2 cup in bottom of 13 X 11 pan cover with uncooked noodles.

Venison marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Venison Marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Cover noodles with cheese mixture and top with sauteed mushroom and onion mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

I then top this with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and cover the top with more venison sauce topping that with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Back in the oven lightly covered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes and let stand at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven. This allows the cheese to set up while cooling and keeps the lasagna firmer when cut and not too hot to eat.

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

Ingredients

1 pound wild mushrooms

1 med onion

1 teaspoon or two cloves garlic

2 teaspoons butter

1 pound ground venison

1 quart or more Marinara sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

1 pound ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup fresh shredder Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 1/2 table spoons Italian seasonings

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon parsley

1 box Oven Ready Noodles… the non-boil kind

Directions

  1. Saute chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic in butter a minute or two more than when the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Brown 1 pound of venison in large skillet, add salt and pepper and 1 quart of Marinara Sauce. Simmer until warm and bubbly.
  3. In a 13 X 11 backing pan spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup meat sauce in bottom of pan, making sure to cover entire bottom of pan adding more if needed.
  4. Cover sauce with one layer of Oven Ready Noodles.
  5. In large bowel add all but a handful of cheeses. Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and two eggs. Mix until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Add Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic salt to cheeses and mix.
  7. Scoop cheese mixture over Oven Ready Noodles and smooth out.
  8. Cover cheese with mushroom and onion mixture, spread evenly cover with 1/2 cup sauce below noodles.
  9. Cover with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and top with sauce, topping with left over cheese.

10.Cover loosely with tin foil  and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

So with high hopes I can fill my freezer again this year with fresh organic meat..best of lucky Tom, Cody and Bill may you hunting season be filled with the joy of nature and thrill of the hunt and the knowledge that you have provided another year of food for your families.

Categories: cooking, deer hunting, Foraging, Hunting, lasagna, mushroom hunting, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Venison, venison Lasagna, venison Lasagna, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Grandpa’s Home Canned Venison Chili Sauce, made from the garden.

When trying to live closer to the land many families turn to hunting, fishing and home gardens. In our families case we do all three, letting nothing that comes our way go to wast. Canning venison chili Sauce is a great way to use up extra produce in the garden and take a little of last years deer burger and make it into an on the go meal for those cold winter months still to come. This Labor Day weekend my family made about 13 quarts of this chili starter in about 6 hours. Each quart of sauce when added to one large can of kidney beans will make 5 to 6 servings of home-made goodness.

We started with only one problem, my tomato plants blighted this year. I have only one remaining tomato plant and we had to buy the two quarts of juice this recipe calls for. In better years I have made tomato juice and added some Tabasco sauce for the bite we love in our chili. So instead this year we bought two bottles of V-8 ( one hot and one regular) to fill the needed juice in this recipe.

I used the current Ball “Blue Book, Guide to Preserving” as our guide for processing times and head space for  making our meat sauce base. Any ground meat including venison should be processed for 1 hour and 15 minutes with chili needing a 1 inch head space. We then used grandpa’s recipe for the broth portion of the chili and added the recommended 5 pounds of ground venison. This resulted in 6 quarts of what my family knows as  Grandpa’s venison chili and it is a family favorite.

My kitchen smelled soooo good for most of the day because of the  fresh ingredients from my garden like hot peppers and garlic.

Cody,Jamie and I cooking and canning

Cody,Jamie and I cooking and canning

So for Grandpa’s Venison Chili

1 large yellow onion

2 teaspoons chopped or pressed garlic

1 cup sweet pepper diced

1/2 cup hot peppers ( we used banana peppers).Up this amount to 1 cup if you use plain tomato juice

3  cups tomato paste or 4 small cans.

2 quarts of tomato juice, or in this case 2 quarts v-8 juice one hot and one plain

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

black pepper to taste

5 pounds ground venison

2 table spoons vegetable oil

this makes 6 to 6 1/2 quarts of canned chili.

Some of the many peppers I have growing in the garden

Some of the many peppers I have growing in the garden

In a large 8 quart stock pot add oil, onions and garlic. Saute’ until onions are beginning to soften and add ground venison. Brown all 5 pounds over mid heat with onion and garlic. Once the meat is cook add juice and all remaining ingredients. Simmer for about ten minutes string often to prevent sticking and making sure all the ingredients mix thoroughly.  Bring chili to a boil and ladle into clean, sterile, quart mason jars leaving 1 inch of head space. After cleaning any spills off top lip of jar, top with clean sterile lids and rings that are just tightened. Place in pressure canner with simmering water ( amounts vary)  and add lid and begin to process after ten minutes of steam has escaped the canner. Process jars for 1 hour 15 minutes at ten pounds pressure. Remove hot jars from canner and set in a clean dry place to cool and you should hear the ping of the lids as they seal. Eat any chili in unsealed jars with in a few days and store inside the refrigerator. The remaining jars that have sealed should be used within a year of processing and stored in a place that stays above freezing.

Home canned Venison chili with canner

Home Canned Venison Chili with Canner

Now all I need is a crisp cool day to enjoy this home-made chili. Happy Canning!

 

Categories: canning, country cooking, deer hunting, gardening, Hunting, Tomatoes, Venison, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Virginia “Mountain Time” Life Style

A fellow blogger,  Dan Wall at Northeirthanthou.com  and his Alaska blog, has gotten me thinking that maybe I have become a true native of West Virginia if only for the fact that I have fallen deeply line with what he calls “Native Time”. He recently brought up the topic in a post about how the native people of Alaska have a slower, less formal passage of time. I have had this same experience when I moved to West Virginia. I lived on Boulder/Denver time and was always on the look out for some thing different and exciting to do. I was rushing from work to the next party or shopping trip or concert. Then I moved and experienced  what I will call “Mountain Time” I know there are other places all over the country that fall into this “Mountain Time” description. It seems that here in the “Mountain State” the feeling does not end when you head to town.

New River Gorge Bridge fall folage 2002

New River Gorge Bridge fall foliage 2002

Things here just make you slow down. I think much like other mountain communities is starts with the terrain and lack of basic services. You must understand that when I moved here in the early 1992 I had neighbors who did not have in door pluming. My husband did not have cell service while driving major interstate highways. We lived with out power for two weeks almost every winter and no one really complained or ran to town looking for a hotel. We drank well water and melted snow for washing dishes when the pump went out. These living conditions are typical for thousands and thousands of people who live in the rural areas of our state. When you live out of cell service and you internet is still dial-up in 2015. You just live to far from town to not live slower.When getting out of your driveway in winter takes two or three days, you are on “Mountain Time”.

The people of West Virginia  have learned by living in this rough environment that just a simple task can become a monumental challenge. For example, my experience with the BarnWood Builders lost the production company money. In the end, the barn wood that I now have at my house was to hard to truck out of the hollow where the barn sat. The producers tried in vain to hire a tractor-trailer to haul the wood out and not a single company would take a truck with in 8 miles of the barn. There was no where a truck that size could turn around, there was no place to park a truck unless blocking the gravel road.

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

So unless the wood got sold to, or given to, families like mine who have pick up trucks and strong backs, the wood was out of reach. In the end the majority of the wood from the barn burned on site, it was just too much work getting it out.  It just takes more time to do everything when you are living in terrain like this. Nothing is flat, everything grows some kind of poisons vine or is topped with a huge tree. The creeks flood and rivers are too deep to drive through.

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

I also think that part of  “Mountain Time” is that people who generally live a hunter/ gather/ agrarian life styles have a broader picture of time. They look at their  lives as part of the a seasonal plan rather than a monthly or day-to-day plan. When you are look at how crops are grow…(really think about how slow plants grow) your mind is not focused on today or tomorrow but what will happen in three weeks. If you are a hunter or trapper it could take months to harvests your game and you are look forward in 3 month jumps of time. Then when the work needs done you still have to fallow what the seasons allow you to do. It is a system that works very in tune with the weather and seasons. In the heat of an August day you would never expect a West Virginia farmer to attend an afternoon meeting… He is busy getting his hay or corn in. He will work his fields until 7 or 8 at night. You would never expect my husband home for a mid day meal during deer season. He has spent hours hiking into his favorite hunting spot and spent hours planing and tracking a buck. If I am lucky he will be home about an hour after dark around 6, if not later if a nice buck needs dragged home. I am never surprised any more when school is cancelled because of rain. I have had feet of water in my barns and driven through water that ran on the floor boards of our truck just to make sure my family and farm was safe.Tom and I have given aide to ATV riders who crash into trees or rolled over in the woods. Making a short horse trimming trip into an afternoon adventure as we waited for emergency responders to arrive for total strangers. It is all part of the experience and it all takes time… and usually it is not about the clock but being in the moment.

Twisted grape vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

Twisted grape-vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

So, if you are lucky to live on “Mountain Time” you will see Tom and I up at 4:30 tomorrow morning dressing for a morning of turkey hunting. We will then head home around 1 to a midday meal that we share once a week with my older sons family.Then if the weather allows we will be tiling and planting the garden until about 3 pm.Then naps and up again for dinner and tile work until 10 pm.This all depends on the turkey tomorrow… so who knows if my schedule will work out at all and if I will even be on time for any of it because I live on “Mountain Time”.

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

 

Categories: back woods, Barnwood Builders, Country life, deer hunting, Hardwood forest, Hunting, rural life, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Recycled Lumber into a Hunters Reloading Bench.

The one thing my husband asked for when we moved was to have enough room in the house so that he could have a reloading room. As an avid rifle and shotgun hunter he has discovered that reloading is a key ingredient to his successes in the field. It is one of the many ways that he stays active with his favorite hobby even in the off-season. So when we looked at house we loved the fact that it included  a small bedroom with knotty pine wood paneling and wood floors. The room would work perfectly for a man who needed a work bench and good lighting. The small room is now a work room with a reloading bench that any gun nut would love to have.

Downloadable plans for a reloading bench

Downloadable plans for a reloading bench

Tom was able to find the plans on-line and with a lot of scrap lumber, Tom made this bench only purchasing plywood and a sheet of Masonite. Even the paint for the bottom and legs was from the previous home owners collection of left over paint. At one time most of the parts of this bench where scraps from cement forms that Tom saved from being sent to the local dump from a construction site. The 4 x 4’s were actually found in the basement of the other house and were free. With scavenged lumber and paint I think our cost to build the bench was well under 100 dollars. The normal cost of materials could have cost around 350 dollars or more.

bottom portion of the reloading bench

bottom portion of the reloading bench

Top Portion of reloading bench almost finished

Top Portion of reloading bench almost finished

As you can see from the plans Tom did not make the sliding doors for the front of the cabinet portion yet and may not use them at all in the future. Trying to find the track for the sliding doors has been a bit of a challenge and may lead to him not using them at all. It really will depend on if he feels the need to cover up all of his supplies.

Tom getting ready to use his new reloading bench

Tom getting ready to use his new reloading bench

The next step in the process is to mount some of his reloading presses. In his case he has two shoot shell loaders and two rile reloading presses. So the front of the bench will be home to several holes so that the presses are removable at any time. In most cases once the presses get mounted they will be on the bench for long periods of time. Making a sturdy work area for the thousands of cases my husband loves to load.

It took Tom less than a month to do this project on nights and weekends and it will soon be joined by a smaller wall mounted drop table top for gun repair and cleaning. Soon he will finally have a place to really enjoy his guns and reloading work with out worries that one of the kids has gotten into some of his supplies.

Tom hopes to get things finish up and mounted as we only have 3 months until turkey season and we are both so excited to get back in the woods with our spring gobbler tags. He plans to spend at least three weekends  hunting and that means being ready with home loaded shot shells. I am guessing that this recycled wood and 100 dollars going is the best investment he has made it a long time.

Categories: furniture, hobbies, Hunting, recycling, reloading, rifle and shoot guns, Turkey season, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Family Tradition: Deer Season Opening Day Nov 27th 2014

I was born into a hunting family, I married into a hunting family and I am now raising my own little hunters. So if you find hunting or eating wild game offensive please skip this post. The hunting life style is a huge part of our everyday lives here in North Central West Virginia. Our family’s have hunted for wild game for generations. This is a wonderful photo of my husbands Grand Father with a 28 point buck that shot some time in the 1950’s in Randolph County West Virginia.

Thomas Bennton Powers  with his monster buck

Thomas Benton Powers with his monster buck

My father on the other hand hunted for Elk and Mule deer in the mountains of Colorado. Both families eat what they hunted and were subsistence hunters. This was a way to feed their  family’s through long cold winters and lower the cost of having sometimes 4 to 8 children.

So hunting in my family today is less important to sustain our smaller families, but is still a deeply rooted part of who we are as people. It is on these cold dark November mornings that sometimes three and ever four generations gather together after working long hours all summer to find time to finally visit. In most cases the whole family gets involved in some way, some cook food for the hunters who roam in and out, some butcher, some hunt, some grind and pack but every one takes part in the opening of Deer Season.

Toms dad with a nice buck in the 1980's

Toms dad with a nice buck in the 1980’s

Tradition is that Grandma starts Grandpa’s coffee pot around 5:00 a.m. on opening morning. The sisters get chili on the stove for lunch and I  wash knives clean grinders and get butcher paper out and get ready to butcher.The drive way slowly fills with trucks and SUV’s and at 5:45 a.m. just about everyone in the family besides the smallest children are up eating a hardy breakfast going over plans for the day. Before the death of my father-in-law mornings in the kitchen sometime warmed 10 people ready to head to the woods looking for a deer that was worth the effort of dragging home.

Cody A Powers age 8 first deer.. 1998... 78 years after the above photo of his great grandfathers deer

Cody A Powers age 9 first deer.. 2000… 50 years after the above photo of his great grandfathers deer

In our family it is not only the men who hunt and my daughter in law and myself have hunted and learned the rules of safe hunting. We are not able to hunt as often as the men but we enjoy what time we can spend in the cool quite mountain air just like they do. The hunting sport is very adaptable for anyone who choose to have the experience. My son who is 6 will hunt with his dad this year although he is not allowed to kill any thing until he is 8 years old. I will hunt later in the year after the Thanksgiving rush is over and go muzzle-loader hunting in Dec. if my foot allows. My daughter in laws brother who is a paraplegic will hunt from his truck in a mountain meadow with a friend again this year. The people who enjoy the hunting experience are as different as any group but share one common believe. That hunting is a gift, that nature should be shared and protected. That the more time we are able to get back to our roots the better we are as people.

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

Hunting teaches so many lessons that are rarely learned any place else. First is of course is gun safety and second is the lesson about life and death. It is in a hunters first kill that they discover the emotional and moral consequences of killing another being. There are many people who after that first kill discover that hunting is NOT EASY. It is not a prideful experience and many people chose to never do it again. Then there are others who give thanks for what they have received from the earth and know that with the loss of one life, ours will continue. It is one of the only ways that a person can feel that they are truly part of the cycle of life. That you are a living part of nature, part of a system that is older than the human race.

Cody at 22 years old with his 1st wild turkey.

Cody at 22 years old with his 1st wild turkey.

I know that there are bad people everywhere and the hunting community has their share. I can’t tell you that people do not poach wild animals, I can’t tell you that people don’t trophy hunt. I can’t tell you that people don’t get hurt while hunting, guns are dangerous and deadly. What I can tell you is this, that the time shared outside with a grandfather or grandmother is what teaches the next generation about the meaning of life. It is the connection from one generation to the next that forms a bond of education and respect. I want my sons and grandsons to have the same experiences and life lessons that my husband and I have had in the woods. It is from generations back that we teach others how to have respect for what the land gives to us.

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

So as opening morning of deer season approaches the excitement builds. The guns get cleaned, the warm gloves are found, friends called and plans confirmed. When dawn comes you experance a fall sunrise through the trees, watch steam rise from an icy pond, listening to chip monk chattering in the leaves and see hunting in a different way. It really isn’t about killing at all. It is about family and wild life and the glory of an early morning in the woods.

Tom and Christopher getting ready to hunt together age 5

Tom and Christopher getting ready to hunt together age 5

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Cody, deer hunting, family memories, Hunting, natural resources, Seneca Rocks, Uncategorized, Venison, wild food, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Canning wild game, a non electric storage opption

 As  some of you already know my family lives as much as possible on the land that surrounds us and the bounty that God provides. This includes fall hunting for wild game and fishing as much as possible for our food. My problem has always been what to do with all the meat that the boys bring into me. Well of course we freeze a large portion of our meat and fish but three years ago we went with out electric for about 10 days and lost most of our families food. This brought up the conversation about going back to canning at least a portion of our meats so we would not  lose all of our food again.

 My husbands family has cold packed canned deer and pork for over 40 years mostly because the quality of meat when it comes out of the jars is OUT STANDING. The high pressure and moister combine and make the most tender juicey meat. The only way to explain it is to think pulled pork that all you have to do is open the jar and pour out. We can deer meat for BBQ sandwiches and I make a wonderful deer tips with gravy out of. The meat is safely stored for two years and is easy to transport to hunting camps and on summer camping trips. The meat is already cooked, warm the contents and eat.

To start with I suggest that anyone wanting to learn more about the safety and processes of home canning get a good canning book like this one.

Ball blue book of canning copy right 1970

Ball blue book of canning copy right 1970

Processing of meats MUST MUST MUST be done under presser so this process is not for those who use the boiling water bath method. Meat is very easy to process but the time involved is a little lengthy. The average time is 1:30 of cooking time so I plan about 4 to 5 hours from boneing out the deer to the end of the canning process. One nice size white tail deer will make about 7 quarts of cold packed stew meat. In this case I made 6 Jars and had about 11/2 lbs left over I wanted to use in another way.

First, as always wash and sterilise your jars rings and lids, and look for chips or cracks in the jars.This defect will prevent the jars from sealing properly and spoil the meat or make a huge mess in the canner. I use quart jars and this will make about 4 portions of meat per jar. You can use pints and adjust the cooking time accordingly ( pints process for 1 hour 15 mintues).

I start my canning preparations with washing everything down with a little bleach water that includes my cutting boards and knives and even the table where I am cutting the meat. We cover everything with butcher paper and get the meat ready to debone.

white tail deer meat ready to be deboned

white tail deer meat ready to be deboned

 We do not can the tenderloin pictured above left. They are tender enough on their own but the remaining steaks and roasts get processed.  The only requirement is that the pieces of meat are about bite size and fit in the mouth of your jars easily. We try to remove any excess fat or connective tissues. Cold packing jars saves time but the meat can be cooked and packed hot with a broth in jars also.

bite size pieces of deer steak

bite size pieces of deer steak

 These pieces get packed into warm sanitized jars and with a wooded spoon. I push firmly to pack meat into the jars this removes excess air gaps and fills the jars full. You need a one inch head space in the jar to prevent the natural juices from leaking out of the jars as it boils in the canner.

deer meat ready to be packed in jars

deer meat ready  for jars

The fuller the jars the better it is, the nature broth will not cover loosely packed meat and this can lead to discolored meat after storage.

using a funnel keeps jars cleaner when packing

using a funnel keeps jars cleaner when packing

At this point you have the option of adding salt to your meat, we add 1 teaspoon per quart of meat. It is not a necessary item but does make the broth and meat more flavorful so we choice to use it.

adding salt to canning jars of meat

adding salt to canning jars of meat

 The next step is to clean the lip of the jar and make sure no salt or meat residue remains on jar to prevent the lids from sealing. Then add the lids and seal to jars and place them in the canning with enough water to cover the jars by at least one inch of water.

canning jars in pressure canner with water

canning jars in pressure canner with water

  Then cover the canner and start a high fire. Venison is canned at 10 lbs of pressure for 1 hour and 30 minutes making it take around 2 hours total. The first 30 minutes is for the heat to raise into the canner to reach 10 lbs pressure. I usually let my canner cool over night so the cooling process doesn’t interfere with use of my stove. In the morning the jars and water are still hot to the touch but ready to remove from the canner.

  At this point the jars are cooling and I check to make sure all the seals are tight and each jar is clean. I usually risen them before adding the name of the contents and date.  I usually process at least two deer every year this way and this gives us security that even if the power goes out we will have fresh safe meat to eat.

canned deer meat and my hard working canner

canned deer meat and my hard-working canner

 Don’t be surprise that after you jars have cooled even further that a small amount of fat appears in the jars. It is not seen when the jars are warm and slowly forms on the top of the broth. It is totally safe and not going to spoil. The fatter the meat the more fat will form in the top of the jar. In this case venison is very lean and usually less than a teaspoon of fat collects in the jar after canning.

This process is the same useing beef or pork. The only changes that are made are for cooked meats and stews or soups. That is when you really love having your “Ball Canning Guide” so that every thing is safe and healthy.

My

Categories: canning, country cooking, deer, deer hunting, Hunting, Venison | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Hunters Helping the Hungry In West Virginia

        Another reason to support hunting and those who choice to live off the land. My family is full of outdoors people. Eating of wild game and sharing it with others is our  way of life. This program is another way for all of us to give back to the communities where they live, work and hunt. 

Hunters Helping the Hungry  (http://www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH.shtm) is a non-profit state program that helps feed thousands of the homeless and low-income families in our area. Hunger affects the elderly, the homeless and children the most and this is one way our family is able do what we love and make it a little easier for someone in need all at once. Tomorrow is opening day for Deer Bow Season and my husband along with thousands of others in the state of West Virginia will head out before day break to get the frist venison of the season. It is while I they hunt that I gear up to donate a couple of our deer this year and help in the distribution of the product to our state-run food pantry. It is our way of sharing our bounty with those who can not get out and feed themselves.

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

   If you are a resident of West Virginia contact the above website for meat processors in your area.Their are 17 locations this year. “Since its inception in 1992, HHH has provided venison for more than 1.1 million meals to the needy West Virginians”. In the year 2010 there were 35,433 pounds of meat processed and given to the hungry of our state. It is a blessing to give and there are other ways to get involved. Nov 3, 2013 Is “Share the Harvest Sunday”, local churches are encouraged to have their congregations donate any amount of money to this program to pay the ever rising cost of the processing and transportation of the meat. If you are not a church member and would sill like to donate to this cause please contact,

Hunters Helping The Hungry

WVDNR Wildlife  Resources, 324 Fourth Ave, South Charleston, WV 25303.

 Please think of your ability to hunt for food as a gift like we do. We share our love of the wilderness with everyone we can. I feel it is my responsiblity as a hunter and a cook to help in any way I can to make sure that the families in my community have hearty healthy meals that they can count on in the winter. A hot-pot of venison vegetable soup can go a long way making life better for a child and adults alike. I am lucky I  can make a difference by just doing what I love… CAN YOU ? Please think of who you can help with your love of hunting in the State of West Virginia and donate to Hunters Helping the Hungry.

Categories: deer, deer hunting, hunters helping the hungry, Hunting, Venison, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wild Turkey, and our the dinner table

  Turkey season in West Virginia starts on the first week of May and runs through to the end of the month. My Husband started hunting the timid birds as  teen with some success, but  had taken many years off from hunting them recently. With more time to pursue hunting, Tom thought it would nice to see if turkeys were still in the area. Within  two trips to the woods he brough home this. A nice gobbler that was not to old to eat and enjoy.

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Then  my husband teased our older son Cody  “you need to see if you could keep up with the old man” and get one for himself. Well in “show up  my dad style” my son also got his turkey the very next day. Two large gobblers in two days what a great weekend.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 So early friday morning I got my first lesson on wild turkey cleaning, processing and cooking. With the help of family friends, we were able to get a quick lesson on cleaning a turkey.Ken suggested that we “NOT CLEAN” the whole bird. “You will only need to clean the whole bird if you are not going to roast it” he stated.Ken also suggested that we only “remove the breast and thighs of the bird to eat and leave the rest.” So by mid morning,working on the tail gate of our pick up, my husband and I removed the parts of the bird that we planed to eat. We also removed the tail fathers and wings for crafts with natural fathers. By skinning the bird instead of plucking it, the entire process took less than 20 minutes we had no feathers to remove and no entrails to clean up. The meat was fresh and clean and ready to eat or freeze quicker then I could drive to the local store to buy meat.

  With the meat removed, washed and frozen. I started the process of looking and asking friends about their favorite Wild Turkey recipes. Wild Turkey is extremely low in fat and moisture and can easily be over cooked. So, with this in mind I went to the National Wild Turkey Federations web site for help…at www.nwtf.org/tips_adventures/recipes.php. They have a nice collection of recipes and Tom and I chose one for Turkey cutlets.

 The process is very simple and the list of ingredients is short, almost everyone will have these items in their home. All of these items can switched out with store-bought organics… making a 100% organic main course

2 whole wild turkey breasts

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/3 bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing ( I use Wishbone)

1/4 of a pound real butter

First take the wild turkey breast and cut slices across the grain of the meat about 1/4 of an inch thick. The slices will vary in size, some  large and some small. I also cut the tender strip of meat that is on the back of the breast and removed the tough tissues  from its middle section before cooking.  

Place all the these pieces into a  gallon zip lock bag adding enough zesty italian salad dressing to cover the turkey and mix dressing  into the  meat to cover every piece.

Let sit in refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Turkey cutlets after  marinading for 3 hours

Turkey cutlets after 3 hours in marinade

heat 3 teaspoons butter in large skillet and roll cutlets in remaining ingredients of flour, salt and pepper mixture.

Fry cutlets over low heat until turkey is firm and is easily picked up with a fork. This may take more time for larger cutlets and short time for smaller ones.

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Turkey cutlets cooking

Turkey cutlets cooking

 Brown them slowly on both sides( low to low-med heat) adding butter as needed. I remove the first batch to a paper towel covered plate, putting them in a 200 deg oven to keep warm, as I fry the next batch of turkey. Two breasts easily feeds 4 to 5 adults and we have found that the kids love these home-made turkey tenders also.When serving the cutlets if they are not cooked to long, we omit any sauces. But, if you like to dip chicken/ turkey in a  sauce we used honey mustard, and it was very good.

The flavor of the turkey is mild, yet more buttery then domestic turkey,  cooked this way it has become a family favorite. As of this weekend, we have eaten every bite of the 4 turkey breasts the boys brought home this spring. My family will have to wait until next year to have this dinner again, and that is a long time coming. Now I may just have to get my gun out and get my own next year.

Happy hunting and cooking, hope to have another Wild Turkey recipe posted soon.Wild Turkey Pot Pie… this one is our own family creation. I just have to redo the spices and type up some thing our family already loves.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, country cooking, Hunting, organic foods, West Virginia, wild food, Wild turkey, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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