Posts Tagged With: hunting

All for the Sake of Dogs: My visit to the Old Hemlock Foundation.

Summer has gotten ahead of me this year. We have been traveling a lot for work and pleasure. So I have a back log of stories about the people, places, and events which, I have been enjoying. Needless to say, I love the people of my state. I have met some really wonderful people this summer like LeJay and Hellen Ann Graiffious, director and caretakers at  Old Hemlock Foundation.

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Lejay Hellen Willow and Laurel

LeJay Graffious with Mountain Laurel and Helen Ann Graffious with Black Willow. Used with permission of OHF.

On the other hand, I am about to say good-bye to some absolutely wonderful AmeriCorps volunteers. It is August and it is the end of their year term, so things are very hectic as some leave and some join the program. So, I wanted share one of the many stories that could be written about another AmeriCorps Site, Old Hemlock Foundation in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, where I did some hiking this summer.

Tucked away in some of the most beautiful old growth forest property in North Central West Virginia is the Old Hemlock Foundation, the home of George Bird Evans and his wife, Kay. Known internationally as an author, an artist, a husband and dog breeder of profound influence, George called a rural 230 acres in Preston County home. His life could be defined as a Renaissance Man of the last century, a man who lived life on his own terms. Yet, this post today is more about the writings of George and his wife,  Kay, the property the foundation cares for and the DOGS. Oh my, the beautiful dogs!

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 Mountain. Laurel,(back)  Black Willow (front) English Setters  of the Old Hemlock line.Photo used with permission OHF.

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Mt. Laurel in the lap of Tom and Christopher Powers in the home of George Bird Evans.

The relationship we have with dogs can be profound. At the Old Hemlock Foundation a guest enjoys hearing the story of how and why George began the Old Hemlock line of  English Setters, about his love of upland game bird hunting, and the land that he called home. You experience their lives in a personal and inmate way surrounded by their belongings and dogs. The entire visit felt as if George and his wife, Kay, had just stepped out for a trip to town and left my family with the two dogs and neighbors for company. The opportunity to explore their home, enjoy their writings, see their artwork and spend time with their dogs immerses you in the experience unlike most museums or art gallery exhibits.  You begin to feel their presence as you walk the pathways to the house and walk into the woods they saved from timbering.

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Living room bookcase with the writings of George Bird Evans.

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Mt. Laurel sleeping on bed

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Fireplace surround and Mantel in Master Bedroom of George and Kay Evans.

The home of George Bird and Kay Harris Evans, built-in 1815 was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and is still the location of many of family’s personal belongings. Seeing where this talented man spent his hours reading, writing and drawing was enlightening. To be able to write  professionally at the small desk by a north window of their home was impressive. George was dedicated to sharing his stories and helping people understand his life in the field hunting for grouse and working his dogs. It is apparent to me now that the house and desk were merely vessels that George used to get his message out into the universe. His life, home and books will be a source of inspiration for years to come, as I continue to aspire to be a writer.

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Illustrations created by George Bird Evans for Cosmopolitan Magazine.

 

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George Bird Evans photo on top of the desk in the photo.

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Front View of the home of George and Kay Evanses with side porch showed in the sun circa 1780

When you see the photos of the family with their beloved dogs displayed proudly on the walls you begin to understand the family’s connection with the English Setters. With no children of their own the dogs were a constant source of love, affection, laughter, and respect. George writes about his dogs, not in an anthropomorphic way, but in a transcendental mystic way, making his relationship with the animals a spiritual connection. A relationship built on shared respect and the joy.

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Mountain Laurel planted by Kay, blooms at the front wall of the Evanses’s Home

The joy that he experienced with his dogs is shared with guests still today. LeJay and Helen Ann Graffious live with two Old Hemlock Setters on the property. So in the tradition of George and Kay there is never an un-dog related pleasant moment. Willow and Laurel, registered Old Hemlock English Setters, make each and every person feel at home and welcome on the property. The speckled coated dogs( known as belton coats) attend every hike, every meal and class that is given on the property.  They are magical animals … and  I see why George spent a life time writing about the deep love he had for the Old Hemlock breed line.

George began journaling his hunting outings in 1932.With these as his foundation, in the 1950’s he wrote magazine articles about his dogs and hunting adventures. in 1971 he published his first of 21 upland game hunting books. His well known hunting books and a hundred articles are still regarded as some of the best outdoor publications.  He shared his deep respect for the game he hunted, the dogs he raised and the connection he shared with nature. His romantic style of writing that painted vivid images for readers and is unique in the genre. It is easy to understand why his expert writings are still studied, and revered some 19 years after his death. He still has much to share with anyone who wants to learn about upland game hunting, nature and training dogs….. or is it “how dogs train us”?

George with dogs

George Bird Evans with  Robert  Brown current owner of the Old Hemlock Line with the dogs at his home in Bruceton Mills. Used with permisson of OHF.

While at the property we spent a large portion of our time walking the trails that surround the welcome center and log home. With dogs and kids running and playing in front of us we explored some of the old growth Hemlock trees of which the property is named. I regret deeply that I cannot convey to you the awe that I experienced when we entered the deep dark Hemlock forest. It was something like a fantasy  movie set or a church… Yet, none of these words comes close to relating how  startling it is to leave the lush green sunny forest of the hardwood canopy and enter a tall stand of climax Hemlock trees. Everything changes in an instant. The light dims as it tries to shine through the conifer bows. The colors change, there is no bright greens or yellows, just deep rich greens and grays. The height is different, there are no branches that droop and hang low. The Hemlocks stand 80 feet high with broken stumps of branches reaching out to you.  Even the ground is  transformed, with only gray rocks, deep brown dirt and the lush green of moss and ferns under foot.

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Welcome and Education Center for The Old Hemlock Foundation 2017

 

As our group forged ahead of me into the darkness of the thick Hemlocks, I entered the stand alone and last. With Helen Ann with in hearing distance of me, I actually let out an audible exhale, one loud enough to be heard several feet away. I then continued with an “Oh My” and heard from ahead on the trail Helen’s reply, “This is why they refer to Hemlock forests as Cathedrals”… (Also look up Cathedral State Park in West Virginia for other stands of old growth Hemlocks).It is so impressive, that I now crave to see these kinds of woods again and again. I am so thankful that George and Kay found this property and chose to save the Hemlocks from the sawyer. It is another magical part of the Old Hemlock Foundation that should not be missed.

 

 

 

 

After our two-day stay, we packed up to leave the  foundation’s property,  I  knew I had found a place where kindred spirits had lived. We share a love for nature, dogs, writing, art and a passion for sharing what we love most. Thank you to the foundation for allowing us to be part of your education outreach program and for inviting my family back to explore more of the wonders of Wild Wonderful West Virginia.

For more information about the Old Hemlock Foundation, educational programs, history and the dogs, follow the above link to their website or follow them on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/OldHemlockFoundation/. 

Laurel from Old Hemlock

Mountain Laurel Old Hemlock English Setter 2107 age 2

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Dogs, George Bird Evans, Hemlock Forest, hiking, historic locations, Hunting, Old Hemlock Foundation, Preston County WV, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

A Gun Owning Woman and my Freedom of Speech.

I am a gun owner and if that is a problem then you do not need to read the rest of this.

I am a sports woman who loves to head to the range with my family, loves to hunt wild game and is a supporter of my local college riffle team. I married a man who reloads his own ammunition and has a back ground in both law enforcement and the military. Guns are a part of who we are and what we do for fun. The point is that soon I and thousands of other Bloggers, Writers, Website designers, may lose the right of ” Freedom of Speech”. If what I read today  is true,( the Washington Examiner shared this article) my blog post about my husbands reloading bench,our hunting trip, the information I could share on how being a better marksman or any conversation about guns I have with you my readers could be censured.

Cody Powers at the range having family time

Cody Powers at the range having family time

I am also worried as a sports person,that I could not write about the specifics about the gun related things we do. In the future I could be fined or sent to jail….. (send me please) for just doing what I love. The penalty for sharing gun and ammunition information over the internet is a fine up to 1 million dollars and 20 years in jail. I worry that when I have a moving post on a topic that is legal and informative, I will be unable to share it, unless the government has a look at it first. Hummm, are any of you  feeling  like we have moved to a police state here, the results for the general population will be terrible.

I am fully aware that our country is divided on the gun subject. It is a hard  subject to debate for those who do not own a weapon of any kind. At first this regulation might appear that the government is only taking the larger public’s safety into account ( I have my reservations about that). But I argue that a lack of information is more dangerous than anything a Gunsmith or Ammunition company can share on the internet. If we as a population can not share ideas, we allow a few to control our future, a future that will always be controlled by people who know weapons.

Jolynn Powers turkey hunting spring 2015

Jolynn Powers turkey hunting spring 2015

I want you and I to have the right to send out information about hunting, gunsmithing, reloading, crime and safety. I want these topics debated openly. I have the right to share what we are doing as much as you have the right to NOT READ IT. I want to share what my WVU riffle team is doing and what their Olympic competitor coach is teaching. I want to share the pages from an antique survival  manual that shows how to safely use a .22 riffle. I want to tell you about my friend, whose husband got killed, during Turkey Season shooting accident and how it avoid it. If what the above artificial states is true, then my friends you and I will not have the freedom to talk about school shootings or about how to safely clean a pistol.

The idea of protecting the innocent from information that could be used in terrorism is a failed argument. If we are only going to control the information on the internet what is the point… Books have long taught the skills to kill, hunt, reload and build weapons of many kinds. Long before the internet my nephew blew his hand off with a pipe bomb at 14. Where did he learn about the idea ….. movies. If he had been lucky enough to have better supervision  in his life he would have never attempted to build what he looked up for free in a book from the library. At 14 he could have used that weapon to kill many and never once looked on the internet for the information.

Tom Powers teaching Christopher Powers about gun safty

Tom Powers teaching Christopher Powers about gun safety

If this is  what the government thinks may stop terrorism, I am very worried about our leaders. Is the public so ignorant to believe that terrorists from middle eastern countries find all of their information on legal American fire arm company websites or blog posts from people like me or even ammunition manufacture Face Book pages. I bet not… but maybe this is the way the government plans to stop the bloggers from writing about the facts about gun ownership, repair and uses, punish the whole because of the few radical writers.

Again it is a sad state that I am even worried about this topic. I love my way of life, I love sharing it, but when my husband decides that he wants to update an antique riffle for my son to use for hunting, I want the right to tell you about it. If the government is so worried about the information that we openly share and are planing to stop the education of its citizens, we are on a very slippery slope, my friends. If I have to ask my government permission to give you information that one day may save your life or a life of your neighbors, I think we are going to wish some one had stopped the government from stepping on the “Freedom of Speech” and if we are lucky our “Freedom to Bear Arms” too.

Thomas Bennton Powers my sons Great Grand father with monster buck

Thomas Benton Powers my sons Great Grand father with monster buck

Categories: blogging, deer hunting, Freedom of speech, hobbies, reloading, rifle and shoot guns, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 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: , , , , , , , , | 15 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

Wild Wonderful West Virginia

The Powers family, Cody, Jolynn, tom and Christopher

The Powers family, Cody, Jolynn, tom and Christopher

It is from my last Blog site that I start fresh again. This is a good move and I hope to keep sharing what it is I love about my little home in a forgotten state. If you are new here “Welcome” and if you are already a follower then, ” Thank You” for your continued support and interest in “Mountain Mama”.

I hope to share with all of you more about the family and our rural life. How we raise a garden and our kids together knowing that both are better off together. The superstitions and traditions of these mountain people like, planting by the signs,how to stop bleeding with just words and Water Witching.I am sure to throw in a few recipes and some stories about funny Hill Billy foods… “pickled eggs” anyone? I will show off my favorite photos of old building and my love of two-line roads… of course you must hear the song ” Take me home country roads” at this point just for the full effect.
We will hunt, fish and forage our way through these mountains.. so if you are a little squeamish about guns, eating deer or dead fish, you need to be advised, that this is our way of life and it is natural and honest.It may not make a bit of sence to you and may not seem pleasant but I will write about it and take photos of it. I will try to give every reader fair warning of my topic but I will at times forget that not everyone likes to see what the men folk killed for dinner.. so forgive me now.
Well that about coves it, other than meeting the members of the family whom I will be writing about. Me of course, Jolynn ( aka “MaMa”) Tom my husband ( blacksmith and DOT employee) my Oldest son Cody(Gas company tech) and the little son Christopher who is now 4 and 17 years younger than his brother. Cody’s wife Jamie( stay at home mom) and my 2-year-old grand-daughter Paige.Did you get that my son is 4 and my grand-daughter is 2… funny stuff already right?.. but we will get to that story later. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. It is an old dusty road full of bumps and mudholes so let’s get started into the hills of West Virgina.

 

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Categories: intro | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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