Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Social Tour 2011

Sorry for the delay in posts I have had some miserable personal problems getting in the way of doing anything fun which leads to not much to write about. Then along came something to take my mind off of problems for a little while plus something to look forward to.

A couple of months ago I was talking with my friend Rudy on Twitter, about his real life hunting video he shot last year. He traveled around filming average hunters on public or small tracks of private land. Hunters that can’t afford $20,000 high fenced hunts and wouldn’t go on one if they could, girls and guys hunting like the “Pros” want you to think they are. In passing he mentioned hunting with me sometime but since he lives in Colorado and I live in Tennessee I took it as just a friendly comment, little did I know how wrong I was, turns out, he had a plan.

Jump to a couple of weeks ago and he asks when I am going to have time for him to come out and film while I hunt. Since I am the last person wanting to be on camera, had never mentioned wanting to be, plus Rudy is still many miles away I was surprised. My feeling being that the last thing a hunting video needs is another old, fat white guy sitting in a tree. We talked for a bit then he said we would firm up a date later that week. Our next call confirmed a date of November 3-4 which is a short 5 day archery only season between muzzleloader and gun. Now for the big news.

Rudy had a great idea. This year he was going to put on the first “Getting Social With America’s Whitetail Deer Hunters“. A tour of 5000 miles through 12 states with 19 hunters. Hunters who use social media and love the outdoors as it should be, not because we have big name product sponsors, most of us don’t, but because we love what we do. We pay out of our own pocket to hunt these small tracks of land, dealing with all the problems that brings just to enjoy our sport. Putting up with thieves, idiots walking in on us, no place for food plots, limited access. In short, real hunters doing what you do, working hard all year long to hunt those few weeks in fall and winter for that thrill of hearing leaves crunch as a deer heads your way no matter the problems. We aren’t the chosen few of TV channels, we are you.

Two stands in Marshall county less than 150 yards from a subdivision on 30 acres.

Let me give you a list of Twitter names along with their states of the hunters on this year’s tour.

@TeamSST and @Team_mlt, Michigan
@firstlightgear, Michigan
@lukekujacznski, Michigan
@jesseshaver, Michigan
@Bigbrother010, Ohio
@BigBuckPW, Maryland
@TheWillToHunt, Virginia
@Writinghuntress, North Carolina
@hunttrophywife, Georgia
Drop Tine, Georgia
@ghost1066, Tennessee
@MAC71LH, Arkansas
@MKOTZUM, Oklahoma
@Deer_Commander, Oklahoma

From October 16 to November 9 Rudy will be driving from state to state filming as we do what we do. Nothing staged, no guarantees, good or bad, just like you do it. Until then you can keep up with what the hunters are doing to get ready for the tour. Whether it is working out, scouting, practice, whatever, we will be sharing it through social media which is how all this started. Most of us are tagging tweets with #deertour or #deertour2011 so you can search it to see what we are talking about.

Views from my stand in Jump Off Tn 18 acres surrounded by woods for miles.

I hope those of you that can follow along as we go through the pre season and the hunts. Posts will be put up from stands and blinds during hunts along with many posts being put now showing food plots, deer and gear since for us the Tour has started. Passing along information for people to see, comment on and share is what the social part is all about.

If you use Twitter, Facebook or follow the blogs feel free to jump in and talk or leave comments as we go, remember we got invited for being social and sharing online, who knows Rudy may send you a DM next year and surprise you like he did me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Breaking Bored

Summer has gotten here far too soon with record heat for weeks now. The fish have gone on bed finally, weeks late, they have lock jaw now. With highs near 100 and heat indexes well past it is tough to make myself get out to do outdoorsy stuff. I still need to go clear out pigeons from the barn and would love a quick fishing trip but the weather has to break first.

The pigeon hide out.

My view while stalking the barn birds.

  What to do when you just get so bored you can’t stand looking at walls anymore? I shoot. This is when I practice with my bows and air rifle to keep tuned up or so I tell myself, really it is just to have fun. I’m lucky, I can shoot in my backyard with whatever I want but I keep it to things that don’t go boom since I don’t like it when someone shoots real guns near my house. This time of year begs for you to be outside and shooting lets me get out with minimal setup or tear down when I just want a few minutes to relax.

Pile of fun about to begin.

  Recently I got a traditional long bow to go with my compound and crossbow. This is a treat since it is really back to basics shooting, stick and string plus a target. I traded for a Bama Bow done in bocote and maple with horn. Not only is it beautiful, it is a dream to shoot, light, easy to draw, fun. For an air rifle I still shoot my Gamo 440 springer I bought years ago. It is nothing fancy but gets the job done whether punching paper or popping small game and pests even with Gamo’s terrible trigger, more on that in a bit. Just these two things can mean getting out for a bit when most people are hiding under the A/C.
  For my long bow I use an old deer target that has literally been shot to pieces. I use it like you would stump shooting, simply putting the pieces on the ground and fling away. Yes I chase a lot of arrows that go snake on me (hiding in the grass after I miss) but this is so much fun. My groups are huge compared to my compound but that is fine it is a different form of shooting which I am just starting to relearn. One thing I like is shooting with both eyes open which I can’t do with my sights. This allows me to get involved with technique instead of technology. Concentrate on the spot, envision the impact, draw, anchor, release, follow through. It also shows off my habit of shooting high and left. Yes I know why I do it but I still have to fight it every time I shoot despite muscle memory.

My backyard version of stump shooting. This was my first group at 11 yards with the long bow.

This is a typical 20 yard group with my compound. 4 arrows in a bottle cap and 2 close by.

 My hope is to get good enough to hunt with it this fall to take my first traditional bow deer. It is odd watching arrows take what can only be called a leisurely flight to the target when matched against my Bear. At close to 300 fps with hunting weight arrows my compound is screaming compared to a traditional. So why go back? Because I learned on a recurve, a Ben Pearson, I can’t remember the model, I had before compounds existed. I never got to take a deer with it before technology moved me away from stick and string. Now as I get older I want to correct that while I still can.
  Many people take shooting long guns they will use for hunting for granted. How many do you know who go out the night before opening day to throw a rifle across the hood of the truck, fire two rounds and call it good? Be honest, we all know those folks. To be fair many don’t have the luxury of shooting their real guns year round. My solution is to shoot my air rifle every chance I get. This keeps me in practice for when season rolls around and is fun watching holes form in the targets.
  To make it easier I keep my Gamo sitting by the backdoor for when I need to thump a rabbit or groundhog raiding my garden. Some shoot and see targets are close by along with a tin of pellets. This way when I get a minute for trigger time I can be out the door and set up in a couple of minutes. I don’t shoot from a bench but try to take shots the way I do in the field, offhand or using a rest from a standing position. The only bad part is again the absolutely miserable fake two stage trigger Gamo puts on their guns. This makes it almost impossible to get consistent shots since it is not a true two stage and the fact that I hate those types of triggers. I want one with zero creep or backlash but air rifle companies are obsessed with using two stage. Even with this I can still get sub ½” groups from a bench at 15 yards. Under more realistic conditions the groups are no where near this good but I know what to expect when I get to the woods.

Headed to chase pigeons on an earlier outing.

  I shoot Crosman pellets, these are inexpensive but work well. I can shoot for less than a penny a shot plus they double as a good hunting pellet, too. I haven’t shot these through a chronograph so have no data for speed or energy but they work as many a blackbird and rabbit can attest. I did weigh several to see how consistent they are and was surprised to see they are extremely close to the same weight.
  If you don’t have an air rifle and don’t want to spend a ton of money on one of the higher dollar adult versions here is a tip. Crosman makes one you can pick up at most box or super stores or order online from Pyramydair or Crosman for around $60.00. This is the model 2100 that has been around for many years and holds up even with tons of use. It is a fairly inexpensive way to shoot during the off season. It will shoot either pellets or BB s both of which are cheap. Check out the full reviews on one of my favorite youtube channels, EdGunUSA
  I hope most of you live in an area where you can do this in your yard. It doesn’t take much room, is quiet for the most part and you can invite a neighbor over to play along. I help some of the kids living close to me learn to shoot with their inexpensive air rifles which is another reason to get out. You can download free targets online then print whatever you need for a range session.
This time of year for me is about relaxing, having fun just getting outside for a short time despite the heat. I will get down to serious practice as the season draws closer and the time I spend now will make it easier when late summer rolls around.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated by any companies mentioned in any way. These are just the products that I buy and use.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Camp Dog, Review

When you are a famous internet and social media personality such as myself hardly a day goes by when something doesn’t darken your door from companies wanting you to try, wear, taste, endorse some product or other…..oh crap. Sorry I was ghost writing this for someone else.

Let me start over. Only a couple of times have I ever gotten anything from a company to try as far as our outdoor community goes. I know people that get everything from shirts and hats to rods, reels, guns, you name it, they just seem to attract merchandise like some weird freebie magnet. I am not one of those people. I have on rare occasions, by that I mean a total of 2, been offered something. In both cases I told them they didn’t have to send anything since I know they get hit up for samples a lot. Both sent something saying they wanted me to try it and give an honest opinion. That I can do, actually, the only thing I will do. No shill here. If it is good I tell you, if not you get that, too. If you send me something and it sucks don’t get mad when I tell people. Hmm, maybe that’s why I don’t get stuff. Anyway.

Now that the explanation/disclaimer/warning is out of the way let me tell you what I got. I opened the mailbox to find a manila envelope inside. I was only expecting one thing other than bills and the return address confirmed it. Straight out of the great state of Louisiana I had my first container of Papa Scott’s Original Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning. I love me some spicy and couldn’t wait to try it. I read the cool/funny back story on the container then headed to the kitchen.

It was just about supper time and according to the label it works on anything that “flies, walks, crawls, swims or jumps”. I happened to have some bluegill fillets waiting so they won the “Wonder what to try it on first” contest. To be fair I didn’t read the ingredients, wanting the taste to stand on its’ own. The other thing I did was to make two piles of fillets, one got just Camp Dog Seasoning while the other was coated in Camp Dog then breaded with self rising cornmeal. Hey, sue me I’m southern, we bread everything in cornmeal and fry it.

I cooked both piles the same, dropped into vegetable oil in an iron skillet. I used the vegetable oil since it doesn’t add flavor. Once they were a nice toasty brown I was ready for the tasting. I only added a bit of chow chow to cut the oil some between bites, again to keep from adding other tastes from slaw, fries, hush puppies, a slice of onion, dang I should have fixed all that it sounds good. But I digress. To be honest I am not a big fan of fish that isn’t breaded but wanted to see how Camp Dog held up without help. I started with the unbreaded and it worked, good flavor, not too salty and a bit of heat at the end. Next was the breaded batch. These really worked for me. The added crunch with Camp Dog flavoring the cornmeal was what I was hoping for. It was good, really good, just the taste and texture I like. I found out later that I had used too much oil on the unbreaded fish which should have been more blackened than what I did so anything wrong there was on me.

First batch in.

One of my favorite sights.

According to the package you can also use this on critters that walk and fly, not just swim. Since I had already fried something I decided to grab a chunk of bovine, fire up the grill and see what we had. Finding a likely looking bit of cow critter ( I grabbed a small pack of chicken thighs ,too) I headed back to get it ready. I got a chuck roast because it isn’t the most tender cut. Camp Dog is supposed to work as a tenderizer, we’ll see. I added seasoning to the chicken the night before to let it have time to work. For the beef I put it on about 7 hours ahead of cooking to see if it will tenderize the meat as per Papa Scott‘s instructions when we talked. I only added Camp Dog, no salt, pepper, Worcestershire, beer, nothing else to season the meat. Again we are testing here. Kick ‘em out of the nest, fly or die, no help.  I know the smoke will add some but that was part of my test, too. At times seasonings can turn bitter when grilled. I’ve heard other people besides me like to grill, who knew, so thought I should see what that did to the taste.

I use a charcoal grill not one of those gas thingies (sorry to get so technical). I had some hickory chips and decided to add some during cooking, that would be the only help besides regular smoke from the coals, besides I like hickory smoke. When they were ready I got the meat on, top closed and let the smoke roll. The worst part, the wind kicked up and blew all that good smell away while it was cooking. 45 minutes later we were ready to go. Both meats had taken beautiful color and smelled great, the chicken was done through, beef was at medium, let the eating begin.

Note the green onions right out of the garden on the top shelf. Pic is in focus that is smoke you see.

I started with the chicken. Many times when I season chicken the spices will just sit on top, once the skin is gone so is most of the taste. Not this time. It was flavored all the way through with a nice even taste. Nothing bitter from grilling, the seasoning held up great to the smoke. Luckily I had done my part by not over cooking the chicken which I am prone to do. This was just plain old good. Flavored but not too hot or spicy and with the smoke….well good thing there was only a couple of pieces since I still had the beef to try and couldn’t keep eating chicken.

My other side was sweet potato, boiled then finished on the grill for a few minutes.

The beef could have come off a couple of minutes earlier but wasn't past medium. Chuck roast can turn tough on the grill but not this one. I let it rest for maybe 10 minutes before cutting and when I did it was perfectly tender. The seasoning had made a light crust, taken good color and just like the chicken, tasted great. The difference, to me, with the beef the little heat from the seasoning wasn’t as pronounced which makes sense with the heavier beef taste. Now when I say heat don’t panic if you don’t like hot, this isn’t hot just a bit of spice that you taste near the end of a bite.

A good thing with Camp Dog is the fact that it isn’t salt based which helps the other flavors come through and allows people to use it on low salt diets. They have another flavor that takes the celery and heat out for those that might not care for them. There are several products I think you will want to try from Original like I have to Fish Fry Batter, Hush Puppy Mix and more. Click their link here Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning and take a look, nice looking site with all types of goodies even gift baskets for the hard to buy for cook in the family.

Well, there it is a quick look at Papa Scott’s. Not only is it as good as it says, works like it should but the folks that make it are some of the best around. I tried to find a way that it wouldn’t work as advertised but it came through. I can't wait to try it on other critters and I hope you give them a try rather than just more off the shelf stuff from the grocery store you won‘t be disappointed.
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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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