Hunt My Meat Monday

I know, I’m funny, right? Normally I participate in Hunk of Meat Monday with Beyer Beware…but today, I don’t have any meat to make, because my hunt was unsuccessful this weekend. Oh well, I have two more weekends to work some magic.

But I want to share my hunting story, because I think you will enjoy it!

Things I need for my hunt: blaze orange, gratis tag, shells, clip, pelvis saw.

Deer season opened at noon on Friday. The boys and I drove around a bit, but didn’t really do much for hunting. Saturday morning, bright and early, I walked the trees behind our house with some friends. Then we walked more trees and then we walked some more. (By the way, did you know that hunting is GREAT exercise?)

We saw a few deer, but I never did shoot. Not sure why. Hmmm…better get over that!

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, my little sister and I decided to walk another set of trees. It wasn’t a great day for hunting, it was cool and the wind was blowing 40+ mph. After we walked the trees, we thought maybe walking the slough next to the trees would be a good idea. The chances of having the deer laying in the weeds were pretty good with the wind the way it was. And so Amy decided to take the south side of the slough…and I took the north.

What I did not realize is that the slough extended for most of the quarter of land. And in order for me to cross the slough, to get back to the road where the vehicle was parked, I needed to either A) walk for about a half-mile north before heading east again, or B) get my shoes a little wet. I decided to go with B…looking back on it, I should have hoofed it farther.

Anyway, I was walking along, crossing the slough where it looked the driest and the most narrow. But you know about looks, right? They can be deceiving.

About 10 yards from solid ground, the ground went from squishy to ankle deep water to over knee deep. I was up to my butt in slough water and no where to go but forward. I closed my eyes, prayed I kept my shoes on and forged on…not thinking about what things I may be stepping on, in, etc. My sister was laughing so hard that she could hardly stand!

I finally made it through and out the other side. Shoes still on, clothes soaked, gun dry, mentally smacking myself for not walking the extra bit. Did I mention it was cool? And windy?

The slough behind me didn't LOOK that wet...famous last words.

So, we got into the suburban and I suggested since I was already soaked and dirty, we might as well walk something else while we were out. Apparently my stinky slough-water-filled clothes got to my sister though, she insisted we stop by the house for me to change.

My socks after my little swim in a slough. The slough grass is a nice touch, I think.

Maybe next Monday I’ll have a better story…and hopefully a recipe!

Why Do I Hunt?

I’ve posted several times about my love for hunting. I was raised with the hunting tradition, it was something that my family did together…and it provided food for our family. But that’s not ALL that hunting is about.

Apparently being a mom that hunts makes me weird. I can live with that.

 

 

Through hunting, I have actually learned a lot about caring for wildlife, conserving their resources, and what can happen when the number of wildlife is left unchecked, and not enough resources are provided for them. In fact, last year we lived through one of the worst years ever for wildlife issues on our farm.

As the deer eat away at the bottom bales, the whole stack becomes unstable.

 

 

It started off innocently enough. One afternoon, there were a few deer in our hay yard. My husband has no issues with a few deer. He realizes that when the winter’s get tough, wildlife needs to find feed somewhere…and we were convenient. We did our best to encourage them to leave. I walked through the hay yard often, we drove through the yard, our dog roamed the yard, etc. Yet, before we knew it, the numbers skyrocketed. We went from a few deer, to a few hundred, to probably over 1,000 deer. We called our state Game and Fish officials, and received little help. We called neighbors and local wildlife enthusiasts, but little was done.

That isn't just dirt on the horizon. Those are hundreds of deer, still making our yard home.

 

 

Our yard was a popular place for people to come looking. They drove through and watched the deer, some wanted to hunt for sheds (the antlers that bucks lose in the winter), others just wanted to see what it looked like. And then the deer started to die. It wasn’t one or two. More than 180 deer died in our hay yard. They pooped, they peed, they made a mess and destroyed our hay…and then they had the audacity to die. It was another mess to clean up.

We learned a lesson or two last winter/spring. Hunting is not just a “sport.” It’s not just a way to provide food for a family. It’s necessary to provide balance and keep wildlife healthy. Too many animals in one area is not a good thing, for the animal or for the landowner. We will do more this year to keep the problems at bay. If we’re expected to bear this burden, then we will do so on our terms.

Already we have had two deer taken on our land during the youth season. It was a great opportunity to introduce some young people to hunting, and it started early pressure on the deer in our area. In just three days, regular deer gun season starts…and I’m hoping that it’s a successful one (meaning that a majority of deer tags are filled).

And if you happen to be a North Dakota hunter, and you happen to have a deer tag, but you happen to not need, nor want, the venison (deer meat)…then let me remind you of the Feeding Families, Meating Needs program available. You can donate your meat to local food banks, which will provide that food to people in need.

When I think of the amount of meat that was destroyed and wasted last year, it makes me almost ill. Add that into the amount of hay we lost, the amount of time it took to clean up the mess and the resources that were used…no one can afford those types of springs.

Fall Friday

Today is definitely a fall day. It’s cool, windy and a great day for hot cocoa…and it reminds me that in a few short weeks, hunting season begins!

For those new to my blog, last spring we had a TERRIBLE problem with deer in our yard. We aren’t sure on the exact number of deer that we were unintentionally feeding/housing, but we do know that about 180 of them died in our yard. Game and Fish estimate that approximately 10% die in a normal year, and every time we called them, they claimed there wasn’t a problem here. So, if 180 dying was 10% of our number of deer, well, you can do the math, right?

Needless to say, these deer are a nuisance and a danger to our cattle herd. And I do what I can to relieve the problem.

This year, we started out early with the special youth season. Two does have already been culled from the large number of deer already hanging around the area. Here’s my niece’s take on her successful hunting experience:

We (my dad, brother and I) were on our way to stake out at my aunt’s house. We were on the road to the south of my aunt’s house, when my dad said, “There are three deer in that field. They’re all does.” So we kept on driving and my dad asked me if I wanted to try to get one of them.
I said, “I don’t know will the farmer let us?” We went and asked the farmer if we could try to get one of the three deer. And being as kind as they were, they said, “Yes.”
I was so excited I was going to get my first deer!!!!!!
I loaded up my gun than headed to the field they were in. When we had walked to where we needed to be my dad went first to check it out and make sure the deer were still there.
Then so we weren’t seen we started crawling on our hands and knees through the cut wheat. We crawled about 75 yds to a haybale and check out if the deer were still there. My dad spoted them after a few minutes and so slowly on our hands and knees crawled forward. After crawling for 200 yds, my dad saw them at 153 yds and so I sighted up and went in for the kill.
I aimed at the first one I saw. I was so excited it was finaly here it was my turn to get a deer and I was ready to shoot my deer. I told my
dad which one I was aiming at and he said, “Whenever you’re ready, fire.”

So at first I was pulling the trigger slowly and then I got impatient and just pulled the trigger. I hit it and I was so excited! I was grinning from ear to ear. My dad told me, “You just barely nicked the shoulder blade nice shot.” And I got the biggest of the three!

My niece's first hunt, and a successful one at that!

And just for those that are wondering, yes, my sister and her husband are an avid hunting family and this doe will go a long way to fill their freezer with great food for the winter months! For those that hunt, but find that their freezer is too full to take all the meat, there is a great program in the state called, “Feeding Families, Meating Needs.” Check it out here!

I hope to be adding my own successful hunting story in just a few short weeks!


					

Preparing for fall

It’s raining…again. And although we have a few acres planted, my husband isn’t in the best of moods. He would like to have had more in the ground, but guess what? That’s the nature of the business. So while we’re down, this is what I’ll be doing:

https://secure.apps.state.nd.us/gnf/onlineservices/lic/public/online/lot/lotterypurchase.htm

That’s the link to applying for your deer license, if you’re going to hunt in North Dakota. And I would like everyone to click on it and apply.

Game and Fish has REDUCED the number of licenses this year by almost 7,000 across the state. That’s right, I said reduced. As in subtracted. As in they believe the numbers are getting too low. As in give-me-a-break.

In my perfect world scenario, every single license would be purchased, and every single one would be filled. (They usually expect about half of them to be filled.) If Game and Fish are technically going to “contract” out this many deer, than let’s take them out. And remember, even if you don’t care much for venison, you can always DONATE the meat! (Or donate money so that meat can be donated!)

Game and Fish claim that the last three winters were rough, causing great losses. I agree that the winters were rough, but the management of resources and habitat was severely lacking. And their solutions to the problem were to basically do nothing for the animal, just try to avert the problem from the land owner. Apparently doing nothing is easiery than even attempting anything else suggested.

And this is what you end up with:

The deer died in and on our feed supply for our cattle.

 
And if you know of some young hunters, who are looking for a successful first hunt, send them our way. My husband would LOVE to see some young hunters come and hunt on our land. He’s even talking about setting up soem deer stands, just for the “apprentice” hunters to get a chance at having a successful season.
I’m filling out my application on the wet, rainy day…and I hope you are too. I hope to see you this fall, with my blaze orange on!

Feeding Families, Meating Needs

The North Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers have come up with a program called “Feeding Families, Meating Needs.” In essence, they are arranging for donations of livestock or wildlife (or even money to cover the processing costs!), to be processed and distributed through the Great Plains Food Bank and Community Action’s Sportmen Against Hunger. What a GREAT program!

With the deer issues that we had this spring, we are looking at changing some of our management plans. We realize we need to handle our hay differently, we need to be more proactive and we need to be creative with our solutions. And so we shall.

Step one, I’m going to promote this program fully. How many people apply for a deer license and intend only to shoot a trophy deer, not concerned about the meat, because they don’t want to go through the hassle? How many pounds of venison is wasted every year? How many families could that feed? Let’s change that!

Here’s the scoop (and pay attention, because this is important stuff!):

Livestock – If you want to donate livestock, you need to contact Ann Pollert at Community Action, Sportsmen Against Hunger, to make arrangements. Processing will be done by approved facilities, and (if donated locally) meat will be distributed back to the region it came from. To contact Ann, call (701) 232-2452 or email annp@sendcaa.org .

Wildlife – You will need to contact the nearest approved processor on the Sportsmen Against Hunger list to verify that there are funds or vouchers available to cover the processing.

Money – This whole idea won’t go far without monetary donations to cover the cost of processing. Just to give you an idea, the processing charge for deer is estimated at somewhere between $50-55, beef is generally estimated at $40 per head plus 45 cents per pound on hanging weight, and then an additional 20 cents to grind. It all adds up quickly, and monetary donations will ensure the food banks receive these meat donations.

This food drive started in April, and will run through January 13, 2012. I am urging you to consider contributing, either through your successful hunting endeavors, an animal donation, or money to cover the costs of processing.

I’m going to bringing this up from time to time, especially as the deadline nears for deer license applications in North Dakota. Instead of applying for buck only, why not apply for buck first choice, doe second? Then, if you don’t get your coveted buck tag, you can still shoot a doe, prove your hunting prowess, get some exercise and target practice in, and donate the meat to a good cause?!? Win-win all the way around! (If you’re wondering about my hunting preferences, I normally apply for a gratis tag, which allows me to shoot either buck or doe, as long as it is on our land. In the last four years, I have shot one spike buck and three does…which made some very tasty sausage!)

If you need more information, shoot me a message, or contact Katie Heger (who’s heading up the program for the NDFB Young Farmers and Ranchers). You can get a hold of Katie at skheger6@gmail.com.

And stay tuned for some other ideas that we’ve come up with. We’re not going to go down in this battle with the wildlife without a fight! 🙂

Deer, oh dear

I’m not sure if you heard, but we had a slight deer problem this winter. Well, slight is an understatement…it was a MAJOR deer problem. If you look back through my posts, you will find pictures, videos, eloquently-written, almost poetic-like blogs, etc. (well, I’m pouring it on a bit thick about that one, sorry 😉 )

I figured I would wrap up the winter deer posts with this update:

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group.

Yeah, we had a problem. And some deer died. I’ve been asked many times, “Why?” The answer isn’t so simple. Game and Fish statistics say that most of the dead should be does and fawns that couldn’t handle the winter conditions. But from personally witnessing and inspecting many of the dead animals, (well, from a distance anyway) I can tell you that there were a LOT of nice-sized bucks in that pile.

So, again, why did they die? They had protection. They had plenty of protection. They had feed. Very nice, dairy-quality alfalfa. Which would have been worth between $10,000-$20,000 in the hay market. Ouch. That hurts. My guess is that the deer couldn’t handle the feed. It was truly too rich, and they basically died from really bad stomach aches. Kinda like dying from too much caviar. (Can that happen???) You see, deer are built to browse, they eat things like leaves and berries and your brand new trees that you plant! 😉

But the fact of the matter is, they died. And beside this pile of deer, remember that Game and Fish had already come and picked up a pick-up load of carcasses? So that’s more than 100 deer that died on our farm.

A closer shot of the pile that Mark buried.

What frustrates me almost more than the lack of action by Game and Fish is the waste of meat. Can you imagine the food pantries that could be stocked with this much meat? But I have an idea for this year…and it’s a way that we can curb our deer problem, encourage hunting, AND stock the food pantries!

Stay tuned for an announcement tomorrow! I can’t wait!!!

Silver linings

If you’re friends with me on facebook, then you’ve probably realized that I’m kinda into finding the silver lining in every situation. I think it’s a mental-survival thing. Without it, I would be completely whack-o a few times over. (Be careful…I know what you’re thinking!)

But today’s silver lining showed up a few times! Yay!

First: George ran his first fever last night since we had The Plan in place. It was a bit scary, but things went well. I called the pediatrician, he ran through things with me, we formulated our plan and all went well. I ended up not having to take him in, the temp stayed down over night, took him in this morning and all things are well. Woohoo! Chalk one to George!

To celebrate, we got his FIRST big-boy haircut! Not bad, for a boy that’s about to be 2!

Not only will George be 2 in a month, but he got his first real hair cut today!

Second: Someone asked if the deer are still a problem. Here’s the answer:

That isn't just dirt on the horizon. Those are hundreds of deer, still making our yard home.

Yep.

But the silver lining? Another creature has followed them here…namely Bald Eagles. It is COOL! There are at least four of them right now. I think they’re eating off the carcasses. But they are so majestic and all things amazing. I tear up looking at them, and feel like saluting as they fly by…kinda weird, I know.

Getting close to a Bald Eagle isn't as easy as getting pics of deer in our yard.

And just to let you SEE what kind of damage the deer are doing, I’ve got these pics for you:

Yeah, that's what you think it is...deer urine

You can see where the hay has been moved from. Notice the difference between white and yellow/brown.

Notice the yellow/brown snow? Do you remember what your mother said about eating yellow snow? That’s right, that’s urine. As in deer urine. As in lots and lots and lots of deer urine. Now imagine all that on your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yum.

But SB 2227, which will give landowners a few more options in deer depredation, is supposed to be voted on in the House of Representatives tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

And come next fall, I expect you and ALL of your family to come hunting.