The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More
These days I enjoy many different types of hunting. I’m an avid, some might say rabid, waterfowler. I love to bowhunt and have traveled the country doing so for various big game species, although I’m fairly content with Kansas whitetails and turkeys now. And when it’s not hunting season I’m usually fishing. I love to fish for walleye, crappie and channel catfish. I’m at home on the front of my boat on a big reservoir or wading a small Flint Hills stream. It’s all good.
Throw in a recent bout with the trapping bug and decades of camping with family and friends and it’s obvious I have an addiction for the outdoors.
Many of my most memorable outdoor experiences in recent years have centered on those with my children. My 18-year-old daughter and twin 12-year-old boys have been a major part of my outings. Watching their eyes light up as they realize the wonders of Mother Nature and her bounty likely has even more meaning than my own personal satisfaction. Spending quality time with them outdoors carries significant and substantial meaning, no matter what we’re doing.
In this Blog I’ll attempt to relay some of the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from being outdoors. Topics covered will be broad in scope and run the gamut. It’s all fair game. If you can sit at your computer and read a particular entry and it stirs you to try it, or helps make your experience more enjoyable, I will be pleased. And if it does nothing more than make you smile or laugh that too, will please me. The outdoors is truly a great place to be!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
It was our turn to host the holiday this year and one of the first questions from my sister's kids were "are we going to run traps?" My 12-year-old niece was on the bandwagon now and likely still miffed she didn't get to go a couple years ago as I didn't have enough room on the ATV for ALL the kids. My daughter was home from college and she wanted in on the action as well.
I met my sister and her family outside of town on their way here last Thursday. She followed in her mini-van (much to her chagrin) through a pasture to where I had set traps the day prior. It looked like we were pulling up to Worlds of Fun as my truck and the van emptied and kids went everywhere. We had three 12-year-olds, a 14-year-old and my soon-to-be 19 year-old daughter. My sister and brother-in-law even tagged along with their beagle "chili" dog in tow, too.
We quickly found several of about a dozen traps had connected. We caught two raccoons and a possum and were optimistic about our beaver chances (check the next blog for that story) as we set more beaver traps. The kids were excited to be outdoors on a nice day and it was a new experience for my sister and her husband.
The usual turkey day meal followed and we watched football like millions of other Americans. My company had to leave to go to other relatives that evening but as we said our farewells they were all reminding me to call and text them pictures of the next day's catch. They couldn't wait to see what was in store.
It's an odd tradition, but one the kids will remember forever.
Friday, November 18, 2011
My boys and I started our trapping expeditions a few years ago. They were studying history in school and had asked about the fur trade and trapping. I geared up with some traps, read a lot on http://www.trapperman.com/ and we set out to try our luck.
I quickly learned that trapping was hard work. And you just couldn't set traps anywhere and expect to catch anything. Trappers must know the sign, habits and habitat of their quarry more than any other outdoor pursuit. Most of the fun for my boys was getting out and romping along the stream and finding all sorts of "treasures" little boys manage to bring home. It was also quality time I could spend with my boys.
They learned about the natural world and we talked at length about life and death and humans' role in the scheme of things. Furbearer populations kept in check keep Mother Nature from wiping them out with disease and also keeps the food chain in check. And speaking of checks, it's the only thing I do outdoors that pays me back monetarily. Our first season we made nearly $200 on our catch. It didn't even come close to covering our start-up costs, but it more than paid for gas and snacks.
I set 15 traps yesterday and checked them this morning. I had three possums, two raccoons and a skunk. My boys and I were taking odds before they left for school on how many critters we'd catch. They'll run the line with me this weekend after basketball practice and we'll be off and running again this year. It was indeed a good start to the furharvesting season.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I'm always fooled by squirrels and other four-legged creatures sounding EXACTLY like approaching deer in dry leaves. The first heart rate increase was caused by a lowly possum meandering through the woods from behind me. When it finally came into view I had to laugh. It kept me amused for the next 45 minutes munching aimlessly on whatever it could find on the forest floor.
Several squirrels moved about the tree tops. I'm always amazed at the ease with which they negotiate their story-tall habitats without so much as a slip. One squirrel in particular was particularly note-worthy as it had to be the largest tree rat I'd ever seen. It could easily be considered big game and was large enough to nearly need his own area code. I've seen thousands of squirrels but this one was Boone and Crockett for sure.
Right at last light I heard more leaves crunching and watched a decent-sized coon come up and out of the creek bed. He walked the trail in front of me and stopped when I made a movement to catch his attention. He stood up on his hind legs, bobbed his head and looked at me like "What in the world are you?" He never figured it out and finally traveled on.
I didn't kill a deer but most hunts end the same way. It's not all bad and being simply a spectator in the game of nature is sometimes rewarding in itself. There's always next time.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Pheasant stroganoff may sound a bit bizarre, but it's easily at the top of the list of wild game dishes in my book. A buddy's mother made it for me the first time when I was in 7th grade. That was a long time ago, but I still remember the recipe and am reminded of how wonderful it is every time I make it. My family loves it, too, and one son says it's his favorite meal of all. That's high praise coming from a 12-year-old. He's like Pavlov's dog when it's cooking and circles the kitchen like a vulture. My wife, who's real picky about wild game, says it's even in her top 5 favorite meals.
It's easy to make. Here's what you need:
2 pheasant breasts, boned 1 medium onion, diced
1 can mushrooms chicken bouillon
6-8 carrots 1-2 cups sour cream
6-8 celery stalks Flour
2-3 T oil Salt, pepper
Homemade dinner rolls are a nice addition, but we typically don't add any side dishes as it's a meal in itself. It's easy and doesn't take too long to prepare. We tag team it as my wife cuts up the ingredients and I cook it. It works well. And if you run out of pheasant, chicken breasts work equally as well.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Some ponds and wetlands can rely on pumping to provide water in drought years. It's a difficult, and often expensive task, but it does provide the key ingredient waterfowl need in their migration southward. It doesn't work on a large scale but it can provide good results on smaller wetlands and ponds.
It's hoped the "build it and they will come" mentality holds true and with adequate water migrating waterfowl will stop and check it out. It's still early in the game and the next couple months will tell the tale of whether or not the ducks stop or just keep right on going to greener and wetter pastures. I'm hoping they stop for a visit.