Big Meat Down

IMG_3057I spent some time yesterday breaking down this late season mature buck. Check out the size of that bottom round! These dry aged cuts all have prearranged marriages with the dutch oven for all kinds of dishes from Venison Bayou Blue (Mardi Gras tradition) to Corned Venison and Hash (St Patrick’s Day tradition) and everything between.

Some hunters are dismissive of the meat of mature deer. I have found that is a rather unfortunate conclusion. While there is no doubt that the meat from yearling deer tends to lack excessive silverskin, the butchering process on big deer tends to produce the least amount of waste since it is more straightforward to butcher. These large roasts will break down over time in the dutch oven or Crock Pot, they just take a little longer. The idea that a “swollen neck” means a “rutty” tasting buck is misinformation. In fact, the necks of bucks don’t actually “swell.” As their testosterone increases during the breeding season, bucks actually bulk up with muscle, particularly in their necks due to the growth hormone’s associated with testosterone. Its similar to the growth hormones that help humans increase muscle mass and density. Sure, the meat is older and tougher, but there is also much more of it. Looking for a reason to combine trophy aspects of hunting with meat hunting? There you have it. Big neck = more meat.

Looking for a guide to breaking down a hindquarter? Venison Leg Takedown.

Have Sirloin Tip or Bottom Round from a big buck? Try a Venison Pastrami.

Dry Aging? Here you go.

Posted in Cooking, Deer, Deer hunting, Health, Hunting, Paleo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Late Season Mature Buck Success

In last week’s post, I wrote a bit about a specific area that I have been focusing on as of late. Though I do not consider myself a trophy hunter per say, like many hunters, within the confines of hunting, I spend a lot of time hunting deer, I don’t necessarily kill or seek to kill every deer that I encounter, and, following the “anything worth doing is worth obsessing over” mantra, I constantly seek to improve my hunting skills in all ways. In terms of hunting Whitetail deer in a part of the country with an abundant population, this philosophy tends to translate into a certain degree of selectivity and, when the opportunity arises, matching myself head to head with a particular mature deer who has become masterful in the art of avoiding hunters. If you are a hunter, you may very well consider that philosophy “trophy hunting”, though the general public seems to take exception with that term  as it implies a style of hunting where the procurement of meat is not emphasized. Though not necessarily true, that is the  implication, for better or worse.

While filling the freezer with super high quality protein is my ultimate goal with regards to hunting, that does not mean that I demphasise the overall experience, look for ethical shortcuts in the procurement of that meat, nor does it mean that I avoid improving my overall skills as a hunter and/or avoid challenging the skill set that I presently possess.


Within the parameters of hunting Whitetail deer, there is no better way to establish a benchmark than to pursue a specific  animal whose will to survive, use of the terrain, and acute senses are far greater that your actual desire and willingness to go to great efforts to attempt to kill that same animal, much less your comparative woodmanship skills. Enter the mature Whitetail buck; A loner by nature who tends to avoid encounters with humans by remaining hidden during daylight hours and stay within or very close to terrain features that are unhuntable or extremely difficult to hunt.

Despite having access to about 1,000 acres, this 70 yard wide “pinch point”, an overgrown ravine compressed by the corner of an adjacent field and a unmaintained, severely overgrown fence line that separates the woods from a super dense CRP field (on land where there is no hunting access), became my immediate focus of attention due to its funnel like features, overlooked qualities (too thick to hunt when there is the option of open fields) and ample cover.

Over the course of several hunts, I had numerous astoundingly fine days of deer hunting, catching glimpses of this buck in particular as well as encountering a near constant flow of deer activity throughout the day, presumably due to the safe cover and terrain “edges” (Whitetails love edges) this area provides. The three of us who are permitted regular access to this property had all experienced encounters with this particular buck and had all three gone about hunting him along this same terrain feature using varying tactics. The landowner, who had the longest history and most encounters with this buck, commented how the deer did not seem to ever leave this particular core area during daylight -seldom, if ever, exposing himself to hunting pressure.

On Friday Dec 19th, I got delayed setting up camp for the weekend and ended up afield rather late. With sunset at 4:30 this time of year, I would normally try to be in place by 1:30 PM, certainly no later than 2 PM for an evening hunt. Since I was hunting inside the woods and deer tend to be on their feet several hours earlier in cover before exposing themselves in open fields and, since previous experience with this terrain feature had constant deer encounters throughout the day, I did not want to risk spooking any deer (in particular, this buck), so I flopped down on the nearby field edge, a mere 70-80 yards from where I intended to hunt inside the woods. I’ll be honest, I did not have expectations to see much, if anything at all. The further we get into the “late season”, the more sensitive to hunting pressure deer become and often respond by exposing themselves less in daylight hours,  particularly in open fields. Much to my surprise, the buck in question stepped out on the field edge. I had the immediate jolt of adrenaline most hunters get when you encounter a big buck and, with a quick turn of the head, confirmed it was indeed the buck in question, took a 167 yard shot without much more than a second to think and watched the buck run as fast or faster than I have ever seen any deer run, crossing the field and disappearing into the dense woods. All of this happened in less than 3 or 4 seconds.

I ended up finding the buck a short 25 yards inside of the treeline, back in his core habitat and only about 250-300 yards up the fence line from where I had been hunting him. At the end of the day, one is left to ponder how much of successfully targeting a mature deer is wiring down their behavioral tendencies and relying on your skill set as a hunter versus pure, dumb luck. Over the weekend, I have been back and forth on this many times. Sure, I had previous encounters with that particular deer. Sure, my observations as well as the other hunter’s observations who hunt this property indicated that this deer tended to stay, if not exclusively stayed, in this thick, core area along the overgrown fence line. We each took our own approach to hunting this core area. I cannot say for certain that my tactics were any better than anyone else’s. I also would likely not have hunted that field edge since I’m not much of a field hunter to begin with. Based on that, I can only credit my hunting skill set a limited amount in this case, though I can say that the overall A-to-Z experience of hunting this deer improved that skill set.

As a footnote, being a meat-centric, wild game & hunting blog, we are no strangers to antihunting sentiments, hate mail and threats. In particular, pictures of dead animals, “Grip n Grin” photos and, of course, photos of “trophy” (whatever that means) animals seems to generate more hate mail than usual. If it makes any difference, all of the meat from this animal will be used, respected and revered. Though this is a story about a deer that was hunted and killed, many other deer were not killed during the pursuit of this animal. If you are already formulating your hate mail, this likely makes no difference to you, however, I would encourage to invest your time and energy in another pursuit since heavy filters and comment approval will likely send your hate mail sentiments directly to internet limbo. You are the one, after all, visiting a blog called “Go Carnivore” and any of your sentiments, ideas, arguments and agendas have long been played both here and elsewhere. 


Posted in Deer, Deer hunting, Gear, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How Exercise Changes Our DNA

Interesting study:

Having been in and out of shape a couple of times in life, a few times in excellent shape (at least with regards to specific sports and skills) and having bounced back from a 4-5 year slump about a year and a half ago, it does seem that the body (both muscles and conditioning) have a certain degree of “memory” and adapt accordingly even after a few years of not training. I’m sure there is a factor of learning your body and how its responds to different types of training and conditioning through various stages in life as well, but the body does seem to respond faster to training if you have been in shape before as opposed to starting from scratch. A person who is exposed to conditioning at a young age could literally be programming their DNA, or re programming their DNA, and be more physically adaptive for the rest of their life. This idea would seem to be supported by the conclusions of this study. I suspect the same could be applied to diet.

Interestingly, many of the methylation changes were on portions of the genome known as enhancers that can amplify the expression of proteins by genes. And gene expression was noticeably increased or changed in thousands of the muscle-cell genes that the researchers studied.

Most of the genes in question are known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, they affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become.

See also: The Paleo Workout 


Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete

Mark Twight’s Blog.

Posted in Health, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dec 13th, Random Day in the woods

IMG_3024 (1)Despite having an invitation to hunt a large, premium property, December 13th did not appear to have much going for it in terms of presenting an ‘incredible” day in the deer woods. It is is post rut (breeding period), though intermittent rutting action can still be found in this region. It was particularly warm, which is seldom productive for late season Whitetail hunting. I settled in to a well concealed spot on the side of a overgrown ravine. The deer seem to love this location: It is plenty thick for bedding, full of food and serves as a transitional zone between a crop field and a CRP field (Whitetails are creatures of “edges” meaning they love the “edges of fields, treelines, golf courses etc). The fence line between the CRP has a hole in it where a tree has fallen down and deer go out of their way to use that funnel as a fence crossing. They also have a tendency to cruise the fence line (as do a rather large pack of coyotes that work the area).

Over the last 2-3 seasons, it has become a dedicated habit of mine to hunt from the ground exclusively once rifle season opens up. Doing so seems to make hunting more enjoyable for me as I can carry less gear and hunt anywhere I wish at any given time. Often times, being elevated and committed to a treestand, I find myself wishing I were 20 yards over here or 30 yards over there. Hunting on the ground, I simply up and move if I don’t feel like I am exactly in position. In some cases, it adds a degree of challenge, though I do not feel that hunting from the ground has had any real consequences in terms of getting picked off by nervous Whitetails. 

I settled in well before first light, catching a catnap until the birds let me know it was almost time to be alert. I had a doe hanging around at 70 yards at first light and, even though I still needed a couple of more deer for the freezer (especially with the season quickly winding down), I had no urge to take the deer, rather just enjoy the morning. An hour later, I heard movement in the thick weeds and peered over to observe a group of five does passing through. They stopped to feed under some oak trees at 80 yards. As I was analyzing whether or not I had a shot unobstructed by any undergrowth and limbs of significance, I noticed a head, a pair of eyes and a big chunk of white mass standing there next to the does. It is always amazing how mature deer have a way of just appearing like that. Of course my attention turned towards this buck. I caught a couple of more glimpses of him as the does began to move away down the fence line. Then I noticed antlers passing through the chest tall weeds. Thinking that he was about to cross right in front of me at ~40 yards, I readied myself for a shot. Upon reaching a tiny clearing, I realized that I was looking at a different buck, a tank of a 4 point and a heck of a 2.5 year old deer. I am no trophy hunter, though I do have a tendency to allow younger bucks to walk. While this particular property is not managed for bigger/older per say, the landowner also tends to allow younger bucks and does for that matter,  to grow into maturity. I, of course, obliged and cracked a smile as this buck flopped down for a nap 38 yards in front of me.

For the next 2.5 hours, I enjoyed watching this buck as he slept, observed and even stayed locked down tight as a coyote stalked by a mere 20 yards upwind of him. At some point, he finally noticed me as he was suddenly on his feet staring me down. This went on for 5 minutes or so, before he hiked a leg and took a piss with an aggressive stance and then, still staring at me as if he were annoyed that there was an intruder into his bedroom, he moseyed on along the fence line feeding his way out of sight.

And THAT, is a fine day of Whitetail hunting.

Posted in Deer, Deer hunting, Hunting, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Idaho Man Reportedly Uses Siberian Tiger to Hunt Deer


“He was petting the tiger and talking sweetly to it in a baby voice while he was dressing the deer. The tiger was licking him,” Tom Elbert said. “This tiger appeared to be his pet. Not appeared, the tiger was clearly this man’s pet.”

Update: As some, many or most hunters likely noticed, the deer in the picture is not native to North America. The story is fake:

From ID Fish and Game:

We do not have an officer by this name. We do not have any reports nor are encouraging folks to stay away from this area because of a tiger.

Posted in Backcountry, Deer hunting, Elk, Exotic, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zen and The Art of DIY Butchering

IMG_2978Been putting this old butcher’s block to work this season. Nothing like putting on some tunes and breaking down game animals; It completes the hunting process and opens up an entirely new realm of hunting to geek out over. If you are presently outsourcing your butchering, you might consider giving it a try. For the cost of a season’s worth of processing fees, you can set yourself up with all the basics equipment you need to go DIY.

IMG_2980When breaking down your own meat, you’ll do a more thorough job than most any third party will. You will also find yourself becoming more creative in the kitchen with various cuts of meats.

Less Waste, More Food.

Posted in Butchering, Deer, Hunting, Meat 101, News, Paleo, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Presents for Hunters

When it comes to hunting, Go Carnivore is hardly a mainstream hunting blog. You will not see us advising hokey gaderty and the latest big buck tactic. At the end of the day, successful hunting is about skill. There are, however, some practical pieces of gear that make hunting more tolerable, endurable and practical these purchases need not require you to break the bank. The mainstream hunting industry throws all kinds of cheap stuff in your face. Its almost a “hand grenade” marketing tactic: Shove enough junk out there and people will buy something, usually a inferior product that requires more purchases of the same or similar products. Below is a list of gear that is practical, field tested and much of it comes in under $100, even $50 We have no affiliation with any of these products, just long hours in the field.

BlackRockHat-02Black Rock Down Beanie. This 850 fill beanie weighs a mere 1 oz and, paired with a base layer, should provide all the warmth a hunter needs. If you are in a state that requires blaze orange during the cold weather seasons, you might consider getting the beanie in Blaze     orange. I love this thing. $55

Icebreaker ultra thin merino wool socks make great sock liners. Match these with a pair of thicker high quality merino wool socks and you’ll have warm feet. $17.99

Smartwool Glove Liners with Touchscreen technology. Face it: The contemporary hunter spends time texting, scrolling Instagram, taking pics and using touchscreen GPS systems in the field. These gloves will allow you to do all of that without exposing your skin to the cold. $24

Probably my current favorite piece of hunting gear is this First Lite Merino Wool Neck Gaiter. I wore this thing 24/7 for a week straight in Colorado. You can wear it as a face mask, a beanie hat, a neck gaiter, headband or a doo rag. You can use it to like a handkerchief to wipe sweat of your brow or to dry your hands after washing them in a stream, wipe blood off your knife etc. I tucked it under the back of my hat to keep the sun off my neck on sweltering afternoons. I even slept in it. Handy, practical, lightweight, & comfortable. $30

This FHF rangefinder pouch is a bit expensive for what it is. That being said, I have always had issues with optics. I’ve never been able to keep them in a comfortable position in relation to not being in my way when bending over, climbing etc. As a result, my optics and range finger have often ended up in less than accessible places when I needed them. I think I solved this problem with this particular range finder pouch. For an extra $9, you get an extendable tether. Again, expensive for what it is, but it does work well and seems to have solved my problem. I attach this to my bino harness which keeps the rangefinder always accessible on my right ribcage. $36

This Solo Hunter Rifle Cover is a 8oz piece of Cordura fabric with a stretchy liner. It easily fits over your rifle and comes off instantly. While not 100% waterproof, it is treated with a DWR coating  making it highly water resistant. It will definitely keep moderate rain and snow entirely off of your rifle and scope. A Hard rain might require a quick wipe down with oil at the end of the day, but the internal mechanisms should remain dry. I bear ate mine (!!!), so I got another one. $36

For hunting in cold weather, no insulation layer beats a down “puffy” jacket. Period. End of story. Not debatable. There are a lot of options out there for down jackets and they don’t have to be hunting specific since a hunter can always wear a camo shell jacket over it. I would look for jackets with a fill of greater than 800. Here are two suggestions.

Kryptek Aquillo Jacket: $239 (currently on sale for $179)

Feathered Friends offers an assortment of super high quality puffy options from midweight fill vests to full on mountaineering jackets. $170+

photo (28)Do you have a Go Carnivore shirt?

Posted in Backcountry, Deer hunting, Gear, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venison Field & Meat Care Tips: Game Bags & Ice

I am a big proponent of skinning and butchering game meat as soon as possible. Part of this has to do with the weather this far South in Tennessee where cold fronts usually involve clear, sunny skies, meaning that cold mornings tend to turn into mild days. Animals also tend to be easier to skin while still warm. Additionally, skinning, quartering and even deboning in the field is an important skill for any Eastern hunter who has aspirations to hunt out West. You will get no better primer on learning how to breakdown an Elk, Mule Deer, Black Tail etc in the backcountry than “practicing” on Whitetails, even if you are hunting in an area where field recovery is straightforward. Practically speaking, I look at it like this: I have to skin and quarter a deer anyway, might as well do that in the field. If the weather is cool, I get the work done and keep hunting (Many hunters consider their day afield to be over the second they pull the trigger). Disposal of scraps is immediate and there is no needless deer dragging (I still do not fully understand why dragging deer is consider such a ritual for Eastern hunters -makes no sense).

When I skin and quarter deer in the field, I immediately get all quarters, trimmings, and any offal into game bags. In the past, I have used Alaska Game Bags. These are stretchy, cotton blend bags that do a sufficient job at preventing flies from planting larva on the meat. As I was prepping to go out West, I purchased a set of Tag Bags. These are a tougher, synthetic material that are not as porous as the Alaska bags. Blow flies out West are larger and more aggressive and I wanted to be sure that any potential Elk meat was not tainted with fly larva. The Tag bags do not stretch like the Alaska game bags so there is no fitting anything bigger in the bag than the actual size of the bag. This Fall, I have been using a combination of both brands of bags. I use the stretchy  Alaska bags for quarters and the smaller, Tag bags for backstraps, neck meat, flank trimmings and offal.

IMG_2945Fresh venison packed up in a Exo Mountain Gear pack and ready for the WOD (~80 lbs meat haul for 1+ mile).

Once the meat has cooled, I often place the meat on ice for transportation or, if I am out hunting for a few days, I keep the meat on ice until I get home. Based on observations of other hunters, especially on Instragram these days, I see a lot of critical mistakes. By “critical”, I am not implying that meat is ruined, just that meat is treated less than optimally. Here is the deal: A moist enviroment is a ripe environment for bacteria growth (I took a online meat science class from Univ of Florida this summer and we looked at bacterial growth on meat in relation to moisture  quite a bit). Placing your venison directly on ice is not a good idea. (it is better than allowing the meat to spoil, however). Allowing the meat to get submerged in water is even worse. Now, thousands of hunters do both each day and very few, if any of them get sick. That’s fine, but, that doesn’t mean that meat is optimal. Imagine your surprise if you walked into a steak house, ordered the tenderloin and observed the cook pulling a slimey, dripping-wet piece of beef out of ice water. Treat your venison and other game meats like you are going to serve it in a restaurant (i.e. don’t dunk it in water).

So, to avoid exposing the meat to moisture, I simply place the meat in plastic bags while in a cooler. I use the large, leaf bags. Trash bags are fine, but be sure that you do not use scented bags (many trash bags these days are scented) as that will ruin the meat.

IMG_2947Venison over ice. The plastic bags prevent direct contact with moisture and help to maintain a healthy meat PH balance.

Aging your meat? That process is really not happening to any noticeable extent in ice or on ice in a cooler. You can read more about aging here. In all reality, if you do not have some kind of aging setup, or don’t live in a Northern climate where deer can be hung outside, you are better off processing the meat as soon as possible rather than attempting some kind of aging process in ice. There are too many variables when it comes to meat aging for a simple cooler for of ice to be effective. I realize that this challenges some long held practices with regards to hunting and meat care, but again, consider for a moment how you would react to a steakhouse treating cuts of beef in the same or similar manner to how many hunters treat their venison.

Posted in Backcountry, Butchering, Deer, Deer hunting, Elk, Hunting, Meat 101, Meat Industry, News, Paleo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Big South Fork Trip Report

Big South Fork National Recreation Area is one of the few properties managed by the National Park Service that allows hunting. Being a resident of Tennessee, I have long thought that I should take advantage of the opportunity to hunt not only such a large property that offers historical significance, but that I strongly believe many of our National Park systems should be open to hunters as a user group and, biologically speaking, the properties are in need of hunting. Alas, that is a different conversation altogether.

On the Tennessee side, Big South Fork is open to most of the statewide hunting seasons, but one should bare in mind, at least with regards to deer hunting, that Scott county is a “Unit B” county. For deer hunting, Tennessee has 3 different units. About half of the state consists of “Unit L” counties where bag limits are 3 antlerless deer per day every day, all season. “Unit A” counties have more restrictions on antlerless harvests and “Unit B” counties have the most conservative bag limit restrictions on antlerless deer. All units are open to 3 antlered deer per season. As the bag limits imply, many parts of Tennessee have fairly high deer populations, especially where there is agriculture, while other counties, mostly on the Eastern portion of the state, support far less numbers of deer. So, it may seem a bit non intuitive for a hunter who lives in, hunts in and is surrounded by not only counties with high deer populations, but some of the more “destination” deer hunting counties in the state to drive three quarters of the way across Tennessee to hunt in a county that has a very low deer population, but hunting is about experience as much as anything and Big South Fork presents the opportunity to turn deer hunting in Tennessee into a bit of an adventure, so why not take advantage?

2014-11-13 11.13.07-1Shaking off a whisky hangover after a night of catching up with an old friend, I arrived in BSF with plummeting temperatures and a light snow.  Most of the country was experiencing an arctic blast and nightly lows were looking to be in the teens. I spent a little bit of time on the scenic and historic John Muir Trail.

2014-11-13 11.19.56This section of the trail follows an old railroad track. After making a river crossing, I was off trail and, finally seeing a little bit of deer sign. Going off trail, the first thing I noticed was how deep the leaves were and, with the frozen snow on the ground, how incredibly loud I sounded walking through the woods.

2014-11-13 11.43.22I spent some time investigating various terrain features  and trying to figure out how the deer were using the terrain. Upon meeting a tributary, I turned North in a drainage towards the Kentucky state line, establishing camp about 4.5 miles from the nearest point of access on the Tennessee side, my thinking being that, short of hunters coming across the Kentucky state line (which would require a license in both states), I would find myself based in a unpressured area.

2014-11-13 12.44.3620.5 oz, Titanium Goat wood stove and chimney rolled up. The stove proved its worth on this trip as the temps dropped into the low teens with high humidity and most of my days were spent hunting shady drainage systems with cold air coming off the creeks.

2014-11-13 13.45.20-1In addition to providing warmth during the nights, the stove created a dry environment where my gear could dry out each night and that stood in stark contrast to the heavy, damp air that was constant throughout the trip.

2014-11-14 09.05.31As is typical with hunting rolling hills, the deer had a system of established trails traversing the mountain slopes and hillsides. In this case, there were usually three: One at the base, one a third of the way up and one on the upper third. In the event there was a saddle at any point along the ridge, there was usually a trial there leading over the top of the mountain. I was not able to find a place where I had the visibility or shooting lanes to cover an entire sloop that had multiple trails, but I did find places where the terrain got so steep that any trail systems were funneled into one trail. I focused on these funnels. I also spend some time sitting on ancient, overgrown logging roads, a saddle at the top of a mountain, and, the best looking and most used feature of all: the confluence of three creeks.

2014-11-14 09.54.30The upper portion of the hills and mountains were jungles of Mountain Laurel that were impossibly thick and made for perfect bear habitat.  I had a hog permit for the area, but, despite such thick cover, I never saw any hog sign.

2014-11-14 12.29.30-1While down at the creek filtering water on the first day, I returned to find my Muzzleloader missing! I quickly found the gun laying down the hill. A bear had apparently wandered into camp and decided to eat my Muzzleloader! It picked up the gun, which was in this rifle cover, and slung it around. The gun came out of the cover and slide down the hill. The bear then ripped the rifle cover up, leaving holes and teeth marks. Fortunately, most of the snow had already moved out.

2014-11-14 12.30.29After posting a couple of pics and brief story on Instagram, the the rifle cover manufacture immediately offered to replace the cover. I thought that was a very generous customer service gesture on the part of SoloHunter. After all, it was not a manufacturing flaw that caused a bear to eat my Muzzleloader for lunch.

2014-11-14 18.18.50Hovering over the wood stove while rehydrating some dinner. On the coldest day, I returned to camp a few times over the course of the day to make sure there were coals still in the stove. As soon as I got back after dark, I cranked this thing wide open to warm myself back up.

2014-11-13 14.59.55With frozen snow on the ankle deer leaves, putting in long hours over terrain funnels was the only type of hunting that made sense. Walking around in the woods was incredibly loud. I did, however, spend some time stalking up shallow creeks (much to the dismay of my freezing toes!) since that was a relatively quiet way to move.

2014-11-14 13.05.13Cold water!

2014-11-14 11.19.36There is a new, boutique brand of dehydrated meals on the market called Heather’s Choice. They are made using all premium ingredients and most of them are Paleo. These meals are great. I ate the Chocolate Chili (I usually won’t eat dehydrated chili), Rancheros, and Salmon Chowder and they were all top notch. I also enjoyed the Buckwheat Breakfast and Snackaroos. Mountain House brand meals are just too bland for me. Backpacker’s Pantry gets more creative with the menu, but comes up short on flavor. Alpine Aire is my second favorite with Heather’s Choice at the top. -be sure to check these meals out.

2014-11-15 09.32.44I hunted this saddle on the last day. It was one of the few more open areas I could find up high. By this point, I was tired of sitting in cold creek bottoms and not seeing anything. There were a number of tracks leading up and over this feature, but only 1 set of deer dropping that I could find.

2014-11-13 14.31.48Despite several days of hard hunting, this recently used bed was as close as I came to even seeing a deer.

2014-11-13 10.31.26On the move with a full pack.

2014-11-15 08.52.34The home of Davy Crockett, the hills of Tennessee.

Overall, this was a pretty sobering experience in terms of deer encounters. The bear, population, however, must be on the rise as I saw bear sign everywhere. I did buy a hog permit, but saw no sign and I swear I heard an Elk cow call one night.

The wind was very funky and shifted constantly the entire time, blowing one direction in one drainage system and the opposite in the next. Hunting down low by the creeks at least afforded dependable wind since the cold air coming of the water is going to rise. *Note: You will feel every bit of that additional cold air*

I was also surprised at how rugged the terrain was off trail. I have pretty good ankle mobility and strength and that’s a good thing because even with burly hiking boots on, my ankles took a beating with all the twisting and turning on leaf covered rocks and hidden holes. Difficult deer hunting, good adventure; I’d do it again -might even make an annual trip out of it.

Gear packing for this Trip. 

Gear: Exo Mountain Pack, Zamberlan Boots, Kuiu, First Lite, Sitka, Icebreaker, Knight Muzzleloader, Titanium Goat stove, Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter, SoloHunter rifle cover, Smartwool Socks, Heather’s Choice meals, Pemmican, JetBoil, Enlightened Equipment down quilt, Thermarest, Black Rock down beanie , Black Diamond , Alpine Aire  Seek Outside Sawyer Filtration 

Colorado Backpack Elk Hunt 

Posted in Backcountry, Deer, Deer hunting, Elk, Fitness, Gear, Hunting, News, Paleo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cold Weather Backpack Hunt

With an arctic blast coinciding with a November backpack hunt trip, I have a great opportunity to test out some gear upgrades. I’ll be heading into the 125,000 acres Big South Fork National Recreation Area on the Tennessee/Kentucky border for a 4 day hunt. BSF is just one of only a handful of National Park Service properties that are open to hunting. It is muzzleloader season here in Tennessee, so I’ll be packing the smokepole looking for Whitetail and incidental hogs.

My gear list is essentially the same as my Colorado Elk Hunt, though I have made some upgrades that have lightened the load as well as added a couple of extra items to make cold weather hunting more comfortable. photo 1 (2)I added a stove jack to my tarp shelter which allows me to run a very cool,  titanium cylinder wood burning stove. The entire stove rolls up into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and weighs in at 20.5 oz.  Since I will be burning wood during the night, I added a lightweight hand saw for cutting wood. It can also split double duty on butchering jobs. I also upgraded from a mummy bag to a down quilt from Enlightened Equipment. This cut my sleeping bag weight from 52oz to 21oz, essentially giving me a weight allowance for carrying a wood stove.

Food wise, I’m carrying a combination of Alpine Aire dehydrated meals and a few from a excellent new company called Heather’s Choice. Heather has entered the dehydrated adventure meal market offering premium food with super high quality ingredients. Many of the meals are Paleo, use “superfood” ingredients, and the meats are grass fed/organic (wild caught seafood). The meals come in at about 600 calories each (high calories meals are reportedly on the way) with 50+ grams of protein. Because these meals are targeted towards a more specific consumer, the ingredient combinations and recipes seem to be more interesting than the competition. I have tried one meal so far while out on a weekend hunt and found it to be excellent. You can expect a full review coming soon. photo 2 (3)

Of course, I also packed a few bars of my recent Pemmican experiment, “Cranstachios” (cranberries & pistachios), and Kind bars. At the last minute, I threw in a 1 gallon bag of spinach. Yeah, I know…. hardly ultralight in terms of calories to ounces, but I sure do like having my greens. I hope to be cooking some fresh backstraps up over an open flame as well. Full report coming next week.

Posted in Backcountry, Butchering, Cooking, Deer, Deer hunting, Elk, Gear, Health, Hunting, News, Paleo, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments