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Monthly Archives: September 2017

An illustrated Guide to the Best Game Meat Cuts

There are plenty of hunters out in the field bringing home dinner and we figured we would share some great guides on the best cuts and how to get them from your harvest!  Click on each picture to enlarge for greater detail 🙂

This diagram is the basic overview of the quarters and can be applied to deer, moose, elk and caribou.

illustrated deer

This second diagram is a more in depth cut selection and is coded for the sections as well.  Again, this can be applied to deer, moose, elk and caribou.

deerchart

Ensure before you properly care for your game in all stages of meat preparation to give not only longevity to the meat, but reduce the risk of cross contamination of any bacteria that could not only spoil the meat but could also make you very sick.

Happy hunting!

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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in game, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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FIELD JUDGING – Black Bear

bear3Though some may disagree, black bears are one of the most sought after of all the big game species. Who hasn’t desired a black bear rug? Next to whitetail deer, there is an argument to be made that black bears are the second most popular big game animal to hunt.

Popular to hunt they may be, but easy to field judge, they are not, and yet, in spite of the high degree of difficulty, everyone who hunts black bears wants a big one. A “meat bear” won’t do. To whit, in all the many years I’ve outfitted for black bears, not one of my client-hunters has told me that his dream was to shoot a small bear for the freezer. It hasn’t happened and it never will. The fascination we hunters have with big bears is ancient and primal; a combination of “fear” and “facing fear,” another black bear dichotomy. It’s akin to climbing up onto the roof of a building and looking over the edge, the higher the building (the bigger the bear), and the deeper the fascination.

Taking all this into consideration, why is it then that so many hunters have small or medium-sized black bear skin rugs on their wall? And more to the point of this article, why do they have small bear skulls in their dens? Why indeed. Ask them and virtually every one of them will say something to the effect of, “he (or she) looked huge to me.” It is a standard and a fair evaluation of black bear hunting. Without doubt, the toughest part of taking a big black bear is knowing what “big” looks like. What follows in this article will hopefully help you correctly make what will be your toughest judging call of all.

First Things First
When hunters ask, and they all do, how to judge black bears, they invariably throw in what they know about judging black bears, the one or two tips they’ve read in some bear article, things like “look for small ears” and “big bears have small-looking heads.” Our response is that they are way ahead of themselves, looking at the size of a bear’s ears or head isn’t necessarily wrong, it just isn’t the right thing to be doing first. The first thing they should be looking at when they see the bear they want to judge is the location of that bear.

Location
Big bears live, eat, and hang out in the best living, eating, and hanging out areas. Find the best looking bear habitat in whatever hunting area you are in and odds are, the bear you see there will be big, especially during prime evening hours. Small bears usually live in marginal habitat for their own safety, as well they should, since big black bears eat small bears. Often hunters say that they spotted an especially large bear right up near the edge of the timber, near the big trees. And they may well have, but odds are, the reason that bear is up there near all those good escape trees, is that the bear itself is small and the very tops of those nearby trees are the best insurance against ending up as a bear breakfast.

Of course, location is a relative thing,  a grassy meadow along a creek in the bottom country or a reclaimed road seeded to clover in the high country. In other areas, a good location may be a bait pile or oat field. Because of the huge diversity of black bear habitat across North America, good location is relative and impossible to qualify. Know your hunting area and you’ll know what to look for, but remember, if there’s a bear feeding on a prime spot at prime time, odds are it’s a bear worth judging.

bear9Attitude
Big bears are the toughest, meanest sons-of-a-guns in the area and they act it. Watch a human bully walk down the street, he walks with a swagger and an attitude. A big bear walks the same way. He doesn’t fit and start at every sound like a small bear will. A big bear doesn’t have to; he believes he’s got nothing to fear. Once you’ve spotted your bear on the prime feeding spot during prime time, it’s time to get serious about how that bear is behaving.

It is important to note that long before you judge the size of the bear, you must judge the sex of that bear. A big, old sow will have all, or more correctly, almost all of the physical characteristics of a big, old boar. She’ll have the nasty looking face that’s seen one too many years in the ring, the potbelly and the sway back. The one thing (besides the obvious) that she won’t have, except in exceptional cases, is the “I’m the biggest and baddest son of a gun in the valley” behavior that determines sex more effectively than if that bear was wearing a bikini.

  1. Watch to see if the bear stands on his hind legs and rubs his back on a tree, that’s a boar.
  2. If it walks along and straddles small trees, wiping its scent on that tree, it’s a boar.
  3. If it stands up and breaks saplings over its shoulder, it’s a boar.
  4. If it encounters another bear and gives chase, it’s a boar and if it is following a smaller bear, it’s a boar.

Scale
There is one last general appearance tip to judging black bears that makes the top three in importance, and that is scale. A big bear looks big . . . but so does a closer, smaller bear. Here’s a quantitative example of this. If the bear is 150 yards away but the hunter thinks the bear is 200 yards away, the hunter will overestimate the bear’s relative size by somewhere near 25 percent. In other words, the hunter is in for a serious case of ground shrink when he walks up to his bear. Get as close to the bear as you can. The closer the bear, the less chance there is of misjudging the distance to the bear, and thereby misjudging the bear’s relative size.

Specific Tips for Judging Black Bears
If the bear fails any one of the above general conditions, then let the bear walk. It’s tough but at least there isn’t a dead small bear lying on the ground.

1) Body Shape: Do you wear the same size pants as you did when you were in high school? Be honest, does your spouse poke you in the belly once in a while and tell you to cut back on the Twinkies? Bigger bears are older bears, and like most of us, they don’t have the svelte bodies they once did. They tend to look “heavy” and out of shape. Remember, they monopolize the best feed and habitat, and therefore exert less energy to live.

2) Head Shape: A big bear (boar) will have a deeper, wider and longer snout than a smaller bear or a female. His ears will appear to be wide apart and small. If he is aware of you and looking your way, his ears won’t stand up on top of his head like a dog’s ears, they’ll seem to be aimed out to the side of his head. A big bear will have well developed “bulging like Arnold,” biting muscles on the top of his head.

3) Legs: A big bear will have massively developed front shoulders. His shoulders will look big and burly. A sow’s wrist will pinch in directly above the foot. Not so with a boar. The lower forearm, wrist and the foot on a big boar are all the same width. A big bear often appears to have shorter legs because the body is so much thicker, but keep in mind that the best-scoring bears for the records book are often the lankier looking, longer-bodied bears.

 

Let Boone and Crockett Sort Them Out
There isn’t a guide or hunter in the world who can accurately call the skull measurement of a black bear. It’s impossible. There are simply too many variables that affect the final dried measurement.  bear6

There are bears that have meatier heads; bears that look great and are great trophies, but that don’t score well. There are others that have short skulls, block-headed beasts that look impressive, but that don’t score well at all and there are lanky, skinny bears with donkey faces that score like the devil, but that a hunter seriously looking for a records book bear wouldn’t walk across the street for. Black bear morphology is just too darn diversified to make a science out of judging.

The best way to hunt for a records book boar is to simply shoot the bear that looks good to you and that hopefully you’ll appreciate. If it’s got a nice hide, be happy with your animal. If it has long claws and weighs a ton, good for you and congratulations. If it isn’t as big as you’d like, don’t fret, you’re not alone and the rug on your wall will still look great. If it happens to be one of those rare few bears that has grown a skull that qualifies for the records book, thank your guide and your lucky stars and don’t expect to repeat the feat in the near future. It won’t be that bigger bears aren’t around—they are—you just won’t be able to tell them apart from the other bears in the area!

BREAKDOWN OF SCORING COMPONENTS – BEAR
bear dia

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Need a Do-Over With Your Shot?

It’s rare for any hunter to walk away from a field or reflect on a hunt and not think about whether a shot could have been better.  Whether with a bow, crossbow or firearm, there are times when we hesitate. A little voice – instinct, caution, doubt? – throws up a hurdle.

ShotSimulator
Sometimes we adjust and avoid the hurdle. Other times we pull up short and don’t leap. We don’t take the shot.And, unfortunately, there are times when we know the hurdle is there but take the shot anyway. We’re confident in our abilities and that of our bow, crossbow or gun. Some might call that experience. Some might say it’s recklessness or unethical.

We probably all can look back and wrestle with at least one shot that might have been risky, even if things turned out well after taking it and the deer, bear or moose is on the ground.  Part of our duty as hunters is to strive to maximize our abilities with whatever weapon we use.

We practice, tune our bows, hit the range with our guns. We try to find the right combination of arrows and broad heads or the ammunition that works best with our rifles, muzzleloaders, handguns or shotguns.  One way to improve our knowledge and experience is with Deer & Deer Hunting’s “Shot Simulator” software.  If you’ve ever been curious about where your bullet, slug or arrow has entered a deer’s body and what happened, here’s how to find out.  The Shot Simulator software is designed to provide you with outstanding animation of a deer’s body and internal bones, muscles and organs.

imagesA15UZWSYWith the Shot Simulator, you can position the animated deer in numerous positions – how it was when you shot, or how you saw a buck or doe and didn’t shoot – and then learn which organs were hit.  Didn’t like what you saw? Position it differently and do it again. You can not only position the deer, but also your shot from a tree stand or ground level.  If you’re a stand hunter but only climb about 15 feet, you can see the difference in that height versus 25 feet or on the ground.  The animation allows you to move the deer around and then remove the hide, skin and bones to see what happened.  Then, you can punch in the trailing guide to find out what happens next.  Should you follow the game immediately?  Wait a while? Just for your knowledge, you could take the shots on the computer that you’d definitely pass up in real life and then see what would happen.

It’s an educational tool that could help you glean more knowledge and help make you a better hunter. Shot Simulator also is a great teaching tool for young hunters, too.  They’re curious about what happens and this is a great way to augment their in-field learning.

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Big Mistakes NOT to Make in Your Bear Stand

Part of the thrill of the hunt, is the anticipation knowing that with every second that ticks by, you are one second closer to harvesting your trophy black bear. What happens when those seconds turn into hours and then into days?   Being under prepared to be in your stand for extended periods of time can be frustrating, and worse yet, can prevent you from achieving a successful hunt.

bearstand

It would be awesome if we knew when and where the harvest was going to take place, but that wouldn’t be hunting then, would it?

Having a plan in your bear stand can make your hunt much more enjoyable. Things to consider: weather, bugs, boredom and nature calls.

Weather – Avid hunters know that fall weather can change in a heart beat. It can go from warm, to cold, windy and raining in the blink of an eye. Having the right clothes in your back pack can make the best of a somewhat undesirable situation.

Bugs – can be a huge annoyance in the great outdoors. Especially when you are forced to sit still for extended periods of time. Avoid bug sprays when bear hunting… PERIOD! A new, unfamiliar scent, along with an intuitive feeling that something isn’t right, will keep trophy bears from over coming fear and committing to your bait. Bug jackets and bug nets are a must. (Oh, on side note, make sure you practice shooting with your bug net on). Regarding the portable propane bug eliminators, we highly advise against them as it is a new scent that can be detected by a bear easily and may quickly deter them.

Boredom – Nothing will end your hunt faster than impatience and constant movement in your stand. If you are like most guys who can’t sit still for more than 30minutes at a time, you must bring something with to occupy your mind. I personally use a book. I have also seen guys use those portable, pocket video games. Regardless of what you use, make sure you sit sill and only utilize things that will be quiet and non light reflective.

Nature Calls – Ever been in the stand when all of the sudden you have to take a pee? Sucks, doesn’t it? I don’t know how many times I have had this happen to me, yet somehow I always forget to bring a container along. Put a portable urinal on your packing list. Doing so will make the difference between shooting that monster and taking it’s offspring or nothing at all.  NEVER eliminate off of or near your stand!  There is nothing more offensive and frightening to a bear than knowing a human is directly near by.

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Remember, being prepared to sit that stand can mean the difference between a very successful harvest or having to return and start all over again!

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2017 in black bear, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Want More Grouse? Watch the Thermometer Drop!

P1040063Cold, blustery days in early winter are not the best days to go grouse hunting. Neither are, humid, September days. Essentially, the best time to go grouse hunting is when you can. And if that means dealing with the weather de jour- so be it. That doesn’t mean you can’t find some grouse, and even pocket a few, regardless of the weather.

Grouse like to stay cool in early fall when Indian summer days send the thermometer to summer-like temperatures. During those glorious fall days grouse will sleep in on their cozy roost and then venture out into a sunlit patch to soak up the warming October rays. November and December is a transitional period when cover becomes as much a priority as food. Staying warm and out of the wrath of heat-sapping winds and cold makes the places that grouse frequent during the late fall and early winter months predictable. Most times the mercury can give you a heads-up on which way to go.

Ruffed grouse seasons open in September in Ontario. Going hunting then is more a testament to tradition than it is to wanting to kill grouse. Foliage is thick, dense and green. But, if you insist on subjecting yourself to this kind of brutality you might as well give yourself the best chance at finding birds.

Look at the thermometer and you’ll realize that one of the best places to look for early season grouse is near rivers and streams. Waterways provide cool summer oases for grouse and you usually won’t find them far from the same habitat come early fall. During especially dry years, the moist soils found along rivers and streams may be one of the few places that you’re going to find the types of vegetation that produce the fruits and berries that grouse love so much.

Another reason early season grouse can be found along waterways is that the thick vegetation protects grouse broods from predators. Moist soils produce lush habitat that is ideal for protecting young grouse broods and the temperate environment produces a lot of high-protein invertebrates that are critical to young grouse growth and survival. Working along river bottoms and creek beds can be a good tactic because grouse broods can often be found in or close to their brood habitat.

Grouse are often still in broods or tight-knit family groups in September and October and can be concentrated and difficult to find. Perseverance can pay off. You might hunt several prime coverts without success and then bust several coveys in a short period of time. The trick is to keep at it. When you do run into some birds, you’ll usually find a bunch and chasing down singles after the flock is broken up can produce some quick shooting.

And quick shooting is what you can expect this time of year. Shooting grouse is never easy, but the task is made increasingly difficult when foliage is thick and catching even a glimpse of a bird is tricky. In the early season, you need to post, plan and resist the temptation to go in after them. It’s fruitless. If you have a dog, let them do the dirty work. Instead, look for openings, deer trails, clearings and post where you can get a shot if a bird flushes in your direction. Put a bell on your dog so your can keep track of his location at all times. Let one hunter bust the brush while the other walks a logging road where a flushing bird just might offer a shot. Don’t wait for an open shot. You’ll never get one! Instead, instinctively point and shoot even if you only catch a fleeting glimpse of the bird. Many times I never even knew I’d hit the bird until the dog came back with the grouse in its mouth. Be sure to keep in constant contact with your hunting party and know their location for safety sake and wear plenty of hunter’s orange.

Think wide open chokes and small shot during the early season. Grouse are not difficult birds to bring down, so put a lot of shot in the air and maybe just a pellet or two will get through the trees and hit its mark.

Weather and temperatures can be quite diverse in October. You might be rewarded with one of those cool, sunny, perfect fall days that grouse hunters live for. But don’t be surprised if you’re forced to pull out the woolies and gloves either. And you might even wake up to some fresh tracking snow. That’s just how October is- transitional- and it’s a transitional period for grouse too.

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Grouse have a smorgasbord of items to choose from in October and finding their preferred food source is often critical to finding numbers of grouse. Ripening fall fruits can draw grouse from far and wide. Grouse favor edge cover, and it’s no coincidence that some of their favorite culinary delights do best on edges where sunlight can penetrate the forest canopy. Depending on which state you live in, grouse can usually be found keying in on edge cover fruits like wild grapes, chokecherry, and a host of other fruity edibles. These open areas also produce some of old ruff’s favorite greens like wild strawberry and clover and are also places where they can find high-protein items like grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects.

When grouse numbers are high, they can be found in variety of cover types at this time of year. Even marginal grouse habitat will hold a few birds as grouse begin dispersing into new territories during the fall shuffle.

Cover becomes an increasingly important priority as the month wears on. October begins with it plenty of foliage and grouse can move about uninhibited. By the end of the month, the trees are bare, the wind has a foreshadowing bite to it and grouse must rely on their camouflage and staying hidden as much as possible. Still, you’ll find grouse wandering about in search of brunch or a late afternoon snack and those are two of the best times to hunt grouse at this time of year.

Obviously a peak time in October is the first week or two after the leaves have fallen. When this happens might vary by a few weeks from region to region, but it is prime time to be in the woods. Grouse seem to forget for a little while that they are not as invisible as they were just a few days earlier and their numbers are at a seasonal peak. You can actually see some of the grouse that you flush too. 

At this time of year you can find grouse in some pretty unusual places far from what you’d consider ideal grouse cover. I’ve found grouse under a solitary crab apple tree in the middle of a field far from what you’d consider grouse cover. I’ve shot grouse out of fields of goldenrod that you’d think were more likely to hold pheasants. No patch of cover is too small or too thin to hold a grouse then.

Once snow blankets the ground the whole ballgame changes. Grouse that have survived the onslaught of hunters, wolves, owls and know that when their environment becomes covered in white they are vulnerable. Snow also covers up many of the grouse’s food sources and feeding becomes a little more risky and perilous. Grouse don’t go on those aimless strolls in search of food. Their search is more deliberate and of shorter duration when the thermometer starts to dip and the weather turns cold. Cover becomes more of a priority.

It’s important to ferret out productive versus non-productive cover as quickly as possible. I don’t know about you, but I’m not as young as I use to be. Those all-day jaunts of pounding the woods are over. I’m usually only good for about a half a day of hard hunting and I want to make the most of it. To do so requires that you develop a since for identifying the absolute best cover and hunt it hard. Learn to not waste time where you THINK there might be birds.

Remember those light loads and wide-open chokes you used in September? Put them away if you’re serious about killing grouse once the snow flies. Shots will be longer and birds will be tougher. Replace your 8’s and 9’s with high-brass 71/2’s or even 6’s. Take the skeet tubes out and go to improved or even a modified tube in one barrel. With your shooting eye in late season form you’ll still get the easy shots and with the heavier shot and tighter chokes you’ll be able to add a few birds you wouldn’t normally pocket.

Grouse are tough customers. That’s why most of us hunt them. But watching the thermometer you can get a better idea of where to begin your search and make your days in the woods a little more productive.

Join us for our 2017 Grouse HUNT!

Check out our 24 pg. HUNT BOOKLET

Check out our 24 pg. HUNT BOOKLET

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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in grouse, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Flint Laces: Shoe Laces That Can Start a Fire

flint-laces-shoe-laces-that-can-start-a-fire-thumb

The Flint Laces are a pair of shoe laces that you can use in case of an emergency to start a fire with if you are otherwise incapable of starting one. Maybe you forgot your matches at home, maybe it just rained and all your matches are wet, or maybe you’re stranded in the woods without a match or a lighter and you’ve lost your manhood and just can’t make a fire using your own two hands.

flint-laces-shoe-laces-that-can-start-a-fire-9435
Each flint lace contains a hidden piece of ferro rod that is capped with rubber. Simply scrape the rubber from the rod, strike it against a knife or some steel (assuming you have some), and you will be toasting your buns on a nice hot fire in no time.

The flint laces are completely normal shoe laces other than containing a fire starter rod, they are made from type III 7 strand 550 paracord, contain 4 separate rods (1 on each end of each shoelace), come in sizes 36-108, and are perfect for when you’re planning on getting lost and stranded while hiking or camping.

 

 

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