Showing posts with label Deer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deer. Show all posts

Monday 17 February 2020

Deer Heart

I can honestly say that I was apprehensive about eating heart.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it was because, other than liver, I have never really eaten much organ meat. After hearing so many people describe how delicious it is, I decided to give heart a try.  I was not disappointed.

The heart I prepared was from my last white tailed deer, a smaller 3x3 buck.  I followed the simple preparation outlined by MeatEater, both online and in their book, "The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Game".

The result was the most tender and flavourful meat I have ever eaten.  It has the mouth feel of a perfectly cooked prawn, firm, but with a tender pop as you bite in. The flavour was like a perfectly cooked marbled steak.  After just a few bites, I realized how special and unique eating heart was.

Without any doubt, the heart it is one of the best parts of the deer to eat.  I would never pass up another chance at a heart.  It completely blew my mind.  How has it taken me this long to discover how awesome heart tastes!?



-1 Heart

1) Cap and core the heart like you are preparing a bell pepper.

2) Slice into half inch thick cross sections.  Trim and clean up pieces.

3) Prepare seasoned flour for dredging with salt and pepper.

 4) Heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat in a skillet.

 5) Dredge pieces in flour and fry.  Do not crowd pan.

 6) Cook until golden brown on both sides.

7) Serve with ketchup.  Enjoy!!!

Saturday 26 May 2018


A new, large-scale research project, involving multiple agencies and universities, has started to tackle one of the most pressing needs in wildlife management in British Columbia – how to understand and reverse declines of mule deer in the Southern Interior. With contributions from Indigenous people, the public, stakeholders, and industry, this project brings together cutting-edge research on deer ecology with multiple partnerships to advance both evidence and cooperative-based approaches to wildlife conservation.

“Mule deer declines have been a concern in portions of the southern interior since the 1960s, and decades of hunting regulation change have not reversed the declines," said Jesse Zeman, Director of Fish and Wildlife Restoration, BC Wildlife Federation.

A combination of fire suppression, timber extraction, highways, urban sprawl and other factors affect the movement and size of mule deer populations in the Southern Interior of B.C. Sophie Gilbert, an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho and co-investigator on the project, said, "in addition to landscape change, things like increases in competitor or predator species may also be affecting mule deer, as we've seen in other parts of western North America, and we want to identify which drivers are most important in the Southern Interior.

"Mule deer are essential for food security, Syilx (Okanagan) cultural practice and knowledge transfer, hunter opportunity, and are a ‘canary in the coal mine' for B.C.'s ecosystems.
“What we have heard from Indigenous communities, ecologists, and resident hunters is that the decline of mule deer matters to them and the status quo is no longer sufficient," said Dr. Adam T. Ford, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Wildlife Restoration Ecology at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus and co-investigator on the project. "It is time we bring more science to bear on issues affecting wildlife in B.C."

The B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch, in collaboration with the BC Wildlife Federation, Okanagan Nation Alliance, volunteers and researchers at the University of British Columbia, and the University of Idaho, placed GPS tracking collars on 64 adult female mule deer (does) in the following areas: Kettle-Granby, Peachland/Garnet Valley, and Cache Creek/Elephant Hill fire.

There are an additional 33 adult female mule deer collared in the Kootenay study area.
Of the 64 deer captured in 2018, ultrasounds were used to assess pregnancy rates and general health on 56 does greater than one year of age. The project team found a 98 percent pregnancy rate, at least 80 percent of those does were carrying twins. Does and their offspring (fawns) are what drive deer population change, which is why the project is focusing on them.

The GPS collars in the Kettle-Granby, Peachland/Garnet Valley, and Cache Creek study areas track the deer movements every 4.25 hours and provide information on the deers’ habitat use, how they move across the landscape, which areas they avoid, when and how they die. When a collar is no longer moving, a message gets sent to the project team which allows them to investigate factors contributing to the animal’s death.

In addition to the collars, at least 200 remote cameras will be deployed in the project areas to provide an understanding of how other animals (predators, prey, and people) interact with mule deer. The cameras will also provide recruitment data (fawn survival) and sex ratios (buck: doe), and potentially help count mule deer and other large mammals.

This fall the group expects to place GPS collars on a minimum of 60 mule deer fawns and will also incorporate vegetation monitoring (food availability).

To date, nearly $300,000 in direct funding has been contributed to the project through multiple sources including, BC Wildlife Federation Clubs and partners, corporate donors, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch, Ministry of Transportation, and B.C. Timber Sales. The project has also confirmed over $500,000 of in-kind support from collaborators, particularly project volunteers and the University of B.C. Okanagan and University of Idaho.

"While there has been tremendous community support, the project still requires additional financial and in-kind support to fund the remaining four years of the project," said Jesse Zeman. “Please go to the BC Wildlife Federation website [] to make a donation and receive a tax credit receipt, get updates, or learn about volunteer opportunities for the project.” People can also donate directly to the Okanagan Nation Alliance [].

First Day of Scouting 2018

As a new hunter, finding new areas to hunt can be a real challenge.  I usually start with google earth and the BC Backroad Mapbooks.  Once I have a plan about where to go, I tell someone where I am headed and then set out as early as I can bring myself to get up and stay out until dark, driving the back roads and looking for mountains to hike.  I record whenever I see animal sign.  Overall, I saw 2 black bears, 14 deer, 1 ruffed grouse, and 1 marmot on my first day out this year.

Last Monday (Victoria Day) was the first day that I managed to get out for some scouting.

 I always bring a heap of gear in case I get stuck of have to spend the night.  I have a few days of food and all my minimum gear for safety in the back country, even when I am sticking to the logging roads mostly.  I have a great device called a Delorme inReach, which is a satellite text message device which also connects via Bluetooth to your phone to let you text via satellite. 

 Everything gets piled into the Truck and off I go.  I managed to hit the road by 6:30 AM.

 I always fuel up in Hope and bring a few extra Jerry cans. 

 Moose sign.

Whenever I find sign I record it on my GPS or on the Hunt Buddy BC app on my phone. It is available for Android and iPhone

Hunt Buddy icon

I use hunt buddy mostly to record sign so I can later transfer the info to Google Maps.

A window mount is a great way to glass as you explore.

 More moose sign.

Black bear sign.


 Moose sign.

 I followed the moose sign for a while.


 This is the first of two black bear that I saw.  The second was larger.  I have a black bear tag and had my rifle with me, but I decided not to take my first bear even though it was legal.  I very much want to try bear meat.  I have heard a lot of mixed reviews, but from all of my trusted sources, they all say it is quite good, especially in sausage and smoked hams.  Also, when I do take my first bear, I want to ensure I use the fat for baking lard and the hide for a rug.  I had a business trip planned this week and that meant that I would be out of town for 3 weeks.  It was hard enough for me to managed to find time get a day out to go scouting.  With trip prep and and other generally being busy with life, I decided that I wouldn't have had the time I wanted to process the meat, prepare and bring the hide to the taxidermist, and generally deal with my first bear the way I want to.  Therefore, I decided it was not time to take the shot.

Sunday 13 May 2018

White-tailed Deer 2015

2015 had already been a very successful hunting season.  Earlier in the fall I had managed to get my first moose.  In spite of spending over two weeks in the bush near Vanderhoof, I finagled my way into getting another 10 days off work to go whitetail hunting.

Packing for hunting trips is always a challenge.  There are conflicting goals of trying to bring enough gear to be prepared while trying not to over-pack.   For a non-backpacking hunt, I try to keep it to two Rubbermaid totes, a duffel bag, sleeping bag, gun, and hunting pack.  I am lucky that my father in law has such a good rig and all the other gear needed to spend weeks in the bush.   

My 2015 White-tailed deer gear pile.  I tend to over-pack.

As usual, I spent a few weekends before the trip making and freezing meals for the trip.  Favourites always include dutch meatballs, moose Bourguignon, shepherd's pie, shrimp and scallop creole, and Irish stew.  These dishes all freeze well in either freezer bags or foil trays.  We usually chose what to eat based on what had thawed first.

The drive out to the Eastern Okanagan was, as always, an enjoyable road trip.  The time passed quickly while my father in law and I caught up on things. We chatted about everything from hunting to current events.  As usual, there was much discussion about where we might see deer and what new places to try based on having spent the weeks prior studying Google Earth. The last stop in civilization was an overnight in the usual motel with some final groceries, gas, and the obligatory stop at the liquor store.

Provisioning done.  Off to the motel.

The next day we woke up early and as usual there were deer in town, right outside the our motel room door, taunting us.   If it was legal to shoot deer in the A&W parking lot, it would be the easiest deer hunt on the planet.  

Deer are far easier to spot in town than at the deer camp.
Anyways... we headed out to the usual spot and met up with our friends from the island.  There were also a couple of my father in laws work buddies who I hadn't met before.  We set up the camp within a few hours and managed to get out for an evening hunt. 

There were eight of us in total at the whitetail camp.  A few of the other usual suspects couldn't swing a second major trip after the moose trip earlier in the fall.
The vestibule lit up at night

The typical morning at the deer camp always goes like this...

At around 5:00am the alarm goes off.  My father in law sits up on his bunk in the trailer where he can reach the propane stove and lights the burner.  By this time in the morning the fire in the wood stove in the vestibule is usually pretty low.  The warmth of my sleeping bag makes me detest every move towards getting ready to go.  By the time the coffee is percolating, we have both mostly managed to get dressed.  We chat over coffee about the plan for the day, who is going where, what strategies we think will work etc.  At a certain point we see the fire start up and a generator wrrrr to life.  My buddy from the island always has piles of energy and you can count on him to be the first up and out to get the fire going.  As the coffee kicks in we each do "The Walk" to the outhouse and then head out for a morning hunt.

I like to stand hunt for whitetail.  I usually make my way as quietly as possible to a spot where I have seen sign.  I try to go to the known places where whitetails cross.  I hide myself in some bushes with the wind in my face and wait for hours in silence.  As the cold begins to chill me to the bone I do everything I can to block out the discomfort.  When I feel like I can't take it anymore, I try to stay an hour longer.  At that point I am so frozen that have to do something.  Depending on the time, it's either still hunting or making my way back to camp.

On a typical day, by around noon most people have made it back to camp.  Everyone has their late breakfast/lunch and then we set about doing camp chores.  Usually after lunch we chop firewood and make a huge stack for the evening.  We usually go through one full truck bed full of rounds each day between the campfire and the stoves in everyone's tents.  

By around 1:30-2:00pm everyone heads back out for the evening hunt.  I like to find my spot and sit until the end of legal shooting light.  This invariably means I have to make my way back to camp in the dark.  I usually end up being the last back to camp in the evening. 

That week, each evening when I rolled back into camp, my answer to the usual "Did you see anything?" was sadly "Not a thing".  Even the amount of deer sign was less than the previous year.

As the week rolled on some people got pretty dejected.  One of our guys, the big Italian with an incredible sense of humour, managed to get a nice 3x3.  It really lifted everyone's spirits.  He always works hard and manages to have a lot of success still hunting for whitetails.  He had been right where I had spent several days, but he had climbed way up the hill where he knew deer bedded and managed to connect.

As the trip continued on, the hours spent silently trying to will a deer to appear made my mind start to play tricks on me.  By a certain point, everything started to seem like it might be a deer.  I started constantly feeling like I was seeing movement out of the corner of my eyes. 

Day after day the overall lack of sign and success really started to get to some people.  Some even said they weren't coming back.  As the trip drew to a close, most people were ready to call it and go home.  We said our goodbyes and watched as people packed up and left, but my father-in-law and I decided to stay one more day.  I decided to hunt a spot where traditionally one of our guys was always successful.  He and his boy are always the first up and out of camp so they always normally get to that spot first. This year though, they didn’t come to the Whitetail trip because they used up their vacation bagging a huge moose up near Vanderhoof. It was the last day so I decided to give their spot a try.

I burned over to the spot and parked the ATV at the fork in the road.  As I was unpacking, some other guys in a Tracker drove up and stopped next to me, we started chatting, and suddenly one of them shouted “Deer!” and I spun around to see its white tail as it popped over the bank and out of sight. I hustled over to where I could see up the rolling hills of the slash, but never saw it for more than a split second at a time as it worked its way up and out of range.  It was probably a spike, but it was hard to tell.
I walked back to the guys in the Tracker and we said our pleasantries and they turned around and went back the way they came.

I decided I would start walking up the treeline on the downwind side of the slash to get some elevation in case the spiker was still around.  I followed a deactivated logging trail that was badly grown over, up to a stand of trees and started to work my way back and in so that I would be able to peer in from the downwind treeline.  As I hiked up, the going started getting tough.  Fallen logs and rocks covered in snow was leading to a lot of falls.

I decided to go back the way I had come and attack this from a different path.  As I walked back I started to notice another Tracker, a different colour, in the distance parked next to the ATV.  As I walked back towards the ATV and the Tracker I notice another hunter in the slash walking around.  What the hell? Long story short, he didn’t seem to care that he was parked next to me and hunting the same spot as me.  Anyways, that’s in poor taste and somewhat dangerous if you ask me. I told him first come, first served and that he was being inconsiderate.  He didn’t seem to care.  Anyways, I was choked, so I fired up the ATV, revving as loudly as I could and burned off down the road back to camp.  As I was flying my way back to camp, I decided I would go up this road behind camp which, according to my GPS, seemed like it would come out above that slash that I wanted to hunt.  So I started the 30 minute ride around the back of the mountain which would lead me to the top of the slash which I had just been overhunted out of.
I was almost there and it was getting to that golden hour when everything starts to happen around 3:30 to 4:30 pm. As I rounded the final bend before the last straight stretch before the slash out bounded a little spiker.  He jumped up onto the bank at 20m and stood there quartering on with his left shoulder towards me just staring at me.  I slowly shut off the ATV, unstrapped my .30-06 from the pannier of the ATV, loaded it, racked it…he was still standing there staring at me.  I raised the rifle and got him in my sights.  I had a moment where I thought to myself that he was just a spiker, but then I thought of my empty freezer and BOOM! I let fly.

I saw the spiker raise his left front leg and run off into the bush.

Then came the adrenaline.  I was huffing and puffing as if I had just run 10km.  I started trying to calm myself down.  The frustration of being overhunted was suddenly a distant memory.  Being only the 4th animal I have ever taken, after my first whitetail, my first moose, and my first grouse, I was starting to get use to the routine.  I decided to give him a little time while I sorted myself out.  I set down my rifle on its bipod and got the ATV off to the side of the road.

I headed up to the spot where he had been standing expecting to see a big patch of blood against the white snow.  I thought it was going to be easy.

As I got up there I quickly became dismayed at the prospect that I may have missed him.  Had I been too close?  Had I flinched?  What happened?  I now started to doubt myself.  I decided to do what I had been taught and started walking in progressively larger circles out from where I last saw him.  After 20 minutes of circling outwards and restarting several times I had still not been able to pick up the trail.

I decide to walk back to where I had taken the shot to make a plan.  From the road I decided that he must have gone between two particular trees as he went beyond the treeline.  I headed back up to the spot where I had convinced myself he must have been, and once again found no trace. 

With no sign at all, I decided to head into the treeline in the direction I had seen him last go.

 As I went between the two trees and beyond the treeline into the forest I looked around, hoping to see something.  I could see that I was now standing on a game trail which went straight up the mountain.  I clambered up about six feet, trying not to fall and slide back down in the snow.  As I got to this first ledge I looked around again and there he was, lying in the trail, about 10 feet above me on the next ledge.  When I reached him, according to the GPS, he fell less than 20m away from where he had been standing when I took the shot. Before I set to work I noticed one nickel size drop of blood beside him.
My shot had been a bit high, hitting him ahead of his left shoulder and exiting out of his right side in his upper ribs.  All of the blood must of pooled inside.

As I field dressed him there was plenty of blood inside the chest cavity, but I was still surprised how little was on the ground.

When I had finished it was the easiest drag down and to the ATV I could have asked for.  It was a straight shot down a steep snowy bank and up onto the ATV.

I got back to camp and started skinning.  Just as I was finishing up, my father-in-law rolled into camp and we decided to end the 2015 hunting season with a celebratory scotch and then got to work breaking camp.

 When we got home from the trip we brought the deer to the usual butcher.  When we got the packages back we were not too happy with the wrapping and overall care in handling. That would be the last time we used that butcher.  Nevertheless we had meat the in the freezer and another year of delicious meals.

One of my favourites is Italian meatballs. I'll post the recipe soon.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Venison Steak

Simple is best in my opinion.  Salt, pepper, olive oil, and herb de provence.  Grill to rare.  

This is my 2016 white tail buck.  The story will come later.  I like to know where my food comes from.  10 days of hard work in the woods with family and great friends and I came out with a year of organic, hormone free, ethically raised deliciousness.  If you eat meat there is nothing better than than hunting your own.