Monday, August 31, 2015

Now, I am getting excited

I know that today marks the start of bear season, but nothing get me more excited than seeing bucks on the trail cameras, especially when they are the deer that you have been after for multiple seasons!  I can not wait til opening day of rifle season.  Meat is meat and I will be grateful to fill the freezer, but those two big bucks... they would be a feat!
Littlest
Little
Little
Big
Biggest
From the look at this picture, this is the 'smaller' of the two large bucks that we have around.  Fingers crossed that this season, we can give you a close up picture!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The bait sites are getting slammed!

After Steve and I tweaked the bait sites and refilled the barrels and crates, we waited to see if and when the bears returned to the sites.  Three days after we were there, Steve went back to check: bam! bears at both sites and no food left.

Other hunters have been seeing the same thing; lots of bears (many of them good sized bears) are already hitting the bait sites hard this season.  When Steve and I were up the first time, we noticed that the blackberries and raspberries were not looking good.  Without a lot of fun and rain, the berries were small and still very green.  The temperature has dropped a few times down to the 40s at night which could kill some of the bear's food source.  There are plenty of apples, which we know the bears are eating but those will only be around for so long before they are gone.

This unstable natural food supply means that the bears will need to come to the bait to get those missing calories before they den up.

I hope that I am sitting in a stand when they come in!




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Honest Kitchen: Using those massive zucchinis

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin and Erin often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

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It happens every year.  You think that you can keep up and you pick those zucchini and yellow squash and go back the next day and there is one that is more than a foot long and huge.  Too big for sauteing and really, too big to be used. But - I found a way to use those massive zucchinis!

Ingredients:
* A massive zucchini
* 1lb burger
* 1 tomato
* Cheese

Steps:
1. I did not want to throw away the zucchini, so I cut it in half and took an ice cream scoop and cleaned out the middle and got the seeds and stalky parts out of there.


2. Next, I cooked the burger then added it into the zucchini. I also put a slice of cheese, broken up into pieces along the bottom to help keep the burger in place.


3. Add the diced tomato and more cheese.  I would have used shredded cheese but all I had was cheese sticks.  They worked too.


 4. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.


 5. Since these are big zucchinis, I recommend a big knife to cut into them.  The squash itself was nice and soft while the skin of it stayed a little firm.  It tasted perfect with the burger and cheese! 





Monday, August 24, 2015

The bears are back

I shoveled bait from a 55 gallon drum into five gallon buckets and we loaded up the truck. Eight buckets of assorted types of bait, two buckets of disgusting beaver and some secret ingredients and we were off to check the bait sites for the 2015 bear hunting season!

A truck full of bait ready to go
Steve and Lorri had set up the two bait sites a few days before and we were eager to see if any bears had found the sites.  The monsters from last year were not killed so we knew that there would be some big bears around. We hiked into Site 2 first and carried buckets and tools in.  Steve led the way and we anxiously kept peaking around the corner to see if things has been moved.  They had!! We dropped the supplies and did what almost every hunter does - check the trail cameras!




At least two different bears had come in to check the bait.  The 55 gallon drum that is hung up with cables is about three feet off the ground.  Any bear whose back is at least that tall, is a shootable bear.

We modified the 55 gallon drum so that it was a little more stable, refilled it and refilled the two milk crates that are hanging on either side of the drum.  We put the memory card back into the trail camera and headed to Site 1 to see if we had had any hits there.


The new site 1 is a little further in the woods that it was last year but there were plenty of bear sign around! Including this fresh pile that was filled with apples.  None of the bait from the barrel had been taken but it was clear that there were bears around.

Steve's boot is sized 14
When we looked closer, we could see that one of the milk crates was almost totally empty!  We eagerly looked at the trail camera to see if it was racoons or a bear.  What a surprise! This beautiful bear is standing on it's hind legs and is easily eating out of the crate that is hanging about 6 feet off the ground. Also, it is during daylight which is what every hunter wants to see.  Typically, bears stay nocturnal so when you get photos during the day, that is (hopefully) a good sign.


Two sites and two successful hits from local bears.  We have one week until the season opens and hopefully, there will be a few bears taken this fall!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Trail cam obsession

I have been saving all of the 'good' trail camera pictures over the years partially because it is fun to see the animals that were around but also because it is a reference check for what the norm is for our area.

We have not had a lot of bucks on the trail cameras yet but I keep telling myself that it's late August when they start showing themselves.  The small buck that we have seen is no where near the size of this guy: he is one of the two large bucks that we have seen over the past couple of years.  No one shot either one last season so they are still around assuming that the winter did not kill them off. 



We have seen hawks like the one above, deer, coyotes, turkey, fisher, racoons and a mystery cat on the camera.  I realize that these animals were in the area long before the invention of trail cameras but it is nice to be able to get a sneak peak into the world when we are not there.

It is easy to become obsessed with pulling the memory cards and checking out the photos.  The disappointing part comes when there are no good photos, just hundreds of photos of grass.  When there are interesting or fun photos, it makes it worth it.  Being able to check on the fawn and its mom as they travel around the properties is a way of checking habitat stability and the health of these animals.  Ideally, we will continue to see this fawn as it looses its spots and grows into a nice little deer.


No matter how many cameras you put out, they will show you another view of the world around you.  It is easy to become addicted to checking the cameras and monitoring the animals that you love to see. Even if you don't hunt (but thanks for coming to my hunting blog to read this), a trail camera can be an addictive hobby that will help you understand the habits and behaviors of the animals around us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Honest Kitchen: Rabbit

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin and Erin often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

~~~

The best thing about doing Honest Kitchen is the chance to try new things and new foods.  I was at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago and decided to get a rabbit from Tessiers Farm.

As you know, my go to is the crockpot.  It is easy and involves minimum clean up, so I decided to throw the rabbit in there and see what happens.

Ingredients:
* 1 rabbit, cleaned
* Potatoes cut into chuncks
* 3 garlic cloves
* 1 small onion
* Wild Cheff Mediterranean Spice blend

Here are the easy steps via photos:




I added about a cup of water to help with cooking.


Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Rabbit is a lot like chicken so it can get dried out.


YUM!!!  I had never had rabbit before and was surprised to find that it tasted and looked just like chicken.  I was also surprised by the amount of meat on the animal. There was enough for us plus enough for me to make a soup or use it for sandwiches for the rest of the week.

I highly recommend you try this!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Watching Great Horned Owls

When Staci and I headed to our last spot to fish, we flushed two birds from the trees.  Initially, I could not tell if they were hawks, turkeys or what... it wasn't until they landed on a tree across the stream from us that we could see them! Young Great Horned Owls! We are assuming that they are this year's chicks since they look big but do not have the classic tuffs on the top of their heads.  Any bird experts out there who can confirm?



Friday, August 14, 2015

More fishing adventures

Staci and I headed out again for our second fishing adventure!

For the second time, the water levels where we wanted to go were too high so we headed to my hometown to try our lines in the river.

The Kennebec River
The Kennebec River
It was fantastic to be fishing there since I had never done it but I quickly learned that my lures were way too heavy for the water and the grass and slim covering the rocks.  I would get caught on every two or three casts while Staci was using a fly rod and was able to cast out and relax for a few minutes before casting again.

We walked about a mile down the river closer to town and tried again to get a bite.  Seeing town from this angle was great! And the weather was perfect. My lure sunk worst at this spot then the first one and I only cast a few times before I reeled in my line and walked over to watch Staci.

The Kennebec River

The Kennebec Rive

Soon, we decided that we needed lunch and to try a third spot.  One where my lures may work a little better. 

Down a dirt road, we found this little stream. Staci's family had fished there and taken some nice fish so we figured why not?! I think I still have some mosquito bites from walking down there but it was worth it.  


We flushed a couple of birds that will be on Monday's blog (great pictures! you will want to check these out) and battled poison ivy but we made our way to a well worn spot on the bank and started casting with crawlers on our hooks.  I caught a few trees, including this white birch which I landed on at least twice.

There was a fish jumping at eating flies below the tree, so I tried and tried to land my hook in the right spot to get a bite.  Once, I could see a fish following the crawler but I never had a bite.  Staci and I swapped placed and it was her turn to try (that and I knew she could cast better and may be able to get him.)  I was right!

It didn't take her long and she had a bite, set the hook and had dinner ready in her hand!

A beautiful, native brook trout
The brookie was 10 inches long - the same size as my fish earlier in the season! Success.

Our afternoon was over and as much as we didn't want to leave, we could feel good about catching something.  Next time, it's my turn to catch something.

I was also able to realize how much I need to get a fly rod.  Having the ability to float lures over rocks and around obstacles instead of frantically reeling in so as to not get stuck was a big factor in overall success and the lack of stress Staci had since she didn't have to get her line unstuck. I am adding that to my wish list.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Honest Kitchen: Fried Green Tomatoes

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin and Erin often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

~~~~

I do not like tomatoes. Neither does my Grampa, so I will say that it is a genetic thing. That is what makes this Honest Kitchen so funny.  I am giving you my recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes.

I am not sure why I starting making them last year but after the first batch, my entire family ate them - even my then 1 year old - loved them.  I bet it is the butter!

Ingredients:
* Green tomatoes.  I had a couple that were starting to turn and I could taste the difference.  You want super green tomatoes with no red.  For this, I used 4 or 5 medium sized tomatoes.
* Butter. Just get a stick of butter out.  You can use more or less depending on how your skillet is working.
* 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup Corn meal
* 2 tablespoons garlic powder


See those two that are turning red? They did not taste as good.  I made Hubby eat those.
Garlic powered with parsley: 7o'clock. Parm cheese 10o'clock. Cornmeal 1o'clock
Steps: 
1. Slice tomatoes and place into a pie plate.  When your tomatoes are done, cover with water. I like to use pie plates since they have a lip and are flat enough to get the tomatoes laying pretty flat.


2. Combined mixture in second pie plate.



3. In a skillet, melt some butter to coat.  Put the burner on medium heat.  It is better to take an extra minute than to burn the tomatoes and butter before they are done. 

4. Take a tomato slice out of the water and put into the mixture.  Do not dry off tomato beforehand.  Coat both sides and edges of the tomato slice and place onto skilled.  Repeat until you are out of tomatoes or your skilled is filled. 

5. If you need more butter in certain spots to help with the 'frying' of the tomatoes, go right ahead.  You can see above that I added butter to two different spots. 

6. Let cook for 7-10 minutes on one side before flipping.  If you start to flip one and the breading mixture comes off the tomato, let them cook a little longer and put a little more butter down to help.



7. The second side should not take as long to cook - maybe 5 minutes.  You will probably need to put a little more butter down to help. 

8. As the tomatoes are done, place on a plate and add more slices to the skillet. 

9. You should end up with tomatoes that have a yummy garlic-cheese crust and are a little soft on the inside.  It may take a while to get the hang of it, but it is worth it when you are eating them. 



Monday, August 10, 2015

Antlers!

I was starting to get antsy with the lack of deer and specifically bucks on the trail cameras.  I kept telling myself that August was when we usually start seeing the big antlers so I tried not to obsess.  Finally, we got some.  I am pretty sure that it's the same deer, traveling in the same circles that we know all of the big bucks travel in but I will take it.

One of the things that I have been trying to work on is studying moon phase and barometric pressure.  The Wired to Hunt podcast has had some great interviews with Terry and Mark Drury and they talk about just that.  I don't know how much I can apply to these Maine bucks, but it's something to try!






Friday, August 7, 2015

Wascally wabbits

My parents have had a snowshoe hare around the house for a few months.  Typically, we see one and within a week it is gone (via interaction with a vehicle) but recently, there were two and then three.  All of the adults and kids were outside playing and those hare would race across the back lawn, run along the edge of the garden and at one point, one of them ran along the edge of the house.  They were cute at first but they are getting a little too comfortable around humans.  Maybe they will head somewhere else this fall... or maybe their lack of caution will result in more car altercations and less human ones.  Life with wild critters is never calm!




Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Honest Kitchen: Mashed cauliflower

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

~~~~
I had two heads of cauliflower in my fridge from my friend Andy's Maine Fodder farmbox that I needed to use up.  I had heard that you could substitute cauliflower for potatoes and I decided that it was worth a try.

Ingredients:
* 1 or 2 heads of cauliflower (I used two large heads)
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1/3 cup binding agent like sour cream (or cheese, see below)
~ Feel free to adjust based on your taste

Steps:
1. Wash cauliflower and cut into pieces
2. Add to pot, cover with water and bring to boil


3. Just like with potatoes, drain when cauliflower is soft and can be mashed.

4. Add milk and sour cream or...

Here is where I ran into trouble: I did not have sour cream or any sort of binding agent that I clearly needed. The cauliflower broke apart easily but it had a crumbly consistency which I was not expecting.  Have no fear! What do most mom's have in the fridge? Cheese!  Not my finest moment, but I added cheese to this to bind it.

Before cheese
After cheese.  It is much more sticky
5. Mix all ingredients together and serve.
This made me think of when my mom would make us cheese sauce for our broccoli and cauliflower.  I firmly believe that cheese can fix most things (that and mushrooms.)

If you have not tried making mashed cauliflower, I highly recommend it.