Montana Black Bear Hide and Skull
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I was excited to receive my Montana black bear’s hide and skull back from the taxidermist. The skull was exceptionally cleaned by beetles. The hide, which we skinned out ourselves in the backcountry, was simply processed as a normal “pelt”. No frilly rugwork or modifications. I was really pleased with how it turned out as well.

We aren’t sure exactly where the hide’s final resting place will be, but I do know that it’s awesome to have such tangible memories of that great hunt in NW Montana. I’ve had plenty of questions through emails from people planning their own spot-and-stalk black bear hunts as a result of my blog posts. If you’re kicking around the idea of doing a similar hunt – or, for that matter, any other hunt that I’ve tackled through the years – feel free to reach out for help where needed. I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned.

Trimming out Treestands
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Trimming out shooting lanes and carving out a spot for tree stands is work – granted it is fun work, but it is work nonetheless. These are the pieces of equipment that round out my treestand trimming arsenal. I’ve tried a lot of different brands and saws and clippers over the years, but I’m really happy with what I use right now.

This saw by Corona is my favorite. It’s an absolute beast and folds small enough to be my in-season saw of choice as well. I’ve probably used over 10 different folding saws over the years, there is no close second that I’ve tried. Roughly $20 and available online or in stores like Lowes and Home Depot.

Another product by Corona. This is a gas-less chainsaw. 18″ blade. Trees beware. Dad and I have tipped 7-10″ trees over with this in less than 45 seconds. It absolutely rips through larger diameter stems and doesn’t require all the extra equipment that a chainsaw does.

For clearing briars or weeds or annoying small diameter stuff that takes forever with a saw, swing this Tramontina machete. Brazilian made and available on Amazon for less than $20 shipped. It’s a carbon steel blade which means sharpening is easy. I love this for clearing walking trails in old field situations, and it’s also good for maintaining shooting lanes that have re-sprouted lots of little shoots from last year.

Quick tree lesson. There are tubes which carry nutrients from the leaves down to the roots. Someone spent way too much time carving this tree some tubes for illustration, but it demonstrates the point perfectly. If you can get those tubes to carry an herbicide down to the roots, then you shouldn’t have to re-trim the same lanes every single year for eternity.

Here’s the premise. Cut down your unwanted trees/brush during the spring and spray an herbicide directly onto the cut stump immediately. A glyphosate solution (Roundup’s active ingredient) exceeding 25% concentration will do the job. If the stump is large, don’t worry about the heartwood of the tree but focus on saturating the outer rings which is where the tubes live. Done properly, this should kill the stump outright and you won’t have turned a single large stem into 25 small stems the next year. This weapon has not been in my “toolbox” before, but it is now.

A quick note – try to find some Ranger Pro which has a 40 or 41% glyphosate concentration. It will run you about $50 for 2.5 gallons – plenty enough to fill up a squirt bottle a couple dozen times at the 25% minimum application rate. Roundup Pro is another option, however, you’re going to almost double the price for the Roundup name for the exact same active ingredients.

You’ll have to do your own research for cutting equipment that will reach up 10-15 feet, but I’ve found that my Muddy rope attachment climbing sticks are almost easier to use for getting those hard to reach limbs than toting a big extending pole saw or a gas-powered Stihl saw.

The “Void” – Fact or Fiction?
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I love this debate. I won’t take time to explain the various sides one might take. If you’re not already in the know with regards to what is or what is not the “void”, you’ll likely just want to wait for the next post. Just wait over there in “no man’s land” for a while…pun intended.

Alright, here’s a picture I grabbed from Texas Bowhunters’ website forum. One thread of what I am sure are 100′s of Internet debates that try to understand how in the world is that doe in the right foreground not dead?!?!

For those intimately familiar with deer anatomy, the answer is a fairly simple 2-part answer. A) The arrow likely did not pierce the body cavity. B) The arrow likely did pass between the major skeletal structure of the backbone without disrupting the central nervous system.

Recently though, this debate may have finally been closed with an ingenious way of illustrating the anatomy of deer with an actual deer. Hats off to the guy who thought of this.

Alright, now all the Internet hunting forums can go back to being places where everybody is nice, cordial, and thinks reasonably.

Wild Game Recipe: Black Bear Carnitas
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I’ve been expanding our wild game menu lately and have some good finds to share with everyone. The first is black bear carnitas.
Defined, carnitas = “(in Mexican cooking) braised or roasted pork served shredded in small pieces, often as a filling in tacos, burritos, etc.”

For this one, I actually cheated and got a ready made sauce from the local market that is recommended to pour over a pork shoulder in a slow cooker. Since I knew bear meat makes excellent roasts, I figured this would work well.

By the time the shoulder was fork-tender, most of the sauce had dissipated either into the meat or into the atmosphere. What was left was incredibly moist, and we treated it exactly like taco meat or fajita strips. Big glob of meat inside a taco shell and topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, and cheese. It was awesome. The leftovers were hefty enough to have several helpings of carnitas nachos.

Here’s a link where you can find that slow cooker sauce.

This is one of the better new recipes I’ve tried in quite some time, and we’ll be doing it again I’m sure!

2015 Goals for the Outdoors
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As I’m a dedicated list keeper, I also tend to gravitate towards things like New Year’s Resolutions and setting periodic goals – both short- and long-term. As such, compiling a list of annual objectives is a habit I’ve gotten into during the last several years. Here’s my short list for 2015.

*Find 5 shed antlers. I set a goal for 3 last year and found 4, so I’m really laying things on the line this year…lol. Seriously though, I hope to burn off some cabin fever by picking up a few antlers and getting my preseason stand prep work out of the way early.

*30 miles of canoe float fishing. Raelyn will be my main fishing partner this year, but I also need to come through on a promise to my pastor and get him out on the water too. Hope to hit some of the local stretches I found the first spring here in Ohio and get out 6 or 8 times throughout the spring and summer.

*My deer hunting plans are the thrust of my 2015 hunting goals. I more or less ignored whitetails last year in lieu of the Montana black bear adventure and Colorado archery elk hunt. Currently, and I don’t see this changing, there are no Western hunts planned for this year so hopefully whitetails will suffer the brunt of that redirected focus and energy. I’d like to take 3 deer this next fall and hunt in at least 3 states. Ohio obviously, back at home in NC obviously, and either Kansas or Alabama…possibly (hopefully) both.

*Related to deer hunting is the renewed ambition to gain permission on a tract of private property here in Ohio. Believe it or not, this objective is far less selfish than you’d think. I’m honestly not sure private land would get me closer to any more mature bucks than I’ve been able to find on public land the last couple years. However, private land would give me the ability to set up a permanent stand/blind or two that Raelyn and I can hunt out of this fall. She proved to me this year that she’ll be ready for the woods this upcoming fall – just need some good locations to take her.

*Boosting preference points for mule deer, antelope, and elk in Wyoming, mule deer in Colorado, and possibly bighorn sheep in Montana will be my focus in the Western states’ draws. Dad and 2 other buddy’s are busy accumulating their Wyoming deer and antelope points as well. Dad will continue chipping in to Colorado’s elk draw.

Nothing too outrageously ambitious for 2015, but definitely enough to keep me busy. I really hope to spend considerably more time in the deer woods with dad this fall, and I’m praying Raelyn’s enjoyment of the outdoors will continue to increase as well.

Infolinks 2013