Shale Gas Development & Wildlife Research Overview
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Blog posts have been slim for a while due to the hyper-busyness of work, but it’s been a good kind of busy. Namely, I’ve been pulling together a field crew and sampling protocols for a wide-reaching project on how pipeline rights-of-way (ROWs) that transport natural gas present both opportunities and challenges to wildlife communities and habitat. Native bees and pollinators, amphibians and reptiles, songbird diversity and nesting success, a number of vegetation monitoring objectives, all heaped on top of negotiating agreements with various landowners across eastern Ohio.

Some of the opportunities are excellent forage sources and early successional habitat types presented by the ROWs in forested landscapes, but those potential benefits are countered by concerns that creating linear features of “good” habitat could actually lead animals into an ecological trap because of increased vulnerability to different predation risks. The list of pros and cons are extremely long and much of the research is aimed at disentangling those positives and negatives – how can we boost and encourage the benefits and mitigate or reduce the downsides.

Wyoming Antelope Application – Submitted
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Decision made. After many considerations, the application journey ultimately led back to a unit that received high praise from many previous tag holders – ALL of whom were excited for the next time they had enough PPs to apply there and hunt again. Nothing like a repeat customer to suggest quality. The unit is also the area that we hope to draw for deer tags in a couple more years.

I’d already logged plenty of hours perusing for ideal glassing locations throughout the better looking deer country that falls onto public land, and plans are now falling together for specific dates, accommodations, travel logistics, and such.

Assuming point creep doesn’t bite us, we should draw as a party of 5 in the Special pool and have a great antelope hunt.

Just a couple quotes from my interactions with previous tag holders through Western hunting forums. These should serve as mental fodder to start forming expectations.

“1st part of October, almost no hunting pressure”

“I got a 76er but it would have maybe been more if the prongs weren’t broken”

“All 3 tagged mid 70s antelope after looking over dozens of bucks”

“Bring shovels, and tire chains, the roads aren’t that great”

“I counted 50 different bucks the first day”

Shed Antlers & Habitat Mgt along Rights-of-Way
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Had a chance to visit old friends over on the Eastern Shore of Maryland last weekend before a conference scheduled for Annapolis on Monday. We had an absolute great time reconnecting after a near-decade lapse in any consistent communication or contact. The weather broke on Saturday and allowed for some shed hunting. My memories of old shed hunts (2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2009 part 3, March 2008 trip) were upheld with woods willing and ready to give up their antler treasures. I netted 6 antlers to go along with 3 or 4 dead heads. My friend who lives up there was able to tally nearly a half-dozen himself and push his season total near the 60 mark. The weather was sour off and on so I didn’t get to carry my good camera, and I wasn’t able to get any pics of the nicest dead buck I found – a mid 130″ 8 point with great shape and stout mass.

I drove back across the Bay Bridge on Sunday in time to head out for a field trip to examine some showcase powerline corridors where selective use of herbicides have created quality wildlife habitat in and around the Baltimore/DC sprawl. It was extremely informative and good to see some of what I’ve been reading quite a lot about in the last 6 months of my job. We’ll be rolling out some research projects in the next months to look at how this approach of managing rights-of-way can be applied to shale gas pipelines in eastern Ohio.

Wild Eats Series – Part IX
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This will be the last post in the Wild Eats Series. I’ve enjoyed learning about some different aspects I’d previously overlooked – lead in harvested game, nutritional information regarding wild protein, etc. I’ll end with a quick rundown of kitchen gadgets that make my home butchering, processing, and cooking much easier. I’ll skip the obvious items like a grinder and such, but here are some other things to think about.

Jaccard Meat Tenderizer – 48 vertical blades make tenderizing a venison steak a clean breeze. Hammers and other blunt instruments work fine, but they are so messy and loud. This gadget will take a 3 ounce tough steak and transform it into a 1/4″ thick cube steak in 20 seconds or less. Of all the items I’ll recommend on this list, the Jaccard tops it.

A vacuum sealer was my big Christmas present this year from my parents. Though I haven’t had a complete freezer cycle to compare shelf life to the old fashioned Ziploc and freezer paper approach, the ease of wrapping meat for storage is a huge plus.

One of dad and I’s favorite venison projects is 3 pound sticks of summer sausage. We’re usually scrounging for one last deer around Christmas time to grind into burger, douse with seasonings, and stuff into casings. We’re both in one place around the Holidays to tackle the labor intensive job. Dad bought me/him a sausage press 2 years ago for Christmas. Un-be-liev-a-ble. I don’t have stopwatch data on this, but I can safely say that running the sausage press saves 200-300% time over the old method of feeding seasoned hamburger back through a grinder.

I’ll end with a few links to some of our favorite recipes I’ve posted throughout the years.

Elk Pinwheels

Stir Fry


Wild Eats Series – Part VIII
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I’m fairly certain I exceeded the daily recommended allotment of meat last week. I was bach’in it while the family was down in North Carolina, hence the simple menu – seared venison steaks, oven-roasted venison tenderloin, venison fajitas, and seared venison steaks…again. If nutritionists recommend 2, 2-3 ounce servings per day, what does it mean if I ate 3.5 pounds of venison in 5 days? Other than mean I love venison…a LOT, let’s dig in and find out from a nutritional standpoint.

I’m no nutritionist and I barely grasp what the lady is telling me after she says I have high cholesterol and dives off into different kinds of good and bad fats, but here are some facts I can wrap my head around.

*A venison steak has fewer calories than a beef steak of the same size. By the ounce, fat has more calories than protein, and this shakes out predictably. Your average beef steak has more fat than your average cut of venison, and thus, an average beef steak has slightly higher caloric content than venison.

*USDA Choice beef is 6.5% fat —– white-tailed deer is 1.4%. Elk is even leaner at 0.9%, and bear isn’t on either list I pulled off the Internet. To me, this is a despicable oversight because it’s evidence that supports the notion that some (much?) of the meat harvested from black bears around the country goes to waste.

*In general, saturated fats are to be avoided in heavy doses as they lead to higher cholesterol. Beef fat is composed of 46.3% of these bad fats, deer fat 45.6%. No real difference other than the fact that you’re taking in substantially less of it with a venison versus an old fashioned slab of cow.

*I’ll skip over fatty acids to address polyunsaturated fats – “good” fats. This is where wild game is a real winner. Whereas beef fat contains a measly 8% of polyunsaturated fats, venison triples that at 24%. Antelope laps beef 4 times around the oval, and moose meat scores an impressive 5-fold victory in this department.

*Now here’s where my bubble popped. I assumed that I had high cholesterol because I eat a ton of red meat, even if it was supposedly “better for me.” For instance, Kara and I ate half an elk, a whole black bear, and 2 whitetails 2 calendar years ago. This year, we’re on pace to knock out between 4 and 5 whitetails with the help of ravenous Raelyn. That’s a lot of red meat any way you cut it.

From the standpoint of dietary cholesterol, there is no nutritional advantage to consuming meat from any one species over another [any red meat wild game versus beef]. A 100-gram [3+ ounces] uncooked portion of meat from any one of these species contributes only 15 to 18 percent of the American Heart Association’s daily guideline of 300 milligrams of cholesterol. A major misconception is that game meat contains the “good cholesterol”…and that beef contains the “bad cholesterol”…This is not true.

So with my 11+ ounce/day recent pace on venison, I’d be consuming 55-70% of my recommended daily cholesterol allotment through wild game. Not sure if “meat” cholesterol is comparable to “dairy” cholesterol or otherwise, but it seems that going light on the eggs, cheese, milk, and ice cream while going on a venison binge would be an easy and effective mitigation strategy. A little dietary compensation if you will.

All in all, I was surprised how murky the waters were in deciphering major differences between beef and various wild game. Most of the big categories had small differences, and the slam dunk conclusion that eating wild game is way better for you seems to be a perpetuated myth. On one day, the dieticians proclaim “chocolate is good for you,” the next, “it’s bad for you.” I suppose murky conclusions are what we should expect from the nutritional community. My clear conclusion is this.

Infolinks 2013