Hunting with a John Deere Gator

Howdy from The Pig. The CPHC team just continues to have good success early in the season. We’ve got a nice long season to go though since the Georgia season for firearms which started October 21 runs through January 14.

In this post I’m going to start letting you know how we are using a John Deere Gator XUV825i to test drive and evaluate its value to some serious deer hunting. John Deere has provided us with the use of this vehicle for most of the season and I have now had the opportunity to get some hours in and out of the woods and on the trails.

As you can see in the photo I have already harvested some deer and brought them out of the woods and back to our camp. My harvest so far consists of a 6pt buck, 2 does and a wild hog. They have all been bagged right near our trails fortunately for me. Speaking of trails, most of ours are freshly plowed by the U.S. Forest Service. They do a great job btw. But we’ve got some serious and deep sugar sand to run through and there are rough spots. You’ll be able to see that in the video below.

Some first impressions on using the Gator include:

  • All the power I need to climb steep hills on deep sand and with a load in the bed
  • Very simple controls and layout. Easy to switch between 2-wheel and 4-wheel
  • Suspension makes the bumps and pot holes almost painless compared to past vehicles I’ve driven
  • Plenty of light from headlights for night time on the trail
  • John Deere has some accessories I already know I’d like to add!

So, I’ll have more to say in upcoming episodes. I’m very satisfied with this unit and am not coming up with anything to complain about.

You can see photos of the Gator in the wild here: 2017 Deer Hunt – John Deere Gator Photo Album

Taking a Can-Am Out in the Woods

I’m a little behind updating here. The CPHC team has had a great start to the season.

Here’s my next episode in a series coming to you from the Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC) in Georgia. In this episode the focus is going to be on a Can-Am Defender XT which has been provided to us to use and evaluate how well it is suited to some serious deer hunting.

CPHC member, Paul Zimmerman, my brother, has been doing most of the driving in this vehicle, although I have done some also. In the video below we chat about our first impressions while riding out of camp for a load of firewood. You might see in the bed of the Defender a short swivel seat stand that we strapped into it, making the Defender a mobile deer stand!

Some first impressions on using the Can-Am include:

  • It has lots of power but runs quiet
  • The suspension is amazing
  • The turning radius has made is easier to turn around on narrow trails than we expected
  • Some accessories like winch and side/back panels around bed have come in very handy

So, that’s a start. Paul has harvested two deer so far, one of them being the 8pt buck you see in the photo. So, in the points race (we don’t really have one) he’s in the lead. We’re liking the Can-Am but will have more to come.

You can see photos of the Can-Am Defender in the wild here: 2017 Deer Hunt – Can-Am Defender Photo Album

2016 Deer Hunt Underway

Bear TrackIt is that time of the year folks. Deer hunting!

An early issue we ran in to though was a couple weeks ago when we found our largest corn feeder on the ground with damage. What could have done that we wondered. The tracks tell it all. Bear. Great. It’s not bear season here and I personally would rather not meet up with Buddy Bear.

We moved that feeder but put up a more secure one very close by. And it is where I put up my new Summit Viper climber stand.

We missed opening weekend due to the wedding of my nephew but started this morning. Haven’t seen anything yet. We sure did setting up camp last week though.

The weather here at the Pig is great. Dry, cooling off temperatures and so far, no wind to speak of.

2015-2016 Deer Season Over

The Georgia deer season for 2015-16 is now over and The Pig saw a reduction in harvest. We hunted quite a bit at different times but it seems like the weather was not our friend this season.

In this pic Paul is taking care of a couple of does he harvested. So he has meat in the cooler. His boys, Eli, Luke and Joe all participated at different times. Eli and Luke are in college now and have jobs so their time was fairly limited. That’s their problem though, not mine!

After about a year away from deer hunting Gary got out on the Pig but his harvest will hopefully be better this fall.

I had some luck on one of my trips to the Pig. I did get a small buck along with two does and that’s meat in my freezer. I also found a great little place near me here in Pensacola that made snack sticks, summer and breakfast sausage for me.

We hunted pretty hard and did see quite a few deer but I don’t think we timed the rut out and in fact, I’m not sure we even saw any sign of it this season. But we’ve got lots of deer working this property. Our trail cams at our feeders bear this out!

Grilling Venison

Venison SteaksThis is only one of many reasons why I like to hunt deer. Eating them. Freezer meat is where it’s at. I hope we have a great fall hunt this year.

Today’s supper menu includes some small steaks that will be quick grilled on a hot fire. These pieces come from what we call the “football roast” in the ham. I take that roast and trim it, muscle it out and then slice it about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. These are marinating in the fridge with Dale’s Seasoning. You don’t need a lot. In fact, I dilute it a little with water. I’ll add a dry rub right before grilling and any good steak rub will do. With a side salad you just can’t beat this for GOOD.

I have cooked venison like this for lots of people and unless I tell them they don’t know they’re not eating beef. Of course I like and cook beef too! Just thought I’d share with my foodie peeps. What’s your favorite way to cook venison?

Final Touches on Barn & Paul’s Big Buck

Roofing WorkThis weekend Paul, Eli and Luke worked on the final step in finishing our pole barn – roofing metal. Shade and protection from rain with a large area for cooking and relaxing. Yeehaw.

The Pig is a work in progress just like getting to know where the deer are and their habits. We’re learning it slowing but surely.

Paul w/Monster RackWhile the guys were out there this weekend Paul scored a little buck.

He said it’s a six point but I’d love to know what Joe would think of that!

I think you should write him a comment about that big rack in his hands. All I can say is, “He’ll eat pretty good!”

Joe’s First Buck

Joe's BuckJoe is currently king of the Pig. Here he is with his first ever buck. A nice 6pt. That smile says it all. So far Joe is the only member with a buck.

The rut is not on yet. We saw a lot of deer, a lot of small does to be precise. We kind of lost count. All four of us hunting harvested a doe to get some meat in the cooler and while we were hunting, some meat in our bellies!

We hope to be back out in November during the rut so look for some more hunt updates at that time.

I’ve started a photo album for the hunt here: 2014/15 Crystal Pig Hunt Club Photo Album. That’s hunt life in pictures.

Joe Gets a Doe

Joe Gets a DoeIt’s deer season at The Pig (short for Crystal Pig Hunt Club). On opening day Saturday Paul, Luke, Joe and I were on location. We all got a doe that day! Now, it’s time for a buck. We’re not in the rut yet. We’ve seen over 30 does and only 2 bucks so far.

In the pick, Joe gets his first deer, pictured with his Dad and my brother Paul. You want to talk about excited. He got it with his first shot too.

So, we’ve had some good fresh venison on the grill and in a stew and I think some more recipes are coming.

Now back to the hunt.

Deer Farmers Association

North American Deer Farmers AssociationThanks to the Farm Bill I just learned about the North American Deer Farmers Association. Farm Bill? Yep. They sent me a release about their take on the legislation which is happy, happy, happy. I’m thinking of joining. I may not actually farm deer but work a property lease where we harvest them!

The North American Deer Farmers Association was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to the promotion of deer farming and ranching as an agricultural pursuit and serves its members through its educational programs and publications and by providing leadership in setting and maintaining quality standards. NADeFA represents the deer farming industry at all levels of government, and works closely with livestock producers and other organizations to promote ethical standards of conduct and husbandry in deer farming and to actively market standards for deer and deer products. NADeFA representatives are also available to media for expert testimony and information about deer farming and animal health issues, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and other topics.

For more information about NADeFA programs and membership, call 330.454.3944 or visit www.NADeFA.org.

New Holland Rustler Makes Deer Pickup a Snap

New Holland Rustler Deer PickupI’ve been waiting to show you how easy a New Holland Rustler makes deer pickup. On my last two days of deer hunting I got a 4pt. buck. I was able to drag him to the firebreak around the property which is wide enough for 4-wheelers and utility vehicles. Then I walked back to where the Rustler was parked and with my nephew Joe and brother Paul we picked him up and got him hung up in a tree back at camp.

We had to cross a creek and put some boards over it thinking we might need them. But I didn’t stay on them and we still drove right across. This Rustler 4-seater has a long base which allows the front tires to get across a space like the creek and just keep pulling away since it’s also 4-wheel drive! I still did a lot of walking on this hunt but having a Rustler nearby is very handy.

If you’re interested in this beast of a machine you can find out more about them on the website or at your local New Holland dealer.