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?

Hooking Up with James Wesley

James Wesley Hooked UpI became a James Wesley fan when he sang “Thank a Farmer.” Now he’s got a song about saltwater fishing so he’s adding to the list of songs I like – Hooked Up. This came to my attention via Keep America Fishing:

Country music star James Wesley has a new song and it celebrates the thrill of the catch – and the big one that got away! “Hooked Up” tells the story of fishermen chasing a blue marlin at the Big Rock, a legendary fishing spot off the coast of Morehead City, NC.

Wesley is no stranger to fishing. “When I’m not busy touring, I enjoy being outdoors and spending time fishing with my family,” he said. “I’ve never actually landed a blue marlin at the Big Rock, but it is a long-time dream of mine.”

But this song will do more than get you in the mood to get out on the water – it helps you give back to the resource.

Wesley and his partners at Calcutta are donating a portion of proceeds from every iTunes download of “Hooked Up” to KeepAmericaFishing and the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Charities. Just by listening, you’re helping to unite American anglers under one voice and protect our right to fish.

So download James Wesley’s newest hit and support KeepAmericaFishing today.

Pig Barn Complete

Crystal Pig Hunt Club BarnIt is a satisfying feeling to complete the roof of a barn. That’s what we did this weekend at The Pig.

Paul, Gary, Luke, Eli and Joe were on location and got it done and it looks good. We organized our RV and have started some little barn projects to finish as time goes along.

Now we’re going to focus more on hunting. For now that means planning our food plot work for end of summer. We’ve been conferring with the guys at Tekomate about that and they’ve offered great advice. The little pine trees are making good progress so those plots will become increasingly important as time goes on.

Paul brought out a wild hog shoulder which we smoked all day Saturday. You want to talk about some good eating? It was tasty and tender. There’s nothing like some good pig at The Pig!

I’ve got a new photo album started for this year’s work days. We’ll be adding to it after each visit: 2015 Crystal Pig Hunt Club Photos

Slaying Spanish Mackerel

Mackerel FishingIt’s salt water fishing season in the Gulf of Mexico!

I took Paul and his daughter, Mary, and her boyfriend Gatlin out on a trip to catch king and spanish mackerel. We did good on the spanish with almost 4 limits. We lost two large kings though. They were biting early before turning off.

We mainly fished over a wrecked ship only a mile or so from the mouth of Pensacola Bay. These fish were schooling and we fished them with artificial lures on light tackle. Talk about fun.

Mackerel is an excellent and really healthy fish to eat. I smoked some and made some awesome dip using: cream cheese, chopped leeks and green onions, pepper, worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. As Gary would say, Dayumm Good.

May 23 opens red snapper season in Gulf state waters with a new 70 day season. Can’t wait to get out on top of them.

Next week the whole club team will be at the Pig for work days in preparation of hunting this year. See you from there next.

Schmacon – Beef’s Answer to Bacon

Schmacon CasseroleBeef bacon. It’s not new. But if you’ve tried it before it seemed to be lacking in flavor or consistency. Now there’s Schmacon, Beef’s Answer to Bacon. I have tried it and I like it. See my casserole recipe using Schmacon below.

I recently interviewed the inventor of bacon, Howard Bender. I published the interview for my weekly podcast on AgWired.com. Howard has a Kickstarter campaign going to raise funds to develop his retail sales efforts. Support him here.

You can listen to the program here: Schmacon the Un-Bacon

Now let’s focus on the casserole. I think this will be an excellent addition to the Pig’s hunt days menu.

Here are my ingredients:

Schmacon1 bag of shredded potatoes
1 pound Schmacon (beef’s answer to bacon)
1 can of sauerkraut
Stir fried red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers, red onion, sweet onion, garlic
different shredded cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup of Water
Spices: Everglades seasoning, Mrs. Dash, Dill, Paprika
pats of butter bottom and top

Once the peppers, garlic and onions were tender I blended all of this in a bowl. I used about a cup of each cheese. On the spices I just shook enough in to “feel” that it was enough.

Then I sprayed olive oil on a glass casserole dish, added some pats of butter, poured the mixture in, topped with pats of butter and paprika. Then baked it for about 45 minutes at 325.

Boom. An explosion of flavor in your mouth. This casserole is good as a stand alone meal or for breakfast with eggs. Try some.

The Bubba – Yeti Challenge

Bubba Yeti ChallengeAfter purchasing a new Yeti 20 oz. Rambler I had to find out if it could beat my Bubba Hero Tumbler 20 oz. So I loaded them with ice and water, set them on the kitchen counter and waited.

At 27 hours, the Bubba showed its superiority with several small cubes of ice left while the Yeti was out of ice. The Bubba actually took another 2 hours before the ice melted. I think that’s a fair competition don’t you?

I like them both but now I know that the Bubba which is about half the price of the Yeti was the better purchase.

Fish, Fish, Fishing

SheepsheadI’m in one of my busy road travel seasons for the ag industry. Every once in a while a cool opportunity comes up that beats the crap out of sitting in a conference room watching powerpoint presentations!

That happened this week in Bonita Springs, FL. The convention had two inshore guided boats set up with room for one more person to go and I got asked! Took half a second to say YES.

We fished Estero Bay with live shrimp mostly on a popping cork. Unfortunately, we had a storm front move through the night before so the water wasn’t real clear, etc. However, we caught fish. Our boat brought in several short redfish. I had one that was 17 1/2 inches. We caught one small mangrove snapper. This was fishing along mangrove walls. Then we ended up fishing a boat dock. We caught a bunch of sheepshead like the one I’m holding. They are not easy to catch. We call them bait stealers. You are either fast on the trigger or you’re hungry.

The best luck I had all day was when the other boat caught a 27 inch red and they didn’t want to fly home with it. They gave it to me and I double zip locked it with some ice and brought it home. It’s going on my grill tonight skin side down. Redfish on the half shell. One of my favorites.

End of 2014/2015 Deer Season

Crystal Pig ShedThe final days that Pig members hunted were not productive. No more meat in the freezer. We saw some deer but were not in a position to shoot. This is because we’re still learning the land and deer movement since this property was clear cut and is starting to grow more vegetation, etc.

But we have seen some fantastic deer and learned more about their movements which will be beneficial later this year. We also learned a lot about food plots and those will be much more productive this fall.

Our shed is almost complete as you can see in the picture. A few more work days and this will be a very comfortable place to camp out and hunt from.

A Crystal PigSet

PigSetIt’s getting near time to get back out on the Pig. Most of our group is planning on a stay between Christmas and New Year’s! We can only hope for some good weather since we all know that no forecast more than a day in advance is even close to accurate!

We’ll have to use some different tactics in the winter and we’re still learning our property. I’m hoping to do some quality time still hunting bottoms and edges of the property since so much of it was clear cut for the old stand timber. The pines are growing but they’ve got some years before they really become a factor.

The photo is from my last hunt trip. We have some beautiful (Sun) PigSets!

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!”