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Venison for Dinner

by Brad 0 Comments

Preparing venison can be intimidating for new hunters, especially ones who are not prone to cooking meals. I am by no means a chef, but I have a pretty surefire way of preparing venison and it has not let me down yet. The beauty here is the simplicity in both the knowledge required and time needed. The end result is out of this world. This is so easy, I don’t think this should even count as a recipe, so feel free to adjust it to your personal tastes. 

Start by filling a large frying pan with sliced venison steaks, mushrooms, onions of your choice, a couple of pressed fresh garlic cloves, and butter. I add salt and pepper over the entire mixture. As an after thought I added three strips of uncooked cut up bacon into the pan as well. I highly recommend adding the bacon!

After that all you have to do is melt the butter and have it spread around the pan. Cook it on medium to high hear long enough to caramelize the onions and cook the bacon. The only caution I have for you is to make sure the venison is not overcooked. I actually had to take the venison out for a while and set off to the side. The number one thing to avoid is over cooking the venison! With venison being a very lean meat it will be hard and chewy if over cooked.  Serve with a spoonful of the mixture over several venison slices and prepare to enjoy.






Starting Them Young, Kids And Hunting Go Hand In Hand

Trapping is a great outdoor activity, which allows a high degree of participation.

In today’s society a connection to nature takes second fiddle to just about everything, this is especially true among children. The average American child spends less than 10 minutes playing outside a day! If this disconnect continues an entire way of life will disappear only to be remembered through stories and history books.

A future without hunters would be bleak for those who value wildlife. Wildlife management agencies who are already cash strapped would struggle financially as their main source of revenue dries up with waning license sales. At the same time fields of prairie grass and wild flowers would be plowed under for row crops.

Most of you have children, grandchildren, or close family friends with children who would love to be mentored in the outdoors. A common mistake I have seen is waiting too long before exposing kids to hunting. My kids started accompanying me on my outdoor excursions at three- years old.

The keys to continued interest in hunting for young children are to make it a fun while keeping them comfortable. If I walked my kids to exhaustion, while telling them to be quiet as they were shivering, they are not going to want to repeat the experience anytime soon.

When planning on taking a child, the hunt needs to be tailored around them. Take my daughters first deer hunt as an example. I picked a fully enclosed stand with heat, where we had a short walk. After twenty minutes her lips were covered with hot chocolate and Cheetos stained her fingers. She did not get bored because she busy with coloring books. Towards the end of our hour and twenty-minute hunt she told me she was scared of the dark and wanted to walk back to the truck, we left with ten minutes of shooting light left.

As children get older it is important they feel they have contributed to the success of the hunt. This can be accomplished by allowing them to provide input on planning, letting them point out game, using game calls, or even something as simple as having them carry your shotgun shells on a pheasant hunt.

Trapping and trail camera excursions are great activities for kids. With trapping they don’t have to be quiet or sit still. Trail cameras have the added benefit of a high probability of success. Both lend themselves to being activities allowing high levels of participation, even with younger children. We often look for animal sign. Already both of my children are more adept when looking for deer sign than my wife.

Finally, have kids help with habitat improvement projects Even a toddler can help with simple tasks such as carrying brush in order to make a brush pile or clear bush out of a field. A child who is able to see a pheasant on a piece of land they helped improve has just experienced an invaluable conservation lesson!

Taking kids with you on your outdoor jaunts is extra work and requires sacrifice. However the sacrifice is worth it and the memories made will be cherished by both of you forever

Fall Update

by Brad 0 Comments

I have certainly shirked my responsibilities when it comes to maintaining my blog! I have had a great fall and created a lot of positive memories on my newly acquired hunting land and beyond.

Last night I connected with a nice fork while bow hunting. About 45 minutes before I saw the 2nd biggest buck I have ever seen while hunting. Unfortunately when I reached for my crossbow my stand creaked. The mature buck stopped about 50 yards away from my stand in heavy brush and after evaluating the situation he decided he did not want any part of what was going on!

When the smaller buck came in I quickly decided to take him even though I had passed him up twice in the last couple of weeks. I am sure the fact I had only 2 days left of my rut vacation came into play on my decision.

The deer stopped broadside  30 yards in front of my stand. I shot him with 10 minutes of shooting light left. I had an easy tracking job of about 100 yards. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to hunt and harvest such a beautiful animal. Last night when my head hit the pillow with a belly full of pan-fried deer heart I had happy memories dancing around my head. I especially enjoyed the excitement my kids had about the deer and the fact they enjoyed the ritual of eating the deer heart with me as well.

Although many would not consider this deer a trophy I am going to be getting a European mount. This is the largest deer I have taken with a bow so far and it was the first deer I have gotten on our new hunting land. My next goal for bow hunting is to harvest a 2.5-year-old buck.

Getting away from deer hunting my puppy is coming along very nicely. He is 7 months old and is a bird-finding machine. He is young and has a long way to go, but he is progressing nicely. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get out trapping this year. I still my find a couple of days to squeeze that in.

I hope everyone enjoys the remaining hunting season and takes the opportunity to enjoy God’s creation!

Prescribed Burns

by Brad 0 Comments

A common question I am asked is why should a prairie be burned, or, doesn’t fire cause damage to the land? Here is your answer in a nutshell. Fire is and always has been part of many natural systems. Much of Wisconsin was historically prairie that was maintained through burning before the area was settled.

The grassland habitat and associated wildlife was not destroyed by regular burning but in fact depended on it. Fire rejuvenates grasslands and recycles nutrients back into the soil, and encroaching brush is set back. These factors result in high quality grassland habitat for several wildlife species including pheasants.

In addition to being a great habitat management tool prescribed burning, which is mostly conducted in the spring is a great way to get outside and enjoy God’s creation! Look and see if any local conservation groups are looking for volunteers to assist with prescribed burns. I am fortunate my local Pheasants Forever Chapter has a burn crew.

Recommended Reading: American Buffalo

by Brad 0 Comments

Steven Rinella is one of my favorite outdoor communicators. He does TV shows, books, podcast, and magazine articles. What makes him different is his work does not revolve around big antlers and trophy animals as we commonly see today in outdoor media. Instead he looks at hunting from a philosophical point of view and captures the true beauty of hunting and outdoor experiences. The fact he is a vocal conservationist and public land advocate doesn’t hurt matters when I consider him one of my favorite people in outdoor media.

I just finished one of Steven’s several books American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. When I started reading this book I was immediately captivated. The format of the book switches back and forth between two main topics. The story covers his preparations, and hunt in the Alaskan wilderness for free ranging buffalo. Secondly, the book does an outstanding job of presenting a historical perspective on how Native Americans and settlers interacted and depended on buffalo.

Steven does a good job in this book on changing between his hunt and the historical perspective of the buffalo. If I would I have sat down and read the historical portion of the book all at once I would have become bored. However, with the format switching from the two topics I never became bored.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of the buffalo my favorite part of this book was his adventure in the Alaskan Bush. He spent ten days in the wilderness, most of it alone. Steven experiences several mishaps during the trip, which, will keep your interest peeked.

I highly recommend reading this book. If you have an interest in hunting or outdoor adventures I don’t think you could go wrong with this read. Check out the attached video of the author himself telling you about his book.

Button Buck: No Regrets

by Brad 0 Comments


Last week I had a great deer hunt, which will probably be my last deer hunt of the year before I transition over to chasing squirrels in the treetops and an occasional coyote hunt. For me the hunt was successful in every sense of the word. I thoroughly enjoyed the stillness in the woods while the 15-degree weather nipped at my fingertips and nose. The sky was extra clear as it often is in the winter. Yes, this was one of those special hunts you can only enjoy on a clear winter day, and I got a deer.

After I shot the deer with my muzzleloader it ran 75 yards and dropped in view of my stand. It was only 3:45pm giving me about another hour of light. I decided to kick back enjoy the sunset and see if I could fill another tag.

I was not blessed with another deer, but eagerly approached my downed deer immediately after legal shooting hours had passed. When I reached the deer I confirmed my suspicions when I had made the decision to shoot it. ………. I had shot an antlerless fawn buck. As I reflected for a few moments before field dressing as I always do I was not feeling shame, embarrassment, or inferior as some might expect. Instead I was thankful, excited for the meat, and I could not wait until I got home to show my son who just turned 3 Daddy’s deer.

As a member of the QDMA I am aware of the ramifications of shooting too many young bucks. I believe in the mission of the QDMA and advocate passing younger deer. As a matter of fact as admired my deer I wondered if this fawn back is the same one I passed on the opening weekend of the Wisconsin gun deer season about 3 weeks earlier.

Let me take you back to my hunt and the thoughts going through my mind at the time, so you can understand how I came to my decision and why I was so excited to take that particular deer.

When I noticed the deer I was immediately excited. I experienced the type of excitement where you feel your heart is going to jump out of your chest from pumping to hard. Ever since the farmer chisel plowed the property I hunt in early November deer activity had been minimal. The first opportunity the deer presented me I passed. I struggled with the fact it was still early in the evening and the deer was small. I hoped a bigger deer would come in before dark. Even as the deer stood broadside 20 yards in front of me I passed on the shot.

As the young deer started circling toward my food plot my mind was flooded with different thoughts. I remembered I had not seen this deer with any other ones on my trail camera, maybe I won’t see another deer tonight I thought to myself. In the back of mind I thought about the last 2 years where I had not harvested a deer. As the deer entered my food plot I was painfully aware with a 6 and 3 year old at home this might be my last deer hunt of year. I thought about my freezer, which only has a few pounds of ground venison left in it. I thought about the fact during the time since my last deer I have developed a strong desire to try venison heart, but haven’t had the opportunity. After all of those thoughts raced through my mind I made the decision to shoot the fawn buck. A decision I do not regret.

I know the majority of QDMA members and deer hunters in general are happy for me and understand my thought process, even experiencing similar feelings while hunting.

However, there are a few hunters out there right now who believe what I did was a horrible thing. I ask those people to patient and try and see the situation through a different lens. As I become a better hunter with more success it will be easier for me to pass on deer. It is important to remember we are all hunters who want the best for the future of deer and deer hunting.

Currently as I sit at my kitchen table watching the fat snowflakes fall my memory drifts to my hunt just 8 days ago. My mind is filled with positive memories and excitement. I will always treasure this hunt and remember 3-year-old Jack smiling as he excitedly examined the deer in the back of my truck when I got home, and I am happy to report the venison heart was delicious.











Stoeger M3500

by Brad 0 Comments


After using the Stoeger M3500 Semi auto shotgun for over 2 years I have tested it enough I can give it a full recommendation. With two younger kids I am at a point in my life where I appreciate value and reliability. I would love to spend $1,500 plus on a shotgun, but right now it is not in the cards. Enter, the Stoeger. I purchased my Black M3500 after months of research for $600.

Research the M3500 on the forums and you will find quite of few negative comments. However, I noticed one important fact. Almost all of the negative comments started with “I heard” or other statements indicating the negative reviewer did not even own one. At the same time other people would say “I basically paid $600 for a Benelli”, which is also not true You paid $600 for a Stoeger, a good shotgun in it’s own right but certainly not a Cadillac level shotgun.

I purchased this gun as my do everything shotgun and have not been disappointed. This gun will handle coyotes, pheasants, turkeys, and waterfowl.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the Stoeger M3500 directly from Stoeger’s Website:

  • 3-1/2-inch, 12-gauge, Inertia Driven®semi-automatic
  • Handles loads from 2-3/4 inch to 3-1/2 inch magnum without adjustment
  • Operating system is lightning fast and reliable, with only 3 moving parts in the bolt
  • 3 barrel lengths: 24, 26, or 28 inches
  • Barrels are fitted with a ventilated, stepped rib and fiber-optic front sight for quick target acquisition
  • Available in 3 finishes

My first impression of the M3500 was overall positive. It looked like a nice gun and felt good while shouldering it. My only complaint about the gun was the hollow composite stock. It wasn’t concerning to me about durability, but it did feel a tad cheap or flimsy.

When I took it to the range I put 25 goose loads through it and it cycled perfectly. Next, I shot target loads with the lowest recommend loads and it did have some problems cycling. However, I was expecting this based on my research. Towards the end of the 25 target loads the gun was starting to operate better. If you do experience a problem with lighter loads go back to heavier loads for a box or two until the gun is broken in.

After breaking the gun in I have used it on numerous hunts and it has performed flawlessly. The action is very smooth and fast. I personally cannot tell a difference in the action from higher end guns. If you are looking for value minded reliable workhorse that can perform a wide variety of tasks look no further than the Stoeger M3500. I don’t think you will be disappointed!


New Dummy Launcher

by Brad 0 Comments

I finally gave into temptation today and bought a D.T. Systems Pro Dummy Launcher. I have been on the fence of buying one of these for months. Although after a single outing I am not willing to provide a detailed review, my first experience was pleasant. There was no setup involved and it took about 1 minute to figure out its use. I took my dog out to a field with high grass and let err rip.

As I have stated in the past my dog is not a phenom, but he is getting better. The speed of the dummy confused him and it seemed he had a hard time visually tracking the dummy. However, he was still able to find the dummy every time. I am sure it helped him I had slathered pheasant sent on the dummy. The Launcher worked flawlessly during its inaugural use. My dog got a great workout being I was able to effortlessly launch the dummies much father than I could dream of throwing them. I certainly appreciated the fact I did not have any shoulder pain as I sometimes do while throwing a dummy. Not willing to officially endorse the dummy yet, but all in all I am impressed so far.