Recipe: Grilled Venison Beer Brats

IMG_1050Perfect for a summer Friday or Saturday night:

–Shoot deer in fall. Gut deer. Transport some meat to processor and have brats made. (These jalapeno cheese brats came from a  buck I shot in Montana, though a deer you shoot and gut anywhere will do.)

–Simmer brats in 50/50 mixture of water and beer for 20 minutes. Do not boil brats, just a low, slow simmer, rolling brats occasionally.

–As brats simmer, sip remainder of leftover over beer. Heat gas grill and chill at least one more beer.

–After 20 minutes, remove brats from stove and drain water/beer mix. Reduce grill to medium-low. Add brats and grill, covered, for 6-8 minutes, until charred slightly.

–Remove from grill, serve with mustard on a paper plate, add a side veggie (optional) and enjoy (no bun, low-carb here).

–Crack second beer. The best brats you will ever eat pair perfectly with your favorite brew.

3 Top Summer Spots For Trail Cameras

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I’ve had several Spartan cameras out for a while, but now in July is when I start my recon in earnest. Velvet antlers are up and growing full bore; when you get an image of a buck with potential, you’ll know it and can start tracking and patterning his movements.

One: Last week we set 2 cameras on 2 one-acre clover plots hidden back in the woods. We set 3 more cams near larger food plots, but not aiming out into the fields. Rather, we pointed these cams 20 to 30 yards back in the thickets that rim the edges, on well-used deer trails. Secluded, thick pockets and bottlenecks like this are where you’re apt of get close images of a big velvet buck working the area.

Two: We put a camera on a muddy creek crossing a quarter-mile from a clover plot, and another on the edge of a beaver pond where we’ve photographed good bucks before. As summer deepens, bucks spend time hanging out in low-lying areas near water where it’s cool and shady.

Three: On one Virginia farm we hunt, there are 2 cornfields with a 40-yard-wide row of trees splitting and separating the fields. Within that row of trees is a flat, grassy gap where the farmer drives his tractor between the fields. On an old gate post in the gap is our top spot to set a camera now, while the corn is still tall and uncut.

Over the years, a camera on the gate post has been the most productive for catching bucks on natural summer movement (photo below). If you have a similar gap like this where you hunt, go set a camera there now before the crops are cut and the deer movement patterns change.

Va  9 point at round tower gap

How Summer Heat Affects Deer

summer deer webAbove normal temperatures–say a string of 90-plus days with high humidity–cause whitetails to stress. The amount of stress is dependent on the quality of the habitat.

Deer consume more water than any other mineral (water is a mineral, a naturally occurring substance). The amount of water deer need increases during hot and dry periods in summer. Where good water is abundant, no big deal. But where water is limited either by quantity or quality, some of a deer’s bodily functions are limited, such as transferring calcium to growing antlers or milk production for fawns.

Deer travel to find water. But if they are forced out of their home range in search of H2O, bucks and does expend huge amounts of energy that then can’t be used for other bodily processes like antler growth and milk production. Biologists point out that deer traveling out of their range to find water is very rare, except possibly during an extended drought. Normally they can find enough water to survive in their core areas.

Whitetails are adaptable and resilient, and are used to dealing with natural hardships and stress. An extended drought and abnormally hot summer in your region might lead to smaller antler growth and less fawn recruitment that fall. But a typical summer with periods of high heat and dry weeks won’t affect the herd much.

Social Media Rumor Bucks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe posts and picture said: “30-point monster killed at our Georgia hunt club. That is the biggest rack I’ve ever seen in GA.”

Another guy added: “One of the new guys in our hunting club killed this out of my tower stand last year!”

Well, that would be difficult since this amazing buck was shot by Bill Crutchfield in Maryland 12 years ago. This is fact, as I have interviewed Bill and posted on this giant several times: the 28-point, 268 1/8-inch Crutchfield titan is one of the biggest whitetails ever killed in Maryland, and on the East Coast.

Lesson: This is just but one example of rumor bucks you see all the time on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Enjoy the magnificence of these animals, but reader beware!

2017 Maine Deer Kill Highest In A Decade

maine meat poleDeer hunters in Maine harvested 27,233 deer in 2017, the highest total in the last ten years and an increase of 15% from 2016.

“An increasing deer herd in southern and central Maine, and favorable hunting conditions contributed to the best deer hunting season in ten years,” said Nathan Bieber, Maine deer biologist.

Maine’s deer hunt is broken down into several seasons for firearm hunters, muzzleloaders and bow hunters. Most deer are harvested during the general firearms season (23,288), which started on October 28th and continued until November 25. Bowhunters took 2,099 deer, and hunters took 970 deer during the muzzleloading season. Maine’s junior hunters were also very successful on youth day, with 876 youth hunters taking a deer this year.

Adult bucks comprised the vast majority of the harvest, with hunters taking 18,255 antlered bucks. With 66,050 anterless permits issued, hunters harvested 8,978 antlerless deer.

According to surveys, on average Maine deer hunters spent 37 hours hunting deer during the season, averaging 4.3 hours afield each trip.