Dining on the Fruits of our Harvest

“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.” -Theodore Roosevelt

After all the planning, preparation for going on a big game hunt, and proudly bringing home our prize to the wife, neighbors, and other people, feasting is what it is all about.  Field dressing the animal, and aging and marinating are important factors in great dining of the game.

Wild game, the perfect food. 

I am firmly convinced cooking of big game well done is one of the most violated errors that is responsible for ruined meat and that of dissatisfied diners. Big game meats, especially steaks, roasts and loins are best when cooked rare to medium rare.  Cleanliness and sanitary handling are key elements to successful cooking and dining.  There is the fear of bacteria but deer and elk are not known as trichinosis carriers.  Cooking meats to a surface temperature of 160 degrees will prevent bacteria penetration as the meat is seared.  Careful washing of hands and utensils is an excellent precaution.

“A hunt based only on the trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.” -Fred Bear

We have several friends that we dine with when we have roasts or steaks.  Low and slow are the two ways we like to cook the meat.  One of the major preparations we use is marinades.   We marinate all of the steaks and the roasts.  I have read that if the animal is properly aged, a marinade is not necessary to make it tender.  The moose we just brought back from Alberta was hung for 24 hours.  Then it was butchered, packaged, and sharp frozen to -40 degrees centigrade.  We picked it up the next day. The last two elk harvested were hung for 24 hours and then packaged and sharp frozen.  In the case of the moose, it would be highly unlikely for us to stay in Alberta for 10 to 14 days just to age the moose.

 I have yet to age an animal that I have harvested.  In the neighborhood I live, the neighbors would find it somewhat unseemly to hang a deer or an elk from a tree in my front yard. 

“My dinner is still in the woods.” -Unknown

Marinades not only flavor, but help tenderize the meat.  Anywhere from a few hours to several days for big cuts will do the job.  We also use a device that pokes holes into the meat. That helps to get the fluid to penetrate the meat better.  We also soak the meat with the marinade in the refrigerator.  On some steaks we use a meat hammer to pound the daylights out of it.  This should be a thick piece of meat and should be flattened out somewhat.  Since game is a very dense meat, this helps break down the fibrous tissue. 

Acetic acid liquids make the best way to help tenderize the meat.  Vinegar, citrus juices, your favorite red alcoholic fruit of the vine, and yellow liquids that come out of pop top cans make great bases.  For spices, we use lots of garlic, pepper, soy sauce, onions, bay leaf, dry onion soup mix and commercial steak seasonings.  The cook at the lodge used Montreal Steak Spice, a commercial product, and it really added a nice flavor to the meats.  If you don’t have the time, use a really spicy Italian salad dressing mix and doctor it up if you feel the need.

“A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.” -Aldo Leopold

We use olive oil in many instances with our marinades.  Oil will carry the flavors of seasonings and protect the meat from burning when grilling.  Sautéed onions, garlic and other herbs will enhance their flavors.

We will cook roasts all day in a crock pot in a seasoned broth.  We also use cooking bags and roast for a long period of time at low temperatures to achieve tenderness.  With steaks we broil, grill, or bake them at 350 for about 25 to 20 min.  This is after we have soaked it in a favorite marinade over night.

If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting, then the Gods must clearly smile on hunting.
-Aristotle

Coke-a-Cola Marinade

1 cup of coke, pepsi, or similar soft drink
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoonful garlic powder
1 tablespoonful onion powder
1 tablespoonful chili powder
½ teaspoon pepper

Mix ingredients together and soak meat at least up to 8 hours or overnight. We use this on steaks or roasts

Roast Marinade

½ cup oil
2 tablespoonfuls wine Vinegar
4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Garlic (we use a lot)
2 tablespoonfuls lemon juice

Marinate meat 12 – 24 hours turning whenever.  We also use this on steak.

Moose Marinade

½ cup olive oil
juice from one orange
1 tablespoonful garlic powder
1 tablespoonful onion powder
4 tablespoonful Worcestershire sauce

Put in freezer bag, seal, and soak overnight in a refrigerator.  Marinate meat for 24 hours.  We use this on roasts or steaks and for all four legged game animals with hooves.

Montreal Peppered Steak Recipe

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 lbs boneless game steaks

After mixing the ingredients, place steak in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish.  Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

Jill’s Marinade

½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoonfuls wine vinegar
4 teaspoonfuls Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoonfuls dry mustard powder
garlic (we like a lot, use whatever you can stand)
2 Tablespoonfuls lemon juice

We use this as a soak for roasts and a marinade for steaks.  With roasts we use a meat thermometer.  With steaks we like to bake them depending on the thickness 15 to 20 min at 350 F.

Roasts

We use these recipes for a lot of roasts as they are easy.  Put it in the crock pot and leave it all day. We have used this on Caribou, Elk, Deer, Buffalo, and Moose.

Crock pot Roast

Ingredients:
1 (4-5 lb.) wild game roast 
1 (1-oz.) pkg. dry onion soup mix
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 (10.5 oz) can condensed beef broth
1 (12 oz) can of your favorite yellow  alcoholic liquid that comes in pop top cans. 
2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:
Place beef roast in 3.5 to 4 quart Crock-Pot Slow Cooker
In medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients and pour over roast
Cover and cook on low setting for 8 – 10 hours.
Slice and serve

Crock Pot BBQ Game

Ingredients:
2-3 pound game roast
1 cup tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Place game in a slow cooker
Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over meat
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Slice and serve
(Optional) Shred the cooked game by pulling it apart with forks and use French rolls or sandwich buns for great sandwiches.

Crock Pot Game Stroganoff

Ingredients:
3-4 pound game roast
2 cans Mushroom soup
1 can water
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 can (14 oz) beef broth
1 package (8 oz) fresh sliced mushrooms
Egg noodles
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoonful garlic salt (I always add a little extra garlic to the mixture)
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Place roast in Crock Pot
add the soups and water mixed together
Add remaining ingredients except sour cream
Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours
Cook the egg noodles and set aside
Shred the meat, then add the sour cream
Cook until heated through
Serve over the egg noodles.

Roast Game

Ingredients:
3-5 pound roast
Celery salt
Ground pepper
Garlic powder
Strips of Bacon
(Optional cooking bag)

Directions:
Brown the roast all over in hot oil
Season well with seasonings
Place the roast on a rack in a baking pan
Lay several thin strips of bacon over the top
Roast at 425 F for about 15 minutes per pound of meat
Place in cooking bag (Optional)
Use meat thermometer Rare = 130-135 F, Medium Rare = 135-140 F, Medium = 140-145 F.
Baking the roast beyond 145 will cause the roast to be a little dry or tough. 

Eat well my friends.  Wild game is nature’s perfect food and a gift from God for those of us who venture into the wilderness, spend great sums of money on gear, trips, licenses, and tips.  When we sit down and enjoy a great meal of wild game, thanks is given for the opportunity in this country to hunt great and small beasts and enjoy the bounty that we have been given. 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

Crossing the Border Both Ways and Driving in Canada

We drove across Montana on Highway 2 to avoid the mountains to the south and west of us.  This was all farm and ranch land with two lane driving and was just a little boring.  Montana is a beautiful state outside of the mountains with the prairies, farm and crop lands. At Shelby Montana, we picked up I-15 and drove straight north to the Sweetgrass/Coutts port of entry to Canada and exit from the U.S.

This sculpture was just outside of Gladstone, ND. 

 

We drove up to a Kiosk, presented our passports, and answered questions about why we were entering Canada.  We were told where to park and took our paperwork inside.  The person at the kiosk was courteous, but quick and to the point.

The form for declaring the firearm is available on line and also Mike’s Outfitting sent me a copy to complete.  DO NOT SIGN THE FORM.  I didn’t. You will sign it in front of the immigration officer.  I also took in a copy of my contract and copies of the correspondence taken place with Mike’s Outfitting.  I was questioned as to whether I had other firearms in my possession.  The answer was NO. Mike had also cautioned me NOT to bring a hand gun with me.  They signed the form, took my $35.00, gave us back our passports and we were off on our way.

My advice just to save a little money is to fill up your tank before you get into Canada.  They sell gas by the liter and it take 4 liters to make a gallon.  The price of fuel when we crossed the border went up drastically.

We are so used to driving the interstate system in the states that we assumed we would have an easy time filling the tank.  NOT SO.  There are no signs along the highway advertising gasoline stations.  There are some rest areas, but they are very far apart.  My truck holds 36 gallons, so when we got to the halfway point we filled up regardless of where we were and it also gave us a potty break.  In larger cities they do have a section of the highway that advertises gasoline stations available.  We always filled up even if we had 3/4 of a tank still available.

Use a credit card wherever you go if possible.  You may get a charge when you get home for the use of the card, but that is minimal.  The dollar was worth 26 cents more that the Canadian dollar.  Our card makes that calculation for us and we get charged the correct exchange amount.  We used  US dollars a couple of times and no one would make the exchange and considered it straight across the board.

Canada is on the metric system and the highway signs are in Kilometers. That is easy to figure as a 1 mph is equal to 0.621 Km.  So when you see the highway speed sign saying 110 Km, multiply by 0.621 or 0.6 to get the speed in miles per hour.  We hardly ever noticed the Canadians driving the speed limit.  They flew by us and we never passed a car on the way up or back.  I drove the speed limit because we were in a foreign country and I wanted to follow their rules.  We never saw one highway patrol on the entire trip in Canada.  Maybe that is why they all speed.

We came back home the same way we went up.  The thought was to go south in Montana down through the mountain regions, into Wyoming and the across South Dakota.  When we saw there was snow forecasted in the mountain areas of Montana and Wyoming, we stayed on the previous route.

Sweetgrass/Coutts is the busiest border crossing in Canada.  We got up extra early and were on the road at 6:30 after the free breakfast at the Comfort Inn.  When we got to the border there was a line already, but it moved along fairly briskly.  There were a lot of RVs going south for the winter.  We saw signs in the towns warning people to start preparing for winter as it was coming soon.  Also, we saw RV parking lots everywhere along their highway system and dealers in every major city.  People in Alberta must RV a lot and I think there must be a group that heads south for the winter.

Pulling up to the kiosk we were met by a very pretty and friendly young lady.  Smiling all the time she asked for our passports, and where we had been.  “What were you doing up there?” she said.  I said, “Hunting moose.”  “Where is the moose?” she asked.  I pointed to the coolers in the back of the truck and said, “He is in the coolers.”  That brought laughter and she motioned for me to park the truck, leave the gun and the moose in the truck along with my wife and go inside.  Someone will call your name.  That step was easy.

Inside, I sat down and waited.  Other people were called and some had come in after me.  This was beginning to feel like I was going to be questioned or maybe shaken down.  My guide had prepared the skull cap for the crossing, and indicated they should not want to look at this, but be prepared.  Also, I was warned they may want me to open the coolers.  Now this is bad as they were packed to the top and all seams had been double taped.  The processor said, “Don’t worry about a thing, you are good for more than 5 days, but do not open the coolers.  If they are opened, you will have to buy dry ice to make it home.”  The guides suggested that I not argue, but ask that they not open the coolers.

We were in the middle of nowhere so where would I buy dry ice?  Not to worry, we discovered a company called Praxair.  They are in 50 countries with 26,000 employees and supply industrial gasses of all kinds.  Wherever there is a medical complex or an industrial complex, like oil well drilling and processing, there is Praxair.  We then called several spots along the interstate and located who had the dry ice.  Problem solved.  If they opened up the coolers, our overnight stop was Dickinson, ND and Praxair was expecting us if we needed them.

They did not open the coolers and they did not inspect my horns.  Whew!!!!!!!  I presented my hunting license for Alberta, my application to bring a gun into Canada, my receipt from the processor, a processed game tag from the processor, and my contract with Mike’s Outfitting.  They had our passports.

Then a form was completed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  The officer stood right there and helped me fill it out.  Then another form was completed by immigration and again the officer stood right there and helped me out.  Then another person came over and they both discussed my document to bring a gun into Canada.  It was not stamped.  The people in Canada did not stamp it and they just said they had seen this before and if we come back up to hunt, ask the officials to stamp the form.

The officer in Canada was really friendly and discussed the location where I was going to hunt moose, and gave us a big thumbs up on that area.  We discussed processing too.  They were very helpful.

Then it hit me.  I was asked to complete a form that Homeland Security wanted regarding my rifle.  I was told it was optional, but if I ever hunted Canada again, it would help me get across the border.

 

I wrote a description of the gun, just like the description on the form to enter Canada.  Listed the serial number, and the officer said now I need to see the gun.  When I came out of the door with the officer in his gear and carrying a sidearm, my wife’s eyes doubled in size.  I pulled out the gun, he inspected it and verified the serial number, signed it and back in we went.  I was given a copy and told to keep the document with the gun, if I hunt overseas or come back to Canada.  It will make crossing the border easier.

They gave us back our passports and we were off to fill up the tank with cheaper American gas and head for home via Dickinson, ND, then to Council Bluffs.  Total time from when we got to the border from when we left was 90 minutes, and we did not have to open the coolers. Everyone was courteous and helpful.

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

Sightseeing in Alberta/British Columbia

The moose was at the processor and we could not pick him up for two days.  With nothing else to do and everyone in the camp having got their moose, we decided to go touring for a day.  Alberta is rich in history and great places to visit, but we were up north and west so they suggested we visit Dawson Creek, British Columbia, just a couple of hour drive north of the lodge.

On our drive up to and from Dawson Creek the highway was peppered with these signs warning of moose crossings.  We did not see any signs warning of deer crossings.

This was a really nice drive with lots of scenery.  To the west we could see the mountains in British Columbia with the snow covered peaks.  It was a beautiful drive.

 Dawson Creek derives its name from the creek of the same name that runs through the community. The creek was named after George Mercer Dawson by a member of his land survey team when they passed through the area in August 1879. Once a small farming community, Dawson Creek became a regional center after the western terminus of the Northern Alberta Railways was extended there in 1932. The community grew rapidly in 1942 as the US Army used the rail terminus as a transshipment point during construction of the Alaska Highway. In the 1950s, the city was connected to the interior of British Columbia via a highway and railway through the Rocky Mountains. Since the 1960s, growth has slowed.

Dawson Creek is located in the dry and windy prairie land of the Peace River Country. As the seat of the Peace River Regional District and a service center for the rural areas south of the Peace River, the city has been called the “Capital of the Peace”. It is also known as the “Mile 0 City”, referring to its location at the southern end of the Alaska Highway. It also has a heritage interpretation village, an art gallery, and a museum. Annual events include a fall fair and rodeo. 

Entering the city. 

The community that was formed by the creek was one of many farming communities established by European-Canadian settlers moving west through the Peace River Country. When the Canadian government began issuing homestead grants to settlers in 1912, the pace of migration increased. With the opening of a few stores and hotels in 1919 and the incorporation of the Dawson Creek Co-operative Union on May 28, 1921, Dawson Creek became a dominant business center in the area. After much speculation by land owners and investors, the Northern Alberta Railways built its western terminus 3 km (2 mi) from Dawson Creek.The golden spike was driven on December 29, 1930, and the first passenger train arrived on January 15, 1931. The arrival of the railway and the construction of grain elevators attracted more settlers and business to the settlement. The need to provide services for the rapidly growing community led Dawson Creek to incorporate as a village in May 1936. A small wave of refugees from the Sudetenland settled in the area in 1939 as World War II was beginning.The community exceeded 500 people in 1941.

 

Upon entering the war, the United States decided to build a transportation corridor to connect the US mainland to Alaska. In 1942, thousands of US Army personnel, engineers, and contractors poured into the city – the terminal of rail transport – to construct the Alaska Highway. The highway was completed in less than a year; even after the workers involved in its construction departed, population and economic growth continued. In February 1943, a major fire and explosion in a livery barn, packed with road-building supplies including dynamite, caused serious damage to the center of town; five people were killed and 150 injured. Dawson Creek became a  station during WWII in September 1944. The station disbanded in March 1946.

 

By 1951, Dawson Creek had more than 3,500 residents. In 1952, the John Hart Highway linked the town to the rest of the British Columbia Interior and Lower Mainland through the Rocky Mountains; a new southbound route, known locally as Tupper Highway, made the town a crossroads with neighboring Alberta. The next year, western Canada’s largest propane gas plant was built and federal government offices were established in town. In 1958, the extension of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway to the Peace from Prince George was completed, and the village was re-incorporated as a city. Between 1951 and 1961, the population of Dawson Creek more than tripled. The RCAF center reemerged on October 1, 1956 and was declared functional in 1958. It was disbanded a final time in March 1964.

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

The statue is a tribute to George Mercer Dawson who in 1879 lead a survey through the area and for whom the town is named.  Right in the center of town is a monument to the beginning of mile “0” of the Alaska Highway.  The Alaska Highway house is a fixture in the community.  We enjoyed our stay and walked around all the historic sites in the city.  A community of 12,500 residents, it was bustling and after a great lunch, we headed back to the lodge.

At the lodge we had another great meal as if we needed it, said our goodbyes and drove back to Spirit River for our last night in the 49 Motel.  Next morning it was off to the village of Hines Creek, Alberta.  With a population of 396 most of the people are employed in the forestry or oil business.  The Hines Creek General store is a jewel on the prairie.  Besides processing game for the hunters, cattle and hogs for the area, groceries for the surrounding area, the company ships beef sticks and jerky all over western Canada and specialty products on demand. 

The 585 pounds of meat was packed into 4 coolers to the top.  It was packed as tight as we could get it.  the lids were then sealed tight with duct tape all around the seams.  The meat had been sharp frozen to -40 degrees.  We were told not to worry about dry ice and with the sealing of the coolers and the temp to which the meat was frozen we would have no trouble.  

We didn’t and after a three day trip home the meat was as hard as when we put it in the coolers. 

Read the next blog as it will tell you all about going through the border into the U.S. and driving in Canada.  

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Day Three of Six of the Great Alberta Moose Hunt

Do you ever get up in the morning and say to yourself? “This is going to be my day in the sun.”  Well, driving up to the lodge that is how I felt, and Pam told me to slow down more than once as I was exceeding the speed limit.  When she is confident and upbeat, that is a good sign.  After 51 years of marriage, I think we read each other pretty well.  Decades ago, before I got married, a friend told me, “In your marriage be either right or happy.” I chose “happy” and things have worked out well for both of us.

Sunrise in Alberta and it looks like it will be a high overcast day.  The great beast will not be so tied to the stands of timber and may wander outside of his protective cover, or maybe, he will move closer to the edge. 

 

When we arrived ready for another large breakfast, the other two guides said, “You now have the best of all of us.  There will be six sets of eyes out looking for you and this is your day.”  How much confidence can a person build up.  Everyone around me is saying today is your day.

That owl is one of many different types of mounts in the lodge.  The problem I have with him is I feel like he is staring at me. He can’t be because he is dead.  I find myself looking out of the corner of my eyes to see where he is staring next. 

 

We started out before daylight and searched along the road and stands of timber.  As usual, we were seeing our fair share of cows.  Alberta does not have a cow season, although they do have a week calf season.  We were shocked, but found out that the kill rate for calves is 80%  That is horrible.  The predator is the Canadian Grey Wolf, and I carried a tag for wolves if I saw one or several.  Besides  game, they slaughter cattle.  The farmers will let you hunt them anytime.  We can visit more about that later.

As it got light no bulls were spotted and we were trying everything that was in the playbook for today.  We even went over to where the two “forkys” hung out (girlie man bulls) and they were still there.  I could have stepped out of the truck and shot one right on the spot as they both would have offered excellent meat for a hunter.  The guide said, “Take one if you want.”  I just had not driven 2,100 miles for this size of animal.  The guide also said, “Don’t worry, we have three more days to go.”  

This calf was spotted as we slowly drove down the road.  The cow was back further in the timber, but we expected to see a bull or at least spook one out.  The calf never spooked.  It just kept grazing away and slowly fed its way back to where the cow was.  We were only 30 yards from this animal.  The guide thought that this road was used mostly by the oil companies and they were here only periodically.  Very low traffic should have made this a good place for Bullwinkle. 

 
 

The other two guides were looking in different areas, but were only seeing cows.  In the three days we had hunted, all of us combined had seen over 250 cows. That is good for the population in the future, providing the Canadian grey wolves can be dealt with.

This is what the oil patch country looks like.  We have total and complete access to all the ground.  We never saw a single animal. 

The enthusiasm that I had in the morning was starting to wane.  Pamela said she could see it in my face as I felt a pat on the right shoulder.  One of the guides called and said they had spotted a spike bull if I wanted to nail it.  I did not want a spike bull, but said, “Let’s take our time and hunt our way over to the spot and take a look.”  I did not say I would kill it, only take a look.  Right at that time I felt lower than whale poop.  That is the lowest thing in the ocean. 

 

The guide then spoke up and said, “Look we have three more days to hunt, and with all these cows, there is a decent bull out there waiting for your bullet.”  With all these cows, the bulls do not even have to fight each other to get one, or more.

I put this picture on the blog just because I really like the beauty of the canola fields.  We glassed the tree line with binoculars and a spotting scope and saw nothing but some deer.  I have never seen so many deer in my life.  I live in SW Iowa along the Missouri River

 

We drove through a gate and onto a farm of canola and the guide hit the brakes.  All he said was, “Big bull, let’s go.”   We quickly got out of the truck and shut the doors gently.  Not 100 yards from us a cow and calf spooked.  I still had not seen the bull. The sky was overcast and the beast was black against a dark background.

We went about 25 yards and the guide said, “Right now, hit him.”  I could not find him and finally got him with the scope.  I was told to take my time, but I felt like I was being rushed. He was hard as heck to spot although I could make out the horns so I worked back along the body line.  I asked, “How far?” and was shocked at the two words he said, “400 yards.”  I have never ever shot that far and was really nervous.  I tightened myself up, stopped breathing, making sure my left hand was holding down the gun in the shooting stick tripod, adjusted for the drop per the scope and sent the first round on its way.  Immediately, I cycled the gun putting a fresh round in the pipe and sent it to the great beast.  After reloading the magazine and putting a fresh round in the chamber, he went down.

We walked toward him, and lo and behold he got up!  The guide said over and over again, “Hit him! Hit him!” and I gave him another two rounds.  We were about 300 yards at this time and maybe a little closer, but as we started walking toward him he stayed down.  The concern was he would take off and we would have a wounded animal to track down.  No one is interested in doing that.

When I got up to him his head was down, but he was still laboriously breathing,  so I put another shot into his chest right behind his left front leg at point blank range.  One breath, and that was the end.  It was a cool day, but I had sweat running down my face.  My furthermost shot up until now was a buffalo in January in South Dakota.  That was 300 yards, but the animal was brown against a background of snow.  This was totally different, plus the distance made me really nervous.

I mentioned earlier about the Canadian Grey Wolves.  They are a menace and the ranchers want them shot by the hunters.  The wolf is the smartest of the predators.  Mike’s Outfitting is offering this fall wolf hunting at a really reduced price.  One of his guides is an expert in killing these beasts and I am looking at going up next year for a wolf hunt. The wolves kill moose, elk, deer, and cattle and there is a bounty on them.

The other two guides hearing the shots, showed up and the process began of taking some pictures and loading him into the back of the pickup.  They had an electric winch on the bed of the truck and  winched him right up a ramp. Then drove the 4 wheeler on top of the moose.  Wow, these people had it all down to art and he was loaded up and taken back to the lodge. 

 

My first Moose.  

His body is really black and notice the white legs.  Pam and I with the moose. 

 

Our guide Kyle, with Pam and myself. 

 

This is how they get the moose out of the field and onto the truck. An electric winch and cable are secured around the horns and he is hoisted aboard.  The 4 Wheeler is driven right up on top and the ramps laid along the side of the bed. 

That is Whiskey our guide’s dog.  He is patiently waiting for a leg bone which after each moose is brought to him to enjoy

 
At home with the horns.  The meat is in our freezers and we ended up with 585 pounds of moose. 
 

I did not take pictures of the gutting, but it was really interesting.  Pam and I are both healthcare professionals and we were interested in his vitals.  The lungs were big, but not any bigger than we had seen on some of the elk that we have harvested.  The heart, however, was bigger than a volley ball and we were amazed at the size.  Their stomach has four chambers like a cow and they chew their cud.  They also consume about 50 to 60 pounds of vegetation a day.  They have no upper front teeth.  In order for us to take the horns back across the border into the U.S., all spinal cord tissue must be removed along with all brain tissue.  The brain is not any bigger than a baseball.  They react to stimulus only.  They are looking for a place to hide, a place to eat, a place to drink, and during the rut, a place to get intimate with the cow population.

Next blog in 2 weeks tells about what we did afterwards in Alberta. 

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank

Day Two of the Great Alberta Moose Hunt

To bed last night at 10 p.m. and up at 5 a.m., Pam and I were on the road to the lodge to have breakfast by 5:45 a.m.  After yesterday and the day before, I was brimming with confidence and could not wait to get out into the fields of canola, wheat, oats and hay.  We torqued down our breakfasts and were the first ones out the door to the truck.  Even the guide was amazed at our eagerness.  He expected us older people not to move that fast.

This picture was taken the previous night as we were heading back to the lodge. Moon rise over Alberta and we just stopped and looked at it for a while as the earth turned and it came up higher in the sky.  The thought was maybe a moose will come out to admire the moon rise too, but to no avail. 

 

Down the roads we went.  It was just light enough to make out shapes heading toward the tree lines and standing woods packed with timber.  We could make out shapes and we saw a half a dozen bull moose heading to the shelter of timber. Several were of really decent size.  We also saw, as usual, a lot of cows.  Our guide told us that moose hang around a general area unless spooked.  At that point they never come back to the same area for some time.  Another fact that is interesting is that moose do not like wind and they will really hunker down in windy conditions.  It is hard enough to see them without them making themselves more scarce.

Mom and calf.  This is Pam’s favorite picture and one of mine too.  We were about 100 yards off the road when Pam spotted them just standing there and posing for us.  She wanted that picture.  It is amazing they are so far away from the timber.  They must have been moving to another spot and froze for us. 

 

The animal is very black and the timber they hide in is very dark to almost black depending where the sun is.  Today was partially cloudy with very light breezes.  We hoped the big beasts would be out  roaming around looking for female company or some very fine canola to feast on.  If you are a bull moose in this section of Alberta, you have no problem finding female company.

Moving down the roads and through the oil patches, we did not see anything initially.  Then we came across two really young bulls.  The guide classified them as “forkys”, but Pam and I classified them as girlie man bulls. They were really young and would have been a really easy shot.  I could have gotten out of the pick up, laid my gun across the hood and punched one of them.  They were not 30 yards off the road and standing very still.  It was an easy shot, but this was only day two and there was no reason to harvest a bull we really did not want.  Pam was worried I was going to take the bigger of the two.

I cannot see the girlie man bulls in this picture, but Pam said she saw them and so did the guide.  I was informed, “Do not shoot one of the girlie man bulls as they may be brothers.”   I had no intention of it anyway, but earlier they were closer to the edge of the tree line.  If you can see them drop me a line at outdoorswithhank.com

 

Edging down the road and keeping an eye on the stands of timber, we rounded a corner, and there stood a cow and calf not more than 75 yards off the road.  Just beyond the cow and calf was a really great looking bull.  He was just standing there like he was frozen and we moved down the road where we could get out.  Quietly we got out of the truck and did not slam the doors.  We were moving down a stand of timber and the cow and calf were on the next stand of timber.  There was only about a 30 yard stand of grass between the two stands of timber, and this is where Mr. Bull was standing.  (I hope you the reader can visualize or understand what is going on).  Mr Bull was in the open.  The two cows were on the edge of the next stand of timber.  This was a really really nice bull per the guide.

We got this picture out of focus, but what is a person to do considering we were driving slowly along the road to a spot out of sight to go and shoot the bull, providing he was still there. 

 

We crept along the timber line and I was almost in shooting position when the calf spooked and took off running down the road. The animal was immediately followed by the cow.  Mr. Bull (the dirty rat) dove for the timber.  I did not say it, but I thought expletive deleted. We were close to the timber and both the guide and I did not believe the cow or the calf saw us.  We could have been winded.

The three animals ran down the road and crossed to the other side.  We turned around and stopped about 100 yards where they had crossed.  The guide said, “He is not going to stay with that cow.  He will come back across the road and back to the tree line.”  He did just that, and stopped just across the road on the edge.  THIS WAS A PERFECT SHOT AND NOT MORE THAN 150 YARDS AWAY.  Can you hear me?  As I type this I am screaming!

The first piece of bad news came: 1. He was standing just off the road.  That is against the law in Alberta to shoot an animal along the roadway.  It would have been my luck to have dropped him, and along would come the constabulary.  Who do you think would be going to jail? The American.  2. The lodge did not have permission to hunt this piece of ground, and it took about 10 minutes before the guide contacted the owner.  It was okay, but by then that magnificent piece of moose, had moved over to the stand of timber.

He has put some distance between us when we finally got the go ahead to shoot him.  In the meantime, he moved over to the timber, and we lost sight of him.  We attempted to locate him, but we both felt he took off for better and safer areas.  With the wind at our back, we never would have caught up to him.  There was a lot of activity going on at this time and we are lucky to have got this picture at all. 

 

We took off trying to get into a position where we could spot him, but the wind was on our backs, and he just kept moving ahead of us.  Finally, after being soaking wet from sweat, I gave up.  The guide, God bless him, wanted to keep moving, but I was worn down.  Pamela sat in the truck and took a plethora of pictures of everything that happened, and as I typed this blog, she was right there to make sure I did not forget anything.

The good news was that the two other hunters each had dropped their moose.  One was a really nice boy and the other was a meat moose along the line of the “forkys” or to quote Pamela, “girlie” moose.  We did not share that with anyone at the camp.

Caught in the act.  The bear had pulled open the door to the bin holding oats and was woofing them down to his heart’s delight.  Then we came along.  

It was a small bear and when we came by again later, there he was, chowing down. 

 

The evening was uneventful, although we did see, as usual, a lot of cow calf groupings.  We were both beat from the day and did not even stay for the soup in the evening, but went right back to the 49 motel.

A harvest of a really nice moose came close.  Close is only good in horseshoes. That night I slept like a baby and cried all night.  Read the next post on January 1st, and always remember to never give up.

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

The Great Moose Hunt is On

It was finally going to happen!  After a three day drive from Council Bluffs, we arrived in Grand Prairie, Alberta Canada.  Next morning we met the chief guide at our motel and followed him up to Spirit River and to the lodge.  We then met the staff and everyone was shown to their rooms except for my wife and I.  We were staying at the 49 Motel in Spirit River.  The lodge had adequate rooms, but there were only two bathrooms and one shower.  Not so good for my wife but Mike told me hunters bring their wives all the time and stay at the motel.  It was only 20 minutes from the lodge.

The lodge was full of mounts of all kinds from bear to elk to a multitude of mule and whitetail deer.  Look at the pile of horn lying in the bottom of the picture. 
 

Next was licensing, a really big lunch, and then guidelines on how the hunts would take place.  There were five hunters in total and three guides.  Pam and I teamed up with the chief guide by ourselves.  The other two guides had two hunters a piece.  One thing the guides stressed at our initial meeting was to keep shooting as long as the moose was still standing.  More than likely it would take several shots.  They stressed that these are really big animals and it takes a lot to bring one down.  It was also common for one to get up after being shot.  We were instructed to shoot again and again until he goes down, stays down, and his head is down.  Next we went out to the range in back of the lodge and shot our rifles to make sure they were zeroed in.  Then it was off to hunt till it got dark.

This is farm country with gently rolling fields of canola, wheat, oats, and hay.  It is also oil country and the land is peppered with large swaths of forest land containing a multitude of pump jacks.  We were able to hunt this ground, although the roads were dirt and not maintained well. We could hunt the farm ground too and Mike’s Outfitting has obtained permission from a lot of land owners yielding plenty of acreage to hunt.

This is pasture ground and the crop fields are scattered throughout the area.  Notice the timber at the top of the picture.  This is made up of Spruce, Aspen, Poplar and other smaller native woods.  When it gets light the moose hide in the swatches of timber.  Keep in mind they are black and blend in really well with their surroundings. Our three guides had eyes like that of an eagle and could spot moose in the timber at great distances.  All of us hunters complained about the same thing.  They were seeing things and we could not see squat.  That is the difference between a young man’s eyes and ours. 
 

The farm ground had massive fields but they were bordered by stands of timber running for miles and about 15 to 20 yards wide.  The timber was a mix of spruce, aspen, poplar, and a tall plant that had a dark look to it.  The reason I bring this up is that the stands of timber were almost black looking.  The moose we were hunting were black except for their horns and legs.  The legs were white.

In a 4WD, 4 Door, F250 we prowled the roads examining the stretches of timber and searching for moose.  I have never seen such amazing eye sight as our guide had.  The other hunters had the same experience with their guides.  It was amazing how they could spot game in the timber line.  I want to also add that this country had deer roaming all over it and we saw whitetail as well as mule.  They also have elk, and offer bear and wolf hunts.  This is definitely a one stop shop hunting lodge.

Timber was to the left with a harvested Canola field to the right.  We studied the tree line and glanced out to the open ground.  The main concentration was the tree lines.  Notice how thick it is and dark.  A perfect place for a moose to hide. 
 
 

On the first day our guide did not see a bull moose, but did see plenty of cows and cows with calves.  That is the difference between a young man’s eyes and mine and my wife’s.

As it got toward evening, one of the hunters had a 250 yard shot and unfortunately missed.  He was disappointed, but he had hunted here before and was looking for a meat moose.  It was a respectable animal, but he was not too disappointed as he knew there was a young boy out there for him.

That is a calf.  The cow was deeper in the timber, and the calf did not even spook.  We stopped about 50 feet from her and just watched as she took her time nibbling away at the stand of timber.  I could not see the cow, but our guide did and said it was a big mature girl.  Now where are the boys?
 

As it got dark, we headed back to the lodge.  Our two main meals were breakfast and lunch.  Lunch was the big meal for the day.  In the evening it was generally a soup or a soup and sandwich combination.  There was always home made dessert and was outstanding.  After supper my wife and I would head back to the Motel 49 in Spirit River.  This was not New York City, and the Motel 49 was not the Waldorf, but it was very clean, comfortable, and met our needs perfectly.

We were to be at the lodge by 6:15 for breakfast and then it was off to hunt.

The next day we hit the roads at 7 a.m. and in the dim light, we could see big moose heading back to the stands of timber lining the fields.  They love the canola fields and this was where we concentrated.  We also moved into some of the oil country timber but saw nothing.  Our best luck on spotting moose was the stands of timber.  We were constantly seeing cows with a calf. That was a good sign as wherever the girls are the boys are soon to follow.  It wasn’t long.

A father and son team had just harvested two moose.  One was a really big boy, and the other was acceptable, but needed some growing.  Both hunters were pleased.  For them, this meant they would get their game to the processor, wait a day, and go back south to the U.S.

Both men were smiling ear to ear as we pulled into the lodge and went to see their results.

We got back to the lodge after all the loading, gutting and preparation for the processor.  Two guides did all of this and the hunters were really pleased with their harvest. It would take a day to have the processing and freezing done.  Then they would go back to New Mexico the following day. 

Two really nice bulls.  Father and son were really pleased

 

After another great big meal and being stuffed, we waited an hour then went back out to prowl the prairies and oil patches.  We hunted until late in the day, but did not see a decent bull.  There was an opportunity to harvest a young spike, but it was early in the hunt and if I got to the last day, I would take it. 


Back to the 49 Motel and repeat the same process next day.  The story continues on December 15th. 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank 

 

Delta-01.Agate Fossil Beds, Chimney Rock, Boot Hill

Minuteman III Missile Delta-9 (Dummy Missile)

After the Badlands we headed over to visit the 3 parts of the Missile Site at Delta-1.  The three sites consist of the visitors center, Delta-1 where we would go underground and see the control room that two officers in the Air Force would be stationed 24 hours a day, and viewing the actual silo at Delta-9.

 

Our first stop was at the visitors center.  At this location an excellent history of the cold war was presented and the need for the missile defense that was built at the various locations across South Dakota and other plains states.  Since my wife grew up in Sidney, Nebr. she has first hand experience of living among the missile silos which were scattered across the farm lands of the area.  For me growing up in Council Bluffs, IA., Strategic Air Command (SAC) was just a few miles from our home.  Talk of nuclear war was always a subject of conversation as both of us drilled in school in an attempt to save ourselves should we be attacked.  

 

Visitors Center

 

If you visit the area it is important to spend some time at this center managed by the National Park Service. Exhibits and an excellent film about the time these missiles were part of the country’s Nuclear Triad.

Next we headed over to see the missile silo holding a dummy missile silo.  From 1963 until the early 1990s the missile silo at Delta-09 contained a fully operational Minuteman Missile with a 1.2 megaton nuclear warhead.  The Delta-09 millile silo was one of 150 spread across western South Dakota.  In total there were 1,000 Minuteman’s deployed from the 1960’s into the early 1990’s.  The site is open daily and there is a self-guided cell phone tour available year-round.  Visitors can use their cell phones to listen to a ranger recorded tour.

Looking down inside the silo. 

 

The launch facility consists of a silo 12 feet in diameter and 80 feet deep made of reinforced concrete with a steel-plate liner.  The door to the silo has been welded and fitted with a glass roof and an unarmed missile placed inside.  There are no tours inside the silo.

 
 

The lid that would be slid back to allow the missile to fly. Also backside of tourist. 

Antenna to receive signals to the missile silo. 

After spending time at the silo, it was time to head to Delta -1 to view the underground launch control facility. To visit Delta-01 you need a reservation through the National Park Service.  It is advisable to make this reservation several months in advance of when you think you will be there as the tickets are very scarce.  The reason for this is that only six people can fit into the elevator that will take you underground to stand in the capsule.  Also, in case of elevator failure, you must be able to climb a 30 foot ladder.  To make a reservation contact the park service at the following website. (https://www.blackhillsvacations.com/things-to-do/national-state-parks/supplier/698193-Minuteman-Missile-National-Historic-Site)

 

The launch control facility, known as Delta One (D-01), is about 10.5 miles (16.9 km) away, to the east-southeast in northwestern Jackson County.  It occupies approximately six acres (24,000 m2) about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) north of I-90 at Exit 127. It consists of an above-ground building containing a kitchen, sleeping quarters, offices and life-support equipment. Below this building is the actual launch control center, buried 31 feet (9.4 m) deep, connected to the building by an elevator. Guided tours are conducted underground here, but are limited to six people at a time due to the very small underground launch control center (“capsule”) and are a half-hour long. 

Entrance to Delta-01

The above ground facilities at Delta-01.  Air Force personnel were housed here to help maintain the complex.  Each control center managed 10 missiles and there were 100 centers scattered throughout the plains. 

Two missileers worked and lived on 24 hour alert duty shifts within the LCC. There was an eight ton blast door that had to be opened from within before an oncoming Missile Combat Crew could enter the LCC. The two person crew would spend most of their time monitoring the status of their 10 missiles. Among their other work duties was authenticating message traffic, remotely monitoring maintenance at the silos and assisting with the dispatch of security police if any motion sensing alarms were tripped at the silos. When the missileers were not performing work duties they would pass time by reading, watching television or studying for master’s degrees through a special Air Force  educational program. There was also a bunk provided for one missileer to sleep while the other crewmember kept an eye on the weapons system. As one former missileer once said, missileer duty was “hours and hours of sheer boredom, punctuated by seconds of panic.”

 
The metal door into the capsule.  Notice if they sent a missile, it could reach its target in 30 minutes. 
This is the commanders station in the capsule.  

Second in command took this position. 

Once the order was given and verified, each officer would simultaneously insert their key into the switch and turn it to the launch position at the same time.  At that point in time they would have released hell and sent 10 missiles on their way. 
 

Next morning our first stop was the Agate Fossil Beds. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is nestled in the Niobrara River Valley in Nebraska 65 miles [110 km] east-southeast of its headwaters in the Hat Creek Breaks of Wyoming. The park preserves a unique unglaciated area of the High Plains. Wetlands stretch out from the river and meet terraces that lead to the breaks and buttes. The buttes contain important information about the life of mammals in the Miocene Epoch, some 20 million years ago.

Entrance to the Monument

Fossil hills where the Prehistoric bones were found. 

 
 

During the Miocene the land now known as Agate was a grass savanna comparable to today’s Serengeti Plains in Africa. Twenty million years ago animals such as the Dinohyus (giant pig-like animal), Stenomylus (small gazelle-camel), and Menoceras (short rhinoceros) roamed the plains. There were also carnivorous beardogs wandering around, and the land beaver Paleocastor dug spiral burrows that remain as today’s trace fossils (Daemonelix) into the ancient riverbanks. There are remnants of the ancient grasses and hoofprints of prehistoric animals in Miocene sediments preserved in the park, as well as layers of fossilized bones.

 

Museum housing artifacts found on site. 

 
 

The park was created to preserve the rich fossil deposits and their geological contexts amidst today’s natural ecosystem. Numerous mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds inhabit or pass through the park, undisturbed and protected. Many species of native grasses and shrubs grow across the park’s landscape, as well as some undesirable non-native plants (e.g., Canada thistle) that the park does its best to control. 

 

Next morning we were heading home and stopped of course at a landmark used by the wagon trains as they made their way across the prairie. Prior to exploration and settlement by European immigrants, the Native Americans of the area—mainly the Lakota Sioux—would refer to this formation by a term which meant “elk penis”.

 

The name “Chimney Rock” probably originated from early fur traders. The first recorded mention of “Chimney Rock” was in 1827 by Joshua Pilcher. Pilcher had journeyed up the Platte River valley to the Salt Lake rendezvous of the Rocky Mountain fur trappers. The formation went through a variety of names before becoming Chimney Rock such as Chimley Rock and Chimney Tower, as well as euphemisms based on the original Native American name, such as Elk’s Peak and Elk Brick.

Since my wife is from the area, and we have seen the formation a number of times over the years, it appears to be slowly eroding and was probably much taller when the wagon trains came up the valley. 

My wife’s home town is Sidney, Nebraska and we stopped there to visit Boot Hill. The City of Sidney was founded in 1867 by the Union Pacific and named for Sidney Dillon, a railroad attorney. The city grew up around the Sidney Barracks, a military outpost with a primary function of protecting the Union Pacific Railroad track layers against the threat of hostile Indians. The post was initially a block house on a bluff with soldiers residing in nearby tents. In 1869 the post was relocated to the present site and the following year it was renamed Fort Sidney.

In the 1870s Fort Sidney became a major strategic point as the initial
supply depot on the 267-mile Sidney-Blackhills trail which allowed military and civilian traffic to reach Fort Robinson, Red Cloud Indian Agency, Deadwood, SD and the Black Hills gold fields. By 1875 the fort contained quarters for three companies, five officer’s quarters, a
hospital, guardhouse, bakery, laundry, stables and other structures.

During Sidney’s boomtown years, it was a colorful mixture of settlers, freighters, cowboys and soldiers and was also the center of the cattle industry.  The colorful mixture is lying in Boot Hill on the north side of town. 

 

 
Madam Boots must have been a lady of the evening. 

It looks like Charles met an untimely demise.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 
 

Across Beautiful South Dakota

South Dakota State Bird

 

South Dakota is one of our favorite states.  For us they have it all from fishing, hunting to national parks and the beauty of the plains.  With some spare time we took off to do a quick tour through the state of some of the interesting sites.  On the top of the list was a tour of Delta 1, an ICBM base that was fully operation during the cold war, and we went underground to see how our service men and women lived during this tense period. 

 

Out of Council Bluffs and a mere 2 hour and 45 minute drive straight north along I-29. Northeast of the city is a state park, the Palisades.  Palisades State Park is one of the most unique areas in South Dakota. Split Rock Creek, which flows through the park, is lined with Sioux quartzite formations varying from shelves several feet above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Scenic overlooks and rushing water make Palisades a popular getaway. The park is popular among campers, photographers, sightseers, picnickers, rock climbers and hikers.

 

 
 

 
 

The facilities at the park are so typical of South Dakota.  They are just excellent whether you are a camper or wanting a cabin overlooking the stream.  We stayed a good two hours and were able to soak in all the sights enjoying the beautiful South Dakota weather. 

 

Next stop was Mitchell.  Besides having a Cabela’s store, the town is famous for a tourist attraction, the corn palace.  The World’s Only Corn Palace is Mitchell’s premier tourist attraction. Some 500,000 tourists come from around the nation each year to see the uniquely designed corn murals. The city’s first Corn Palace was built as a way to prove to the world that South Dakota had a healthy agricultural climate.

 

Eight years before the turn of the 20th century, in 1892 (when Mitchell, South Dakota was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants) the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. During it’s over 100 years of existence, it has become known worldwide and now attracts more than a half a million visitors annually. 

 

By 1905 the success of the Corn Palace had been assured and a new Palace was to be built, but this building soon became too small. In 1919, the decision to build a third Corn Palace was made. This one was to be permanent and more purposeful than its predecessors. The present building was completed in 1921, just in time for the Corn Palace Festivities.

 

The Palace is redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”.  

 
 

The front of the corn palace

 

Pushing west along I-90 our next stop was Wall Drug at Wall, SD.  This was a night stop over for us and so we had the time to tour the Drug Store. 

 

Wall Drug has a rich history in the state of South Dakota. Nestled in the city of Wall in the western part of the state, Wall Drug has grown from its humble beginnings in 1931 to a thriving oasis. Wall Drug offers dining, activities, gifts and souvenirs, visitor information and, of course, free ice water. 

 

    Today, Wall Drug continues to offer the same amenities that made it a must-stop destination all            those years ago, and visitors still stop to stretch their legs, eat a delicious home-style meal and           drink some free, rejuvenating ice-cold water.

   The city of Wall, South Dakota is home to 800 year-round residents and, thanks to Wall Drug, one       of the most popular attractions in the state, drawing in more than 2 million visitors each year.     

There it is and it occupies a square block with all kinds of stores from food and clothing to curios placed just at the right height for the young people to fasten their eyes on and plead with their parents to buy it. 

What movie was this from?

 

Next morning it was off to visit the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. 

 

    The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.” Located in southwestern          South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes,                    pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. It        is desolation at its truest, where you can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.

 

    This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The          Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep              gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow       (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

   Badlands National Park also preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals from the                   Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals. The skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses,             saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found     here. All fossils, rocks, plants and animals are protected and must remain where you find them.           Prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

 

   The Badlands are home to the largest mixed grass prairie in the National Park System and                   is surrounded by the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Wildlife roams the park’s boundaries as             well. Bison, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, butterflies, turtles, snakes,       bluebirds, vultures, eagles and hawks are just some of the wildlife that can often be seen by                 visitors.  In 1994, the near-extinct Black-footed ferrets were reintroduced into the Badlands prairie.     These nocturnal animals are rarely seen by the visiting public.

Mighty fine looking boy.  The buffalo were everywhere on the grass lands. 
Center left is a nice fat coyote making his way to wherever. 
 
It surprised us to be so close to a couple of Big Horn Sheep.  They must see cars all the time.

 

This visit took care of day one and the morning of day two.  This afternoon we go to Delta 1 the Minuteman Missile underground for a tour of the facility and to Delta 9 to see an actual missile silo.  Inside was a dummy missile.  Next blog read about the experience with pictures of the underground and an exciting visit to another beautiful National Park. 

 
 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

www.outdoorswithhank.com

 
 

Country Fried Wild Game  (Deer, Elk, Caribou, Moose, Buffalo)

  • ¾ lb. to 1 lb. of game chops/steaks (2-3 big or 4-5 small pieces)
  • 8 ounce package of sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1- 12-16 ounce can of either beef or mushroom gravy
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped
  • salt, pepper and seasoning salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoon of butter or margarine
  • Tusker Beer

Season game chops (to taste) using your favorite seasoning salt. Place flour, cornstarch, and touch of salt and pepper into large Ziploc bag (do not over season). Put game chops individually into the bag, shake to coat well. Once all chops are coated, remove from bag to a plate. Press coating into chops then let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to help the flour stick to the venison. Meanwhile, preheat a large (16”) cast iron skillet (preferred) to med-high heat. Also, preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and sauté until almost transparent. Add package of sliced mushrooms (season with salt and pepper). Allow onions and mushrooms to sweat and caramelize. Just before onions and mushrooms are finished, add the minced garlic stirring to incorporate, about 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn, as it will taste bitter. Once onions, mushrooms, and garlic are done remove to a plate. With the skillet still at medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Place game into melted butter and brown on each side. This will sear in the juices, not cook the venison completely through. Once browned, drain oil then return onions, mushrooms, and garlic mixture to the pan. Also add in entire can of beef or mushroom gravy. Make sure chops are mostly covered. Place the uncovered skillet* in the oven for 10 minutes to finish the dish. Remove from oven, garnish with freshly chopped green onions and serve. Great with mashed potatoes or a bed of butter and garlic pasta! *If your skillet is not oven safe, removed browned chops and place them, the mushrooms/onions/garlic, and gravy into a metal baking pan and follow remaining steps.

Goes very well with Tusker Beer. 

 

North to Alberta for Moose

Pam and I are heading down that long grey ribbon to Spirit River, Alberta to hunt moose the week of October 23rd.  The moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019.  We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot.  That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt.  So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting. 
Moose Bull, Alaska, USA

Friends ask me who is going with you on this trip.  This can be a dangerous animal.  When I tell them my wife Pam, is going along and her job is to keep herself between me and the moose.  After all she has gone gator hunting with me, elk hunting with me, and this will be the first for both of us.  This is a three day drive and we will be going up I-29 to Fargo, then across N.D. to Dickinson our first overnight stop.  Next stop will be  Lethbridge, Alberta.  We will leave the easy driving of the interstate and move north and then west to stay on the prairies of Montana and avoid the 4 lanes of I-94 that weave through the mountains of western Montana.  Boring and not real scenic as the westerly drive would be, it would also keep us out of the elevations and mountain weather.  We are not interested in the sites, but making time across Montana.  Anyway, we have been in the state before on our travels. After Lethbridge we overnight in Grand Prairie and meet Mike at the motel the next day and it is off to the lodge.  It will be three days total driving.  Just as a sidelight and they pay me nothing,  but we like to stay in Comfort Inns and they are plentiful on our trip and have a free breakfast.

What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean.  Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game.  The main element of  the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3.  I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.

The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family.  They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males.  Other members of the family have twig like configuration.  Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time.  Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia.  Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation.  The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears.  Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.  Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.  Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America.  They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions.  Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer.  The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.

Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose.  Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990.  The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game.  The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area.  The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest.  (Source Wikipedia)

An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds.  That is a lot of meat.  Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home.  The trip back will be a race against time.  However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid.  My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.

The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.  They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants.  They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw.  They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation.  The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs.   have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms.  They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes.  They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal.   The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.

I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans.  However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined.  During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”

I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk.  With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer.  Because there are just two of us, we like to have our burger  put into half pound packs rather than pound.  If you need a pound use two packs.  We take the back straps and the tenderloins but the rest of the animal we have ground into burger.  We used to do roasts, but it just did not work out and our friends and family we give meat to prefer burger.  When I told Mike this fact, he wants the roasts if we do not want them and will have some roast moose for us to savor at the lodge.  He said you will change your mind.

As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza. 

When Pam and I get back in November there will be full report of our experience.  
Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck,  Hank
Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.
Buy Hank’s book and hunt with hank.  Great and fun read. Click on the above link. 

 Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
  • 1 – large onion – chopped
  • 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
  • 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
  • 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – small can tomato paste
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
  • 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms

  • 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 – red chili peppers – diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
  • 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tusker Beer

Preparation

In a 5 quart or larger Lodge Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.

Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.

While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).

Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.

At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.
Cover and simmer for at least one hour.

While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish. 

Drink the Tusker Beer. 

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North to Alberta for Moose

Pam and I are heading down that long grey ribbon to Spirit River, Alberta to hunt moose the week of October 23rd.  The moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019.  We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot.  That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt.  So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting. 

 

Moose Bull, Alaska, USA

Friends ask me who is going with you on this trip.  This can be a dangerous animal.  When I tell them my wife Pam, is going along and her job is to keep herself between me and the moose.  After all she has gone gator hunting with me, elk hunting with me, and this will be the first for both of us.  This is a three day drive and we will be going up I-29 to Fargo, then across N.D. to Dickinson our first overnight stop.  Next stop will be  Lethbridge, Alberta.  We will leave the easy driving of the interstate and move north and then west to stay on the prairies of Montana and avoid the 4 lanes of I-94 that weave through the mountains of western Montana.  Boring and not real scenic as the westerly drive would be, it would also keep us out of the elevations and mountain weather.  We are not interested in the sites, but making time across Montana.  Anyway, we have been in the state before on our travels. After Lethbridge we overnight in Grand Prairie and meet Mike at the motel the next day and it is off to the lodge.  It will be three days total driving.  Just as a sidelight and they pay me nothing,  but we like to stay in Comfort Inns and they are plentiful on our trip and have a free breakfast.

What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean.  Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game.  The main element of  the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3.  I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.

 

The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family.  They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males.  Other members of the family have twig like configuration.  Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time.  Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia.  Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation.  The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears.  Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.  Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.  Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America.  They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions.  Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer.  The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.

Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose.  Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990.  The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game.  The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area.  The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest.  (Source Wikipedia)

An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds.  That is a lot of meat.  Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home.  The trip back will be a race against time.  However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid.  My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.

The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.  They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants.  They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw.  They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation.  The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs.   have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms.  They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes.  They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal.   The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.

I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans.  However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined.  During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”

I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk.  With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer.  Because there are just two of us, we like to have our burger  put into half pound packs rather than pound.  If you need a pound use two packs.  We take the back straps and the tenderloins but the rest of the animal we have ground into burger.  We used to do roasts, but it just did not work out and our friends and family we give meat to prefer burger.  When I told Mike this fact, he wants the roasts if we do not want them and will have some roast moose for us to savor at the lodge.  He said you will change your mind.

As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza. 

 

When Pam and I get back in November there will be full report of our experience.  

 

Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck,  Hank

 

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Buy Hank’s book and hunt with hank.  Great and fun read. Click on the above link. 

 Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
  • 1 – large onion – chopped
  • 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
  • 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
  • 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – small can tomato paste
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
  • 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms
  • 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 – red chili peppers – diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
  • 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tusker Beer
 

Preparation

In a 5 quart or larger Lodge Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.

Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.

While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).

Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.

At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.

Cover and simmer for at least one hour.

While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish. 

Drink the Tusker Beer.