Walleye on the Traeger

Last week was opening day on one of our local lakes for Walleye so we jumped at the chance to wet a few lines. Luck had it that we landed a keeper within a few minutes. We have a limit on this lake of one per day per person.

Who doesn’t love a good fish fry?

Opting for a healthier version we decided to fire up the Traeger grill. If you’re not familiar with the Traeger grill they are a wood pellet grill. If you don’t own one you could use any gas grill or simply bake yours in the oven. If you’re using the Traeger crank that baby up to the highest setting.

Fillet your walleye and make sure to save those yummy cheeks. Place the fillets and cheeks in a metal pan. Add in a few slices of butter or your favorite butter substitute. I like to squeeze the juice from one lemon over the fish and season with sea salt & pepper.

Once the Traeger is smoking and has reached the maximum temperature place the metal pan directly on the rack and close the lid. You will leave the lid closed for about 15 minutes. If baking in the oven, pre-heat to 500 F and bake for about 10 minutes. Always do a fork test on your fish to see if it is done. Take your fork and press down with the fork flat on top of the fish. Don’t pierce it. If the fish starts to flake apart you should be all set. Don’t overcook the fish as it will get rubbery in texture and lose it’s flavor. A lot of this is based on personal preference as well but in most cases you should cook fish thoroughly before eating.

Venison French Onion Sliders

2 lbs Ground Venison
2 TBSP Beef Bouillon Base (Better than Bouillon)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1 stick salted butter
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
2 Medium Sweet Onions
24 Slider buns ( I used sesame buns)
12 oz Gruyere cheese or Shredded White Cheddar or both

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Line the baking sheet with the bottom halves of the slider buns. They should cover the pan.

In a large skillet add 2 TBSP of the salted butter. Thinly slice both onions and place into skillet on medium heat. Cook until onions are caramelized …about 20 minutes. While the onions are caramelizing prepare your venison in a separate bowl. Add 2 lbs of ground venison, 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce, 1 TBSP beef base and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Once the onions have caramelized add in the venison. Cook until the meat is nice and browned.

Melt the remaining stick of butter in a small bowl. Add in 1 TBSP beef base, 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce and at least 1 TSP each of the onion and garlic powder. Set aside.

Once the meat is fully cooked add in your chopped Gruyere cheese or shredded white cheddar cheese with the onions and mix well. The cheese should melt nicely and hold the venison together. Scoop the meat, onion and cheese mixture over each of the slider buns on the greased cookie sheet. Cover with the top buns. Using a pastry brush, brush the buttery mixture over the top of the buns. Sprinkle the buns with onion and garlic powder.

Bake the sliders for about 20 minutes until the buns are browned and cheese is melted. Enjoy!



The Cape Buffalo Encounter

When my friend suggested we go to Africa back in 2015 to hunt plains game I barely blinked before I answered, YES! This was going to be an epic journey with a few close friends on a bow only hunt on the dark continent.  But what would we hunt? I wasn’t familiar with all of the species of plains game and how we were going to hunt them. Will we hunt from a blind, a tree stand like I am used to or will we be spot and stalk hunting these unfamiliar creatures? So many questions to be answered. We prepared for this hunt in every way possible. I bought a shot placement guide for African plains game online so I could study them and be as prepared as I could once we arrived. Through my studies I found that all of the vitals in the plains game animals are slightly forward from what we are accustomed to in the states. This is going to take a lot of focus and clear mind to make sure we are taking ethical shots with each animal. As if there wasn’t enough pressure traveling halfway across the world to hunt!

July of 2015, we arrive at our destination at Stanley Petierse Safaris in the Limpopo Valley of South Africa. This place was incredible and far exceeded my expectations. We were quickly greeted on the drive in by a herd of blue wildebeests running directly across our path. I was in awe. This was my first sighting of a plains game animal. The blue wildebeest was also one of the animals on my list for this hunt. They were huge and breathtaking. It still seemed unreal that in the morning I would be on my first African bow hunt.

Day one on our hunt we go to a spot where we were hoping to encounter an Impala. We sit in a blind similar to one we would hunt out of in the states. This particular blind was made of cinder block and sheet metal. It also had a one way viewing window so you could watch the animals near the watering hole. Tons of guinea’s, vervet monkey’s and warthogs crowded the watering hole as I see something coming from my right that caught my eye, it was a herd of cape buffalo. I took a step back to alert the PH (professional hunter) that was guiding me about the incoming buffalo. He told me not to worry but my heart still raced. This blind was no match for an angry buffalo. The herd of a dozen or so came into drink and were quickly on their way. I felt a tremendous sense of relief as they left our area. I was still concerned about bumping into the herd on our way out with only a bow in hand to defend ourselves. We unfortunately never encountered the Impala we were hoping for but we decided to switch it up for the evening hunt and go to a new blind in a different area. That evening as we sat in what the Africans call a pit blind we waited patiently for a blue wildebeest this time. A pit blind sits halfway underground. The windows start almost at ground level. It’s a far cry from what I’m used to. This particular blind is about 5 feet wide and 7 feet deep. It’s made of stone with an aluminum roof on a wood frame. As we sit comfortably awaiting one of my target animals to come in we hear some rustling outside. We finally get a visual of the disturbance and it is a lone cape buffalo and he is eerily curious about our blind. He’s getting closer and louder. Next, we hear a loud shrieking sound as the buffalo thrashes his mighty horns against the aluminum roof of our tiny hut. He now seems like the big bad wolf that just might blow our house down. I tense up immediately. The sound is that of nails on a chalkboard. He continues to investigate the hut circling it and thrashing the roof repeatedly with his horns. As he completes his circle of our hut he stops in front of the tiny staircase that leads inside. There stands a tiny wooden door that was the only thing standing between us and the rogue buffalo. Boom! The buffalo reached his head over the stairwell and swung it sideways ramming his horns into the door knocking out the piece of material that was covering the small window to keep light out. Like the movie Jurassic Park when T-Rex finds the people hiding under their vehicles, the buffalo slowly leans his head forward and puts his eyeball right up to that little window to find me shivering against the wall. I was sure we were about to die or I was going to be forced to shoot this buffalo with a bow in self-defense. Luckily, while this was happening my friend was in viewing distance of our pit blind and could see what was going on. She quickly called the ranch owners for backup letting them know about the buffalo. Within minutes (what seemed like an hour) the ranch owner arrived to save the day. He tries running the buffalo off with his truck. He’s driving it in circles but the buffalo refuses to leave. I see him throwing large rocks in his direction but nothing works. Now we are told we need to get to the truck. The only thing standing between me and this two-thousand pound killing machine is a truck but it is my only escape. We quickly open the door and I sprint up the stairs to getaway. As I jump inside the truck and close my door the angry buffalo charges the truck on the opposite side and rams us right on the driver side wheel well. He hits us with such force and gets his horn under the truck that he actually lifts us up off the ground as he lets us know why he is one of the Big 5 game animals in Africa. I screamed with sheer excitement. It was the rush of a lifetime! How incredible it was to witness and be apart of this kind of experience. In the end we were able to return to that same pit blind where I took my first African plains game, the blue wildebeest. It was amazing to see these herd animals come in so close and really understand their behaviors. Hunting herd animals is such a different experience than what I am accustomed to. They stay close together and you really have to pay attention to your surroundings, the other animals that are there with them and particularly the target animal. It is easy to get confused on which animal is which as their distinctions from one to the next is barely visible. I’ll never forget my wildebeest as I was able to execute a perfect shot dropping him within 20 yards of where I shot him. But then, there was the recovery. Don’t think I hadn’t forgot about the buffalo that tried to tear the roof off of the pit blind earlier. Luckily, he never came back! The rest of the week went really smooth and I stayed highly aware of my surroundings. This was truly the experience of a lifetime!

Venison Stuffed Bell Peppers with Portobello Mushrooms

Venison Stuffed Bell Peppers 2 3

This recipe will yield 6 stuffed large bell peppers and you will have enough meat left over to make up to 5-6 burritos. You can prep for 2 meals at once or you can cut the recipe in half. It’s that easy.

What you will need:
2 lbs ground venison
6 large bell peppers (Did you know there are female and male bell peppers? Simply look at the bottom of each pepper. Male peppers only have 3 bumps while the females have 4. Choose 6 of your favorite female peppers, any color, as they will stand up right better when baking)
1 small white onion (optional)
2 cups cooked brown rice
16 oz of Prego Mushroom spaghetti sauce (or make your own fresh tomato sauce fresh from the garden)
8 oz Baby Portobello sliced mushrooms
1 fresh whole garlic clove
Shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese (Optional topping)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and garlic salt. (Tablespoon of each or season to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a large skillet you will begin to brown the 2lbs of venison over medium heat. You may want to add just a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Dice up the small white onion and mix it in with the venison while the meat is browning for added flavor. Add each of the seasonings to the meat while it is cooking and chop up the whole garlic clove to add to the mix as well. Once the meat is almost half way cooked go ahead and add the 8 oz of Portobello mushrooms. Pour 1-2 cups of the mushroom sauce over the mixture, just enough to keep the meat from becoming dry. Mix in 2 cups of the cooked brown rice. Reduce the temperature to medium low and let simmer.
While the mixture is simmering fill a large pot of with water on medium high heat that you will use to soften up your peppers. Carefully slice just the tops off of each pepper. Thoroughly clean out the seeds and rinse each pepper. I like to utilize the entire pepper and dice up the tops of the peppers you removed and toss them into the skillet. After you have prepped the peppers place them into the pot of very hot water for about 5 minutes or just until they are warm to touch and the skin has softened. Carefully remove the peppers and fill each one with the meat mixture as pictured above. Place the peppers into a deep baking pan. Once all peppers have been placed into the pan you will cover them with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Place the pan into the oven at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. Once the peppers are cooked you can top them with shredded cheese. Cheese is optional.

There are many variations of stuffed peppers but this is definitely one of my favorites.
You should have quite a bit of the meat mixture leftover. As mentioned before I like to add this to a warm burrito shell along with some fresh avocado, tomato slices a dab of sour cream and my favorite hot sauce. This easily doubles as a second meal that you can quickly throw together the following day.

Preserving a turkey fan made easy

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Once you have cut the fan from your turkey to preserve it you have several days before the drying process begins while in the folded position.  I would recommend setting the fan as quickly as you can in most cases though.  With these two Rio fans I waited approximately 4 days before I was able to set mine after my travels.

To preserve the fan you will need a flat surface for the drying process.  Cardboard is ideal for this as you need to use push pins to hold the fan in place.  Cardboard will be the easiest method for applying the push pins with little to no effort other than placing them in position.

What you will need:

Find a box or piece of cardboard that is big enough to hold your fan.

Salt (idodized table salt is okay to use as pictured above) to cover the areas of exposed fat tissue.

A cardboard platform to hold your fan.

Push pins to hold your feathers in place during the week long drying process.

How to preserve your fan:

Place cardboard in a safe area for drying.  You will need to leave your fan for at least 1 week.

Have your push pins and salt handy.  Trim away as much fat from where the fan was cut away as possible before pinning the fan down to the drying board.

Start by placing the fan on the board so that all of the feathers are on the board as pictured above.

From either left to right, or right to left depending on how you work start with the first feather making a straight line across the bottom of the board.  Place your first pin into the feather closest to the quill as possible as to hold the feather in place.  Take the next feather slightly overlapping the first feather and place a pin just as you did with the first one.  You will repeat this process with each feather until all feathers are pinned down and your fan should be full with no gaps between the feathers.

Once the fan is in place and you are happy with the way it looks cover the area where you cut the fan away with salt.  Don’t use the salt sparingly.  Make sure to cover the entire area for the curing process to begin.

Leave fan in place in a cool, dry area for one week to dry.  Once dry you can remove each of the pins from the fan and carefully lift and dump the excess salt.  You a small paint brush to remove excess salt as needed.

Your turkey fan is now preserved and you can find your favorite mounting piece to display your trophy.

To preserve your turkey beards simply place them in a zip loc baggie with salt and leave while your fan is drying.

HHA Sports, Single Pin Sighting Systems; Optimizer Ultra Product Review

Optimizer UltraWhat sight is right for you? There are so many different sights on the market to choose from. Finding the right one can be challenging. Over the past few years I have tried several different sights. 3 pins to 5 pins and I always felt like there was something missing. Admittedly the 5 pin sight was the way to go for me. Additional yardage markers came in handy to really get dialed in. Setting each one up was always a task though. It never seemed like I could get my 5 pins to sight in high enough in the housing to utilize all of the pins though. Move the pins, move the pins and them move them some more. There had to be an easier way to get an accurate setting on my bow with half of the work involved in sighting in each individual pin. One thing I had noticed with the multi pin sights is that the different color pins seemed to be a bit distracting and certain colors were more visible than others. You can pay extra to have your pins all one color but with the money you put into a quality sight why should you pay more when you can just buy one that fits all of your needs? I had heard several people talk about different sights on the market including the one pin sights which intrigued me. That is what began my research on the one pin and how they worked. I was very hesitant about single pin sights because the thought of having only one pin honestly scared me. How does it work? How hard is it set up? How accurate can it be?

After months of messing with my newest 5 pin sight I was having frustrations and to top it off the lighting mechanism on mine had quit working for the second time and it wasn’t even hunting season yet! One week before season opener I made the crazy decision to take off my new sight and give this one pin sight a try. Lots of deliberation went into this and I landed on a sight that I had read great reviews about as well as had many other bow hunters tell me they were using with great success. I started asking around about the set up process each person I spoke with said it was a really simple process. That was to be determined. I honestly thought they were pulling my leg. It really cannot be that simple. So I took the plunge and went with the HHA Sports Optimizer Ultra. I couldn’t wait to get the package open and see how this sight worked. I started reading the directions on the set up and it truly seemed to simple. Mounting the sight on the bow was a breeze. Another thing I found super helpful was HHA’s website that is very user friendly and provides directions to all of their sights along with helpful hints. You have two options when sighting in your bow. Dial it in at 20 yards and 60 yards or 20 yards and 40 yards. For the most accurate settings dialing in at 60 yards is suggested but not necessary. When bow hunting I choose not to shoot past 35 yards in any setting so I went with the 20/40 yard set up.
Starting at close range I made sure my housing was where I needed it. Sighted in at 20 yards using the sight in tape that is preinstalled on the dial. The dial is located where you would normally move your pins up and down. Instead of moving pins and moving pins like I mentioned before you simply turn the dial with ease and the housing moves the pin up or down. Finally a sight that doesn’t require me to break out an Allen wrench every time I feel something is off. My problems might be solved here. Once I was sighted in at 20 yards and felt good about my placement and grouping I marked the sight in tape on the dial exactly where the dial marker was at during my final placement. Next was to move out to 40 yards. I started by doubling the count from where I was at since I was doubling my yardage. This proved to be pretty close to accurate but still took some minor adjusting. Once I had a good group going with my first few arrows I was in awe at just how accurate the sight was. 40 yards and I was slinging bulls on my first three arrows. Needless to say I was hooked immediately. Not only was this sight easy to set up but it was deadly accurate. Having only one pin to concentrate on during my shots gave me more confidence in my shooting ability. This new sight made me fall in love with my bow all over again. Well it was time to make this sight official and replace the sight in tape with the actual yardage tape. Once that was set in place I knew this sight was going to be game changer for me. When learning to judge distance my dad always told me to get settled in to wherever I would be sitting and sight in on everything I could within ethical shooting distances so I knew where I needed to be when it came time to make my shot. Keeping that in mind I knew this would be an easy adjustment and make bow hunting a lot less unnerving. Whether you are a bow hunter or not this sight is great for accuracy. With a quick turn of the dial my bow is set to the exact yardage I need and now all I have to do is aim and take a slow deep breath, exhale and let my arrows fly.
If you have been in the market for a new sight or maybe you are just considering trying something new I highly recommend checking out HHA Sports and see their full line of sights to find the one that is right for you.

Tips For Purchasing A New Compound Bow


Recently I decided to upgrade my compound bow after nearly a year of going back and forth on what I should get. The best advice I can give you is to go to a professional. There are a lot of people who can provide you with information regarding archery but you need a knowledgeable professional to make sure that you make the right purchase.

Check out your local archery shop. Have them fit you for a bow so you know exactly what you need. Find out about the latest equipment on the market. Make an informed decision because this is a big purchase. Another thing to consider is how serious you are about the sport. Bows can range from $200 to $2000 or more depending on what you add or change out on your rig. You can upgrade almost any aspect of your bow. Are you wanting to get into the sport of archery or primarily going to use the bow for hunting? These are all deciding factors on what bow might be right for you.

Personally I went with the Hoyt Charger Vixcen because I fell in love with it. I loved everything about the bow from the way it felt in my hand to the way it looked. This bow just met my needs for bow hunting with its speed, accuracy and quietness. In my case I changed out the stabilizer, sight and hand sling right from the get go. More upgrades to come too!

I found a trusted professional that I go to for all of my archery needs. They set up everything on my bow all the way down to fitting me for the proper arrows. Safety can never be overlooked and having a professional on your side is always in your favor.

Bow pictured: 2014 Hoyt Charger Vixcen

U-Slide Bow Holder – Product Review



So here is my latest purchase.  The U-Slide Bow Holder.  As you can see it serves several purposes.  Most archers and especially new archers will run into the issue of what to do with their bow when retrieving arrows.  Do you lean it against something trying to prop it up awkwardly risking that it falls over?  Stand it up on the cams?  Lay it on its side and risk moving the housing on your site.  There’s lots of scenarios for why I had to find a solution to this problem.

This is the best solution I have found for long and short term use that is easy to travel with and is fairly compact.  Let me explain.  The photo pictured in the article is me using the U-Slide as a bow stand.  This is great when slinging some arrows at home and you are going to be stationary for the most part.  You would use this same set up for ground blind hunting.  This is perfect for being in the seated position ready to slide your bow to the left or right depending on your set up with very little movement or sound.  

The second solution which could be more long term is fixing the U-Slide near your tree stand.  The U-Slide is adjustable to work with you whether you hunt the ground or from a tree.  This is a great solution for the hunter that’s always trying to find the perfect place to set the bow for those long hunts.  You can position the U-Slide to minimize your movement in the tree and maximize your potential of laying down your prey. 

If you find yourself running into these same problems I highly recommend that you check out U-Slide Bow Holder for yourself.  You can find them on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/uslide or visit their website at http://www.u-slide.com.  Tweet to U-Slide @USlideBowHolder

Venison Loin Chop Kabobs


Start with a good Marinade. If you’re not confident in your own cooking skills go with your favorite 30 minute steak marinade. Slice Chops into nice sized cubes. Place in a container with Marinade and refrigerate for 30 mins.

While the venison is marinating prepare your veggies. For the pictured Kabobs I used several different veggies. Yellow & Green Zucchini Squash. Red Onion. Yellow & Orange Bell Peppers and Baby Portabella Mushrooms.

Skewer veggies first so that your protein is grilled between the veggies to help infuse the flavor. Add Venison and fold meat in half if cooking to rare meat temperatures to avoid overcooking. Spray veggies with fat free butter spray or olive oil.
Place on grill over med-high heat for at least 8 minutes and turn once. Grill for an additional 8 minutes for medium to med-rare.

Venison Burritos


Easy meals made at home. 1 lb ground Venison. 1 package Old El Paso Chile & Roasted Garlic Mild Mexican Cooking Sauce, 8 oz. Brown Venison in skillet and add in the Old El Paso burrito sauce. This is the best burrito sauce I have ever tried and I’m hooked. For toppings I use fresh Avacado, raw bell peppers (yellow & orange), tomatoes, Spanish rice, black & pinto beans, sour cream and light cheese topped with the amazing Sriracha hot sauce. Enjoy!