Hunters reminded to think safety first with ongoing deer season
Hunters should always be thinking of safety first when afield, but this week’s cold start of firearms deer season means hunters could face more challenges than usual.
Colder temperatures can lead to numbed fingers, which may not work a rifle’s safety properly. Heavy clothing also often makes it easier for someone to fall while walking or getting in and out of a stand. Frostbite can be a real problem under such conditions, too. Hunters also need to be especially careful simply handling their firearms. The past few years more hunters have been injured via unsafe gun handling than about any other situation.
All can be avoided.
Hunters I have talked to that hunted Wednesday’s opening of firearms deer season have given mixed reports. Some western Kansas hunters saw quite a few deer on the move, while others in central and eastern Kansas reported almost no activity in the morning, but some in the afternoon. Most are thinking this ongoing cold snap will push the deer to have to feed more, especially during daylight hours. We’ll see.
A lot more geese appear to have arrived in the area, with a lot of them being small Canada geese ... the kind that normally don’t decoy too well.
There has been a bit of grumbling from some southeast zone duck hunters that the late start to their main duck season means they only had a couple of weeks of open water before freezing. River hunting should be pretty good statewide by this weekend, though, if the rivers aren’t pushing too much ice.
Sunday’s outdoors page display will be on Friday’s whitetail hunt with some guys who work the assorted deer habitats near the Smoky Hill River. Rather than sitting in the cold, they take the hunt to the deer and do a lot of still-hunting and deer drives. Some are also trying to put more challenge in their hunting by shooting ol’ fashioned lever-action rifles.
I’ll also have a report, with information gotten from game wardens, taxidermists and local wild-game processors, on how the season has gone through Saturday afternoon.
Down the road I’m hoping to explore the use of dogs during deer seasons. No, not the use of sight or scent dogs pursuing deer, but the use of trailing dogs to help locate deer that have been shot and are not easily recovered. Some of the best trailing dogs are from some surprising breeds ... like little dachshunds.
I’m also scheduled to spend some time with some local bird hunters who are finding decent to good numbers of birds while most in the state are struggling. They’re telling me that the key is maintaining great habitat, especially grasslands with a lot of natural forbs. Hopefully I can make it out with one man who is doing well with quail and another who is doing well with pheasants.
I’m still planning on an article about the new milestone to which many Kansas birders aspire. It requires them to have birded in all 105 counties, and often making repeated trips.
There should also be a column on my switching to a new style of rifle bullet that I think is better for me, the environment and other wildlife. It’s danged-sure accurate, and appears to have enough power to do a fast job on big game.
Wow, where did November go? Actually, where did 2013 go, for that matter?
Kathy and I had a good Thanksgiving with Jerrod and his girlfriend at his place in Overland Park. He smoked a turkey that had never been frozen, and it seemed to make a difference. I’m not sure I’ve ever had domestic turkey so moist in the past.
I spent some time over the weekend with two good friends as one shot a cow buffalo at a preserve in southeast Kansas. With 1,600 acres of steep canyons and deep woods, it was tougher than we figured.
I was at the Kansas State-Kansas football game Saturday morning in Lawrence. I think we left after the sixth KU turnover. Actually neither team looked too impressive, nor did the KU basketball team in the Bahamas or the Chiefs when they got beat by Denver on Sunday. Tough sports weekend for the teams I care the most about, for sure.
I took a few hours Wednesday morning and did some duck hunting in western Reno County. We did well, but didn’t see as many ducks as I’d expected to see. I was, though, impressed with how well Hank handled the low wind chills and super-cold water. I guess desire means as much when you’re almost 13 as when you’re three, if you’re a hunting dog.
There was also time for some turkey hunting on a food plot on a buddy’s place where some large flocks have been passing through. I put out the submissive jake decoy I featured in an article last spring and was a bit surprised to see two jake poults get a bit dominant with the plastic fake. They tried to strut a bit and pecked at the plastic jake off and on. Hank enjoyed fetching the larger of the two. Kathy and I have enjoyed one meal off the tender bird so far.
On Sunday, I’m taking a new friend to Elk County, hopefully to get her first buck. It’s supposed to be pretty cold, so we’ll be in a friend’s enclosed shooting house, I’m hoping the snow that’s in the forecast will have the deer up and feeding heavily. You never know, though.
GRILLED VENISON LOIN WITH HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE
1 1/2-2lbs. venison loin (backstrap), trimmed of all fat and membrane
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbs. finely chopped herbs, such as thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory, and/or parsley
3 tbs. olive oil.
1 cup sour cream
2 tbs. freshly grated or prepared horseradish, or more to taste
2 tsp. chopped fresh chives or parsley
juice and zest of one lemon
Season the meat with the salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the herbs with the oil and spread all over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.
Make a hot fire in a charcoal grill or set a gas grill on high heat. Grill meat without moving it until nicely browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Rotate 90 degrees and leave it for just a minute to make grill marks. Flip the venison and repeat on the other side.
Ideally you want a good, deeply charred outside but a nice and rare inside. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
To make the sauce — mix the sour cream, horseradish, chives, lemon juice and zest together and season with salt.
Thinly slice the loin against the grain, pile it on to plates or a platter, and serve with the horseradish cream sauce.