Monday, December 03, 2012

2012 Hunt Report

Well folks, the hunt seasons this year were both fun and frustrating. For the first time in many years, Minnesota opened up the Fall Turkey hunt without a lottery. Many of you who know me well will now realize how excited I was for that! I've been trying without success to get a turkey license for many years. Last year we had so many turkeys in the area, I could call them up from my cabin porch with just a few chirp and gobble noises I can make without the need for any hardware assistance. Well, as it turns out, after getting my turkey license and my waterfowl, HIP cert. and sand hill crane license and a new ground blind I was ready for the hunt. Unfortunately, the birds had migrated to the top of the hill outside the hollow this year and I had no access to them. Nor could I call them down no matter how hard I tried. And even though John and I tried several WMA parcels, there was nary a big bird to be seen. And so my bird-less hunting streak continues.

John and I went through the archery season dry, but not without some incredibly exciting sights! On opening weekend, I happened to notice about a half dozen or so does being herded along by a small 4-pointer and at the same time, John saw a 4-pointer come out trailing a doe in the meadow. Then, just as his little herd begins to grow in size with a couple more, the 2 groups met down by my little seasonal pond at the foot of the meadow. So John and I started making our deer calls, and the more we called, the randier they got until they were practically jumping all over each other out there! But they stayed just out of bow range. Then, all of a sudden, out steps this majestic 10-pointer with a good 2-3 foot neck strutting across the field in a slow manner as though he owned the place, which well he might! I didn't catch a glimpse of him but John did and here I relate his tale. He watched that beautiful creature cross below the pond and over toward the corner of the property before he remembered he was here to hunt! Well, needless to say, once he got his bow up and shot off, he was so twisted around in his stand that the shot went wide and we haven't seen that big fellow since.

But such are many of the stories we had this year. We could see them, but they were just out of our range. When in range, we could hear them, but not lay on eyes enough to bring our sites (or scopes) to bear and bring home our quarry. Tom again joined us for the hunt during rifle season and what a blast we had! Just us three brothers, in our cabin in the woods, hunting for meat for our families back home.  At last, in the final weekend of the firearms season, John brought down a little doe which eventually yielded about 20 pounds of ground meat, 33 pounds of homemade sausage and the straps, loins and liver. 

Now it's on this last point that I want to address you hunters out there.  Do you process your own or do you take it in and have someone do it for you?  There is certainly nothing wrong with letting someone else take on the burden of the butchery and grinding of the meat, especially if it is someone you know and can trust and who doesn't gouge you in the wallet.  But let me once make a small case for the idea of processing the meat yourself.  First, you know where every piece of that meat came from. Second, you control the percentage of cut to grind, and the mixed in meats as well, such as pork or lamb.  Also, if you are making sausage there is another benefit.  Many butcheries use a standard venison seasoning for all of the sausage and only give you the shapes and sizes that match your favorite store-bought links. So the venison brats and Italian sausages taste the same except that the butcher added a little cayenne to the Italian to heat it up a little. And they all taste the same as the summer sausage except that that one is smoked. The only thing that really stands out is the breakfast sausage, and that's because of the excess about of sage the butcher puts in.

Do yourself a favor next year and try this.  Buy yourself some Backwoods sausage seasoning in your favorite flavors and make sure to buy enough pork shoulder and pork fat to give your ground sausage meat a 25-30% pork to 70-75% venison mixture.  Follow the recipes on the seasoning packets to the letter with the following exceptions:
  • for the Bratwurst, use your favorite beer instead of water and add about 1-2 tablespoons of coarse ground black pepper for every 5 pounds to the mix. You won't regret it. 
  • You can also add a 2 cups of cheese for every 5 lbs ( or as much as you like) to make Cheddar Wurst.  
  • Use a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 red wine in the Italian and always buy the sweet recipe. If you want it hot, just add cayenne to taste. 
  • Buy only the sage breakfast sausage and add your own favorite syrup (Maple, Honey, Blueberry, etc.) to the mixture to taste.  
  • And don't forget to get fresh apple wood, mesquite, oak or hickory chips for your smoker. Nothing ruins the flavor of your meat faster than old or mildewy wood chips!  
  • Also, don't do this alone! You hunted in a party, so process in a party as well and get all hands on to help. you'll have a great time extending your hunt into the processing phase, and you'll bring some really tasty, quality meats to your holiday tables. 
If you follow these tips, you may well find you enjoy your venison sausages so much more than your local butcher can provide and have a real blast doing it!  Well that's my 2 cents for now. Hope your hunt went well and your Holiday season goes even better!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Beginning

“AT LAST”! Its official…there’s a new Covey in the family. After all the hard back breaking work of cleaning up the camp, we had a beautiful wedding outside at Woodpecker Hollow. On August 11, 2012, David and April were united in holy matrimony with their loved ones looking on. Everyone had a nice meal, and tents were set up for those who decided to stay for the weekend. Music was also played all through the day, thanks to DJ brother Dan. Thank you everyone for making our day unforgettable.

David & April Covey


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is it Work or Play?

Back in March, we began clearing out debris from areas around the main camp site in preparation for the festivities this coming summer. In the photo below, John and I are clearing out old rotted trees from across the driveway and dragging them over to the fire to burn. It was a lot of hard work for this old man’s body to endure, but you’d never know it by the fun I’m having on this four-wheeler.
In this photo, we chained to a large tree and the four-wheeler stands up on it’s hind legs and bucks with all it’s might as the old tree is coerced out of it’s resting place and dragged to the fiery inferno.

Thoughts from Mom ~

There’s an  old saying that goes, “In the spring a man’s thoughts
turn to love.” Well in the fall, his thoughts turn to hunting!
Here’s a little poem I jotted down one evening as I sat thinking of
our little piece of paradise we call Woodpecker Hollow.
We Are Deer Hunters

Three of us at the family camp
Dressed in green camouflage
Guns and ammo ready
Quietly walk down the trail
Then climb high into the deer stand
I hear not a whisper
Just the sound of my own breath
Warm and moist against my face cover
Suddenly a snort of a passing buck
Rifle raised, resting firmly against my shoulder
Deer in the sight, hammer cocked
Squeeze gently now
Goodnight deer, goodnight

Mom Reese- Vorp
"Faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing that He will"

Monday, May 07, 2012

Interior Walls

May has arrived and so have we with over 30 sheets of drywall, mud, tape screws, sanding blocks and other sundry tools and materials.  Operation "Inner Walls" has begun.  Weather was against us, but fortunately we thought to bring an enormous tarp with us so we could keep the contents of our cabin -- which we had moved out to the picnic tables -- protected while we worked indoors.

John got right into supervisor mode and Dave and I just threw in as directed.  Pretty soon we had the cabin emptied and contents covered and the truck and trailer unloaded and set up inside the cabin.  We began almost immediately and soon had the entire downstairs sheeted.  Then we moved upstairs and did as much of the loft as we could reach. Finally we put John's homemade scaffold together and finished the vaulted area.  Then cam the mud and sanding. By this time, we had worked for a couple of days straight and were already beginning to feel the effects of our effort. It took us 3 days to finish the mud and sanding stage and finally, paint.  The colors chosen were "Soft Sage" for the ceilings and "Antique White" for the walls.

Cub Cadet 19h 44in deck
Take a gander at the slideshow above to see a brief run-through of our work and then note the pic at right of our beautiful new Cub Cadet 19-horse, 44in deck, lawn tractor.  I have since already mowed the main access-way into our part of the woods and our own driveway, as well as the trail down to the center of the property and look forward to completing the trail grooming later on this summer.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Looking forward to the weekend......

Hopefully, this will be the weekend the guys install the solar panels on the cabin. So far the weather forecast looks fairly promising. Another of our projects involves "cleaning up" scraps of this and that, tossed aside from previous projects. Possibly this may be something that April and I can start working on. 

We are also planning to clear a real nice area not far from the cabin that will be dedicated to our loyal, loving four-legged friends. I recently lost my beautiful Sheltie companion of fourteen years - Sheila Nicole. She loved going up to camp with the family,even though, unlike Marley, she preferred the cabin to the woods and water holes. She will be the first of our beloved pets to rest forever near "the cabin at Woodpecker Hollow."

Blogging About Camp From Camp

This is so cool. I am writing and posting this blog about the Woodpecker Hollow camp from the camp. We now have Electricity throughout the cabin (soon to be powered by solar), as well as a wireless access point to connect to the Internet way out here In the woods.

So  Cool!


Monday, March 26, 2012

And the work continues..........

Harvey, John, David, April and I spent the weekend up north working on the cabin. Saturday the guys wired the cabin in preparation for solar power. Not fully understanding how it works, the only way I know how to describe it is that we now have “electric” by way of a car type battery through the use of an inverter. Is this correct guys? Ok, stop your laughing……I did my best to explain it.  I am completely in awe of what the guys did! After getting it set up, we went out to “celebrate” another project done on our cabin………and an awesome project it was to say the least. When we returned back at the cabin we turned on the inside overhead light with the use of a remote, as we drove up to the cabin. It was the most weirdest, wonderful thing in the whole world……….to see a light come on inside the cabin that has only been lit by  propane ..…….and that was turned on by remote control yet!!!
Today the guys finished installing the insulation up in the loft and covered it with plastic. So except for a couple small areas downstairs where they had to remove a small portion of insulation to install the breaker box and the wall receptacles, the insulation work is finished, yay!!! We are now getting excited over the possibility of covering the walls and ceiling with finished plywood or nice paneling that we can live with, is suitable for our home away from home, yet hopefully is fairly inexpensive.

April and I did our best to help out by sweeping, washing some stuff, straightening things out and getting rid of junk, handing things to the guys, carry stuff and trying our best to help where needed.

The solar panels have been ordered and should be in some time this coming week. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the guys will be able to install them next weekend. I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate my 70th birthday.

Mo Vorp

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 - New Year - Big Plans

Well, it's late February of 2012 and we finally managed to get up north to check out the cabin and all of the other camp sites our family has up there. It's been a pretty rough winter with most of us coming down with at least once or twice a cold or flu, so it's nice when a 40 degree weekend comes along and neither John nor Marley nor I are sick. So, we headed up north to check things out, take down John's new portable deer stand and let Marley run for awhile.

The days were beautiful, if still a little chilly and the skies were that brilliant cobalt blue you see in early Spring (even though that season is yet upon us). We did a long hike over to our neighbor's property -- who is gracious enough to let us hunt there when he is not up himself -- to take down John's stand and to look for sign of that big buck that both he and Tom saw last year but failed to bag. Since it looks as though that old guy got away again, I am ever hopeful for an early archery shot at him this year!

Marley has well defined her territory and always comes when we call her, so I am feeling very comfortable leaving her off-leash when up at camp now. She still doesn't like it though when we leave her in the cabin, to go into town for supplies or a breakfast. John and I are working on a device to take an aerial photo of our camp using a digital camera and a couple of helium-filled balloons. I'll post the picture once we are successful.

We're trying to lay down all of the work we have ahead of us as we have big plans for the property this year. David has finally proposed to April and they want to get married up at camp, so we need to fix the road, at least do a partial finish of the cabin, put in some sort of a decent power and septic systems, as well as some sort of water casement. So, busy, busy busy!