Thursday, October 17, 2013

Extreme Wildcrafting - The Hunt

Wildcrafting is nothing more than harvesting and preserving wild edibles, so it seems reasonable that hunting fits nicely into this category.  And hunting, along with our other wildcrafting endeavors, has proven to be a worthy occupation.

Deer and elk season is in full swing in our little neck of the woods, along with grouse, turkey and bear.  Miss Serenity, being quite an accomplished huntress, has been combing our woods for game with which to stock our larder.  She has harvested a number of grouse (which have mostly become appetizing luncheon dishes) and regularly sets up on her bear bait.  Last week deer season began, with a buck-only hunt until the first of November.  Serenity gained the permission of a corporate farming enterprise which operates directly to our west to hunt their vast holdings and commenced the hunt.  Two evenings Serenity checked out the lay of the land, rifle in hand.  She determined the travel pattern of the local deer and found the most likely location from which to take her shot.  The third evening, Serenity set out for the hunt, rifle, pack and radio in hand.  She took up residence in her previously scouted location, lay down prone with her rifle resting on a bipod and waited.  Soon she saw movement.  She tracked the migrating deer through her rifle scope, searching for the buck that she knew was with the group.  Finally her buck appeared.  Once he was within range (100 yards), Serenity whistled, aimed, set the first trigger, breathed out, squeezed the second trigger and sent her bullet downrange.  Down the buck went, Serenity's one and only round hitting his heart.

Miss Serenity and her buck
We love venison, so bagging a deer is a celebrated event in our home.  Serenity radioed and within minutes Sir Knight, Master Hand Grenade and I were in the field helping Serenity gut her kill.  Once home, the deer was hoisted and hung from the roof in our shed and Master Hand Grenade and Miss Serenity had him skinned in short order.

After hanging for two days Sir Knight, Serenity and Hand Grenade began the butchering process.  They set a table up outside (it was crisp and sunny) and went to work.  While they were butchering, Princess Dragon Snack and I readied the kitchen.  We washed canning jars, heated up the pressure canner and began cutting deer meat into stew meat and roasts.  We filled those jars quickly as the outside crew made short work of the entire deer carcass.  Within hours we had butchered and processed the entire deer.

The butchering process begins

Hand Grenade the Butcher

Jars are ready and lined up awaiting venison

Princess Dragon Snack doing her part

She really is handy with a knife

The finished product - truly fast food
We do can most of our venison, however, we save the tender backstraps and cut them into melt-in-your-mouth butterfly steaks.  After spending a day processing meat, we indulge in these special, once-a-year treats (with a few leftover for the freezer).  Butterfly steaks and raw fried potatoes - truly a hunter's delight.

Slicing the backstrap

Creating butterfly steaks

See how they fillet?

And now you know why they are called Butterfly's!


Raw fried potatoes

And dinner is served
Once the deer was processed, Master Hand Grenade and Miss Serenity went to work on the skull.  Miss Serenity wanted to keep the antlers attached to the skull and do a "European" mount with her antlers.  They filled an old stock pot with water, brought it to a boil on the barbecue (outside - it REALLY stinks!) and put the deer head into the water to boil off the skin and muscle.  It took a number of hours before the skin loosened enough to discard and many more hours before the skull could be picked clean.  Once the  skull was "clean", the kids took it out of the water and sprayed water through the cavities to clean the brain matter from the skull.  Yes, it was icky.  The skull, however, turned out beautifully.   After the skull had been thoroughly cleaned, Serenity scrubbed it with hot, soapy water and soaked it in a bowl of peroxide to whiten the skull.  The skull is now ready to be mounted and hung in a place of honor.

Boiling the skull

It takes awhile

Ready to be cleaned out

Hosing out the cavities

Getting every last little bit

Soaking in peroxide

Ready to be mounted!
Master Hand Grenade is now scouting for the perfect spot to harvest his trophy buck.  After tagging bucks, both of the kids are planning on putting in for a youth-only doe tag to be filled in November.  Our shelves will be brimming with venison!


  1. congrats on the lucky you all are. Hunting (all kinds) is still a favorite past time of mine. I am "at home" in nature. No place I would rather be. Hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing. Outdoors--that's it. peace, Shadowfaxhound

  2. My folks used to make mincemeat with the venison.....mmmmm.....when I talk about that delicious venison mincemeat pie today - well, let's just say that most people don't know what they're missing!! Do you make mincemeat?

  3. Perfectly awesome, Miss Serenity! I'm proud of you!

  4. Enola,

    I'm so happy for Miss Serenity, you did a fabulous job on your hunt. Congratulations!!!
    Now you all have venison for winter. What's next on Miss Serenity's hunt?

    1. She is on an elk hunt with a friend today and tomorrow , She has vary high hopes

      Sir Knight

    2. What rifle is she shooting?

    3. The rifle is a Styer SSG mod69 chambered in 308. last year she hunted in a wooded area and used a lever action in 45 long colt
      Sir knight

  5. I never really thought about hunting as wildcrafting, but you're right. We do exactly the same thing with our venison. Miss Serenity, you are a mighty hunter. Congratulations. I hope you get your elk. Elk is my personal favorite.
    From Glory Farm

  6. My husband bagged a button buck last year; oh, the backstrap was delicious! This was our first deer, so I was surprised at how tender and flavorful the backstrap was.

  7. You go girl! Great job! By the way, we clean up the skulls the lazy way around here . . . we set them on a fire ant mound! Those little boogers clean every "nook and cranny". As a bonus, the sunshine bleaches them white. You probably do not have fire ants that far north, but if you try that method, be sure to attach the rack to a stake or nearby tree with small chain or cable. A friend of ours tried this method and lost his rack when coyotes hauled it off. : )

  8. I have never tried it - but have heard/read that if you process the hide you can save yourself a lot of work by putting it in a stream - hair side down with heavy rocks to hold it in place. The water "critters" will clean up the formerly meat side very well and the hair side will be unaffected. I have hand/brain tanned a deer hide - once. Beautiful soft buckskin, but oh the work! Scraping is for those who have more time than I! Congrats Miss Serenity!

    I have apples from my tree....him. I think I see something here we will try with breakfast in the morning!


  9. I have 2 new yound deer hunters in my family. I have already canned some meat for the first deer. This is new to me; what do I do with it now? Because I don't know how to use it in recipes; I can see those can sitting on the shelf for a LONG time. I have your cookbooks and LOVE it! Any ideas for using this deer?

    1. Put the canned venison in a frying pan, salt, pepper, a little garlic some flour and water and make a gravy. Make some mashed potatoes...One of my Honey's favorite meals.

  10. The Apple Cinnamon Bouchans (if I spelled it correctly without looking back) are super!

    Question - did you put beef broth or any additional liquid in with your venison (and spices) or is what we see what cooked out of the meat? Also - it looks like you are using the reusable canning lids. I have read that some people love them and some people have no luck. I have been canning tomatoes and bought a few to try. (I haven't done meat with them.) I have just used one or two each time I can in case I messed up so I would only have to plan one meal with unsealed food. So far I have had 100% seal so I am getting more confident!

    To Anonymous with 2 young deer hunters. Cube it (if it isn't already) throw it in your crock pot or dutch oven with your favorite stew ingredients and slow cook. Make homemade bread, biscuits or Enola's awesome soda bread to go with it and ENJOY!


  11. I love seeing young people hunting. Congratulations on your buck. Very nice rack and I love the mount. I actually shot at Super Deer this year. How do I know he was Super Deer? Because he was faster than a speeding bullet! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

  12. Congrats to your daughter on her hunting skills. What an amazing tool in her tool box!

    Just wanted to say that your home always looks so warm and inviting no matter what your family is doing. Thank you for sharing. You are a very skilled homemaker.

  13. Oh my Goodness- one of my all time favorite blog posts ever. Really wonderful pictures (I think the very 1st one is my favorite), and what a lucky girl! How many young ladies in our country get to experience anything like that. Please tell Ms Serenity that she is awesome.