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Grant's Blog

Thoughts from the field

Cooking Deer Meat: My Favorite Marinade Recipe For Venison

How to process your own deer meat

Grant shows how to remove the loin in this video.

I have a confession to make. Before I married Grant I never ate venison. You probably know the reason why. Bambi. That was all I could think about when my mother said that we were having deer meat for dinner. The first time she served it I refused to eat the meat. Guess what? The next time we had it she didn’t tell me it was venison. I probably ate a lot of beef that in reality was venison!

 

There are lots of people that I’ve talked to that say they have tried venison and do not like it. Now, confession number 2. I thought the same when Grant cooked venison for me in the early days when we were dating. There’s the old saying that love is blind, I think it must also affect the taste buds! Suddenly I was eating venison! Then with marriage and managing the budget, I realized that having all that venison in the freezer was a good thing for another reason! I no longer had to purchase red meat at the grocery store!

Venison in my favorite marinade

Marinate the loin for 24 to 36 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Over the years I’ve tried just about every way imaginable to cook venison. After almost 20 years I have a few favorites that make a regular appearance on our supper table. One of those is this marinade recipe that our friend David shared with us way back when. It’s great for venison, chicken, or beef. I use it primarily as a marinade for venison loin (some people call this back-strap) and tenderloin. I marinate the meat for 24 to 36 hours in the refrigerator, turning the meat several times during the process. Then I broil the marinated loin in the oven or grill it over a low flame. We prefer our meat to be medium well, so I cook the venison until the center is slightly pink. I take the meat off the grill and let it rest for five to ten minutes before slicing.

Do you have a favorite venison recipe? If so, please share it on our facebook page! I look forward to trying something new!

Cooking deer meat,

Tracy

Venison Marinade
1. Dale’s Steak Sauce, ½ cup
2. Lemon Pepper Seasoning, 1 tsp.
3. Minced Garlic, 2 -3 heaping TBS
4. Basil, 1 TBS dried or ¼ cup fresh minced
5. Vegetable or Olive Oil, 1/3 cup
6. Lemon Juice, ½ cup
7. Oregano, 1 TBS
8. Salt (optional), ½ tsp.
9. Worcestershire Sauce (optional) 1 TBS
I’ll pass along the advice that David wrote when he sent us the recipe: “This is the basic recipe. I have added things to it and taken some away over the years to arrive at the right combination for me. Do your own trial and error to see what you like.” Thanks, David!

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Prescribed Fire Scouting

Deer bed

A look at one of the beds Adam found while on the fire.

Late August can mean a couple different things for the GrowingDeer Team. If we’re receiving occasional rainfall and cooler temperatures we’re usually planting food plots. If the weather is hot and dry we’re headed out with drip torches in hand to practice some prescribed fire! I enjoy this management tool, but something I enjoy more than prescribed fire is scouting the terrain and trying to understand deer. This is where these two practices go hand in hand.

Prescribed fires here at The Proving Grounds usually consist of lots and lots of walking. We’re hiking up and down ridges, through valleys, over mountains, and back again. This is a great time for us to not only find bottlenecks and saddles on the ridges, but even more important, to find specific bedding areas that we might not have know existed. That’s exactly what I did earlier this week on one of our fires. While walking parallel down a north slope of a ridge I came upon a small ravine, or pocket. This “pocket” was a slight bowl-shaped spot in the middle of the slope where several trees had fallen over the years.

It was a mess to walk through, but then I noticed something. Located near the center of all the trees were several deer beds. These were not your typical smashed leaves where a deer had bedded one day and left. These beds were all dirt with no leaf material in them. This told me that these beds were being used on a more regular basis than most deer beds we find. Why this spot? Why would a deer be bedding here so much? I started to wonder more and more about this spot when I looked up and noticed the smoke from a fire just down the ridge. Most of the smoke from the fire was going up into the air and being carried away, but in the pocket the air was calm, still, and most importantly, swirling. Bingo, with the surrounding treetops serving as cover from intruders the small drop in the ridge also meant that the wind swirled and was unstable for most of the day. This was an ideal location for deer to bed down, feel safe, and survive!

I’m excited to know the location of this bedding area for the upcoming fall for a couple reasons. Butterbean, a hit list buck, has been very active on our Reconyx camera just down the ridge. Even better, we have a Muddy stand setup on both sides of this pocket in the ridge! Stay tuned to GrowingDeer.tv to see if we can capitalize on this new find!

Daydreaming of whitetails,

Adam

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The Countdown To Hunting Season Continues

Here we are in the middle of August and our deer season is less than a month away. On September 5th Grant and I will be packing our bags and rolling east to Kentucky for the opener on September 6th. We’re pumped about it! We’ve been excited about deer season since turkey season ended last spring! There has been a lot of preparation for the upcoming season: shooting our Prime bows, hanging and trimming our Muddy stands, and organizing our gear. There is still one more step that should never be overlooked – scent control.

Adam washes clothse with Dead Down Wind in preparation for hunting season.

This week we spent some time washing our hunting clothes and preparing for hunting season.

Scent control is a huge topic among hunters today. You’re opening up a can of worms when you bring up scent control techniques among a large group of hunters. As for the GrowingDeer.tv team, we believe wholeheartedly in scent control techniques, especially given the terrain we hunt in. The Ozark Mountains can be a tough place to hunt when trying to understand wind direction, thermals that rise and fall throughout the day and routine wind direction changes. That’s why it’s super important for us to give ourselves every advantage we can get when it comes to trying to harvest mature bucks. The preparation that goes into this doesn’t start the week of season. We are preparing for deer season all year round. Once season is finished we wash, dry and then store our clothing and gear in the ScentMaster Boxes. When deer season begins to come around again, we’ll drag out our clothing to be washed again. This helps control any scent that may have been absorbed while in storage. By hunting the wind correctly, using the complete system of Dead Down Wind products, and storing our gear in ScentMaster Boxes we have stepped up our game in scent control.

There are many skeptics in scent control, but there is only one question that needs to be asked to those skeptics. If scent control products (when used correctly) increase your success rate ever so slightly, why wouldn’t you want that advantage? “Ever so slightly” is in no way what Grant and I believe. After several years of using the system we believe that scent control plays a huge factor in our success rate.

Always remember that deer season preparation is year round!

Daydreaming of whitetails,

Adam

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Estimating A Deer’s Age Is Easy If…

I receive lots of requests to estimate the age of bucks on my Facebook  page. Oftentimes all that is posted is a picture of a buck and a few words like “How old?”

I rarely know what state the buck is from or the quality of the habitat where he lives. The habitat quality is very important information. Bucks tend to show signs of maturity much faster if they are living in poor habitat versus good quality habitat (the same is true for humans – stress is tough on all organisms!).

There’s one commonality that makes estimating a buck’s age much easier no matter what the quality of habitat where they live. That is if another buck (or two) is in the same picture!

Three bucks at a camera survey station

Try to focus on body characteristics and not the antlers when estimating a buck’s age.

Seeing multiple bucks in the same picture (or field) makes it much easier to compare body sizes, shapes, etc.

Martin from western Oklahoma shared this picture with me. At first glance it’s easy to tell multiple age classes are represented. Clearly the buck on the right is less mature than the buck on the left. It appears the buck in the middle is probably younger than the buck on the left – and older than the buck on the right.

The picture probably represents three age classes. We don’t often have three bucks in front of stands during hunting season. However by practicing estimating the age of bucks shown in pictures we can learn what characteristics to look for from our stands.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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