Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eating Aliens....A book review

Jackson Landers is a interesting fellow to say the least, so when I saw that the name of his latest book was Eating Aliens I had to drop the dough to get it. Jackson's first offering "The beginner's guide to hunting deer for food" is a how to book aimed at introducing novice or even non-hunters into a locavore lifestyle concentrating on hunting deer.  Eating Aliens however is a departure from that format. The book is broken into short easy to read chapters that are more like short stories. I found it very enjoyable to read a chapter a day as though this was a collection of separate stories instead of a memoir. While Jackson's stories do provide some information about invasive species, it is far more memorable for Jackson's antics and adventures. His stories bare all from his failures to his successes. This book is basically the story of Jackson Landers deciding he wants to do this for a living and just taking off and doing it. His courage makes the reader wish they could live out their dreams with such reckless abandon. It is this feeling adventure that makes the book different from other books in the modern hunting genre. The Characters he meets along the way are colorful and  bring a some realness to the book that makes you feel like you could do this to with him. While I believe the original point of the book (controlling invasive species by eating them) is tore apart by Jackson himself when he states all of the roadblocks (mostly the USDA) that stand in the way of commercially selling the meat of most of the invasive species, he somehow draws you in and makes you want to join the hunt. Jackson makes hunting snails seem fun and entertains while educating. While we come from very different backgrounds I would love to catch dinner with Mr. Landers someday.  He seems to be one of the good guy when  it comes to hunting and conservation and finds a way to walk the fine line between ex vegetarian tree hugger and blood thirsty redneck hunter. For less than $10 you can score this book and it would make a great companion for a hunting trip. I give this short entertaining book 4 out of 5 stars. Your pal the Envirocapitalist.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Speed Hunting

I am the type of guy that likes to setup camp in a large wilderness area and hunt for a week. I like the immersion and sense of leaving the fake world made of concrete behind. I can only do this once or twice a year due to family (wife and two kids), work (vacation time goes quick), and all the other responsibilities that rule the majority of my life.  The rest of the time I have to do what I have termed "speed hunting".  I might sit in a deer blind for 30 min before work or an hour after work. I might leave at 4 am on a Saturday and drive 2 hours hunt til noon them drive home to make it to some "thing" that can't be missed.  Believe it or not I have killed countless squirrels, several deer, and a few Turkey this way. There are many downfalls to this solution to a lack of time. One is that it is very stressful sometimes when I shoot a deer and have to hurry to beat the clock that is counting down to work or meat spoilage. Another is that the short time in the woods makes me seem like a bad hunter to the uninformed.  I will hunt for an hour and forty five minutes after work on day and someone will ask me later if I "got" one and I will say "NO".  They usually follow this with when we were younger it seemed like you got one every time you went hunting, what has happen to you big guy. I usually say "I used to not come back from hunting until I got one, now I come back for family fun night at the kid's school. There are some positive aspects of speed hunting. It has taught me to maximize my time in the woods and listen to my instincts more. I tend to appreciate just being in the woods more than I used to because I am constantly ripped from it. It can also be thrilling to be successful under such constraints. Several years ago a good friend of mine named Ron (read the legend Big Ron here) had gained access to a rock quarry near his house. You might wonder why this is of interest to a couple of carnivores, well the quarry was full of water which was frequented by mallard ducks. We had only a good hour of daylight before I had to be at work in the morning so Ron had his 10 foot Jon boat loaded on his truck the night before. It always tickles me to see Ron's short bed truck with various boats sticking out the back since there is always more boat hanging out of the truck than there is in it. As we approached the quarry Ron slammed on the brakes and said hold on I have an Idea. After he shared his treacherous plan with me we split up and put it into action. While Ron took the high road to the top of the rock quarry which is nothing more than a deep hole dug out of the bedrock with water in the bottom I waited patiently for his signal. He took his 12 gauge shot gun an hid at the top of the shear rock walls that encased the water at the bottom. He let out a whistle to signal me that he was ready. So I started walking down the old road that dump trucks used to use to get down to the bottom of the quarry. when I got to the bottom my presence flushed the three mallards that had been hanging out in quarry. The plan worked perfectly. the steep and high walls of the quarry caused the mallards to circle to gain elevation which brought them by Ron enough times for him to fall all three. The looked like shot down planes crashing into the water. The excursion was not only successful in supplying us with three ducks to eat but it was exciting as well. We had been so efficient in our time use that after using the Jon boat to retrieve the ducks we still had time to soak up the rising sun while we sat on the almost unnaturally blue water. So don't let a lack of time be an excuse for not hunting, try speed hunting until you can build up enough vacation time. Your pal the Envirocapitalist.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bee Hunting

I crept about the house in silence as to not disturb Mrs. Envirocapitalist (not a morning person) or my two children. I packed some gear slid into my truck about 4 am.  I was driving to meet my good friend Ron (whom I have written about before) at Halls Crossroads so we could do a little bee hunting.  After abandoning my truck at a desolate shopping center we headed north east into Claiborne County where we were to meet up with Jayme who had discovered a swarm of honey bees  while delivering packages for UPS.

At this point maybe I should back up to explain why we would drive off a ways to capture a hive of bees at 4 am. It all started a couple of years ago when Ron, who has a similar take on life as myself decided to start producing his own honey. Honey not only tastes good but it is really good for you. From helping with allergies to being a good sweetener for everyone, even diabetics. Honey truly is a super food and as with all other foods my friends are excited when it comes to the prospect of deriving our own sustenance from the great outdoors. With great zeal Ron started this new hobby but struggled with beetles and moths the first year.  Year two concluded with about 8 gallons of honey. Ron knew he needed more hives and several opportunities to increase the number of hives had presented themselves . This morning he invited me to come along on the adventure and I was excited to go. Ron and I had hunted everything from deer to frogs but never bees. he had mentioned that if a hive was swarming out on a limb you could drop the queen in a box and all the other bees would follow but the situation we faced today was a active older hive living in a downed tree.
Luckily we were able to back the trucks up to within 60-70 yards of were the tree laid and we walked up the hill to check it out. The downed tree was a 30 inch diameter black oak with a hollow center it had a hole almost dead center of the tree that the bees were using as a front door.  The guard bees were doing their job when we approached by milling around at the opening.  Ron used a squirt bottle full of water to imitate rain which ran the guards back inside. Next he quickly shoved rags which consisted of used bed sheets into the hole  to stop the bees from escaping. Next we used a chainsaw to cut the section with the bees in it out.
Cutting section with bees in it out (Big Ron is the one not wearing bee suit)
Since the tree was hollow we had to be quick about covering the end of the cut out sections with Styrofoam and punched holes in it so the bees would have plenty of oxygen. After all of this it took a tractor to load the tree trunk full of bees into Jayme's truck and unload into Ron's backyard where the bees make their home from now on.  while releasing the bees into their new environment by removing the bed sheets Ron explained to me that in the spring we would have to bust the tree open and capture the queen to get the hive to move into a box before the relocation would truly be complete. I thought if you consider how good real honey tastes its not to much trouble at all....Your Pal the Envirocapitalist.

Bees safe at new home in Ron's backyard

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why go Ranch

I want to preface this conversation by saying I am not Judging. I am completely in favor of everyone enjoying the outdoors the way they deem fun. What I am about to say should not be took as an insult but merely the thoughts and feelings of your friendly neighborhood Envirocapitalist.  Why in the world do people spend huge amounts of money to go on canned guaranteed shot hunts. I am at a loss of understanding. Pay someone to raise animals and manage them so you can show up eat breakfast, get in someone else's stand and wait for them to tell you which deer you should shoot. I have worked hard in recent years trying to understand the pride trophy hunter's take in antlers and most of these hunters tell me they are a symbol of the tireless work, knowledge, and skill that it took to take such a wary prey and I can understand that, I still have some medals from wrestling in my attic and a unsung hero award from football.  This however does not explain why the fastest growing segment of the hunting industry are these packaged hunts. What pride can be taken for someone else doing all the work for you including gutting and dragging the deer. I can see where our anti-hunting friends get the idea that hunting is just about the kill, but I still believe they are wrong. The kill is a necessary step in the process of natural organic meat procurement. don't get me wrong I do get a rush everytime I pull the trigger or let an arrow go but it is from the adrenaline that is always released in life and death situations. I think these hunters paying others to do all the work while they just pull the trigger is more of a function of lack of time and laziness. Every time I tell a would be trigger man that I process my own meat they either say, "man I wished I had time to do that", or "that sounds like to much work." Either way I think there is an innate urge to hunt that drives these modern day gentry to these exclusive ranches to buy their trophy that couches and T.V. have been unable to fully purge. I see it come out a little when I speak with excitement about a wonderful meal I have prepared with wild game. As much as these men of lodge hunting confuse me I have to admit that they are responsible for a large portion of the conservation efforts going on in the U.S. today through the tax dollars and license fees collected and the large tracts of land that is held privately for the wildlife to live. So even though I don't understand our great white hunters of the west, I salute them......... Your Pal the Envirocapitalist.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Video from the field #1

I have decided to start taking some video while I am in the field doing my job around the hill and hollows of appalacia. I will call them videos from the field and hopefully show you some of the things I experience on the job. 

Todays video is a little rough and taken with my phone. I apologize but I wanted to show something I run across often.  People do not realize that their drinking water (yes a lot of the people in Tennessee are still on well water) comes from rain and runnoff that enters the aquifer through sink holes in Karst geology.  The same people who drink well water throw trash and debris into sink holes to "get rid" of it. They are contaminating the very water they will draw from later to drink. Your pal the Envirocapitalist.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dekalb County 2011 memories

     I have the privilege of being able to hunt with the man who taught me how to track, shoot, and gut animals.  Even though my father is 67 years of age and suffering from emphysema he decided to make the four hour drive to Dekalb County in middle Tennessee to hunt deer with me.  It was to be a three day hunt on private land that my father has access to. This is a trip we have taken for several years and is responsible for a lot of the meat that has filled my freezer in that time.  Dekalb County is very rural and is know mainly for spawning country music star Aaron Tippen and the town of Smithville which hosts the Fiddler's Jamboree.  The weather was perfect, not cold enough keep Dad off the stand due to his medication thinned blood, but not to warm to make a "stocky" guy like me uncomfortable.  I carried Dad's doghouse blind out to the edge of a cleared area he and a couple of his friends had sowed in winter wheat the year before and made my way into the dense cedar thicket to the north of this area.  we spent that evening and the next day in this rolling rock pile with no success and faced the fact that with only one day left to hunt we might be skunked for the first time in Dekalb.
My father with his kill in 2011 at 67 years old.
While the sun broke over the ridge top spilling its light and warmth into the valley we were parked in. We split ways at the truck and tuned our two way radios to channel one. I remember thinking how bad it would be to come down here and come back empty handed, not just because of the nostalgia but also for practical reasons. It was deep into deer season and I only had two deer in the freezer.  I was a little lost in thought hiding up in my blind deep in the dense cedar thicket when I heard dad's shot. I snapped to attention seconds before I saw a deer in the distance moving through the thicket. It was so thick that I would lose sight of the animal from time to time. I picked the shooting lane I
Three pointer I shot on same trip.
hoped to the deer would step into and waited patiently. After a few painful seconds the chest and head of the deer appeared. It was a 3 point and one squeeze of the trigger of my Knight Wolverine muzzle-loader laid him down where he stood. It is rare I don't have to trail a deer after a shot, but I was blessed with the perfect angle to get both heart and lung this time. After the excitement was over the work began, I gutted my deer and drug it back over the ridge and left it just behind Dad's blind. He greeted me and took me across the field to were his deer lay. It was amazing, he had shot a three pointer as well. I gutted him and drug him across the field and out the valley to the truck. By the time I got back Dad had already packed up his blind and was waiting by my deer. As I drug my deer back to the truck I not only thought of all the tenderloin that my family would enjoy once I cut these deer up, but also of the blessing of getting another successful hunt in with the man that shared the gift of hunting with me.  Don't ever stop hunting....Your pal The Envirocapitalist.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Turkey in Sequoyah Hills.

Was able to snap a quick drive by picture of a hen turkey strutting down Kingston Pike in Knoxville. That turkey must of made a killing off the housing bubble to afford a nest there.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boys to Men.

I am dismayed by our protectionist culture today. We seem to want to protect everyone from everything. I myself like dangerous things and I know how to use them safely.  I was not caudled as a boy and protected from everything and called baby. I was allowed to play outside without a parent panicking that I might hurt myself. I was made to do work, pitch in around the house, and go hunting and fishing at a young age. I was probably as much hinderence as help to my father in most areas but I learned how to do things that a man should know how to do.  We used chainsaws, axes, mowers, guns, and knives.  We stayed out in the woods for days at a time. We night fished, and crappie fished, and gardened.  We hunted, trapped, and ran trot lines.  We worked.......and I mean we worked hard.  We built a deck onto the house, we painted the house, we worked on our vehicles ourselves, we mowed our own yard. to sum up, I was not treated like a fragile vessel that would shatter at any hardship. Today we seem to be treating our boys like little babies that will never grow up instead of the men in training that they are.
The Boy on a camping/hunting trip with me in the Big South Fork wilderness area at 8 years old

I have started giving my son the benefit of the doubt. If the hunting trip I am going on is in a tough rugged place and the weather is not that good I'll take him anyway. If the work that needs done is tough I'm bringing him along. I am proud to say he is blossoming. I was trying to "protect" him from tough situations but as soon as I took some of the constraints off. Let him use his knives, go on overnights in the mountains in the winter, and help bust and stack wood, he began to grow and become more confident and capable.  I have learned that our children can become men if we teach them how and on the job training is the best training of all. Your pal the Envirocapitalist.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Billy's Three and My Tree!

     I always find hunting early season archery here in Tennessee oddly conflicting.  It is warm, ticks are still climbing all over, and worst of all I always get poison Ivy.  These facts never stop me from hunting so I was off to meet my pal and fellow Heiskell Boy Wild Bill for a early season hunt.  Now first you should know that Billy is as much cowboy as he is country boy and at 6'1 220 lbs he is also pretty big boy as well.  I have known him since I was five years old and like most my life  long friends he is an outstanding outdoorsman and an accomplished hunter.  Recently he has practiced so much with is compound bow that he is a sure thing inside 50 yards. Unlike Billy I am a gun man and take most my deer with a muzzleloader. But I have found a cure for my lack of practice...........a crossbow.  I sight it in like a rifle and take it hunting.  Some people have the miss conception that you can shoot a crossbow farther than a compound bow but this is just not true. my crossbow range is forty yards, whereas I have witnessed Billy shoot a deer target at 60 yards with his bow. While he would never attempt that shot in the woods it is proof that the crossbow does not have an advantage when it come to distance.  I met Billy at his house and after some entertaining banter among his in laws we shipped out to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.  It is only a little over 2 hours away but its remoteness makes it feel forever away from the sprawl of towns like Knoxville. After Checking in at Bandy Creek, paying for a back country camping permit, and listening to a speech from a ranger about food storage because of the booming bear population.  We pitched camp over near Station Camp and headed about a mile down the gravel drive to an area my boss had suggested we should hunt.  It was exactly as he had described, with the the tale tale signs of of old homestead.  There was what used to be an orchard now overgrown, and scrubby areas that had been clear in the past.  After a few hours of scouting Billy and I met back at camp and devised a plan.  I was going to guard the old homestead in a ground blind while he hangs in his climbing stand further out on a oak covered point.  We built a fire and settled in for the night I had told Billy that he should shoot any deer he sees that I would take it home if he didn't want it (this is standard practice for me).  Billy is usually a trophy hunter and tends to pass a lot of table fare waiting on the big wall hangers, whereas I am a meat hunter.
     We awoke in the morning to mild temperatures and a silence that can only be found in the woods.  After a gear check we moved to our respected deer stands for the wait.  The first day I saw nothing  but Billy had them scampering all around him just out of range or moving to swift for him to feel comfortable letting an arrow fly. That night a camp I decided that I was to stick it out in the same spot.  The sign was just to good to move. Billy decided to move to a different tree but stay in the same area. after a belly full of potato soup we again went to sleep with dreams of tenderloins dancing in our heads. The next morning was colder than the day before and I could just somehow feel we would have opportunity this day.

Tree I slayed by shooting under a doe.
Billy had just texted me that he had one down when I heard the snap of a twig coming from the exact direction I had my blind oriented.  I suddenly got warm and remembered the tree I had ranged at twenty yards earlier and adjusted the "dial a range knob" on my Horton crossbow to the 20 yard setting in anticipation of the deer stepping out of the dense underbrush into the opening next to that tree just as I had planned.  Time passed slowly and and I soon realized that it was more than one deer and they were circling me.  About the time I readjusted so I could shoot out the side window of the Ameristep dog house blind I saw the first doe step through the brush into my shooting lane. Without thinking I placed the red dot just behind her shoulder and let a bolt fly.  The next few seconds were surreal. While I thought I saw the bolt fly straight for the lower chest of the deer I heard a heart breaking THUNK that sounded like tree not flesh.  I usually wait before walking down to check my shot but that sound told me that it was a clean miss.  as I walked down to the tree the deer had been standing in front of it dawned on me that I had never readjusted the RANGE KNOB ON THE BOW!  How stupid..........How could I be so stupid......It hurts me now to tell the story. I stood glaring at my bolt sticking out of a tree 38 yards from my blind instead of the 18 yards I had the bow set to.  After kicking myself relentlessly and admitting that my dad had been right all those years ago when he would lament some of my forgetful behavior.

Buck Billy shot that now resides in my freezer.
I decided to hike out to where Billy had been posted up to see if he could use some help with the deer he had texted me about earlier.  When I arrived on the scene Billy had the buck spread eagle gutting it and related the story of how a doe and fawn had ran all around him prior to the buck showing up and not really giving him a shot.  It was only after they had moved on that lover boy here showed up obviously trailing the doe.  Billy grunted to stop the 3-pointer and then laid him down with a double lung shot from 30 + yards.  We took turns dragging to get the buck out of the woods. It turns out this buck field dressed at 85lbs and was 2/12 years old. Seems not only did Billy help fill my freezer but he also culled the heard.  Even though I had a monumental screw up, I put a deer in my freezer, and most importantly I had a good time and will never forget Billy's three and my tree. Your pal the Envirocapitalist.