I had an opportunity to leave work early yesterday (Wednesday) and sit in one of our hunting party’s deer stands. So, I made the hour drive to Red Wing and took advantage of this brief window of hunting time.
Over the years, I have discovered the joys of hunting during the middle of the week. There are far fewer hunters in the woods, and the deer seem to be active. Last year, in the same stand I was planning to hunt this time around, I took a nice doe with about 15-20 minutes of shooting time left on a Thursday.
I didn’t get down there as early as I would have liked, but I climbed into the stand a little after 3 p.m., giving me about two hours and 20 minutes to hunt. It was breezy, but nowhere near as bad as it was on Saturday. I don’t feel that winds like we had yesterday will shut down deer movement. In fact, the wind direction was favorable for this stand.
Actually, it wasn’t even an hour before a doe popped her head up on the opposite side of the meadow I was hunting. She looked both ways as I got my gun ready. Then, she stepped out and started walking straight toward me. I waited until she cleared some tree branches, then fired. When she didn’t go down right away, I fired a second time. Thus, I filled my bonus antlerless tag.
My friend, Bernie Schwab, likewise tagged a doe, giving us three deer total for our party of six. Our 50 percent success rate is higher than the statewide mark last year of 38 percent. So, I’m very happy. Plus, there is more hunting time left. Bernie is going out with his son, Dan, this weekend and will be buying a bonus tag. With the weather looking good, they should get some action.
Venison preparation tips
Now, for myself and other successful hunters, thoughts are turning to lots of venison dinners in the coming months. Thus, I think it’s a good time to mention one of the best tools I have for preparing venison that is tender — a meat tenderizer.
There are lots of ways to tenderize meat, including slow cooking and marinades. But, I like to grill venison steaks, so I use a tenderizer made by a company called Jaacard. The one I use is called the Super Tendermatic Meat Tenderizer and it features 48 blades that pierce the meat. I go back and forth across each steak three times, and that seems to work.
The first time I used it was five years ago when my son, Joe, shot a nice 10-point buck. I knew the meat might be tough, so I asked Jim Stasny of Stasny’s Food Market in St. Paul, where we process our deer, what we should do. He recommended this type of tenderizer and ordered one for me. It worked very well, then I gave it away to another venison lover and bought the Jaacard for myself.
It’s a little extra work, but it’s well worth it. With my two oldest sons coming home from college in December, I know they will want venison. I’ll be ready. Though I gave the doe to Bernie, I’ll have my buck in the freezer by then. Plus, we leave for Montana next Friday and we’ll have three deer tags to fill — two whitetail doe and one either sex whitetail or mule deer.
If we fill them all, I’ll have more than enough meat for my family, plus plenty to share with others. After a tough bow season, it’s nice to have success with my gun.