Author Archive

Whitetail mating ritual captured on film!

- November 17th, 2014

ritual1

This weekend, I was presented with a rare opportunity near my place to photograph the whitetail rut up-close-and-personal. To see a magnificent buck, firsthand, as he pursued a doe coming into estrus was a scene I will never forget!

 

ritual2

The courting ritual begins as the buck feeds casually near the doe, all the while keeping her close at hand…

 

ritual3

He is quite the attentive boyfriend indeed.

 

ritual4

The buck took a moment to tear-up a nearby maple tree(easily 12″ diameter), in perhaps the largest rubbed tree I have ever seen!

 

ritual5

The buck then starts to make a scrape just as the battery dies in my camera – doohh!

Luckily I had another one available, although the delay did cause me to miss the majority of his scrape making.

 

ritual6

As doe made her way across the field toward me, the old buck was in hot pursuit.

 

ritual7

I managed to slip my way around and photograph the two deer from another angle, as the buck continued his pursuit of the doe.

 

ritual8

In this most incredible image, the buck can be seen scent-checking the doe for receptiveness.

Estrus cannot be far off!

ritual9

This is the last photo I have in the series before the two moved off together and out of range.

To be able to witness the white-tailed deer courting ritual firsthand is something I will not soon forget; and without a doubt, the greatest series of photographs I’ve ever captured.

Outdoorsguy

 

 

 

 

Going Wild for whitetails!

- October 20th, 2014
My October column is now available in the Ottawa Valley’s foremost authority on the outdoors; the Pembroke Daily Observer.
 
Congratulations to Jordan Durocher of Pembroke, this year’s winner of the Great Outdoors Trivia Contest. Jordan takes home a nice Tinks Gift Package!:
 
 

Ottawa Valley hunters going wild for whitetails

Jeff Morrison, the Daily Observer's newest columnist, offers up his take on the great outdoors.

With the coveted white-tailed deer rifle season just around the corner, enthusiasts are gearing-up for the most anticipated week of the year.

Deer hunters of the Ottawa Valley are chomping at the bit with the whitetail ‘pre-rut’ posed for take off. This special time of preparation and anticipation will be followed closely by a full-blown rut in early to mid-November. Remember that ungulates like deer and moose are polygamous by nature with males’ breeding copious females throughout the fall. During pre-rut, bucks begin altering their daily routine in preparation for the active few weeks that follow. As does enter estrus, bucks usually stop feeding altogether to focus on dissemination of their progeny. Love always seems to come before lunch in the Great Outdoors.

Long-standing tradition

The whitetail rifle season is special and sentimental time I have enjoyed now for the past 34 years. From that very first season when my father invited me to deer camp with the men, I was hooked instantly. It was a tumultuous and exciting time for a young green-horn deer hunter. The joy of pursuing deer as an impressionable youth is like the bud of oak tree; not yet developed but primed and ready to go. I believe most hunters, young and old, share this childlike enthusiasm and really understand what it means to spend time afield. How many activities in life allow us to relive those magical carefree days of our youth?

Testing Testing

Looking back on some of the more interesting electronics I field-tested this summer, Magellan’s new Echo Watch was one of the most intriguing. I have tested almost every imaginable gadget over the years, but this particular unit was a first. The Echo is well-conceived wristwatch which allows users to ‘sync-up’ to a smartphone using Bluetooth technology, for monitoring such fitness metrics as heart rate from Magellan’s heart-rate monitor (sold separately), or to act as a remote control for fitness apps on your smartphone. The Echo watch caters to fitness buffs who own iPhones, and who are serious about staying in shape and keeping tabs on a variety of fitness parameters. This high-tech watch I found to be solid and waterproof with a clear and precise display. Although I am not a huge fitness buff myself, I can see there would be a real niche for such a gadget. For more information: http://www.magellangps.com/

Canadian Fly Fishing Championships in Montebello

Anyone who’s anyone in the fly fishing world will be out casting a line today at my favorite home-away-from-home, the beautiful Kenauk Nature in Montebello. The lakes, serving as venue, in this year’s big fly fisher bonanza are Mills, Tauntan, Sugarbush, Otter and Green. I have personally fished every one of those water bodies and trust me, they are spectacular! The competition runs until Sunday, Oct. 19. For more information on Kenauk: http://kenauk.com/ or for a schedule of events, check out: http://www.flyfishingcanada.net/uploads/Schedule_NFFC_12_Oct_2014.pdf

Safety first

Statistics show that serious accidents are quite rare during the hunting season, however, mishaps do occur. Perhaps our greatest concern, apart from falling asleep in the tree stand, would be muscle strain and body fatigue. For many of us the deer hunt can be one of most strenuous activities of the year. After trekking five miles or more up and down the mountains each day, aches and pains are part of the deal and injury more possibility. I find simple stretching exercises in the morning helps get the old body loosened up and ready for an enjoyable day in the woods. Good luck and be safe out there this fall!

Outdoor Trivia

Here is final question in this year’s Great Outdoors Trivia Contest. The first person to send me all three correct answers will receive a fabulous Tinks hunter’s scent package. mailto:theoutdoorsguy@rogers.com Question #3: Which of the following is NOT the title of a recent post in my Ottawa SUN Outdoors Guy Blog? A) Ontario wages war on feral hogs B) Hunters Bragging board C) Wildlife Speaker series this week, or D) Stand hunting for success. The winner will be announced in my November column!

 

Canadian Wild Game Cookbook

- October 8th, 2014

For those of you who missed my feature this summer by the Canadian Press – marking the release of my 5th book; the Canadian Wild Game Cookbook – here it is.

With hunting season now on the go, it only made sense to talk about glorious wild game meat!

 

 

Cookbook highlights best ways to prepare Canada’s wild game

 

Susan Greer / The Canadian Press
August 13, 2014

CPT111204369_high.jpg The cover of “Canadian Wild Game Cookbook” is shown in this handout image.
 
 
 
C1-0813-burger.jpg Although venison can be difficult to grill because of its low fat content, these moist burgers are an exception.   Photograph By HO, The Canadian Press 
 
 

LONDON, Ont. – When Canadian chefs participate in international culinary competitions, they often feature wild game — maybe elk, bison, caribou or moose — foods that aren’t staples in most homes here but are recognized worldwide as Canadian delicacies.

This is no surprise to Jeff Morrison of Ottawa, an avid outdoorsman and author of the just-released “Canadian Wild Game Cookbook.”

“Wild game as table fare is about as wildly Canadian as it gets and there’s a certain natural quality that represents this country beautifully,” he says.

His latest cookbook, published by Company’s Coming Publishing Ltd., covers all the wild game mentioned, plus venison (white-tailed deer), pronghorn, wild boar, bear, rabbit, beaver, muskrat, waterfowl (Canada goose and duck), upland fowl (grouse, pheasant, woodcock, wild turkey and quail) and frog. He has hunted most of them and has enjoyed dining on all of them. The book also includes suggestions and recipes for side dishes, marinades, sauces and desserts.

Morrison grew up eating wild game in the Laurentians of Quebec and developed an appreciation for cooking and experimenting with wild game recipes at his uncle’s restaurant, Alfred’s Beefeater Steakhouse, near Mont-Tremblant.

But he recognizes most people don’t hunt or trap food for supper and though all the meats featured in his book are classified as “wild” game, in fact all are raised commercially across Canada. In most provinces, these farmed meats are the only kind shoppers will find being sold in supermarkets, specialty shops and by online vendors.

“Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are the only two provinces where hunted wild game can actually make it to a restaurant or supermarket,” Morrison says. “It’s illegal in the rest of Canada. So the game meat you find in the other provinces is farm-raised.”

However, Quebec has started a pilot project allowing 10 restaurants in Montreal to serve hunted wild game and the hope, says Morrison, is that once officials are assured it is properly regulated, hunted wild game may be approved for menus in other parts of the province.

“Whether it’s hunted or farm-raised, it’s still essentially the same product,” he says. “It’s just a matter of how the product is acquired.”

Even the farmed game animals “are not raised in these pens. They’re raised more in a natural setting, to represent their natural environment, so there’s no real difference.” But the harvesting, aging and processing are all done to government standards, a reassurance for consumers who may be wary of the “wild” part or concerned about conservation.

Despite this, some people “just can’t seem to get past the stigma of game meats,” Morrison admits, also conceding there is a certain gamey quality to the meat, what he prefers to call a “more full-bodied flavour, with a slightly more pungent odour.” It is stronger in some than others, with venison probably the strongest and waterfowl somewhat stronger than land fowl, but not that different than farmed counterparts.

Moose and elk, on the other hand, are quite mild, he says, and muskrat and beaver “are both delicious.” Beaver, he says, is reminiscent of lamb.

The unique flavour and texture are two things about wild game that appeal to Morrison, who has degrees in both environmental management and fish and wildlife biology. But the biggest advantage of game meat is that “it’s more organic, low in fat and low in cholesterol.”

These health benefits also mean it is a little more difficult to cook.

The key is “low and slow,” Morrison says — low cooking temperature and a slow cooking period to prevent the meat from getting dry. It also is important to use marinades, frequent basting or bacon wrapping to keep the meat as moist as possible.

Steaks and roasts would be “typically served medium to medium-rare … keeping a bit of pinkness in the centre.”

With wild boar, like other kinds of pork, “you have to be a little more vigilant, keeping in mind that you still don’t want to overcook.”

Most experts agree cooking pork to 70 C (160 F) or medium is safe and will keep it juicy and tender. Ground pork and sausages should be cooked to well done.

Morrison’s book contains several slow cooker and stew recipes, another way to ensure the meat will stay moist and tender.

“I am a huge fan of stews (and) I believe that wild game stew, regardless of the game meat featured in it, is a traditionally Canadian dish.”

But his favourite recipe in the book is a moose roast. “Really any of the moose dishes. Moose any way at all is my favourite. Moose is the king of the Canadian forest, in more than one way. It’s such a great protein; it’s the best.”

He suggests those with no experience cooking wild game should start with “something simple, and a little more subtle — like quail or ruffed grouse, where you have a smaller amount of protein to work with. It’s very mild. Most people enjoy it and there’s several ways you can cook it. Either that or go with the moose roast. It’s going to appeal to more people because it’s milder tasting, less gamey.”

RECIPES

Here are some recipes to try featuring wild game. They were developed by outdoor enthusiast Jeff Morrison, author of “Canadian Wild Game Cookbook.”

Duck Teriyaki Appetizer

Surprisingly, perhaps, the taste of wild duck is not that different from its domestic counterpart. These appetizers, with an Asian flair and the sweetness of pineapple, are sure to please.

125 ml (1/2 cup) teriyaki sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) soy sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) peanut oil
15 ml (1 tbsp) minced ginger root
2 boneless duck breast halves, cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) cubes
10 slices bacon, cut in half
20 small chunks pineapple

In a small bowl, mix together teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, peanut oil and ginger. Add duck cubes and marinate for minimum 1 hour.

Heat oven to 260 C (500 F). Remove meat from marinade. Place a piece of duck and pineapple chunk together and wrap with a slice of bacon. Secure with a wooden toothpick. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place on baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes, until bacon is crisp.

Makes 20 appetizers.

Bison Bites

Bison is much lower in fat than beef, with less cholesterol and fewer calories. It tastes much like beef, but with an extra bite.

75 ml (1/3 cup) white vinegar
75 ml (1/3 cup) sesame seeds
250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
90 ml (6 tbsp) soy sauce
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) garlic powder
15 to 30 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) dried crushed chilies
500 g (1 lb) bison strip loin or sirloin, cut into 24 bite-sized pieces
12 slices bacon, halved

In a large bowl, combine vinegar, sesame seeds, oil, soy sauce, garlic and chilies; whisk to blend. Add bison pieces. Toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Heat broiler. Wrap 1 bacon piece around each bison chunk and spear with toothpick. Place bison bites on broiler rack or pan. Cook on lowest rack for about 10 minutes and then move closer to heat and broil for another 5 minutes to crisp bacon.

Makes 24 appetizers.

Quick Moose Roast

Cookbook author Jeff Morrison says he made converts of his wife’s parents — non-wild game eaters — when he served them this dish, his personal favourite. He suggests a side dish of roasted asparagus.

1 moose roast (1.5 kg/3 lb)
15 ml (1 tbsp) dry mustard
2 envelopes (each 38 g/1 1/4 oz) onion soup mix
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) pepper
6 medium potatoes, halved
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
500 ml (2 cups) chopped tomatoes

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Rub roast thoroughly with dry mustard and sprinkle with onion soup mix. Season with salt and pepper. Place roast in roasting pan and surround with potatoes, carrots and celery. Pour tomatoes over top. Cover and cook for 2 hours. The roast is done when slightly pink in centre. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Grilled Venison Burgers

Grilled Venison Burgers

Grilled Venison Burgers

Venison is one of the stronger-tasting game meats but also one of the most familiar to many. These moist burgers are sure to please.

1 kg (2 lb) ground venison
2 ml (1/2 tsp) each salt and pepper
8 to 10 hamburger buns
Fixings
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
Assorted sliced cheeses
500 g (1 lb) bacon, fried crisp

Fashion 8 to 10 equal-sized venison patties and place on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat grill to medium and place patties on grill (on baking sheet). Cook until desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, longer for well done. Put cooked patties inside hamburger buns and serve with suggested fixings.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Summer Moose Brochettes

Summer Moose Brochettes

Summer Moose Brochettes

A long marinating time for the meat helps keep the moisture in these skewers of mild-tasting moose and vegetables. Serve with white or wild rice.

50 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
50 ml (1/4 cup) wine vinegar
50 ml (1/4 cup) ketchup
1 garlic clove, minced
15 ml (1 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce
5 ml (1 tsp) each salt and pepper
2 ml (1/2 tsp) dry mustard
500 g (1 lb) moose steak, cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) cubes
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
250 ml (1 cup) mushrooms, stems removed
250 ml (1 cup) cherry tomatoes

In a large bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, ketchup, garlic, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and mustard. Place meat in bowl and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Heat grill to medium. Remove meat from bowl and pat dry.

Alternately thread meat and vegetables onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes). Brush with extra marinade and grill for 15 minutes, turning often.

Makes 4 servings.

Roast Grouse

Grouse is a small but delicious land game bird and this recipe is as easy as roasting chicken. Jeff Morrison likes to keep his recipes simple so that the meat is the star.

2 grouse (each 500 g/1 lb), rinsed and patted dry
15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
4 slices bacon
125 ml (1/2 cup) red currant jelly

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Rub grouse with lemon juice. Push legs toward breast and secure with skewer pushed through middle of bird.

Cover grouse with bacon slices and place in roasting pan, breast up. Cook, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with red currant jelly.

Makes 2 servings.

Tips for preparing and cooking with wild game

Hunted wild game requires specialized knowledge of how to process the meat, but for the farmed wild game available to consumers, all that’s required is a sense of adventure.

Most wild game purchased commercially should not require any additional trimming.

Meats packaged in air-tight vacuum packs, with thick, freezer-grade plastics, are the best for long-term storing. Meat sealed in this manner will stay fresh for one year or more without risk of freezer burn or frost damage.

Appetizers are a great way to introduce non-wild game eaters to something new, a little bite at a time.

Asian flavours go well with most wild game and help mask the gamey quality some people do not like. But be careful not to overdo the soy sauce, teriyaki or other salty sauces.

Wild goose meat can be tough, but commercial meat tenderizers and moist, slow cooking methods allow for the eventual softening of the meat. Cover the goose with bacon slices or cheesecloth dipped in melted butter to keep it from drying out.

For steaks or similar cuts, the pointed side of a meat mallet beat against both sides will break down tough fibres and tenderize the meat.

If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer when using cooking oil to deep-fry game meat, drop a popcorn kernel into the oil. When it pops, the oil is at the right temperature.

Hunters Bragging Board

- October 1st, 2014

OK folks, it is that time of year again…when men are men and the bears, moose and deer are nervous!

If you’re back from the woods and have enjoyed a successful big-game hunt this fall, I invite you to share your story and photos right here at the Outdoors Guy Blog.

As someone once said, it’s time to show ‘em if you got ‘em!

Please keep in mind that all photos (submitted by pm please) should be in a small file format. Usually less than 1/2 GB is fine.

I’m off to camp this weekend to follow the moose boys around with their crossbows, maybe do a few calls and put my deer cams up!

Good luck this fall –  to one and all!

Outdoorsguy

 

Our friend imacdon enjoyed an awesome hunting trip out west this fall. Here is the story and some incredible photos of his hunt! Congrats on your first Muley my friend!

“I was fortunate to be invited to hunt moose with my brother and one of his sons in the BC interior for 13 days. We where hunting at approximately 7000 feet. The group consisted at times of 5-10 friends of my brother. We harvested 3 bull moose on the first three days, and 2 mule deer. Out west they take the bark of the animal as soon as its hung. This is done with the ad of a winch on a ATV. Next the moose is quartered with a special chain saw…canola oil…synthetic fuel… and wrapped in cheese cloth. Beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife. Imacdon”

ImacD

ImacA

 

ImacB

 

ImacC

 

My pal Iggy also returned from a successful hunt this fall. He was pursuing moose up in Northwestern Ontario.

Have a cigar Iggs, you earned it!

Iggymoose2014

 

 

Ontario wages war on feral hogs!

- September 25th, 2014

(Somewhat flattering photo of feral hog’s ‘less destructive’ domestic cousin)

 

Word has just hit the street that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRF) Kemptville district is waging war on feral hogs in Eastern Ontario!

Should a hunter spot one of these feral hogs while out in the field, the Ministry is encouraging them to ‘shoot to kill’ and, I assume, ask questions later.

The feral hog is described by the MNRF as a wild beast that damages crops, transmits diseases to domestic swine and can be a threat to human safety.

Yikes!!

All hunters and land-owners are encouraged to shoot every wild hog they see under ‘Provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act’ and have even distributed a ‘tip sheet’ describing the wild boar ‘kill zone’ and best location for a effective kill shot!

Wild hogs have been reported east of Ottawa in the Plantagenet and Hawkesbury area and have caused havoc in many areas of North America.

The public is encouraged to report any wild hog encounter to the MNRF: (613) 258-8267 -  ask to be connected to Kemptville office

Outdoorsguy

P.S. Thanks to my pal Keebler, via twitter, for the heads-up on this one!

Follow me on Twitter @ThatOutdoorsGuy  (but leave the hogs at home)