Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bagged and Tagged Two Doe This Morning

This morning I bagged two doe. Just down the hill from our house. I got a late start this morning and got into the woods around 7:30am. About 30 minutes later I saw two of them come down from Buddy's place. I decided to take the 2nd deer first as it was an easier shot. The other deer just stood there with it's tail up looking a bit confused. When a shot opened up I took that one too. This morning makes up for many days of bad shots and missed deer so far. These bring my total to 3 so far this year...and I have a week to go! I plan to have one made into stew/stir fry meat and the other one ground into burger. Today the temp reached 60 degrees and tomorrow it's going to be in the 70's. I'll need to take the deer to the processor tonight.
My cousin plans to come out at least once or twice next week to hunt deer or squirrels. There are a hundred squirrels in the woods within an easy shot of the house. They are having a tough time this year as apparently the acorns are not as plentiful. They need to be thinned out a bit or many are going to just starve to death, especially if the winter turns really bad.
We plan to get some skiing in hopefully next week. The warm weekend I'm sure won't help things up on the mountain. More later.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Time in Washington, DC

Today our family took our annual trip to DC at Christmas time to show the kids some new sites as well as show my niece, Judy, what goes on in this area at Christmas time.

We started out our journey at Union Station to get ticketing information and to see the Christmas displays. Once the kids had their McDonald's fix, we ventured through the mall and shops. We were lucky enough to run into our President Elect Obama (pictured on the left). He is a busy man and didn't have time to chat with us. My wife invited him to dinner one night once things settle down a little for him and his family.

We then left Union Station to visit the National Christmas tree on the mall. It was cold and windy and thank god for the Yule Log! The kids made their donations tossing pennies onto the train cars as they passed. Everyone posed for me so I could take their picture in front of the huge tree.

After we all froze our fingers and toes off, we headed off to China town to show our niece where to catch a bus for New York. We also had dinner at a Chinese restaurant which my wife had been waiting to go to for some time. For me, the food was OK. I like her cooking better and I don't have to worry about Cabbage being in everything!!!

After our meals, we headed home. Everyone was pretty tired. Especially me as I had to get up at 4am to go to the office for a few hours.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daddy Bags a Deer!

Today I finally bagged our first deer, 14 days into the season. One of my daughters shown here wanted to go hunting with me. After 2 days of hunting with my niece and nothing to show, I said ok let's go. Never expected that 30 minutes into our hike, we would jump two deer and be able to get a shot off at this 90 lb doe (dressed). My friend who lives next door had just come over with his air compressor to fix a flat tire on my truck. He decided to drive to the site and pick up the deer for us! What luck! Didn't have to drag it over steep terrain. All of us were pretty excited especially me as this was one of my 8yr olds first hunt with me and she was able to experience the hunt and 15 minutes of excitement waiting for a shot to come. We're going to try a local meat processor and have this made into ground deer/pork. More later.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Has Come and Gone

Finally Halloween is over! My sister and I took the girls and their cousin Judy out for Trick-or-Treating. This was Judy's first time. They do not have Halloween in Taiwan and so this was a most unusual "Holiday" for her.

Everyone had a good time including the "adults" who got hot chocolate and butterscotch schnapps at a neighbor's house. That really took the chill least before it was gone!

The kids got a lot of candy which I'm sure will last them until at least Christmas!!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween is Coming !!!

The girls had a costume party at their school today. Can you guess who they are supposed to be? Excitement is building for Trick or Treating Friday night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hiking on Skyline Drive

Last week we decided to go hiking up on Skyline Drive. Here is a picture of our girls along with their cousin Judy who is staying with us this year to go to school and learn english. We are at the falls overlook at South River Falls. It is a good hike. From Skyline Drive, the hike takes you from the drive down to the bottom of the falls. Then you hike back up a fire road and cut over on the Apalachian Trail to get back to the parking area.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Twins Turn Eight

"I just wanna be a rockstar!"

The twins turned 8 on Friday and the weekend was full of birthday activities. The festivities wound up on Sunday with a birthday party at the house and then the family party afterwards. We even had our live entertainment, "The Best of Both Worlds!" I am still recovering.

Happy Birthday girls!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Swimming Partners

Here are the girls with their most recent swimming partners, two tree frogs. Frogs frequent our pool all summer long and the girls have a lot of fun swimming with them in the pool...or should I call it torturing them?
They dont seem to mind the frogs though they cant stand a spider or ant.

Memorial Day in Madison

This Memorial Day we spent at our house in Madison. Our neighbors have about a dozen horses and three foals were delivered about a week ago. These are a couple of the babies. One more was due any day.

Our friends Buddy and Amy also came over and we took the girls down the mountain for some target shooting on the range.

We also opened the pool and had our annual ceremony by getting in the water that had to be just above freezing! We had a good time but couldnt spend much time in there before lips began to turn blue.

That night we had a camp fire and roasted marshmellows.

The last day, Monday, we spent primarily doing yard work. Mowing grass, dumping leaves, fixing gutters and mopping floors took most of the day. However we are in good shape for the summer.

We have a lot of activities going on this summer so stay tuned for more news and more pictures.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Has Sprung!

It's that time of year again when the grass needs cut, weeds need pulled, and allergy season is in full swing. How nice of the trees and flowers to make our lives miserable with allergies so we wont go out and cut their limbs and blossums before they are ready. Tell me Darwin was wrong!

Here are some Tulips that my wife planted last fall. It's too bad they dont last longer than they do.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ice Blankets Northern Virginia

An ice storm crippled Northern Virginia yesterday and closed the Springfield Interchange for nearly 8 hours. Freezing rain flash froze the high "flyways" and drivers could not get up or down the ramps. The salt and sand trucks even had to back their way up the ramps letting the salt and sand work before they could move further up. Traffic was completely stopped on 395 going south up to the Pentagon. Quite amazing that Germany can heat the Autobahn to prevent freezing but VDOT cannot even do it to the triple level flyway ramps that connect major highways. Fortunatly I was able to take backroads for a slow 1.5 hour commute home.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stir Fry Venison Loin

I am going to begin posting some recipes that are our favorites. Tonight my wife is preparing a venison dish Chinese style. Here's what you need:

2-3 lbs of thinly cut venison loin or other venison meat
6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1/4 cup of Soy Sauce
1 or 2 tablespoons of freshly cut ginger chopped fine
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3 chopped green onions
3 cut jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup of oil
1 Tablespoon of bbq sauce (Chinese style if available)

Cut your venison loin thinly to about 1" x 2" by about 1/4 inch thick or less. Thin is better for stir fry. It's easier to cut it thin if it is still partially frozen. Put the venison in a glass baking dish for marinading. Add soy sauce, baking soda, bbq sauce, ginger and garlic to the venison and mix thoroughly. Something we learned from our elders...
Ancient Chinese Secret - Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your marinade to tenderize the meat nicely!
The amount of baking soda is up to you. Try different amounts for the effect that suites you. It makes the meat nearly dissolve in your mouth and does not affect the taste much. Once the meat is mixed thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Add oil to the wok and heat on high until stir fry hot. Add the venison slowly to the pan and stir frequently. Add vegitables and cook until the meat is just no longer raw. Place onto a serving dish and enjoy while still warm. Season with salt to your taste.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Famous Dave's Venison Jerky

Now that all of the hard work has been done, it's time to use that venison to jerk some snacks. This time I decided to make what I'm calling Famous Dave's Venison Jerky. I don't know Dave but he makes a killer BBQ sauce called Smokey Chipotle.

I have been making my jerky with a hot air food dehydrator purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond. I'd say it's a far stretch from a Bed or Bath product but I'm sure there may some use for it there. I also got 20% off by using one of those coupons I get in the mail every other day.

After butchering the deer, I accumulated about 3 pounds of odds and ends that were trimmed off larger cuts or trimmed so I could get the cuts into bags. 2 or 3 pounds of meat is about all you can get in one of these small dehydrators. Cut your meat into small strips if you can about 3/4 to 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick or less. My odds and ends didn't work well into strips so a lot of them are bite sized chunks which also work just fine. Next, take a gallon sized zip lock back and pour in about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of Famous Dave's Smokey Chipotle BBQ sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, and a little less than half a teaspoon of jerky cure. I got my cure from You can use any cure you like but be sure to follow the directions for the amount of meat you are using. Yes you should weigh the meat to get the right dosage. I used the bathroom scale...something else you can get from Bed Bath and Beyond!

There has been some concern over the years about the toxicity of meat cures. The FDA has published guidance on safe concentrations of sodium nitrite for home meat preparation. The cure not only keeps the meat red but it inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, including E coli, during the curing process. Since deer are known carriers of E coli, I would rather err on the side of caution and follow the meat cure directions.

So now that you have all of the ingredients in the bag, mix it all up very thoroughly then add the meat to the bag. Mix everything up again until all of the meat is coated with the sauce and salt mixture. Squeeze out the excess air and zip the bag shut. Lie it flat on a plate or baking dish as shown above and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Might be good to flip the bag and remix the ingredients once or twice.

The next morning, dump the bag onto the plate or baking dish and begin to put the meat on the dehydrator trays. Don't pack them in too tight. You want the air to circulate freely around the pieces. Once your trays are full, you can go back and fill in here and there to get it all into the machine.

Next, put the top on the dehydrator, set the temp to 155 degrees and plug it in. In about 7 to 8 hours, you should have nicely dried jerky. When it's done to your satisfaction, dump the jerky onto paper towels to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, put them into a paper towel lined bowl and put in the refrigerator with the top open. The fridge will keep them dry and fresh for several weeks...though I bet it wont last that long.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Last Day of Hunting in Madison County

The last day of hunting season in Madison County was January 5th. I took a coworker out with me (Joe) who wanted to learn about hunting and processing deer. It was a beautiful day for hunting. The wind was calm and the morning temperature was in the 20's after hitting lows in the teens. Perfect weather for hunting deer. I set Joe up behind my house near the wood pile where I had been successful earlier in the season while I hunted off the edge of the front yard on a rock ledge overlooking a hollow and two fields.

At around 7am or so I saw a black object in the far second field, maybe 250 yards away. At first glance it looked like an old burned out log from the field clearing done a couple of years ago. At this time it was just light enough to begin hunting. At second glance, the object was gone as it moved only slightly north into thick brush. I did not see anything in the rifle scope. It's impossible to tell exactly what it was, a later check at the sight did not reveal any clues. I suspect it was either a bear or a dog and there was no further site of the animal.

Around 7:45am I spotted a lone doe walking slowly through the woods between the two fields and took sight waiting about 5 minutes for a clean shot and for it to emerge from behind a tree that was blocking my view. The shot was approximately 125 yards with little obstruction. The picture below shows me on the ledge taking aim at the position where I shot the deer. Though I don't have a scale, I estimated the dressed weight of the deer to be about 80-90 lbs. Joe did not see anything up near the wood pile other than squirrels and a pair of mating woodpeckers. He helped me drag the deer up the hill to the house and get it hung up to cool down.

We went back out to hunt the rest of the morning but did not see anything. The temperature was now in the 40's. Joe commented that it sounded like a shooting gallery out there. There was quite a bit of hunting going on this day.

After lunch we went back out to hunt the last half of the day. This time Joe hunted on the rock ledge and I took to back of the house near the wood pile. Honestly we believed he had the best opportunity to shoot a deer from there due to the view of the fields and hollow.

Around 2:00pm I heard a deer running towards me from the east through some heavy brush. It was actually two deer, a buck and a doe. They made a sharp turn away from me and the house and headed east. The buck (maybe a spike to 4 point) did not stop and ran off over the hill and out of sight. The doe stopped just for a moment to look over her shoulder and between two trees I could only see the head an neck. I took sight on the neck and fired. The doe dropped instantly. This shot was estimated at about 150 yards. My dear friend Joe was "cursing" as he had just been hunting there earlier in the morning. Well the planets were not in alignment for him this day. However, he did go home with as much venison as he wanted. This second doe was quite large, dressed I estimated it weighed about 120 lbs. It took two of us to get hung up in the garage. With it's tail nearly touching the floor the nose was above my head and I am over 6 feet tall.

The remainder of the day was spent skinning and processing the deer into zip lock bags. We did not have a choice but to process them immediately as the temperatures for the next few days were expected to reach almost 70 degrees.

The hunting this year was great. I attribute this to an exploding deer population and a dwindling number of hunters in the state. Though Virginia State lets us hunt on our own property without a license, I felt obligated to purchase one anyway as the Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries is having some financial difficulties keeping the hunting programs running. I encourage any hunter to do the same even if they hunt on their own property or don't know if they will be hunting next year or not. The funds are desperately needed. We will be enjoying venison for the next year and hopefully we will have another opportunity next year in 2008.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas in Washington DC

Here are my wife and kids in front of the US Capitol on Dec 26th. We were on our way to visit the Native American Indian Museum.

Later in the evening we visited the National Christmas Tree. My daughter found a penny which she tossed into one of the model train cars as it passed. I hope her wish comes true!

We had a very nice Christmas here in Virginia. We spent time with family, attended a Christmas Eve church service, and then waited anxiously for Santa to come deliver our presents.