Sunday, May 3, 2009

Morrell's Mushrooms: Tasty and Fun

Damin and I often speak of how there is never a “down time” in the whitetail woods. Granted we may be entering the slowest time of year for a whitetail hunter (late spring and early summer) there is still much to be done. In fact, I just got in from putting the trail cameras back out for off season scouting. Also, Damin and I preach being as low impact as possible, sometimes doing nothing, means doing something. Still, I have stumbled upon a new passion in the great outdoors that really took up a lot of time the last couple weeks; mushroom hunting.

This time of year is simply too beautiful to remain inside for any length of time with spring green up in full swing and the snow white flowers of dogwoods dominating the forest. Unfortunately, I haven’t been bitten by the gobbler bug yet, so this past year I hit the woods hard for Morrell’s Mushrooms. Honestly, I have no scientific or biological knowledge of this ‘shroom, expect they are tasty when fried! It doesn’t take a lot of experience or skill to find these tasty little fungi, just a little time, and effort and boot leather (similar to shed hunting). Actually, it is very similar to shed hunting because it is fun, rewarding and just a great way to spend time outdoors regardless of your level of hunting experience.

I think that may be one reason I was so drawn to ‘shroomin (as I call it, the phrase will catch on sooner or late, I know it). I have always really enjoyed walks through the woods. Be it early season scouting for a mature buck, shed hunting in late winter or just a casual summer stroll, any time I am in the woods in pursuit of something I am in a special state of mind.

I’ve learned that the best location to find a Morrell’s mushroom is in a nice poplar or walnut stand, preferably poplar as Dad told me they grow in ideal soils. Also, this may be pure coincidence or an exact science, but I have also found a good deal of them around skunk cabbage. Again, I wouldn’t go basing my search on that criteria alone, but I would make sure to check it out.

My good friend Mike Willand of Illinois, monster buck slayer and expert shed hunter (he also won the Campbell’s Outdoor Challenge this past year) always said of shed hunting, “sheddin’, like pimpin, ain’t easy!” Well, in the world of mushroom hunting I offer this simple phrase, “shroomin, like sheddin, is fun!” Okay, not as witty, but you get the idea. Morrell’s mushrooms are best picked in mid-late April after some good rain and a couple warm nights. I urge you, though, to get out now and experience some fun in the woods and some tasty, fried mushrooms!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Update to Blog!

Hello All, I just wanted to give everyone a quick heads up and let you know that now on the side of the blog there is a slide show with some of the pictures we've taken over the past couple of months/years. Right now there are only about 50 pictures, but whenever we take new ones we'll upload them to photobucket and they'll show up in the sideshow. Now, as you can see the images are pretty small so we've added the exact same slideshow at the bottom of the blog as well if you want to see the images on a larger scale. We've always had many more pictures than we could share in the posts themselves so, now y'all can be ever closer to us and our passion! Cheers!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"God Shoots Straight With Crooked Bows"

From J.K. Rowling to Charles Alsheimer, there are numerous books to which I take a particular liking and given the two authors mentioned its easy to say that I have quite the eclectic taste when it comes to literature. However, when it comes to books that I can read any day of the week regardless of my particular mood nothing beats a good devotional.

Steve Chapman is a avid Christian and an avid hunter who preaches, sings and writes about his love for God and his love for the outdoors. Holding steadfast to his beliefs regardless of the situation there may not be a better man to fit the description that hunting is, in fact, more than just a pursuit.

Given the warm weather and my disinterest in steeple-chase racing, this past weekend I decided to sit outside and read Chapman's "Another Look at Life From a Deer Stand: Going Deeper into the Woods." The sequel to the orginial "A Look at Life From the Deer Stand," Chapman's book focuses on finding God in each every aspect of our lives regardless of whether it's in the church on Sunday or on the way to the deer stand on a crisp autumn morning. There was one passage I found quite inspirational and I'd like to share it with you all.

"Skilled bowyers will agree that a perfect bow never begins with a perfect stick of wood. The fact is, there is no such thing as a flawless stave from which a bowyer begins the process. Instead, the key to a great shooting bow is in the amount of understanding the bowyer has of a wood and the level of his or her ability to work with it. --- The same can be said of people. Romans 3:9 and 23 is an assessment of the quality each of us as spiritual staves: "There is none righteous, not even one" and "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Analogously Chapman compares the carving of a bow to each and every one of our lives. None of us is perfect and in essence we are all "crooked bows." But, just as a seasoned archer can shoot a 300 with a crooked bow with plenty of patience and practice, each of us can and will find heaven through giving ourselves wholly and completely to Jesus Christ. It may be a bumpy ride and the path may not always be easy, but the reward in the end will be worth all the trials and tribulations! As Chapman goes on to say, "Wow...God shoots straight with crooked bows!"

There are numerous passages from Chapman's book that I'd like to share with you all over the coming weeks. And, I'd highly recommend any of the books in the Chapman series. He speaks of God, grace and glory and to any reader, be they a hunter and non-hunter alike, his words will be truly inspirational.

As always, God Bless and Happy Hunting!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Food Plot Update

With Spring Green Up alive and well here we figured it was time to give a quick update as to how our food plots are coming along. We still have 3 active food plots planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover that are coming back quite nicely. Clover started popping through the ground around mid-March and, although they likely didn't need it this year, we still frost seeded each of the plots to try and extend their longevity and increase the tonnage produced in each. Given the amount of rain we have had, following a couple weeks of warm sunlight the plots will be lush and ready to provide our deer herd with enhanced spring and summer nutrition!

We also have created two new food plots this year totaling 1.5 acres about which we are very, very excited. Not only are these the two biggest food plots we will have, but we will also be planting them with Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant. Powerplant is extremely attractive to whitetails and provides the highest level of protein on the market. The great thing about Powerplant, though, is that it can grow up to 6 feet in height! Its seed has a mixture of Sunflowers, Soybeans and LabLab all of which are capable of excessive vertical growth. The LabLab and Soybeans use the fast growing sunflowers as a trellis for structural support so that they can grow up rather than horizontally on the ground.

While the nutritional value is second to none, PowerPlant also provides increased habitat as its height and thickness provides a "jungle" of sorts in which deer love to bed and feed. We are extremely excited to see the affect this plot has on our deer herd. We're hoping it provides nutrition, increase the property's carrying capacity AND provides for some awesome summer photo-ops. We will get some pictures up of the plot itself sometime around late-June as it will not be planted until mid-May because Soybeans are intolerable to frost and cold seed beds.

Well, while hunting season may be over 5 months away it is still a busy time in the deer woods. From food plots to mineral stations, there is definitely no time for rest as summer rapidly approaches. And, regardless of what the reason may be for going out, Spring Green Up is an amazing time to be in the woods and watch in wonder as God awakens his world that has been dormant during the winter months. We encourage each of you to get out and spend some time in nature during this wonderful season.

That's all we've got for you all this time. Best of luck to all of you turkey hunters out there. And, as always, God Bless and Happy Hunting.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gone Vertical

As Damin mentioned in a previous post, I have begun shooting a compound bow, upgrading, if you will, from the crossbow I have shot for four years. I must say, I was really quite nervous making the switch simply because I wasn’t even sure if I could be able to draw the bow back effectively. Baseball and weightlifting haven’t exactly been kind to my shoulder, so I wasn’t even sure I could draw back.

Fortunately, I surprised myself when I drew back my new BowTech Tomkat for the first time. Granted, it was only set at 50 lbs. it was a moral victory in its own right and I was ready to rock and roll in the vertical world of archery.
I’d like to take this post to just give a little information about my new rig, the transition from being a “wider rider” to a “vertical bird” and my goals regarding archery for the upcoming season.

First, as mentioned, I shoot a Bowtech Tomkat, which was originally Damin’s and I was fortunate enough to buy it from him for an envious price. My draw length is 29.5 inches and right now the poundage is set at 55 (tomorrow I will hopefully have it cranked up to 60, the max poundage for this bow). I, like Damin, shoot Gold Tip XT Shafts with 100 grain heads and 2” Rayzr feathers (pretty sweet looking arrow, I might add). Once hunting season rolls around I’ll switch to broadheads, of course, and continue to shoot 100 grain G5 Strikers. Tomorrow I will actually have my bow restrung, with Winner’s Choice String, and will have a new peep sight (G5 Meta Peep, ¼”) installed. So, while my bow is three years old, I’m essentially starting from scratch in terms of its equipment which is a great feeling.

Now I’d like to speak a little bit about the transition from shooting a crossbow to shooting a compound. When I first bought a crossbow back in 2005, I did so to buy myself more time in the woods and introduce myself to archery so down the road I could switch to a compound. While there are many crossbow skeptics out there, I must say that thus far shooting a crossbow has eased the learning curve in shooting a compound. Sure, drawing the bow back is completely new, but the elementary concepts I learned from crossbow shooting have proved beneficial. For example, I am already confident in my ability to range my target, know the importance of a consistent follow through and realize how important a smooth trigger pull is to tight groups. While I am certainly not an Olympic archer, I have surprised myself a bit this winter and early spring at my ability to tighten my groups out to 30 yards and am excited to experience some more improvement over the summer when warmer and longer days allow for more practice time.

My goals for this upcoming season with my new bow, simply harvest a whitetail. I am burning up with anticipation as to what it will feel like to draw back on my first deer; it is going to be a great feeling. We are going to up our doe harvest this year so the first whitetail to fall victim to this new archer may be an old matriarch, or I may be lucky enough to harvest on of the 130”+ Titans we’ll have running around this fall. Either way, I am ready “live life at full draw!”

I’d also like to send out thanks to Damin for all the help, advice and info. he has shared with me along the way. His knowledge and know how in the archery world is far superior to mine and I owe a big thanks to him for not only introducing me to compound bows, but for the practice session advice, tuning, fletching and cutting my arrows, basically teaching me how to shoot vertically, I know all his wisdom will pay off!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bowtech Admiral

What can I say about the Bowtech Admiral that hasn't already been said? I had anxiously awaited the arrival of my Admiral for 2 months hoping each day that I 'd get the call that it was in. Even then, I was still just a bit nervous that when I shot it, it wouldn't be everything it has been claimed. Well, one thing's for sure, it's everything its supposed to be and more.

Outfitted with an Octane Stabilizer, Sword Acu-Site, G5 Meta and Octane Bantamweight Quiver (soon ) the Admiral is one of, if not the, quietest and smoothest bows I've ever been around. Pushing Gold Tip 5575s at a cool 300 fps at 65lbs the Admiral is completely dead in the hand and incomparably quiet. From the in-velvet finish, to the smooth draw to the speed this bow is second to none in the 2009 line up.

Cody is now shooting a compound as well and has a 2007 Bowtech Tomkat. We have found quite the hobby in archery given that we now cut and fletch our own arrows as well as tune our own bows!

Check out the video above, I don't have a picture to post, but the video will definitely give a great idea of the animal known as the Admiral.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Product Review: Rinehart Field Target

As bowhunters, we all know how hard it can be to properly compensate for angles when shooting from a tree stand. Some recommend sighting in your bow at 17 yards instead of 20 to compensate, while others recommend purchasing range finders that adjust the distance for the angle. However, as is the case with most things in hunting, nothing can beat practice, practice, practice. Cody and I routinely take out the Gorilla climbers and carry the target into the woods during the spring and summer to practice shooting from different tree stand heights. Now, this is all well and good other than the fact the out Morrell Target is rather large and quite a pain to lug around from spot to spot. Fortunately, we recently found the perfect "throw target" for just this occasion.

Rinehart is famous for its 18-in-1 target that is guaranteed to last for one year. The Rinehart Field Target (RFT) pictured, on the other hand, is a 9" circular target that can be carried anywhere with little effort at all. Small enough to fit in a suitcase, the RFT weighs but a few pounds and is perfect for everything from tree stand practice to a quick round of shooting in the back yard. In addition, it is also capable of handling both field points and broad heads so it is literally perfect for every occasion. Perhaps the best part of all? This target costs a mere $27.99 at (

With warm temperatures and longer days approaching, there is more and more time each day to get out and practice with the bow. Always remember, perfect practice makes perfect and this target will allow for that practice in any myriad of situations.