A couple of weeks ago, this newspaper featured an article about a 76-year-old grandmother in Michigan who bagged a 5-point buck. I hooted when I read that and so did a number of my friends.
This woman's grandson said, according to the paper's report, that "you don't really hear or see any grandmas that are 76 and still shooting deer." Really?
I like to tell people that my son didn't find out until he was 16 that every boy didn't have to come home from school and get his own supper because his mother was out hunting. I'm a 75-year-old grandmother who bagged an 8-point buck this year. Happy about it and thankful for it and not thinking it is a feat that requires newspaper coverage. Oh, well.
My son, who called from Missouri to congratulate me on the buck, told me that one of his Facebook friends called me "The JOEPA of hunting." I'm still laughing over that one. I'm beginning to feel old, but I do have a few years to go to catch up to Paterno.
It pays to pay attention
I had a neat experience this deer season as well.
The first day of rifle season, sneaking along in the Armstrong County woods, I came upon a dead 10-point buck. I stopped to look for a long time, wondering what had happened.
It had been dead for two or three days, I guessed, but there were no visible signs of a bullet wound or any other injury. But I noticed a black button firmly fastened in each ear.
That was a curiosity so I stepped down and lifted one ear to look and underneath was a white ear tag. This was one of the deer involved in a Penn State research project and there was a $100 reward for turning in the tags. It didn't take me long to whip out my knife and cut those ear tags off.
The report on that buck from the research team was that it had been tagged in January, 2009 as a juvenile, about 15 miles from where it was found. That's one of the things the research looks for, how far does a deer travel? Was it the rut that caused it to travel that far? Food supplies? That is all good farm country so it doesn't seem that it had to travel far to find food. We'll never know exactly why this buck met his demise 15 miles from its original home range.
Keep your eyes open
This was the year for spotting tagged deer.
I saw a spike buck that was sporting a collar with a little antenna sticking up during the week of buck season. My buddy, from the Poconos, Charlie Dix bagged a great 10-point during the second week of season and darned if it did not also have a collar. Charlie said this buck had a covering of snow on its back and he did not notice the collar when he shot.
Love the stew
Last winter, at the wild game dinner at New Hope Baptist Church in Duncansville, the undisputed game dish of the evening was a huge pot of bear stew.
Masterminded by Ed Figart of Claysburg, he was immediately besieged by requests for the recipe. Figart is a friend of mine and no voice was more incessant than mine, asking him to write down the recipe so I could share it with you folks.
Like many cooks, however, he didn't have a recipe. He just threw it together. The other day I forced him to spend a few moments with me telling me what the ingredients were for this stew. It would work for venison, beef or bear. But when someone makes a dish out of bear meat and people are still nagging for the recipe a year later, you know it is something special. So here is "Figart's Bear Stew:"
Step 1: Begin with two pounds of bear meat, cut into small pieces. Brown it in oil with a large onion. After meat is browned, add a 32-ounce can of beef broth to the meat and bring to a boil. When it boils, add one package of McCormick's Stew seasoning. Turn the heat down and let the meat cook until it is tender. Set aside to cool. When cooled, skim off any grease from the top and discard.
STEP?2: As the meat cooks, cut up six large potatoes into small pieces along with some carrots, celery and green pepper. When meat is nearly done, throw the vegetables into the pot with the meat along with a second package of stew seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. When the vegetables are almost done, add a package of frozen peas.
STEP 3: When stew is done stir in a mixture of flour/cornstarch and water for thickening until stew is consistency you desire. Let stand until it cools completely, during which all the flavors blend. Refrigerate it until next day, then reheat and serve.
Recipe notes: This stew can be made with beef or venison. If you want to make a larger batch, then double or triple ingredients.