The numbers prove it. Realtree fans north, south, east and west live and breathe deer hunting. These guys do, too. Hansen’s from Michigan, Brantley’s from Kentucky, and chances are their version of hunting whitetails is a lot like yours.
January 31, 2012 | By Will Brantley
The degree of which I’m uninterested in the Super Bowl is almost frightening. Before sitting down to write this, I had to do a Google search to see which teams are even playing. Long and short, I just don’t care.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. Despite the very real chance that we’ll never turn on the TV to watch the game (it’s happened before), we invite friends over every year on that day for an epic wild game feast. The timing is perfect. All the hunting seasons are finally closed, and it’s still a little chilly to do much fishing. Turkey season is just far enough away that we can focus on cooking without distractions.
The menu every year is a bit different, but it’s usually some combination of deep fryers bubbling with crappie, smokers filled with ducks and wild pork loin, and grills sizzling with backstrap. Beer will be flowing during all of this, and that, of course, will result in plenty of witty banter.
Smokers, grills and fryers aside, one of my favorite dishes for gatherings such as this is Italian deer sandwiches. This dish is prepared indoors, in the Crockpot, which is handy, since the weather for outdoor cooking can be unpredictable this time of year. It’s a recipe that uses a lot of venison, feeds a lot of people and is easy to make. The slow-cooking lends itself especially well to tough, secondary cuts of meat, like the shoulders.
Here’s what you need and what to do:
4-5 pounds trimmed venison
4 cans beef broth
½ T pepper
½ T seasoning salt
1 ½ T Italian seasoning
½ T garlic powder
½ T onion powder
Cook the venison in the Crockpot on low heat for four hours (or until tender) with three cans of the broth. Drain the meat and pull it apart. Return it to the Crockpot with the last can of broth and all the seasonings. Stir well, and then cook on low heat for two more hours. Serve it on a hoagie bun, topped with a slice of Swiss, provolone or mozzarella cheese. The next-day leftovers are even better.
Do you cook wild game on Super Bowl Sunday? What's your favorite recipe? Tell us below!
January 26, 2012 | By Will Brantley
The ATA and SHOT shows are finally over for 2012. We’ve spent so much time pointing out cool gear and favorite products from the shows this year that I think it’s only fair to point out my least-favorite aspect of the shows—the Realtree Sweater Vests.
To my knowledge, these v-neck, Merino wool garments aren’t commercially available (you’d best kiss the ground and then thank the stars above for that). They were custom-ordered as the official “show uniforms” for the male Realtree employees at this year’s shows.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that overall, the reception from those of us required to wear them wasn’t favorable. However, they were the center of many-a-fun conversation over the two weeks. Here’s a sampling of the commentary:
-Jeremy Eldredge, Hoyt (interrupted a meeting to shout this at Tony Hansen): “Look at those things the Realtree guys have to wear. Hey Hansen, nice vest! Bwahahaha!”
- Kristy Barnes, Realtree: “Those would look much better with a big tuft of chest hair sticking out of the v-neck.”
-Dave Hurteau, Field and Stream: “You look quite dapper, Brantley. Kind of like Rick Santorum.”
-Dana Peacock, Realtree: “No sweater vest today? Gimme some knuckles. I’m not wearing my leopard-print show shirt, anymore, either. It gave me a horrible rash.”
-Jonathan Harling, Winchester: “See? Words can hurt. I told you to stop teasing me about my sweater vest last year, and you wouldn’t. The tables have turned, buddy.”
-Tony Hansen, Realtree: “Yeah, of course I know the vests weren’t on the schedule to wear today. I don’t care. I really like them.”
-Brita Hinderliter, Gray Loon Marketing: “I can’t even believe how sexy that is.”
-Dodd Clifton, Realtree: “I’m glad you boys are wearing your vests, but my God, it looks like a couple 5-year-olds put them on. How did you already get them that wrinkled and stretched?”
-Stephanie Mallory, Realtree: “No you weren’t supposed to put them in a washing machine. They shrink like crazy. Of course, that means now they’re skin-tight. Even better!”
-CJ Davis, Nikon (via text message at 1 a.m.): “You sleeping in that vest, Brantley?”
-Art Tucker, Realtree: “Yeah, it’s cold. Vegas gets cold at night. Bet you wish you had a sweater vest, like mine. But you’re not a team player, are you?”
-Michelle Brantley, my wife: “Seriously. Seriously. Just put it on without a shirt underneath and flex for a photo. Just one.”
January 25, 2012 | By Tony Hansen
The Realtree.com editorial crew gets the enviable task of checking out as many new products as possible during the SHOT Show each year. And we certainly found some cool stuff. At the end of the show, we choose one that stood out. To me, the choice was pretty easy -- the new optics lineup from Nikon. No, they're not noteworthy because of some special new technology. They caught my attention because of their pricetags. I will not hunt without a good quality binocular. To me, it's like trying to play hockey without a stick. You can do it. But you're not going to be very effective.
Trouble with good glass is the price. Well, that used to be the case. Today, you can get an incredibly good set of optics for a very reasonable price. In fact, for the price of a good binocular just a few years ago you can now get a great binocular and a very good rangefinder. I'm not cheap. I appreciate quality equipment. And I'm willing to pay for it. That said, I have a limited budget just like most of you reading this. Learning that I could get good qaulity, a trusted name and afford two pieces of great gear, well, that kind of overshadowed the latest high-tech gadgets on the show floor.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should have chosen some new-fangled carbon fiber upper for an AR. Or one of the high-dollar optics with built-in rangefinding. Those are cool. But not all that useful to a guy like me. How about you?
January 19, 2012 | By Will Brantley
Just over two months ago, my phone buzzed, and when I picked it up, it said, “1 New Message from Dad.” I opened it up, and there was a picture of a dead buck with a text that said, “Will, thought u would want 2 C this.”
I replied: “Who the hell is this? Why do you have Dad’s phone?”
Thing is, it was my dad on his new iPhone. Dad is one of those that I’d describe as “set in his ways.” I honestly didn’t know that he knew or cared what a text message even was, much less had purchased himself an iPhone. Now he texts me several times a week (the most recent was yesterday, when he asked me what kind of black powder goes in the flash pan of a flintlock rifle—bet Daniel Boone never saw that happening).
Honestly, I hate texting—except when I’m deer hunting. It passes the time, it’s quiet, it lets me keep up with what my hunting buddies are seeing, and it can serve some genuinely useful purposes. Last year, for example, I dropped my brand-new Hoyt 25 feet out of the stand on opening afternoon. First time I’d ever carried it to the woods. Had I not had my phone in my pocket, I probably would’ve slipped into an epic cussing meltdown and gone back to the truck. As it was, I climbed down, grabbed my bow, sent out a message explaining what I’d done to 15 of my hunting buddies, and then enjoyed reading all their “Brantley, you’re an idiot” replies. (The bow was fine, by the way—I killed a doe with it the next evening.)
There’s no doubt, judging by many of the texting-related hunting products out there now, that deer hunters like to text. One neat product I saw at the SHOT Show this year is a set of gloves in a new line of Rocky hunting clothing. The gloves have a special feature on the fingertip that allows you to use the touch screen of your smart phone without removing them (something that doesn't work too well with regular gloves). I tried them out at the Rocky booth, and they work like a charm. And, like most Rocky gear, the gloves seemed like a warm, quality product that allowed plenty of dexterity for shooting a bow.
So, do you text on stand? Would you wear a pair of hunting gloves like this, designed for texting, or is the idea just a little much for the average redneck?
January 19, 2012 | By Tony Hansen
There are few things in the woods that have saved more whitetails than last night’s camp chili.
Let's not go into details and just state simple facts: Deer can smell really, really well. Deer hunters are fond of chili. You can see where this is going . . .
Deer hunters worry an awful lot about odor. They also happen to produce a lot of it. It wasn’t all that long ago that hunters had darned few options for combating the nose of the critters they were chasing. There were various cover scents, unscented soap and the tried-and-true method of keeping the wind in your face.
Then things got technical. And interesting. The first carbon suits hit the market about 20 years ago and the scent-control industry was born. Today, scent-suppressing products are a major part of the hunting market. This year’s SHOT Show was no exception and the term “zeolite” was used an awful lot.
I’m not a scientist and readily admit that when folks start talking about chemical compounds and isotopes, my eyes begin to glaze over. But here’s what you need to know: Zeolites are essentially synthetic forms of carbon that are claimed to adsorb more odor and – best of all – last much, much longer than natural carbon.
Scent-Lok, the originator of activated carbon clothing, unveiled a new carbon technology they’ve dubbed “Carbon Alloy” which contains activated carbon, treated carbon and zeolite. The new combination is claimed to include 33 percent more adsorptive ingredients and able to adsorb hydrogen sulfide (a strong breath odor) by more than 300 percent.
UnderArmour also released a new scent-control line that features zeolite. Under Armour claims zeolite is able to adsorb more odor than carbon and retains 99 percent effectiveness after 50 washes. The Under Armour Scent Control line also uses a dual-attack approach. The fabric is designed to adsorb and capture odor with the zeolite and it also uses antimicrobial fibers to prevent odor.
Now here’s the question that must be asked: Does zeolite work? Like I said, I’m not a scientist. Nor have I played one on TV. But I am a deer hunter and I have used Scent-Lok (and other carbon-based products) for a long time. And I have seen definite results. Carbon does seem to reduce human odor so long as you keep the clothing clean and recharged. Is it 100 percent effective? Of course not. But does it reduce human odor? In my experience, it would seem that it does indeed. It’s not foolproof and it’s not going to keep deer from winding me on occasion. But I do believe it helps.
The downside of carbon has been in it’s relatively short lifespan. There is no debating that carbon adsorbs odors. That’s been proven. What’s been questionable is whether that carbon can be reactivated for sustained use. The synthetic zeolite may have solved that issue. If it has, this stuff could be a real game-changer.
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