November is the time for all-day treestand sits, and it’s hard to be patient when you are hungry. These snacks will keep you in the game
Jerky is the king of deer stand eats. It’s even better when you make it yourself. Try several recipes with lean beef until you find your favorites, then make a bunch of it out of venison so that you’re good to go all season. A good dehydrator has a quiet fan and an adjustable thermostat for different temperature settings and is easy to clean once you are finished. Take a look at the Weston Realtree 6 tray model if you are in the market.
Properly dried jerky will keep at room temperature for a long time, but to keep it tasting as fresh as possible, we separate ours into batches that will last a few days and vacuum seal it for freezing. Simply grab a bag out of the freezer to stick in your pocket before you head to the stand and it will be ready to eat when you get hungry.
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Need a combination of sweet and salty in a snack? It’s hard to beat a handful of trail mix. Like most snacks, it’s better if you make it at home so that you can adjust the ingredients to include your favorites.
Hunting in warm weather? Go with dried fruits mixed into your favorite salted nut mixture. If the temperatures are low enough to keep them from melting, a cup or two of M&M’s or other chocolate candy is always a nice addition.
I pack our trail mix into pint-sized zip-style freezer bags. The thicker plastic of the freezer bags make them a little quieter to eat while hunting than the thinner plastic of standard zip bags.
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If you plan to be out all day, you’ll probably want something a little more substantial than a light snack. Summer sausage is perfect. I’m partial to the version with jalapeño and cheese added in, but there are a ton of options to meet every taste.
Again, a zip-style freezer bag is a good option for packaging. Pack your crackers and sausage separately if you prefer your crackers crisp. I’ll add other cured meats like salami, pepperoni, bologna, and the like in with this one. Shoot, you can even make a sandwich or two before leaving home or camp for a serious midday meal. Here’s a tip: If you don’t like smashed bread on your sandwich, something that always seems to happen when they go into a backpack, then substitute a large flour tortilla for the bread and make it a wrap. You could park your side-by-side on a wrap, and it will still be perfectly edible when you are ready to eat.
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Hunters have been snacking on cheese since one of our ancient ancestors accidentally left some fresh milk stored in a bladder made from a cow’s stomach and decided to taste the result.
Pre-sliced cheese is probably handier, but there’s something about holding a nice block of aged cheddar in my hand and taking off a sliver at a time with my hunting knife. It gives me something to do to pass those slow times when the deer aren’t moving.
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Y’all know what they say about an apple a day. A good crisp apple or pear makes a nice snack in the stand. Heck, sometimes I’ll even pack a small plastic container with a handful of blackberries or strawberries. They make a nice late morning breakfast. Since deer are attracted to most fruits anyway, this is one snack I don’t worry about them catching an odor from should they come in from downwind.
A good alternative to fresh is dried fruit. My dad always puts up several pounds of dried sliced apples and pears. Think of them as fruit jerky. They are sweet, quiet to eat, and satisfying to chew. Like jerky, they will swell up a bit in your stomach after you eat them, making you feel full longer.
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There’s something strangely satisfying about popping the lid on a can of Vienna sausages and spearing one with your knife blade to draw it from the can. Sometimes I’ll eat them with crackers, sometimes I eat them straight off the tip of my knife.
The good thing about Vienna sausage, sardines, potted meat, and other canned delicacies is that they are shelf stable for years without refrigeration. That means you can stock the hunting cabin once and eat them anytime you want for the rest of the season. Want to get fancy? Make your own potted meat from venison with this recipe. It’s great on a cracker with a dash or two of Crystal Hot Sauce. I’ll add homemade canned venison to this category as well. Many an all-day hunt has found me in the stand with a pint jar of canned venison and a fork. You won’t find a tastier or easier-to-eat midday meal in the stand or deer blind.
True story. During Kentucky’s recent youth season, I noticed a new can of Vienna sausages on the counter at a friend’s cabin. I found out later that my buddy’s 8-year-old daughter had purposely taken it out of her pack and stashed it inside to save for the next morning’s hunt — just in case she and her dad lost all control and finished off all the cans they had packed for that evening’s trip to the blind.
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Take a tip from the long hunters and Native Americans of old and make up a batch of pemmican this year. Never heard of pemmican, you say? Then you’re in for a treat. Pemmican is a mixture of dried jerky, pounded into a near powder, mixed with some sort of fat, dried fruit, sometimes nuts, and sweetened with honey. It’s a superfood. With enough pemmican, you could stay afield for months. It’s high in calories and protein, and it just tastes good.
Here is our recipe for this classic hunter’s snack. We use a food processor instead of pounding the jerky to speed the process. Use any rendered fat you like for that portion. Beef tallow, lard, duck fat, bear fat, they all work.
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While they aren’t the most nutritious thing you’ll ever eat in the deer stand, there’s no denying that prepackaged snack cakes are delicious. I’ll often stash one in my pack for a late-morning breakfast.
Here’s the thing. There might not be any louder substance on the planet than a cold cellophane wrapper in the quiet woods. Do yourself a favor and repackage those cakes into freezer bags or plastic wrap before heading out.
Here’s a tip from my youngest son, Potroast. When hunting from a blind in late-season cold weather, we often bring a portable propane heater along to warm our hands and feet. Potroast made a shelf on his, perfect for holding a lightweight aluminum pie tin to warm his honeybuns and other snacks on. He swears that a piping hot pastry will warm you up on a cold day faster than anything else.
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Need a quick pick-me-up when you start feeling drowsy in the afternoon sun? A high-sugar snack like your favorite candy bar or sweetened granola bar can be just the trick. Just like the candy addition to the trail mix, I let temperature be the deciding factor in what I stick in my pack for the day. There’s nothing more disappointing than tearing into that long-awaited chocolate bar only to find a melted mess inside the wrapper. If it’s warm, stick with granola or a non-melting candy bar.
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I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to sit for hours in a treestand or blind, then I’m going to need something to drink. I’m a coffee addict, so I’ll often pack an insulated tumbler or thermos of hot coffee to sip on when I snack or just when I need a pick-me-up.
On warm afternoons, I want tea, lemonade, or water. I’ll carry that along in a stainless-steel or Nalgene bottle with a tight-fitting lid to prevent spills in my pack. Never pack a disposable water bottle to the stand. It’s guaranteed to make noise right at the worst possible instant.
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