Mosey On Over to this Month’s Highlights: Did You Miss Any?


A Day at the Office!

A Day at the Office!


Perhaps you have just joined this merry band of blog readers and haven’t checked my archives. Well, I’d like to tell you about this month’s hottest!

Most Hits This Month

Hands down, the most popular article this month was: The 10 Commandments of Knife Use and Maintenance.  It received hundreds more hits than any other offering in November!

Going to Other Sites for Amazing Photos

Lots of you are into “Amazing Stories.” This one has gotten a lot of attention:Good Grief! A 30 Point Deer! Shot with a Handmade Long Bow!’

More ‘Lead Poisoning in Venison’ Info

The second salvo in this on going ‘war of words’ emerged this month with: Remember the Lead-in-Venison Controversy? Here’s an Update!’

Stay tuned, later this week, I will report on the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) findings on this issue (that just won’t go away).

Getting Some Reaction

Finally, I’ve been able to prove that someone reads my blog besides my mother. The 4 part report on Shoot or Don’t Shoot Spikes has brought readers out of the woods (pun intended) long enough to comment.

What’s On Tap for December?

Besides the CDC report on lead poisoning in deer, I’ve just completed a 2 parter on ‘Multi-tools.’ Included are some tips on what to look for in a useful-to-you-tool.

Please join me!

There are two ways to get a FREE subscription:  Subscription button for feeds, Click on RSS Feeds (top of right column) or Subscription link to get my postings via email, click on Sign Me Up!

Although these postings/articles are PRICELESS, I’m making them available to YOU for nada (also known as: zip, zilch, zero). Can you really afford to miss out on this opportunity? 😉


* MDH = My Deer Husband; also known as “He Who Likes to be Obeyed” – sadly he rarely is.


This blog is a companion to my website:

“This Spike is Better Lookin’ than Any Ol’ 6 Point Deer!” (Sure it is.)



Generally: No Rack = No Want!


This is the final entry in this series: Shooting spikes while hunting whitetail deer.

What’s Most Important – Nutrition, Genetics or Age?

This is like asking which is more important: the digestive, circulatory or respiratory system? All three are critical to the life of a human. Life cannot be maintained without any one of these processes.

Deer need good genetics, good nutrition and to be of sufficient age to reach their potential. Since ‘a spike is a spike,’ he isn’t going to turn into a 16 point deer with good nutrition and age.

Texas Parks uses a term – “improper harvest.’ In this category, they include “over-harvest of older age class males.”  By making yearling spikes the main goal of a hunter’s aim, it takes pressure off of the older, fully-antlered bucks.

Texas Parks maintains that “by shifting hunting pressure to the bottom segment of the herd, age as well as antler quality can be improved.”

Where the Does Fit in this Plan

Unfortunately, does do not have “I carry spike genes” or “I carry antlered genes” stamped on their foreheads. Besides targeting spike yearlings, Texas P&W suggests, older does should be removed from the gene pool.

By removing these mature does, the balance between food availability and herd size would be stabilized. With more nutrition, there would be fewer fawns – with greater chance of survival.

Deer Management = Quality Deer

Males, because they mate with many does, have more influence on the gentetics of a herd. By removing the young spikes, potentially, more antlered deer join the gene pool. Since the older does (more likely to carry ‘spike genes’) are removed, eventually, the herd will have more antlered deer.

Final Word

Every hunter’s group will have someone tell about the ‘Spike that Grew a Huge Rack.’  They do happen; however, it can take years, and he still carries the spike genes.

Texas P&W says that hunters, by targeting antlered deer, are inadvertently creating more spikes. Why? If the spikes are allowed to grow, they – not the fork-antlered deer – are the breeding stock.  “If you protect fork-antlered yearlings from harvest long enough to allow them to mature, you can improve antler quality in the herd….”

If Texas P&W had their way (laws), I think there would be howls of protest from hunters in Texas. MDH* opines “it ain’t gunna’ happen.”

What do you think? If your state made these rules binding in your state (for x number of years), how would you feel about it?


This Series:

Part 1: Should I Shoot a Spike While Hunting White-Tailed Deer? (intro & item #1)

Part 2:  Why Don’t We Just Let That Little Spike Grow Up?  (items #2 thru #7)

Part 3:  What About Spikes While White-tail Deer Hunting?  (Commandments 8 thru 10, conclusions)

Part 4: “This Spike is Better Lookin’ than Any Ol’ 6 Point Deer! Sure it is.” (Conclusions)


This blog is a companion to my website:

What About Those Spikes While Whitetail Deer Hunting?



Whitetailed Deer


Just a reminder: This is third in a series of postings about hunting spikes while whitetail deer hunting. The conclusions highlighted in orange are from the Texas Parks & Wildlife.

Texas A&M University’s Kerr Deer Management Facility was part of this study. The facility has deer from 20 generations, to watch the effects of variables on the evolution of the herd.  These same results were repeated in a Louisiana university study.


(8) “Even when most bucks are spikes, removing them will not endanger the breeding potential.” Texas Parks and Wildlife researchers have proven that massive removal of spikes does not affect deer production. They’ve shown that a single buck can breed with as many as 40 does in a season.

(9) “Antler development improves with age up to a point.” Amazingly, you can expect antler production to improve until about the age of 6 1/2. After that time, the deer’s teeth deteriorate and older deer don’t intake sufficient nutrition (even in nutrition-rich climes) to develop large racks.

The deer with the best – most dense – antlers are usually between 4 1/2 – 6 1/2 years old.

(10) The best time to manage for genetic improvement is during periods of nutritional stress.  With less food available, it is important to feed breeding deer first – and best. Watch for young antlered bucks and make them your future breeding stock.

~~~What Does This Mean to the Hunter & Landowner?~~~

Harvesting spikes is good for herd development. In fact, they state clearly: “Consistently removing spikes from the herd will eventually improve the antler quality if the range is in good condition.”

A balance must be maintained between numbers of deer and food available. The best way to do that is through harvesting. By selecting young deer with poor antlers, you are allowing  deer with more genetically desirable traits (full antlers) to become the breeding stock.

An Interesting Aside –

According to Texas Parks statistics, hunters snag over 60% of the yearling bucks each year. Of those, about 60% are ‘fork-antlered deer.’


Come back for the “Conclusion of the Conclusions.” If Texas Parks & Wildlife’s recommendations had any teeth (were law) there would be a howl of protest from hunters.


This Series:

Part 1: Should I Shoot a Spike While Hunting White-Tailed Deer? (intro & item #1)

Part 2:  Why Don’t We Just Let That Little Spike Grow Up?  (items #2 thru #7)

Part 3:  What About Spikes While White-tail Deer Hunting?  (Commandments 8 thru 10, conclusions)

Part 4: “This Spike is Better Lookin’ than Any Ol’ 6 Point Deer! Sure it is.” (Conclusions)


This blog is a companion to my website:

Which one is Best – a Fixed-Blade or a Folding Knife?


Fixed Blade for Strength!

Fixed Blade for Strength!


I stopped selling knives a while back. However, this has been one of the most popular articles  on this site. The photos are not clickable.


Folding and fixed blade knives each have unique capabilities and weaknesses. Only you can decide which best fits your situation. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

The first consideration is: What do you want/need this knife to do? How will it be used? Once this is clear in your mind, it is easier to evaluate the knives available.

Fixed Knife: Pros and Cons

The advantages of these knives are clear: They can be made in very large sizes, their design is simple – yet they are known for their potential strength. Because the blade is all one piece, from handle to blade tip, there are no moving parts and the knife is sturdy and long-lasting. They are also easy to keep clean.

Generally speaking, a fixed blade is twice the length of a folder (folded blade knife). Most fixed blade knives are sheathed (covered), for safety. Some fixed blades now come with an interchangeable blade!

In many cities, states and countries, fixed blades are banned (with or without a sheath). In certain locales, mores dictate that fixed blades are “socially unacceptable” (Only farm workers are exempted from this ban)!

Folding Knives: Pros and Cons

Folders are more discrete, the blade folds into the handle when not in use. Most of these tools are known as “pocket knives” – indicating their mode of transport. Urbanites prefer these; the general population is unaware that ‘you’re carrying.’

Folders must be well-constructed to be as tough as fixed blades. The most vulnerable parts of any folder  are – the blade pivot (axis pin) and the lock spring. Quality tells here; this is where most folding knives fail.

The lock spring must keep the knife in an an open position, as long as you need it, and then release the blade to return into its holder. The longer bladed knives are more likely to have a problem – there’s more leverage on the axis pin, especially if using the flat side of the blade.

Thus, there’s a limit to the length of a blade. The longer the blade, the longer the handle must be to accommodate it.



Folding Knife = Convenience!

One other problem, rarely mentioned: Pocket knives are a bit harder to clean. Fur, wood slivers, whatever are more likely to gather inside the handle and need to be removed.

Back to Our Question

Fixed blades are long-lasting, easy to clean, tough and strong. Folding blades are convenient, discrete and versatile.

You will probably finish your shopping expedition with one of each – one for the big jobs (fixed) and another in your pocket – for 1001 little jobs each day!


This blog is a companion to my website:

Why Don’t We Just Let That Little Spike Grow Up?


Whitetailed Deer in Spring

Whitetailed Deer in Spring


{This is a continuation of (what I call): “The 10 Commandments of Spike Management” from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. Please note: The intro and Commandment #1 are in Part 1.  These are their conclusions about ‘spike management’ – after considerable study.}

(2) “Nutrition does affect antler growth.” So, no matter what the deer’s ‘genetic potential,’ if there isn’t sufficient nutrition for the deer, antler growth will be affected.

(3) “Early or late birth does not affect antler development if deer receive adequate nutrition.” Essentially, a spike is a spike.  Earlier birthing did not turn a spike into an antlered deer. The only relation between the lateness of birth and antler production seems to be: If the deer is born late in the season, it may be nutritionally deprived because there is less forage. What nutrition is available is diverted to maintain and grow muscles — not antlers.

(4) “The majority of yearling spike bucks will produce smaller antlers and fewer points in following years than will fork-antlered deer.” Basically, they have proven that “what you see is what you’re gunna’ get.” Spikes seem to be a genetic trait that doesn’t improve over the years.

(5) “You can improve a herd by selectively removing inferior antlered deer and allowing the deer with good antlers to breed.” They asked the question: Could they remove the spikes and let the antlered deer reproduce? What would be the result?

By selectively reproducing with more-desirable traited (antlered) deer, something called “heritability” comes into play. The more desirable a trait is – the less likely there will be improvement. Obviously, fully-antlered deer are highly desirable – therefore, removing the spikes will not cause all of the new deer to have antlers. Production of antlers traits are passed from one generation to another, however.

(6) “Does provide half of the genetic potential for antler development.” Since scientists don’t know if a doe carries genes for antlers or spikes, they cannot “select-out” deer with spike genes.

(7) “Average yearling bucks on good range should have six points.” According to their research, with good nutrition, most bucks attain this desirable point. Even poor habitats produce antlered deer. By killing spikes, it allows the antlered deer to reproduce. However, most hunters prefer to haul home deer ‘with racks.’


This Series:

Part 1: Should I Shoot a Spike While Hunting White-Tailed Deer? (intro & item #1)

Part 2:  Why Don’t We Just Let That Little Spike Grow Up?  (items #2 thru #7)

Part 3:  What About Spikes While White-tail Deer Hunting?  (Commandments 8 thru 10, conclusions)

Part 4: “This Spike is Better Lookin’ than Any Ol’ 6 Point Deer! Sure it is.” (Conclusions)


This blog is a companion to my website:

Good Grief! A 30 Point Deer! Shot with a Handmade Long Bow!

While trolling thru some of my favorite forums, I found this.  Prairie State Outdoors forums are active and interesting.


Shot with a handmade long bow!

Shot with a Handmade Long Bow!


“This buck was taken by a 14 year old Amish boy near Dalton WI. He used a hand-made long bow and made the killing shot by stalking the huge buck using corn shocks for cover. The boy’s family would not allow him to pose with the trophy animal for pictures so a nearby neighbor, Willie Flacid posed and is also acting as spokesman for the Amish boy.

According to Flacid, the Amish family has already received several offers from outdoor sporting companies to purchase the trophy. No dollar amount has been announced yet, but according to Flacid, ‘the amount of money being offered is enough that no one would ever be hard up again.’

Bresquire (The person who posted the photo and story)

Here’s the URL –

Further down the page, this was added: “That buck came from adams county, ohio. i just happen to live there so i know for sure. 36 scoreable points. that deer has brought alot of hunters in from all over.”



Good Grief! A 30 Point Deer!

‘Real Photo, Inaccurate Description’

** Update on 10/10/2010:

Snopes has an interesting story about the photo(s).  It seems the Amish community (and a few other hunters) were aware there was a huge deer in Adams County, Ohio.

John Schmucker, an Amish adult, killed the deer on the first day of bow hunting season. This deer is the largest ever taken by a crossbow in Ohio and the 2nd largest in the state — ever.

When measured, the final Boone & Crockett score was 291 and2/8 from a gross score of 300 and 6/8.

Click on the underlined Snopes for the whole story.


This blog is a companion to my website:

The 10 Commandments of Knife Use & Maintenance**


Golden Rules for Knives

Golden Rules for Knives


This topic is serious, the way I state it is not. I hope no one is offended.


And the Lord gave unto Abraham 10 Mighty Rules of Knives.

(First) “Thou shalt not let thy blade go dull.” A dull blade is a dangerous blade. It takes more pressure to use a dull blade, and accidents often happen when your hand slips or you lose control of the blade.

(2nd) “Thou shalt not hand thy knife to another – blade first.” If it is a folding knife, pass it on in a folded position. Hold a fixed blade by it’s spine (top, unsharpened edge) with the blade away from you, allowing the receiver to take the knife by its handle.

(3rd) “Thou shalt not use a knife’s weakest point (the tip) as a pry-bar.” Buy a small ‘chisel point rescue’ for daily use, and keep your knife intact.

(4th) “Thou shalt take thy time to sharpen thy knife blade.”  Use the sharpening system as instructed by the directions that came with it. More knife blades are damaged by poor honing than use!

(5th) “Thou shalt keep thy knife as clean as thyself.”  Most of the time, knives traspass where our hands don’t want to go – acids, oils, dirt, etc. Three things that knives come most into contact with are – salt, blood and sweat. They are corrosive and damaging to the blade.

Wash a knife in mild soap, rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Always wash blades before food preparation. To avoid contamination with bacteria, knives should be washed after working with meat, and before using it on other foods.

(6th) “Thou shalt not leave thy knife in water or exposed to heat/sunlight for long periods of time.” As water is the universal solvent, it can unglue the handle, or other parts. Excessive heat can warp the knife.

(7th)  “Thou shalt not throw thy knife – even in fun.” More knife tips are broken by careless handling than  people can imagine. If you are playing a knife throwing game, get one specifically for it – don’t take a chance on your prized knife(s).

(8th) “Thou shalt not oil thy leather sheath.” The oil discolors the leather and sometimes causes thread failure. Best practices: saddle soap for cleaning and dubbing (a water-resistant shoe wax) to protect your investment.

(9th) “Thou shalt protect thy blades during temporary storage.”  Use a light touch when adding a coat of wax to the blade. High carbon blades may need a bit more – a thin layer of petroleum jelly before storage.

(10) “Thou shalt be tender in preparing thy knives for long-term storage.” Knives and sheaths should be placed in plastic bags separately. Use a vapor-protector (desiccant – think little bags placed in shoe boxes to protect leather) in the bag.

And Abraham took these Golden Rules for Knives down to the multitudes. And all was good.

MDH,* who advises God regularly 🙂 has an 11th – Thou shalt not use metal on metal (don’t cut meat in the frying pan – use a cutting board).

This one isn’t nearly as catchy as the first 10. But ‘He who wants to be obeyed – and rarely is’ asked me to add this one.

** This posting was inspired by: Knives: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Knives for Fighting, Hunting and Survival. Pat Farey; 2003; $24.95)


This blog is a companion to my website:

Should I Shoot a Spike While Hunting White-tailed Deer? **(Part 1)


Whitetailed Deer

Whitetailed Deer


MDH* brought  this fascinating article to my attention today.

Unfortunately, it is several thousand words long.  I would call it a “white paper” from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Division. (1)

They did their research at  Texas A & M University’s Kerr Wildlife Management Area. Why this is significant is that this facility has over 20 generations of deer.

Cut to the Chase

For those folks who read the last page of a mystery before starting the book, here’s the answer: “Yes, by harvesting spikes early-on, it improves the antler quality of the remaining herd.” However, the story of why this is true is what is so interesting.

What is a ‘Spike?’

So that everyone is on the same page, let’s define a ‘spike.’ Texas Parks sees it as “any deer at least a year old that has two hardened antlers that do not branch or fork.” They are NOT referring to young fawns with “skin covered knobs” called a “nubbin buck.”

They go on to say that, “Buck fawns occasionally have a protrusion of chalky white bone tissue through the skin up to 1/2 inch long, but this is rare and we don’t call them spikes.”

What Hunters Think

There’s controversy about this subject. Many hunters don’t want to kill spikes because they think that poor nutrition is the reason a year-old has no rack. (In other words, their suggestion is – to paraphrase an angler – ‘Throw ’em back and let ’em grow up a bit.”)

Another idea is to shoot older spikes, because genetically, they’ve proved that they are not capable of developing antlers. Their reasoning continues: ‘Save the young spikes, poor nutrition is the reason youngsters didn’t produce a rack this year.’

Texas Park’s Advice on Spikes

This is a direct quote: “If two spikes walk out in front of you in a 2-buck county, shoot the smallest one first and don’t let the second get away.” I was so surprised, I had to read this three times!

Before I go into the “Ten Commandments of Texas Parks Regarding Spikes (my words, not theirs),” let me assure my ambivalent readers that studies in Louisiana have confirmed these findings. Therefore, either the deer in two states are crazy or these findings can be replicated across America — or at least the South.

A Little Thing Called, “Genetic Potential”

(1) “Antler development is genetically based. Not all deer have the same genetic potential.” (conclusions drawn by Texas Parks & Wildlife biologists) Nutrition AND ‘genetic potential’ are necessary for antler development. If either one of these elements is missing, antlers don’t grow. They proved this by allowing spikes to breed with does in pens. There was nutritious food, vitamins, water, etc., yet a high percentage of the offspring were spikes!


Come back soon:  Commandments #2 thru 7, next time!


(1) The report I’m referring to is available online, as a pdf document at: (It is 6 pages long.)


* MDH = My Deer Husband, Richard 😉


This blog is a companion to my website:


Why are There So Many Knife Blade Shapes?

Well, the one sentence answer to this is: There are different blade shapes because of all the jobs knives are called upon to do. Some blade shapes are suitable for a number of tasks while others are the best for a single job.

The Clip Point Knife 

The Most Famous Clip Point!

The Most Famous Clip Point!



The Bowie Knife is the most famous of the clip point knives.  Even though it is a very old design, it is still one of the most popular blades for just about anything done outdoors.

Only one side of the blade is sharpened and it can be called the ‘belly’.  On the upper side (spine) of the knife, a portion is ‘clipped’ from the blade.

Generally, the part that is removed causes the tip to be slightly lower than the spine.  This gives more control of the blade when using it to skin an animal or when using the point.

Although the photo shows an upper edge that looks as sharp as the lower one, it is probably a ‘swedge’ – the upper edge is beveled but not sharpened.

Gut Hook Blade 

Gut Hook Knife

An Example of a Gut Hook Knife



This is definitely a specialty knife — this unusual-shaped skinner helps any hunter field dress large game with ease.

Like the Bowie, the blade is a modified drop point (minor curving of blade, so the tip drops a little to meet the sharpened edge – very popular). The kicker is the sharpened “U” or “V.”

The beauty (a term I use loosely in relation to this knife) of this knife is that, after making an incision in a carcass, the blade is pulled backwards (along the spine of the knife) under the skin.  You are literally unzipping the skin from the meat and entrails.

This is an incredibly useful tool, even if it is one of the ugliest knives I’ve ever seen!


This is # 4 in a series:



NOTICE: I no longer sell Gerber knives and Leatherman tools.  I left this article up as educational information.


This blog is a companion to my website:

Recipe: Wild Game in the Slow Cooker



Venison Stew for a Cold Evening!


Lately, I’ve been getting traffic from folks looking for wild game recipes, using their slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody has several good ones. (Published in 2001, ISBN = 068817471X, $25.00).

She offers a recipe or two for pheasant, duck and rabbit. Today, however, I’m using her

Venison Stew with Mushrooms

Yield: 6 servings

Cooking Time: 6 – 8 hours on low

Slow Cooker Size: 4 quart

The meat is marinated overnight and the venison comes from the cooker more tender & flavorful than by baking.

The Marinade

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 large sprig fresh rosemary

1 large sprig fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

For the Stew

2 lbs. venison stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more if needed

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

1Tbsp. flour – all-purpose

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1  1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth

2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (See Note)

2 bay leaves

2 whole cloves

3/4 tsp. salt, plus more if needed

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. butter

10 ozs. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 Tbsp. currant jelly

2 Tbsp. fresh, flat-leaved parsley

Combine marinade ingredients in non-reactive (plastic, glass) bowl or a large resealable plastic bag. Add meat to marinade and mix to get marinade into the meat. Allow the meat to marinade 12 to 24 hours, occasionally stirring the contents of bowl or kneading meat in bag.

To cook the stew, drain marinade, dry meat with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Brown meat on all sides. Transfer the browned meat into the slow cooker.

Add the carrot, onion and garlic to the saute pan and cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until you can no longer see white flour. Add the wine, broth, tomatoes, bay leaves,, cloves, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper (to taste) to the pan.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this mixture over the meat in the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Turn the cooker off and let the stew rest, covered, while you make the mushrooms.

Melt butter in saute pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until they have softened and browned. Sprinkle them with the remaining1/4 tsp. salt. Set mushrooms aside.

Ladle off about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the stew; place it in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, and then whisk in the currant jelly and continue whisking until the jelly dissolves.

Pour this sweetened liquid back into the stew, stir well and add the mushrooms. Season for taste; remove the bay leaves.

To serve, ladle into wide, shallow bowls. Sprinkle with parsley.

NOTES: To peel tomatoes, plunge them into rapidly boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon. The skins will slip right off.


This blog is a companion to my website: