|Passing the Bucks and Blocking the Breeze|
“If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
— Ronald Reagan
This January, make one of your New Year’s resolutions be reducing stress. There are plenty of sources of stress today ranging from economic woes, job uncertainty, and rising groceries and gas prices. Meanwhile, paycheck amounts often decline. In addition, a large majority of health problems can be traced back to stress.
During the short, darker days of January, reduce stress by using every opportunity to be active by working outdoors, working out, or working on projects around your house or farm. Prayer, projects and positive thinking will go a long way in reducing stress and making you a happier, healthier person.
Also, learning a few old-timey, self-reliant skills can make you feel better by giving you a solid sense of independence regardless of what the government does.
If you know how to harvest and process food from the woods and farm, you realize you could provide food for your family even if the economy stays in the tank. Plenty of folks I’ve talked to in Alabama have raised and stored enough garden food to support their families through the winter through gardening and canning. With a little ingenuity, plenty of Alabamians have been able to either raise their own meat from the farm in the form of eggs, chickens, beef and pork, or harvest it from the woods.
Bypass the Bucks?
"Forget 10-point bucks, you can’t eat antlers." This has been a common quote from deer hunters who encourage fellow hunters to hunt more does. It is true you can’t eat antlers, but many hunters prefer to shoot only bucks with large racks. If you are looking just for meat, however, shooting does offers plenty of high-quality, protein-rich meat, and most people will tell you doe’s meat tastes better.
Harvesting does helps balance the deer herd, results in a better buck to doe ratio, and plenty of food shortage problems could be solved with doe meat. I would like to encourage all deer hunters to share their harvest or any abundance of harvest this year with members of the community who may be facing food shortages.
Have a Heart
In my county, there is an organization called HEARTS (Helping Every Area Resident to Succeed) that collects donations of canned goods and meats used to feed the needy in our area. They have a chest-style deep freezer where you can drop off your packaged deer meat so people in the community can pick up meat to feed their family.
If the resident owns a skillet and a heat source, they can provide their family with high-protein deer meat. It also helps solve the problem of what to do with all that leftover meat in your own freezer. With hard times facing our local communities in Alabama, this is a great way for hunters to use their skills to feed the growing numbers of hungry people in their area. If you don’t have a food collection center in your town, maybe you can be the person to start one.
All that is needed is a deep freezer to hold the meat until it is picked up. In some cases, all you may need is a refrigerator, because when I dropped off an entire processed buck last year, the next day, all the meat had been given out. If you are an individual who hunts or are a member of a hunting club, encourage your members to start a deer meat giveaway program.
Squirrels as a Food Staple
I’ve got to admit, I enjoy squirrel meat. Ever since I was a kid growing up on a farm in Cleburne County, squirrel hunting has always provided some of the most exciting hunting. I guess it’s because you are able to spend so much time on the move, and it never gets boring.
During the warmer months, I am hesitant about eating squirrel meat because of what we have always referred to locally as "wolves." I used to think older people were telling me there were wolves in the woods to watch out for, but they were referring to the warm-season parasite using squirrels and rabbits as hosts.
A "wolve" is actually a larvae form of the bot fly that lives under the skin of some mammals in the woods. The wildlife biologists I’ve spoken to say the wolves do not harm the quality of the meat, but most people would pass up eating squirrels when they find a wolve. Fortunately, after the first couple of killing frosts, the wolves will be gone from the animals, and January offers an ideal time to eat the squirrels you harvest.
Cold-Weather Tree Cutting
Winter is a practical time to cut trees for clearing land or opening up food plots in most parts of the country because the wood is at its driest. Leave stumps at least three feet high, so they will be easier to remove in the spring when the ground is fully thawed. Leaving stumps three feet tall makes it easier for bulldozers to push up the stumps.
If you are cutting trees and want the stumps to simply rot over time, spray a strong solution of Roundup® around the outside perimeter of the stump top to kill the tree stump and prevent springtime suckering or new growth.
Block the Breeze
During the cold weather while hunting from a shooting house, you may find that the chilling winds are finding their way into your structure while hunting. To remedy this, spray a product called "Great Stuff Foam Spray" into the cracks. This product swells, filling cracks and seams which will do an excellent job of insulating. This foam can also be used to weather proof well sheds, cracks around windows, and filling holes to keep mice and insects out of your structure.
As you make reducing stress one of your New Year’s resolutions, remember we are still "one nation under God."
John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.