Ted Peck

Outdoors talk with certified Merchant Marine Captain Ted Peck.

Stocking food the target this gun season

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

My scope-sighted .270 caliber Browning A-bolt will take down a soda can at 100 yards every time. Wisconsin’s gun deer season is fast approaching. Time to move from hunting into harvest mode.

There is a good chance a buck with a substantial rack will stumble by in easy rifle range during the traditional gun season. The sudden appearance of a whitetail with serious headgear never fails to quicken a pulse and dilate pupils. When it gets to the point where pupils don’t constrict to focus on crosshairs, check that pulse. Life is clearly over.

But filling a deer tag with a gun doesn’t bring the satisfaction it did more than 100 whitetails and a half-century ago. A heavy 10-pointer with a gun tag on its rack is simply an animal that had a very bad day.

From a consumer standpoint there are two kinds of venison: sandwich and sausage. Bucks fall into the latter category—with the exception of a celebratory lunch featuring inside loins and onions, of course.

My dog Whipsaw Jack is the only mammal in our house who believes he can eat antlers. He looks with envy at horns on the wall with the shed between his jaws merely a compensatory anode to fend off canine vandalism in the extreme.

There is a huge pile of shed antlers in the den. Whipsaw appears content with a couple of the smaller ones he has been granted. There are horns on the wall, too, along with stuffed heads, European mounts and antlers on plaques.

If the opportunity arises to slap a tag on a buck with a bigger rack than the 174-incher which fell to a muzzleloader a few years ago, accommodations to honor his life would be found on a wall.

In recent years, filling the freezer instead of the trophy case has become more important in a personal hierarchy of needs. Which brings us back to the two kinds of venison.

In the last 30 days I have spent more than 70 hours in quest of venison. Twenty-six sits produced encounters with 35 does and 14 bucks. Several of the bucks continued on their way, unaware. None of these bucks were arrow-worthy at this juncture in an old deer hunter’s life. Watching them slink away believing they were king of the forest—or at least a pretender to the throne—brought greater satisfaction than giving them a very bad day.

Several of the does weren’t so fortunate. Two of the “sandwich” deer are now chops, steaks, burger and loin roasts in the freezer.

The “sausage” deer will be going to Bavarian Kitchens in Madison this week. Many locker plants can turn your venison into sausage or brats. Bavarian is not a locker plant. It is a sausage factory.

Bavarian’s finished product is more expensive than the meat you’ll get back from the local locker. If you like a generic bologna-and-ketchup sandwich as much as prime rib, don’t bother with a pilgrimage to the Mad City.

My personal favorite is Bavarian’s Cheddi-brats. But it’s hard to stay in the woods when you know ring bologna and kraut is waiting in the crock pot at home. A plate with garlic sausage and 5-year-old cheddar is an essential accoutrement to any Packer game. The boat never hits the water without Bavarian’s landjagers within easy reach.

A trip to Madison is definitely on the agenda in the next day or two. My supply of garlic venison sausage is depleted. This could be the reason Aaron Rodgers got hurt a couple weeks ago and the Pack has been struggling.

As that commercial for an inferior beer says, something isn’t superstitious if it works. Go Packers!

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc.

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