Venison burgers

Many of you have grilled and eaten ground venison. Probably some of you are excellent chefs of wild game. From those of you that have another or considered better way to grill please share your recipes. Yesterday, I grilled venison burgers and this is how I cooked them.

I used deer with a 4 to 1 ratio of bacon. The bacon adds fat to the deer. Brenda formed the venison into patties and seasoned with salt and pepper. Real simple.The patties were cooked over lump coal and wood. The fire was started using a chimney starter – no lighter fluid. Something else I do is clean the grill and grate between each use. I don’t mean only removing the coal ash, I thoroughly wipe down the interior, exterior and wash the cooking grate.

Once the coals were ready, I spread them over the coal rack, and then replaced the cooking grate. The grate I’d coated with a non-stick cooking spray. The spray burns off a bit, but helps to keep the meat from sticking – an infrequent problem. (Don’t apply the spray over the burning coals. Non-stick cooking sprays are flammable)


After the grate has gotten very hot I placed the burgers on it to sear the meat. Once seared I lowered the flame. When cooking with coals this is accomplished by physically lowering the flame using an adjustable coal rack. Lowering the flame means cooking more slowly allowing the wood smoke flavor to saturate the meat.

I prefer grilling over lump coal and wood. When I have enough, I use wood only.   The flavor meat takes from wood and lump coal is excellent. These burgers were no exception.

Fishing for Stripers

Every trip to Georgia is exciting. Each time I return to my home State I get to race, shoot, hunt or fish. Sometimes I get to do all four. This past trip I got three of the four. The only adventure I missed was a race. I tried to find one but came up short.

We did hunt. However, it rained so hard so often that time in the woods was limited. The result was one small buck shot by my father-in-law, Ray. I didn’t see a thing. There was a 3D tournament and in that I competed. The course was one of the best I’ve shot. However, the fishing was excellent.

On the water at daybreak

The lake where we fish is stocked with Striper, one of my favorite fish. The day started cold, 34° F. The temperature wasn’t too bad until we cruised across the water in a Carolina Skiff going 30 mph. Adding the wind, it was a bit chilly. The day warmed to 56° F. It was quite pleasant.


We didn’t catch many fish, but those we caught were in the 8 to 10 pound range. That’s enough for Brenda and I to enjoy for several meals. After the fish were cleaned I separated them into 5 freezer bags. Each has enough to feed four people.


Being on the water is always good. We get out year round here in the South. In Georgia or North Carolina we can stay outdoors without much complaint even in the coldest months. Being able to live a life revolving around outdoor activities and adventures is as good as it gets.


More Rain in Georgia

Another day of rain here in Georgia. The forecast for Sunday, the day of the Buckeyes 3D Tournament, is 100% rain. I decided to make the trip to Social Circle, GA to make certain I could find the plantation on Sunday morning.

We – Brenda, Ray, and I – decide to drive over to Social Circle so that we’d arrive around lunchtime. We’d eat at the Blue Willow Restaurant in Social Circle. We also invited Heather, our daughter, to gather her son Sean and drive over from Winder.


Everyone met exactly on time. Still raining we rushed from the parking lot to the front door of the Blue Willow. The food there is served buffet style and all of it was excellent.

After eating our fill we said our goodbyes then Ray, Brenda and I continued onto the Buckeyes Planation. The drive from Tignall to the planation is just under two hours. Once there, I loaded the coordinates into my GPS. Driving over in the rain, should the forecast hold, during the early morning might be more of the challenge than finding the place in the rain during the day.


If it does rain on Sunday I have a waterproof jacket and an umbrella (thanks to Heather). It would be better if the rain holds until after or falls before the competition. But, if it rains – it rains.

In trouble, again

The time Ray, 86, tripped and fell while hauling a deer to toss onto a Bad Boy Buggy was funny. He and I laughed then finished loading the deer. When we got back to the house in Tignall, wanting to share a good laugh, he told Brenda. She, imagining her Octavian plus father crashing to the ground and breaking something important, gave us both a lecture (lecturing is a skill retired middle school teachers never lose). Coming in from hunting on New Year’s Eve, we once again faced the wrath of Brenda.

Brenda, when I am not in trouble

First, let me point that Ray is 86 and I am 60 (soon). We are grown men and can handle ourselves. We don’t need a wife or daughter managing our manly adventures. Nevertheless, before Ray and I took to the woods we got the “lecture”.

“Daddy, don’t climb the tree stands,” Brenda

“I won’t,” Ray

“Carry your cell phones,” Brenda

“We will” Ray and I.

“Take those radios,” Brenda

“We will” Ray and I.

“When will you be back,” Brenda

“Around dark,” Me

“Be specific,” Brenda

“Around 6,” Ray

“Don’t get hurt, “ Brenda

“We won’t,” Ray and me.

Brenda headed over to Athens to meet Heather, our oldest, and shop. Ray watched Star Trek, the 2009 version; I practiced shooting long shots on the range. After Star Trek, we headed out to the woods.

On the drive out, Ray said, “I forgot my phone.” I added, “We also forgot the radios.”

Again, we’d have no way to communicate in the woods. Barring an accident, we don’t need to talk to each other while we’re hunting. Like I said, we’re grown men, we don’t need to talk to each other while hunting.


The hunt was not successful; neither of us saw anything. But, I could sense animals in the woods all around me. You know that feeling you get when you just know. I waited as long as possible and nothing came into view. To make matters worse, it was cold.

Getting cold, now

Now, I’m not talking Michigan cold. What I mean is the wet cold of Georgia. I’ve lived in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I’ve worked and traveled to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Canada in the winter. The coldest I’ve ever been has been in Georgia. On this hunt, despite 2 pairs of pants, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, sweater vest, hoodie, jacket, hunting vest, hat and a knit cap over it, and gloves, I was freezing. Yet, I hoped and remained in my stand to no avail.

Packed up and heading home

The result was we’d get back home about 30 minutes later than usual. When we got home Ray and I got that look from Brenda. My first thought was “We’re in trouble for something.”

“Why didn’t you answer your phone!” Brenda.

“It was in my backpack, I didn’t hear it.” Me.

She just stared at her Dad.

“I forgot mine.” Ray.

Trying to make light, I added, “Yea, we forgot the radios, too.” (That didn’t help)

“I was fixin’ to call Steve to get him to go look for you. “Brenda still apparently not relieved that Ray and I were fine.

“I was worried, what took you so long? Why didn’t you have your phone? Why didn’t you answer yours? If something happened, I couldn’t have found you! That was not responsible!”

You are in so much trouble

I was happy that Ray was with me, he buffered the trouble. Having another guy to share the trouble reduces the direct assault facing a single individual.

Yes, I should have called after we loaded the truck and began heading home. Honestly, I do most of the time. On this day, however, I was so frozen all I could think about was getting warm. Being married to an ex-middle schoolteacher, I should be used to conducting proper and polite behavior. But, like any middle-schooler, sometimes I forget.

We’re not going hunting today. Best bet; enjoy the games on TV, grill, and keep a low profile.

Tracks in the mud

When it rains, and it has rained a lot, here in the red clay capital of the world, Georgia, the clay makes a wonderful medium for tracks. We didn’t hunt today. We scouted for tomorrow’s hunt.


Driving a Polaris Ranger along firebreaks we stopped to check for tracks. There is little doubt these woods are filled with animals. Deer, raccoon, coyote, pigs and turkey seemed to have been moving along an “Animal Expressway” during the previous night.


We’ve found a pig stronghold or two and will be picking them tomorrow. Deer season, for archery, is over soon. Pigs, on the other hand, aside from being tasty are a year round game.


Tomorrow’s weather is forecasted to be sunny, 53°, with a zero chance of rain. Looking good.

Deer Number 5 for Ray

Brenda wanted to meet our daughter, Heather, in Lexington, GA. Lexington, incorporated in 1806, has a population of 228. There are a number of antique shops along Main Street and the town has two restaurants. We driven through Lexington dozens of times and never stopped. On Saturday morning, we drove over from Tignall to visit the little town. We’d go hunting in the afternoon.

Main St, Lexington, GA


Court House

Lexington, a total area of 0.5 square miles, did not take long to explore. We’d finished our tour by 11:00 am, about 30 minutes after we arrived. The excursion might have lasted longer but several of the little shops were closed.

Eleven in the morning was time to start thinking about the two restaurants in town. We’d eaten breakfast around 6:00 and we were starting to get hungry. We chose Paul’s Barbeque and walked over for lunch.

Paul’s Bar-B-Q

Our party, Brenda, Heather, Ray and I, were the first of the day’s customers. Paul’s serves a North Carolina vinegar base sauce, odd for Georgia. We ordered and enjoyed our meals as the dining room was beginning to fill.

Our party, Brenda, Heather, Ray and I, were the first of the day’s customers. Paul’s serves a North Carolina vinegar base sauce, odd for Georgia. We ordered and enjoyed our meals as the dining room was beginning to fill.


I mentioned to an employee, a middle aged man, that I’d noticed Paul’s while driving through Lexington for many years. I wondered how long Paul’s had been in operation.

The fellow said the Paul’s had been around for a while, but it was never going to make it and was doomed to fail from the day the doors opened.


“So, how long has it been in business, “ I asked

“Eighty-five years, but it’s not going to make it, “ he replied. I suppose in some books a barbeque hut hasn’t made it until the century marked is reached.

After lunch we returned to Tignall gathered our gear and headed to the woods. The temperature was in the low 60’s with clear sky for a change. The gear included a Polaris Ranger – high style.

I dropped Ray off at his blind by 3:00 PM and was in my stand by 3:15 PM. At 4:05 PM I heard a shot. It sounded like Ray had fired and he’d probably have another deer. It would be dark at 5:38 PM, so I climbed down the stand at 5:15 PM, loaded my gear onto the Polaris and drove it to pick up Ray. I should have left at 4:05 PM when I heard his shot.

Reaching Ray at around 5:30 PM, I learned he had shot a 6-point buck. Great, but I didn’t see it anywhere. Ray had a solid shot on the deer, he said. But, it ran about 150 to 200 yards before dropping. “It took me a hour of hiking around to find it,” he said. He pointed out, “There was initially a lot of blood then it just stopped.”


The under brush was thick, but Ray had found the deer. He tied orange tape to trees to lead us to the deer. The tape worked, guiding us right to the deer – down a steep slope and laying in an even steeper gulley. The gulley washed in rainwater from the past several days. Perfect.

The buck looked to weight about 150 pounds. I weight about 150 pounds. Ray is 86 and there is no way he’s climbing down the ravine and into the gulley. There wasn’t an easy solution – I was clambered down and hauled the deer up and out. Much easier said than done. Clearly, I’d had been spoiled by the past three easy to retrieve deer.

You can see where the pigs have been rooting


Ray had gotten this deer – I’d been in an areas were hogs have been rooting. None come out before I had to leave. We’ll head back out to hunt again on Tuesday. In the meantime, this buck is being processed and we’ll enjoy it in the near future.

An archer’s day

Today I was able to concentrate on archery. The morning was devoted to target practice, in the afternoon it was hunting.

Target at 20 yards

In order to practice outside I needed to set up a range. Using a tape measure I marked distances from 20 to 50 yards in 5-yard increments. The Block that I tacked a paper target was positioned onto a plastic chair. The chair was then wedged in the ground before a dirt mound backstop – just in case.

Old fire wood marks the yardage
Target at 50 yards

River, my dog, enjoys watching me shoot. On this day her attitude was exclusively play therefore she had to sit in the truck. She whined the entire time. After an hour of shooting and listening to River complain we headed home for lunch.

River – not happy

Following a feast of Christmas leftovers Ray, my father-in-law, and I headed to the woods. We loaded the Polaris Ranger and hauled it away for the hunt. We’d stay out until dusk, the time our trail cams suggested we’d have luck. We’d each pre-selected an area to hunt. It had been raining and the ground, much of it is red clay, was filled with tracks. We could see recent passing of deer, pigs, coyote, raccoons and turkey. We were optimistic.


Dropping Ray off at his site I drove the Ranger to the area I’d chosen. It was clear a lot of deer had recently been here.

Sure beats four walls

It was too dark to shoot at 5:30PM. I’d neither seen or heard anything. The woods were quiet. The woods were also spectacular, cool, calming, and peaceful. Even though neither Ray nor I had seen anything we both enjoyed the afternoon.

Riding in style

Being able to shoot and hunt is a great pleasure. Practice makes for better hunting when a shot is presented. Even when there isn’t a shot – an afternoon in the woods beats an afternoon at the office.

In Georgia to: hunt, run, bike, kayak, and shoot 3D

Brenda and I made it to Tignall, GA. With us we brought two mountain bikes – we both ride and the land we hunt, 679 acres, has great trails for bikes. I brought two bows, my Mathews Apex 7 and Mathews ZXT, one for a tournament and one for hunting. Our two dogs, River and Nixie, of course made the trip.

“Are we there, yet?”

Upon arrival, I unpacked, while Brenda helped her dad, Ray, prepare an early dinner. It was too late to shoot, and dark, so after dinner River and I headed out for a run.

Here the terrain is rolling hills. We’d not gone 100 yards when River tore out after deer. The deer are everywhere, here. But, my hunt objective is wild pigs. The pigs that run wild here are abundant. What I am hoping to get is a couple of small gilts, which I think are best for eating.

Trail cam from October

The after dinner run felt great after being stuck in the truck for eight hours. A bonus was that it was not cold. A friend, Chris back in Maryland, who is an archer and runner had posted that the temperature was 28° F. It was 52°F when I ran this evening.


We’re here for the next few weeks. I am looking forward to hunting, running, cycling and kayaking. The trip will be topped off spending Christmas with our oldest daughter and her family in Winder. Then off to Social Circle, Georgia for the Buckeye 3D tournament.

Thanksgiving with the Lain’s

Two of my three grandchildren enjoying Disney songs.

Thanksgiving in American is a major holiday. For my non-American friends as well as those in the US who might be interested here is a bit about Thanksgiving.

Most people associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims. When I asked my friends and family many thought that Native Americans invited the Pilgrims (those British separatist settlers) to a feast. In fact, the Pilgrims had invited Native Americans to attend a feast, religious in nature, as a celebration of thankfulness for a good harvest. This occurred in 1621at the Plymouth Colony in what today is Massachusetts.

Good food follows days of preparation (At out home in Easton, MD)

The earliest recorded thanksgiving services in a territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards in the 16th century and were routine in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607.

Hiking with my youngest daughter, Candace, her husband, Jason, and their two children, Cordelia and Merric

The first US President to proclaim Thanksgiving Day was George Washington. He set the date for October 3, 1789 to celebrate. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863. We Americans continue to celebrate this day every November.

Scene at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, near Seward, Maryland

Part of this festivity involves a large meal with family and friends. Some of us enjoy sports on television like football, which follow the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC. Others run in Turkey Trot races, typically a 5K or 10K. We also volunteer at food centers to help the less fortunate enjoy a nice meal. And many of us go hunting.

US Capitol building in Washington, DC

It is an important holiday in America. We spent this one with our youngest daughter, Candace, her husband, Jason, and their two children, Cordelia and Merric. The holiday was a mini-vacation with a number of adventures hiking in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and visiting Washington, DC.

Cordelia and Merric were not pleased to see litter. Their mom placed it in the trash.

If you are reading this and you are not an American, you may have a similar holiday your country. If you do then you understand a day of thankful celebration. If not, I hope this very brief explanation helps.

Enjoying the Smithsonian


Leaving Georgia for now

Hunting is done for a few weeks. We’re going to miss the warm days and Georgia Whitetail. The woods were spectacular and filled with turkey. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t see them. In December we’ll be here for pigs. Once the end of March arrives those turkey we’ve been watching will be on the docket.

Not a bad haul for a short trip