Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for November, 2014

Jeanine’s Draw

Posted by todblog on November 22, 2014

November 21, 2014

In 1985, I was living on Molokai and my supervisor on Maui asked me to assist a crew from Georgia who worked for the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study team. They were looking into whether feral pigs were carrying bovine tuberculosis and acting as potential vectors to domestic cattle. Much to my surprise, I met a girl who could out-hike me, wield a large syringe and draw blood from a pig’s beating heart and had the tactile finesse required to remove portions of a pig skull with a saw and expose the trigeminal nerve for sampling. Needless to say, I was impressed and it was love at first blood. Five years later, Jeanine and I were married. To this day, she is affectionately known to me as “pig woman”.

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed lots of outdoor activities together and we’ve tried to share those experiences with our kids. Living in Oregon, there are ample opportunities to get out and explore and partake in the beautiful wild landscape. We recently got to go on an adventure by ourselves to eastern Oregon for an elk hunt.

Our dear friend Bitsy graciously offered Jeanine a November elk tag and it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. We drove 10 hrs to the ranch in Imnaha and quickly settled in amongst friends who were all ready for the next morning’s opening day elk hunt. We were anxious to see what the promise of a new morning would bring. However, we were nervous because the full moonlit evening would mean elk heading to cover before sunrise which could make finding them a little more difficult.

Day 1. We got to see elk on distant ridges but, none were close enough to put a hunt on. It was clear skies and the full moon was just setting as we scanned the slopes looking for any sign of elk. At least the weather was good for taking pictures.


A big full moon setting as the sun is about to rise on Day 1 of Jeanine’s elk hunt.

TnJ Post1

Taking a break to catch our breath and take in the beautiful scenery around us.

Morning Post1

A good vantage point to watch God’s handy work; painting the rugged valley walls with rays of golden sunlight.


Day 2. Good friends John and Bitsy located some elk in a draw and put us onto them. Jeanine and I started the gradual climb uphill and the slope got steeper as we progressed upward. Were the elk still there? Did they already leave the draw without us detecting them? Did we spook them out of the draw? Somehow, I had a feeling they were still there but we couldn’t be certain. It was our best chance and we opted to climb up the steep hillside slow and steady.

Jeanine's Draw

“Jeanine’s Draw”- a deceivingly steep place to hike uphill for an elk. The elk were last seen walking up into the timbered draw.

Jeanine's Draw2

Another view of “Jeanine’s Draw”. It doesn’t look any easier from this angle either.

As the hillside got steeper, doubt increasingly crept into our thoughts. Were the elk really still here or did they slip out undetected? We took one last break to get our wind back. We decided it was time to take a peek around the corner and glass the draw for elk. “Knowing” elk and how fast they can walk, we looked further uphill in the draw in search of yellow butts and chocolate necks. When suddenly directly across the draw stood a lone spike bull and slowly the bushes around him began to reveal cows and calves up on their feet and slowly assembling for a departure from the draw.

We dropped to the ground and tried to look like a rock on an open hillside. Jeanine quickly set-up for a shot. The wind was still in our favor but, the elk knew something wasn’t right and some started to line-out single file out of the draw. There were about 17 animals standing and slowly moving. Jeanine’s tag was for a cow elk and the majority of them were cows. One stood broadside across the draw and was just staring at us trying to determine what those dark blobs with orange heads were on the open hillside. I was afraid the cow was within seconds of taking off with the others. I let panic creep into my voice as I told Jeanine she better hurry up and shoot. She asked me to range the distance. I replied, “It’s in range. Hurry before that cow leaves!” I ranged that cow elk to be 189 yards. I told Jeanine it was well within range of her Tikka T3 Lite .30-06. She squared up the shooting sticks and flicked the safety off. I had my binos on the cow and waited for the rifle’s wake-up call.

KA BOOMMM!!! Nothing. I couldn’t tell whether the cow was hit or not. It just stood there completely still and the others milled around and started to slowly climb out of the draw. I whispered loudly to Jeanine, “Shoot Again!”

KA BOOMMM!!! This time, I saw the cow flinch slightly but, it still just stood there. I whispered louder, “Shoot Again!”

KA BOOMMM!!! The cow moved forward and down into the draw. The other elk were well on their way out of the draw quickly marching steadily up and out. I knew by the behavior of that cow elk that she’d been fatally hit and was headed in an opposite direction than the herd. We picked up our gear and headed to the draw. A few minutes later, I found the cow laying still near the bottom of the draw.

Evaluation: Hiking up a steep hill, 1 foot upward & 3 foot slide downward, rocks rolling out from under your boots, breathing hard, pulse and head pounding, add adrenaline dump from whispering/screaming husband and elk popping up all over the draw… I’d say Jeanine did a great job shooting under those conditions and she delivered well placed shots that resulted in a quick humane harvest of some of the finest natural protein around.

JnT w Elk

The climb was worth it! That’s my Pig Woman!

elk loaded

Finally got the elk loaded into a truck after a few hundred yards of thorns, wild rose bushes, branches and rocks. Thanks Mark, Brian and Pua!

JnElk Hoist

Jeanine back at the cleaning station with her elk

elk quarters

Elk quarters hanging in the cooler!

JB elk ribs

Bullet (puka in the rib) did its job and brought the elk down quickly. (J. Peyton photo)


Samples from Jeanine’s elk: (clockwise from bottom left): burger, honey jalapeno jerky, round steaks, stew, sirloin steaks, salami, canned stew, and all was made possible by a 165gr Nosler AccuBond bullet.


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The Magical Meat Tree

Posted by todblog on November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014

Fall is probably my most favorite time of the year. It’s harvest time! Everyone is busy picking vegetables and fruits, canning, pickling, preserving, etc. and then there is the harvest of fish and game. Unfortunately, there is a growing divide in our society that casts a shadow over that effort. People scoff at the idea of bringing home wild game as cruel and unnecessary. I see it on Facebook pages where friends cry out against an animal being utilized for its pure, unmedicated, lean, natural protein. Hunting is cast off as just an evil practice carried out by backwoods banjo-playin folks whose family tree has only one branch. Then there are those who would have you believe that eating meat is just wrong… it makes you angry. That can’t be, ‘cuz I’m laughing so hard right now.

angry meater

Let’s step back in time and look at this more closely…

Once upon a time man survived off the land. Hunters were respected individuals and the community’s very existence relied on the game brought back by hunters. I find it strange that for entertainment today folks are fascinated with TV “reality” shows where people try to survive in the wild by providing themselves: food, water, and shelter until rescued or they find their way out. Not too long ago this was an every day occurrence. For much of the world it’s still a way of life.

26-cave-paintings1A cave drawing clearly illustrating hunters harvesting game from pre-historic times.


Not too long ago North American Indians  relied heavily upon buffalo for their survival.

trappercabinTrappers and early settlers survived off the land as they explored and settled Western North America

So, that was yesteryear. We don’t need to do that anymore. We can just go to the store and buy what we need, right?¬† Depends where you are. Supermarkets in the U.S.A. have done a good job of desensitizing the meat and it will look nothing like the animal it came from. Someone else has done all the unpleasant work for you. While cultural markets may be less sensitive to public perception or American perception anyway.

FMmeatsectionNicely packaged meat under good lighting; much easier to envision pulling it off your grill and onto your plate.

Europe MeatEuropean markets with the hooves still attached to the leg. No question, you’re getting the real deal. No styrofoam & cellophane. Perhaps they are selling to a less squeamish market.

Even with our modern market society and the availability of fresh domestically raised meat at a store, there are still those carving out a life from what they manage to bring home from the field everyday somewhere in the world.

african hunterAfrican hunter who successfully used his bow and arrows to feed his family.

Amazonian hunters looking for more monkeys to take with a blowgun. No monkeying around when it comes to feeding the family.

mongolian eaglerA Mongolian girl who has been training her eagle to hunt. An art and tradition practiced by her people and passed on to successive generations.

reindeer bloodA Nenet villager drinking the blood of a reindeer for its high source of vitamins.

reindeer raw meat

Nenet children eating the raw meat and drinking the blood of a reindeer. Somebody forgot to tell these kids it’s just wrong.

We’re more civilized today, right? Well we may be more civilized but, it comes at a price. We entertain ourselves with animated motion pictures with loveable animals that talk, sing and dance with each other. Remember Walt Disney’s movie “Bambi” that demonized every hunter as just plain evil. I remember a daycare provider who let all the kids watch “Bambi” one day and my son came under criticism from the other kids who knew his dad hunted. In defense of his dad, he told them, “my daddy only shoots bad deer!” Wow, the pressures endured by a four year-old at daycare. Then there was the “Land Before Time” cartoon movie series. The herbivorous dinosaur pals discover a new friend who is an orphaned T-Rex. They sing to him, “..friends don’t eat friends…” The T-Rex has a set of sharp teeth for a reason and now he’s forced to a life of leaves…Really?! Throughout the movie, the group of friends encounter big bad T-Rex dinosaurs and they escape every time screaming. I asked my kids, “Do you ever get to see the big sharp tooth eat anything? How’d he get to be that big? Why is he a bad guy?” It’s just entertainment right? Perhaps. However, whether you realize it or not, the media has a tremendous impact on shaping viewer opinion. At this rate, I’m surprised Animal Planet hasn’t been banned for showing wolves tearing a live moose apart without people going into shock.

Over the years, the media has successfully gotten us so disconnected from our food and use of animals.¬† It’s created several generations of “Icky’s” or those who can’t stand the thought of meat and where it comes from…Ick! Marketing has a big effect on people too. You can go to the grocery store and buy your protein on a styrofoam tray wrapped in cellophane with a nice label on it. It’s less icky and tamed down for the consumer. We’ve been programmed to be ashamed of killing animals for food, this package presents a sterilized, less guilty version of getting your own protein.

Then there are the self-righteous elitist vegans who feel compelled to tell you how bad you are for eating meat.

Q: How do you know if there’s a vegan in the room?

A: They’ll tell you.

Many a potluck party has been met by twisted vegan facial expressions and comments when looking at juicy steaks pulled off the barbecue, “Ick that’s so gross, murderer!” Okay, take a deep breath. I’m instantly thinking this person doesn’t appreciate their heritage and where they came from or the struggles and sacrifices made by their ancestors that led to our present day life. Could it be that generations ago, they were forced to eat what they gathered and all they managed to harvest were nuts and fruits while the others ate meat? Not likely. The fact is, they wouldn’t have survived. Okay, I get that there are those who choose a vegan life due to dietary reasons. It’s those who become vegan for political reasons and who get in your face for having carnivorous palates that have me scratching my head.

So, how did we get so disconnected with our food source? As more generations are born and raised in urban settings the connection to our natural resources fades. There are so many people who have no idea where our resources come from and how we got here. These same folks flick a switch and the lights come on or twist a knob and water flows from a faucet and they have no idea where it comes from. Really? Can we be that disconnected from our natural resources? The following clipping has been circulating on the internet for some time now. Don’t know if it’s a joke but, I’m thinking it is totally plausible based on the conversations I’ve had with an Icky or two. Man are we in trouble as a society with folks thinking like this…

meat classified noticeTake that article a step further and you can imagine folks thinking that meat grows on trees.

water meat treeJessica watering our magical meat tree in the backyard. No animals were harmed here. The tree provides guilt-free animal products and we can all sleep good.

We are so blessed to live in the country and in a community that supports harvesting local fresh fish and game to supplement our table fare. Although our modern day hunting tools have changed man still has a primal desire to connect with the land and to harvest a healthy food source for self, family, and community. Thankfully, our family knows where their food comes from and is well connected to it.

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