Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Back Quiver Bump - and Proper Positioning

I hear a common complaint from folks that say they are not flexible enough to reach back and secure their arrow nock when using a back quiver.  There is a technique to using the quiver that may help, I call "the back quiver bump".

First, ensure you have a properly fitted and designed back quiver.  See my previous article in Traditional Bowhunter Magazine titled Hunting with the back quiver.

Using 33 inch long arrows (35 inches with broadheads) and a narrow quiver with a narrow opening is a sure fire recipe for making it hard to withdraw arrows.

For the most comfort cut your arrows to the shortest possible length, use 2 blade broadheads instead of 3 or 4 blades, and stick with blunts instead of big wide judos.   Those other things can work (I've done them all), but it will be more difficult.


I adjust the hang of the quiver so it is more horizontal than commonly seen in other types of quivers.  The reason for this is multi-faceted.    Having the arrows lower aids in easier retrieval and securing of the nock.  I like the arrows to be below the level of my shoulder, not up by the ear.  Reaching up and behind is harder for those that are less flexible.  Reaching to the side is not as challenging for most.

Here is how our quivers hang:

Yours Truly

Nate Steen

John Schulz

Howard Hill 

Having the arrows protruding this way also minimizes contact with brush while moving through the woods quietly  It also keeps the arrows in more of a horizontal and stacked position limiting arrow movement inside of the quiver. 

Another benefit of this positioning, is to put the bottom of the quiver closer to my bow arm elbow.  this way one can bump the quiver backwards with the elbow or hand fairly easily.

Pushing the bottom of the quiver back in this way, should make it slide around to the point that the arrow nocks can be in front of the plane of your chest if needed.

Bump with elbow:

Bump with Hand:

Nocks can be past the plane of the chest in this way:

The quiver should be able to slide.  I go so far as to put the smooth finish side of my strap towards my body.  Here is an old American Leathers shot saying why:

I submit that if you can touch your shoulder, you should be able to use a back quiver with ease once you master the techniques. The quiver can become a vital part of your hunting system like it has for me.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hunting Chicken - "chicken of the Woods" Wild Mushrooms

Originally published in Traditional Bowhunter Magazine:

Hunting Chicken - Oct/Nov 2018

Sliding through an opening in the underbrush with his delicate longbow and well-worn back quiver, the hunter eased into a clearing as he scanned his new surroundings with silent and determined intent.  The dense and humid air caused a trickle of sweat to roll down from his sideburns as the buzz of mosquitoes and gnats hovered annoyingly around his head and eyes. Out of the periphery of his vision, he caught a glimpse of something that triggered an immediate stimulus and endorphin rush.  Nestled along a log in the distance was not a deer, but there was an imminent harvest nonetheless.
Numerous seasoned woodsman know about spring Morel mushrooms, but there is another delicacy that is almost as easy to identify, widely available throughout late spring and into hunting season in most parts, and is a delicious wild forage of the gourmet caliber.  The fungi in question is Laetiporus Sulphureus, or known more commonly as “Chicken of the Woods”.

I came to know this mushroom quite by accident. While attending a large traditional shoot in May of 2012,  I posted a photo on a traditional archery forum of a big bright rosette of mushroom shelves I spotted growing near a log on the course that I thought was interesting.  I was amazed when a fellow brother of the bow asked if I had eaten it.

I was never one who was very fond of eating mushrooms in general, though I have recently become enamored with the reclusive spring morel, and now the Chicken of the woods.  There are several reasons for this recent affinity for these two forest treasures. The major factor is that both have a meaty flavor.  You probably guessed that chicken of the woods mushrooms tastes a bit like chicken to most.  The morel also having a meaty and earthy flavor.  

Another aspect that is also appealing to me is the ease in identification.  It is difficult to misidentify these for their potentially toxic relatives.  Chicken are shelf brackets that are characterized by a bright orange or sulphur-yellow colored body often with bright yellow tips.  There fleshy and rubbery bodies usually have yellowish pores on whitish undersides that have no gills.  They have an affinity to grow on Oak, though they can also be found on beach, chestnut, willow, yew and sometimes even coniferous tree species. Their bright overlapping fan shaped caps can be quite large, some brackets can weigh over 100 pounds, and visible from quite a distance.  

Some individuals have a sensitivity to this species, and fewer still can have a full out allergic reaction. It is wise to eat a very small amount your first time to see if you react.   Use caution if you already have a wood allergy or if the host tree is known to have irritating or toxic qualities like the yew tree.  The edible quality can also vary with the age of the organism, so don’t give up on them if your first culinary experiment was not fantastic.  You may have just had a bad batch. 
If you are lucky enough to come across a good fresh batch it will be very moist, brightly colored, and rubbery throughout.  The entire bracket is delicious.  If the growth is older, the thicker base will be woody and only the fringe will be choice.  It has been said that if only the edges are harvested, the brackets will continue to grow and allow multiple harvests in the same season.  

Once collected, they can be immediately soaked in salt water to remove any insects and prepared.  To preserve them, dehydration does not work well.  The thick bodies do not re-hydrate very well.  I prefer to freeze them by layering between waxed paper on a sheet pan until they are solid.  This keeps them from sticking together.  I’ll place the frozen brackets in a bag and then remove a few at a time for meals while keeping the rest frozen.  They will last in excess of a year this way and longer if you vacuum seal.    

Once soaked and rinsed to remove any insects or debris, you can cook them like chicken breast.  I have had success breading and frying, sautéing in butter with onions (maybe with perogies), adding to stews, and of course my favorite authentic German Jaeger Schnitzel (hunters Schnitzel; recipe below).  

I have come to enjoy and take great satisfaction in harvesting some of the many offerings that the woods provide.  Many wild foods such as berries, fruits, and mushrooms are available during the times when we are in the field hunting.  Keeping an eye out for these morsels can add a  bit of excitement to any hunt, and you might feel good at being a little bit more self-sufficient. 

Jaeger Schnitzel
½ pound of Venison chops (5 or 6 x 1 inch backstrap chops)
1 cup of sliced Chicken of the woods mushroom
1/3 cup sliced morel mushrooms
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter
½ a sweet onion or one large shallot
¼ cup of red wine
½ cup of beef stock or broth
2 eggs
¼ cup of heavy cream (or whole milk)

Place your venison cutlets between 2 layers of cling wrap (to keep things from splattering) and pound each side with a meat hammer to tenderize.

Dredge the pounded cutlets in a plate of flour salt and pepper, then coat in a bowl with the well beaten eggs.  Transfer the cutlets then to a plate with the Italian breadcrumbs and thoroughly coat. Reserve some of the flour for thickening later. 

Heat a large heavy cast iron skillet with the olive oil and butter over medium -high heat. In batches, cook venison 3-4 minutes, or until browned, turning once. Remove the venison from pan; set aside and keep warm.  

Using the same pan used for the cutlets, add the thinly sliced onion or shallot, and the mushrooms and sauté 3-4 minutes adding additional butter if necessary and salt and pepper, until tender. 
Add the wine and beef stock and bring to a boil for several minutes. 
Add the heavy cream or milk and about a teaspoon of flour to thicken sauce to the consistency of gravy while constantly stirring.

To serve pour the mushroom sauce over the cutlets and enjoy with an accompaniment of traditional German Spaetzle, butter noodles, or potato of your choice.  

The Hunt Process — Packaging Meat

  • Originally Published in Traditional Bowhunter Magazine web content located here:






The Hunt Process—Packaging Meat

How many of you butcher and process your own deer/game instead of taking it to a meat processor?
I grew up on a farm in the Eastern US and one of my first memories of deer hunting was when my dad allowed me to help with butchering a deer my brother had killed. My dad’s basement wood shop was transformed into a processing plant and everyone pitched in to get the work completed. My dad and brother would cut meat while my mother would freeze wrap and run the grinder. It was one of the proudest moments I could remember when my dad lifted me up on the workbench in front of the ribcage, handed me a knife to cut out the meat from between the ribs for burger, and told me “Be careful, and don’t cut yourself.”

During my college years and for a little while after, I took a few animals to the processor my hunting partner used. I was appalled at the conditions to say the least. Flies buzzed everywhere, the bandsaw and equipment was filthy, and how in the world did they ensure that that burger coming out of the machine was from my animal and not some guy who drug the carcass around to show his friends for 8 hours in the hot sun? I thought to myself…no wonder some folks don’t like the taste of wild game!

I figured it was worth my time and effort to get back to my roots. I was living in a townhouse at the time. One of the best things I did was put down that blue tinted epoxy garage flooring. Wow, blood mops up easy from that type of flooring. I had to pull our car out of the garage, set up a folding table, picked up an inexpensive grinder and vacuum sealer, and I was on my way!

I had some funny experiences back in those days. I didn’t have a sink to dump my mop water, so I carried the mop bucket across the street to dump it into the storm sewer along the street. I can remember some concerned looks from the neighbors as a tired, raggedy, arm-stained character poured bloody wash water out… “Has anyone seen the wife recently?”

Then there was the time I opened the garage door and one of the neighborhood city kids saw the skinned carcass hanging from the gambrel and said to his mom, “Mommy, mommy, you should see the size a’dat fish he has in there!” That one got a few chuckles from my hunting buddy and me.
Nowadays, I have a large 3-car garage with my own sizable wood shop in the 3rd bay. I have everything decked out in epoxy flooring, a large wash sink with hot water, as well as space heaters and stereo music at the ready. A cabinet sits in the corner with all my processing gear, and the gambrel swings from the ceiling hook for most of the year.

Sometimes, I’ll take a few moments to run off to the kitchen while the skinning is taking place and cook up a victory meal of fresh deer heart fried with onions to pick at with skewers while we cut. Yum! The morning hunts might have some eggs or potatoes in the mix as well.

Often, after a long tracking job in the evening, we will break up the work. After skinning, I’ll just quarter the meat quickly with a cordless sawzall and put the larger pieces into plastic bags and then into a large marine cooler. Putting the bags over apple juice bottles filled with frozen brine water, the goods stay fresh and cold until after work the following day. I fill the chest with the frozen bottles to make it more efficient until I can fill it with meat. We have the routine down to where, with help, it takes about three hours to process a deer including skinning, vacuum sealing and labelling, grinding, and clean up. Solo, about another hour or two. I also try to keep the large tendons, the tail, skull and antlers, and sometimes the entire hide for future tanning if the fur is nice. I try to utilize as much as I can from each animal.

Sometimes, however things get a little hectic. One time, my partner Mike and I were fortunate enough to kill a deer in the morning and we were happily cutting and retelling stories when the cell phone buzzed. It was our other partner, Brent, who was still in the woods stewing over his “miss” in the immediate post dawn light. “…Um, I climbed down and found my arrow covered in blood and broken in half.” We had two deer to cut up!

What happens when a skilled traditional bowhunter hunts with a rifled shotgun for the first time? Mike wanted to see how easy it really was to kill a deer with a slug gun one snowy January evening. “Everyone always told me when you shoot a deer with a gun they just drop.” Mike snuck up and crested a rise where several deer were milling around. He kept shooting and the deer kept running off. He continued to shoot because he had calculated he was missing. Well within minutes, Mike had four deer down in short order. It took us two days to process all that meat, and we both immediately instituted a two deer per day limit!

I live where the temperatures are warm most of the year, which prevents me from hanging a deer for days in order to age it. With no walk-in cooler available, I prefer to seal and freeze the fresh meat immediately. I will wet age the vacuumed sealed packs of meat in the refrigerator for 7-10 days at controlled temperatures to improve the quality. I find this works out well for me, and I have plans to purchase a second small refrigerator for the garage to remove these packs of meat from the kitchen unit. There may be room in there for a few beers as well, BONUS!

The “chore” of processing has now become something to relish and look forward to. It is a place where my small hunting group convenes after someone is fortunate enough to make a kill. A campfire of sorts, where details of everyone’s hunt and experiences can be retold and reminisced while enjoying a pull, or two, of whatever bottle of “rot-gut” is laying around the shop. The work is fatiguing after a long hunt, but goes by quickly with the extra hands, the stories, the bourbon, and the brotherhood. I consider this success process as part of the hunt itself now, inseparable from the other components; something that brings me even more intimately together with the ancient and primitive ritual that man knows deep in his DNA as “The Hunt.”