Mind is on trophy bucks, venison

It’s not difficult to tell hunters are getting all revved up for deer hunting, all you have to do is listen to conversations around work, at outdoor sports shops and local watering holes.

Hunters are talking about what the deer numbers look like in their neck of the woods, if the bucks are starting to get a little frisky and where is the most economical place to buy bait.

Reports from archery hunters are coming in, too, which are great to hear as the firearm season draws nearer.

Outdoor magazines are all coming out with their special deer hunting issues, as well, which always gets the imagination working hard about all those trophy bucks you’re going to encounter this year.

There’s another method I use to get my mind focused squarely on nice bucks – pick up one of the “Great Michigan Deer Tales” books and see what, when and where some of the real trophies have been taken.

Outdoor writer/photographer Richard P. Smith of Marquette came out with book six in his series this year, so there are some fresh tales to enjoy.

The book examines how hunters in all corners of the state bagged their trophies, accompanied with nice photos of their prize.

Just reading the chapter headings gets me exited for the hunt. Included are Michigan’s Highest Scoring Non-Typical, Two Black Powder Records in Two Days, State Record Crossbow Bucks, A Very Good Year for the U.P., Mackinac County’s Paddle-Antlered Buck, Luce County Giant and Father, Son Hunt for the Books.

In Smith’s usual style, he relates the stories of how hunters got their trophies in the hunters’ own words, which is entertaining.

In addition, there are a lot of little tricks that readers can cull out of the stories and perhaps put to use themselves while in the woods.

The first book in the series was published in 1994 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of deer licenses being required in Michigan. The book’s popularity proved good enough that Smith has published another in the series every four years since.

Books in the series cost $12.50 each, or $16.50 including postage for autographed copies if ordered from the author. In addition, there are reduced rates for ordering multiple issues of the series.

They can be obtained by logging on to Smith’s website at www.richardpsmith.com. All of the books are also available at area bookstores.

While pulling one of the earlier books in the series out of the bookcase the other day I found an interesting book marker that could also come in handy this year – “Venison Upper Peninsula Style.”

I’m not sure when the original of this little booklet was published, but the one I have was reproduced in 1983.

“From the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Comes this collection of recipes for cooking venison,” the booklet reads. “Some have been used for years by loggers and backwoodsmen. Others are quite new. All of them are worth trying.”

Following this advice, I’ve tried several of the recipes and they have all come out well, as long as I followed the basic rules of properly handling the deer once it’s down and the resulting venison.

By the way, how to make sure the venison is good is also covered in the booklet, which includes an interesting introduction by the late Gail E. Bowers, who wrote it while serving as director of the Menominee County Michigan State University Extension Service.

While I sort of like the quirkiness of the old booklet I came across, there is a newer version available on the MSU extension website at msue.anr.msu.edu. Just put Extension Bulletin E-657 in the site’s search box and you’ll go right to it.

All this reading I’ve been doing about trophy bucks and delicious venison dishes certainly has me up for the hunt, which can’t come soon enough.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is dschneider@miningjournal.net.