Tag Archives: Hunting

Out in the woods with a Fisheries Technician

Meet Heather Vainionpaa. She is a Fisheries Technician with a Diploma from BCIT’s Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Program and a BSc. in Biology (Ecology, Evolution and Conservation). She has a pet fish named Charles and a few dozen house plants taking up every inch of window space in her house. This is her story:

IMG_1443Growing up we always had game in the freezer. My dad was, and continues to be, an avid hunter, as was his dad before him.  I was interested in hunting but was slow to start as I always had school in the fall, so it wasn’t until I was 22 and had finished my undergrad that I took the C.O.R.E. training to get my license. Even then I didn’t go on my first hunt for another year or so; looking back I’m not sure why I waited so long. The push that finally got me out there was my grandpa passing away.  He had been super keen to get me out hunting and I remember him showing me his .243 that he wanted me to hunt with.  He and my dad were always hunting buddies, so that first fall without him I finally got my butt in gear and went with my dad. I really regret not having the opportunity to go hunting with both my Pappa and my dad together, as I have so much fun with my dad every trip- regardless of whether we come home with a bag full of meat or just new stories.

I continue to hunt for a number of reasons. Firstly, I really enjoy the time spent in nature with my dad. There’s a camaraderie that comes from sharing a hunting trip with someone, or with a group of people.  I also just love being outdoors and hiking into areas that not a lot of people see. I love finding tracks of any kind and trying to guess what it is and where they’re going, and frequently nerd-out over plant ID or spotting different types of fungi.  I enjoy the challenge of hunting, trying to move quietly while being alert to your surroundings. I also really enjoy eating game.  Sitting down to a meal that you provided for yourself is immensely satisfying. It also comes with the added benefit of knowing exactly where your meat came from.  I continue to hunt because I want to learn more and become a better hunter, I’m still a bit of a rookie in a lot of ways.

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My greatest hunting experience is a tough one to answer, if I was forced to choose it would probably be from my first moose hunt. We had a Bull Moose draw and were maybe 4 or 5 days into our trip. I had just shot my very first grouse and my dad and I were celebrating when he glanced over my shoulder and his eyes went huge.

IMG_1547A massive 13 point bull moose had just strolled out of the trees up the road from us. It was pretty nuts, after days of hiking into tricky spots and staking out for hours calling, we just happened upon one through sheer luck. I guess that would be my beginner’s luck kicking in.  It was a pretty cool moment to share with my dad.

I love the new experiences that hunting brings, I’ve seen so much in the short time that I’ve been hunting. I’ve drifted down a river while a beaver slapped his tail at me; I’ve sat for hours watching a Northern Harrier hunt; I’ve stood still while a buck strolled around me through the woods 10 metres away; I’ve watched two grizzlies wander through a meadow through binoculars.

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Hunting is important to me because through it I find both a connection to people and to nature, and I want to keep having more new experiences like these.

Heather and her dad will be heading out this weekend for their first hunt together for the season.

Venison Osso Buco

Sossy Outdoors: Venison Osso Buco

As hunting season nears to an end, you may start wondering what delicious meal you will prepare with the buck that is now nicely portioned and packaged away in your freezer. Try out this Venison Osso Buco. The meat is tender and juicy and the meal is sure to keep your stomache warm as winter creeps closer.

Ingredients:

6 Venison Shank Portions

¾ cup flour

1 tsp each of Kosher salt, black pepper, dried basil leaves

Olive Oil for pan

16 oz Diced canned tomato

½ cup red wine

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

2 cups sliced carrot, nice chunky pieces

6-8 Juniper Berries

2 cups venison or beef stock

4-5 sprigs Thyme

½ cup finely diced Parsley

¼ cup Lemon Zest

1 Garlic clove, diced

Method:

flouring

Put flour in a small bowl with kosher salt, pepper, and basil leaves. Mix well. Put on a piece of parchment paper or a plate. Take the shank pieces and dust well with the flour mix. Warm olive oil in a pan to medium high. Place the shank pieces in the pan, browning all sides till golden brown and crispy.

searing

Place the shanks at the bottom of your crock pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to your pan, stirring in all the bits left from the shanks. Sprinkle with kosher salt, and place the thyme sprigs in. As it starts to sizzle and cook slightly, add the wine and stir. Add the tomatoes, juniper berries, and broth.

boiling

Add everything into the crock pot over the shank pieces.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until shank pieces are freely pulling away from the bone.

Take your Venison shanks out of the Crock pot and cover with tinfoil on a cutting board.

Remove thyme sticks from juices, along with the Juniper berries.  Pour into a deep skillet, cook and reduce to 1/3 .

Mix your minced Parsley, minced Garlic, lemon zest and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

Place Venison Osso Buco on a plate and pour reduced sauce over top. Garnish the tops with your fresh Gremolata.

This dish is complimented very well with a Risotto alla Milanese, which is a delicious Parmesan, Saffron Risotto.

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The First Hunt and what it takes to be a Mountain Hunter

Jenny Ly has returned from her Woodland Caribou hunt in Northern BC. This is her account of the adventure.

Before the caribou hunt, a lot of anxiety came from the fact I wasn’t going to be able to keep up or pack out as much as the men in my group. I didn’t want to feel like a burden, or that I wasn’t pulling my weight. The insecurities that developed made me feel like I was interfering with the “boys club”, even though that was far from the truth.

It had an adverse effect on me because I was always on the defence or felt like I continuously had to prove my worth; which often doesn’t translate well. I think one of my biggest takeaways is to be vocal about these thoughts. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be your greatest strength.

Jenny Ly
Photo Credit: Jenny Ly

The positive was that I used these insecurities to motivate myself to adhere to an intense training schedule of running, weightlifting and rucking. Let me tell you, while up in those mountains I was grateful I put in the work. I wouldn’t advise anyone planning a backpacking hunt without some mountain conditioning.

On opening day, we crossed paths with a group packing out a successful morning, and it just so happened I knew one of the fellows. For those that are curious about hunting, the hunting world is small and supportive, you’ll quickly make friends. Unearthing this community has been a delightful surprise, since starting this journey I have only stumbled across the kindest and most welcoming individuals.

The crew was kind in giving us advice, words of encouragement and even feeding us a few bites of delicious caribou ribs they had roasting over an open fire. They were genuinely in awe that three rookies were attempting such a massive hunt, entirely unguided. We apparently were, “doing it all backwards.”

first hunt
Photo Credit: Jenny Ly

Hiking up and down mountains weighed down by sheets of ice-cold rain, hail, snow blizzards, and fog so thick we were often turned around trying to walk a straight line. Worst of all, we were in grizzly country. I remember feeling so defeated, I picked up an antler shed because I was about to give up and accept I was going home empty handed.

But with grit, on the fourth day, after what felt like a two-hour stalk, we were finally successful. I’ll admit tears were brimming around my eyes as I stood staring at the bull. Initially, I had thought they were tears of sadness, but now I’ve had some time to reflect on the hunt, I would say they were tears of gratitude. I started out on this journey to reconnect myself with my food; including the fur, bones and guts. To know exactly where my food came from, how it was harvested and what it was raised on is a hunters blessing.

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Photo Credit: Jenny Ly

The real work began when we found success. It took 20 hours to carry our harvest down the mountain. At times I had about 75lbs on my back, often I wanted to burst into tears from exhaustion.

In our caribou crew, we often laughed at the fact that no matter what we talk about it would always circle back to food. During our 20-hour pack out we would banter about all the amazing foods we’ve had on our travels to Denmark, Japan, and Portugal. Where to get the best burger, ramen and tacos in Vancouver. We even listed off our favourite items in our local specialized shops for teas and hot sauce.

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Photo Credit: Jenny Ly

How ironic it was it that we were packing out about 250lbs of the best meat in the world while eating freeze dried meals. But I guess it’s only fair our stomachs must suffer a bit for the reward.

After being snowed in for 2.5 days, it was finally clear enough for the floatplane to come pick us up. The pilot was a little taken aback when he saw our load and said, “I’ve never seen anyone pack out so much meat before.”

For a momentary amount of despair and suffering, I now can look back on it and share a story of persistence, and the reward that comes with it. I take pride in knowing I worked darn hard for the food on my table.

In this pursuit of heeding the call of my inner wild, I found not only my passion but my purpose in life has quickly presented itself.  I am now heavily involved in wildlife conservation in our beautiful province. I enjoy every moment I spend working on keeping our wild lands thriving for generations to enjoy. Furthermore, I cannot wait for my next adventure!

Until the next adventure
Photo Credit: Jenny Ly

You can read more of Jenny’s stories on her blog: Chasing Food

Urban Huntress: Feeding her soul

Meet Jenny Ly. She is a young woman living in downtown Vancouver. She loves food and loves to eat healthy, that is why, with little prior knowledge, she embarked on the challenge to become a hunter. This is her story.

Why I hunt: To serve others through my obsession with food.

I’ll admit I associate most memories with the meals I’ve had during periods of delight, despair, and victory.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been searching for that one thing that fueled my passion. I have always felt admiration for, yet envious of people who can shed blood, sweat, and tears for that “thing that makes them tick.” During my short time on earth, I’ve attempted to establish interest in a handful of musical instruments, drawing, poetry, rugby, wrestling, woodworking, leatherworking and even computer coding. While I value these skills, I’m more enthused over a plate of pasta than a paintbrush or HTML code. At one point, I felt I had no talents beyond eating (albeit doing it well).

Harvesting my own food always seemed natural to me because of my family’s hobby farm in Vietnam. I would go stay on our farm every summer as a child and I would help in the farm tasks that would put food on our table. I think this experience is why hunting has always been at the back of my mind, it was just shoved into retirement with the bustle of city life. What propelled my curiosity for wild meat was after my first taste of Elk, prepared raw as a tartare. I couldn’t believe how sweet and clean the meat tasted. It didn’t have that store-bought funk.

My city-living-oblivious-self was also shocked to learn about the fish, wildlife and habitat conservation efforts made possible by hunters and anglers.

I think this realization was when I finally found my calling.

My motivation to hunt was triggered by my obsession with food. The horrors of factory farmed meat drove me to become a vegan but that didn’t last long. Buying organic, grass-fed, hormone-free meat would have been a much more reasonable route to go about things, but I’m not known for being practical.

Not to mention, as a modern woman I was not going to depend on any man to bring home the meat. Really, my only option was to go out and get it myself.

Heeding to the call of my inner wild has awoken a primal instinct from its deep slumber I never knew existed. The adventure that lays ahead makes me feel uncomfortable, challenged and leaves me restless on most nights before a hunt. But I’m addicted to the adrenaline, the uncertainty, and the challenge of it all. The fact is, I don’t necessarily enjoy sitting for hours out in the rain or bug invested woods, but I can’t stop and to be honest, I’m in too deep to turn back.

Hunting has motivated me to train harder. I can run faster, hike higher, and lift more weight than ever before. Reconnecting with the source of my food (fur, bones, guts and all) has been the most liberating adventure I’ve pursued.

It’s not just hunting but also finding delight in the microworlds in a handful of soil. Attempting to grasp the wildlife around me has made me fall in love with my Canadian heritage. I finally feel like I’ve found my purpose in life.

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I hope through my experience I can start a movement of mindful eaters, erase the stigma of hunters, and encourage you to do what you love and do it often.

This September, I will be hunting woodland caribou, the largest herd in BC. To conserve the population, the hunt was a LEH hunt. I’m going with 2 other rookie hunters from Vancouver, and we’re all beyond excited to have this be our first fall hunt.

Having been involved in several wildlife conservation campaigns to preserve the woodland caribou in other parts of BC that are endangered, I’m honoured to be able to have the opportunity to even have a glance at these iconic Canadian symbols in the wild. I get a lot of confused looks from folks when I explain I’m fighting to conserve caribou but going to hunt them at the same time. I want to clarify the herd I’m hunting is healthy and thriving, while the herd I’m working to protect is located down south; they are in no way associated. It’s a strange paradox that is hard to grasp and believe me, I’ve had many internal conflicts with myself. Know that we are a group of food-focused hunters who are grateful for any animal we harvest and there will be zero waste. We plan on processing the whole animal ourselves from nose- to-tail, using everything from the bones, organs and hide.

I’m restless from excitement from being able to fly around Itcha on a floatplane and see the volcanic mountain range from up high! Regardless if we’re successful or not, it would be one heck of an adventure and there will be stories to tell.

You can read more from Jenny on her blog Chasing Food.

The Power of the Pen

Chad A. Larson
Here is Chad on one of his many outdoor adventures.

Our next Wildlife Warrior is Chad A. Parent, Vice President of the Golden District Rod and Gun Club. As well, we would like to give special recognition to all the members of the Golden District Rod and Gun Club. We are recognizing Chad and the Golden District Rod and Gun Club for their hard work they do in the name of conservation, specifically the powerful letter they wrote to Minister Donaldson on Wildlife and Habitat Management.

Chad grew up fishing and hunting small game. As he grew older and entered adulthood, he left hunting behind and focused on his career and raising a family. It has only been in the past few years that Chad has brought hunting back into his life.

“I have a wife and three children, and I wanted to educate them about conservation and teach them the importance of providing for themselves.”

Chad also came to a point in his life where he wanted to get more involved in his community and do more for conservation. Just in the past 19 years, he saw the decline in wildlife populations in the Kootenays. The more research Chad did, the more he realized there are a lot of declines happening all over BC and he wanted to do more to help. It was two years ago that Chad joined the Golden District Rod and Gun Club, hoping this would be a way for him to do more for conservation and to get more involved in the community.

Chad. A parent and Russel Wagner
Russell Wagner (right) and Chad assisting the Conservation Officer Service in the recovery of a grizzly bear collar from the backcountry around Golden.

A little under a year ago, Chad attended a meeting at the club on the proposed Grizzly Bear hunt by the government. He heard that someone was going to write a letter to the government and wanted to be involved in the discussion. Unfortunately, the individual did not write the letter. Chad took it upon himself to pick up the pen and write the letter. He has been writing letters ever since.

Chad and the members of the Golden District Rod and Gun Club try to stay active in their community, “We try our best to get people involved and informed.”

The Golden District Rod and Gun Club are working on getting back to their roots of conservation. In doing so, they have formed a conservation committee who come together to hammer out questions and answers and form responses to various issues, such as Wildlife and Habitat Management.

In an aim to educate the community and get them more involved, the club hosted their first semi annual film night at a local theatre. Admission was free, and they showed a powerful film by Donnie Vincent on hunting. Chad says the club is also working on putting a dock at Susan lake and they are looking into wildlife management initiatives in their private woodlot. A portion of the club’s revenue comes from their woodlot, where they harvest timber. The club has hired a wildlife biologist to develop a management plan for the timber lot, so they can enhance wildlife habitat.

Chad A. Parent at 2018 BCWF AGM
A lunch meeting with other conservationists at the 2018 BCWF AGM. From left to right: Byron Trask CORE examiner, Rick Hoar president of Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club, Chad Parent GDR&GC, Russell Wagner GDR&GC, Glenn Flynn Regional president 4E, Iver Larson past president of BCWF, and Dave White past president of BCWF

“The club and I, we are working to make positive change. We want to do something good for fish and wildlife and our community. If the next generation doesn’t care about fish and wildlife, then we are in trouble. We need to put pressure on the government to take wildlife seriously. There are cracks in the system, and we need to work to fix them and work towards making wildlife important to all.”

Chad says a year ago he was stumped at trying to figure out what he could do for fish and wildlife. But he found inspiration in others.

“Rob Chipman was a huge influence, and through conversations with him, he was able to lead me down the right path of what I could do to give back. I also have a lot of respect for Alex Johnson, the previous Wildlife Warrior. He does a lot. When I read his article, I wondered if one day I would be a Wildlife Warrior…and here we are. I couldn’t believe it.”

Chad and the Golden District Rod and Gun club will continue to do their part to educate the community to help the conservation of fish, wildlife and their habitats, and most of all to write to the government so they understand how important fish and wildlife are to the people of BC.

“I do this for my children and for my family. I am a hunter because I want to be able to provide healthy food for my family and educate them on conservation. I just hope that my kids will be proud of their dear old dad.”

Chad A. Larson
Chad and his three sons out hunting.

Read Chad’s letter for the Golden District Rod and Gun Club to Minister Donaldson:

Letter to Minister Donaldson

Venison Wontons

Sossy Outdoors: Venison Wontons

Having a party and want to serve a delicious appetizer that will wow your guests? This is the one! Delicious, full of flavor, and a wonderful way to showcase the versatility of Venison Meat.

Ingredients: 

2 cups ground Venison

1 cup chopped shrimp

1 cup ground pork

2 tablespoons soya sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ cup sesame oil

1 can chopped water chestnuts

2 tablespoons Lemon grass paste

¼ cup of rice wine

½ cup chopped scallions

Dipping Sauce:

½ cup rice wine

¼ cup soya sauce

¼ cup sesame oil

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Blend all ingredients well in a bowl. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, but overnight is best. Any wonton wrappers from your local supermarket will do. Spoon filling into wonton wrapper, about a teaspoon. Pinch the top of the wonton with damp fingers.

Boil Method: Drop into boiling water, about 2-3 minutes or until they float. Serve with well blended dipping sauce.

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Deep Fry: Drop into fryer basket with oil set at 350’. Take out when Wontons are a deep golden brown. Serve with Plum Sauce.

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