Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Leave Fawns Where You Find Them



I was out checking fences and livestock after this last storm when I noticed a doe standing in tall grass not far from the ranch road.  She just stood and watched as I drove by just a few yards away.  After checking the pasture I headed back to the gate to the house tract and noticed the doe laying only a few yards from where I saw her before.  Thinking she might be injured I stopped and walked towards her.  Walking only a few yards I noticed something on the ground and saw it was a newborn fawn laying perfectly still on the ground.  I turned and went back to my two seat buggy and drove on my way.

This sighting reminded me that I needed to post a warning about touching these little fawns. This is the time of year that people come across these darling little creatures and want to pick them up or feel they are abandoned and think they are saving them.  Do not touch it, if you get your scent on it the doe may not take it back when she returns.  Deer bond based on smell and if that smell is strange she will not accept the young deer as her fawn.

Not only are fawns found out in the countryside but also in city neighborhoods as we encroach into their habitat with housing developments. In Suburbia the deer are quite at home with living on the forage found in large yards and greenbelts. Several generations have been raised among the houses and traffic and thus it is normal for them. What is not normal are the numbers of fawns that are picked up by well-meaning souls that find them laying in the yard or on the edge of a hike and bike trail. A doe will place her fawn somewhere she feels is secure and go off to feed. She will later return to check the fawn and nurse it as needed. So many city folks that run across these fawns think they are abandoned or the mother is dead and take them. Not being equipped nor trained in raising deer they either have to get help or try to raise it themselves. Many cannot get the little fawn to nurse or give it the wrong kind of milk and start it towards a cruel death even though they had good intentions.

  I have raised three fawns through the years only because they were actually in danger.  One followed a horse back to the barn on a large ranch in West Texas and we had no idea when or where the fawn had decided the horse was its mother.  Another I found covered in fire ants and felt it would be dead or permanently injured in just a short time.  The third was being carried down the road by a large lab in a subdivision.  When I stopped the dog dropped the little fawn that in perfect condition.  Since I did not know the where the lab had retrieved the fawn or how long it had been carried, and it now had dog scent all over it,  I took it.  All of the fawns were raised and later released when they could make it on their own.  Rehabbers in Texas have an overabundance of whitetail fawns brought in each year that they have to raise because of the well-intentioned people that have picked them up.

Remember that if you find a fawn leave it where it is unless it is covered by fire ants or is actually in real danger. Do not get your scent on it. The doe will return and retrieve her fawn later. If you really think it is abandoned come back and check on it later just before dark. Ninety-nine percent of the time the doe will have moved it. It is illegal for you to possess a Whitetail fawn in Texas without proper permits.  If it truly needs help you should go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website and locate a licensed rehabber in your area. They will take the fawn and give it a chance to survive. Feel free to observe the beautiful wildlife of Texas, but do it from a distance.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Turkey Jerky

Turkey Jerky

If you are lucky enough to tag a turkey this year you then need to decide how best to use the meat.  I have found a wild turkey to be much less moist and juicy than a domestic bird and it usually comes out to dry if I smoke or roast it.  I have found my favorite way to use up my wild turkey around my house and it does not last long prepared this way.

Cut lean strips of turkey meat, the pieces should be no more than ½ inch thick at the most but as large as you want them. Trim off all fat as it will turn rancid as the meat dries. Fill a large mixing bowl with water and stir in equal amounts of Brown Sugar and Salt until it starts to fall out, kind of like a glass of tea with too much sugar in it.  I find about ½ cup of both works well in my largest mixing bowl.  Stir in 1 Teaspoon of Garlic powder, 1/4 Teaspoon of Allspice ¼ Teaspoon of ground Cloves. Add meat and soak in the brine for 4-8 hours in a refrigerator.  I find that if I leave it over eight hours it will absorb too much salt for my taste.  Remove meat from brine and rinse well in cold water.  Roll or shake on coarse ground black pepper to taste. Do not use table grind black pepper or it will have to strong a pepper taste. Remember course ground pepper  adds flavor,  fine ground adds heat.  Arrange meat on racks in a dehydrator and dry to desired texture.  It takes about 12 hours on my dehydrator set on meat level or around 160 degrees.  Just to make sure it is safe to eat, since it is poultry, I place the dry turkey strips on a rack in a roasting pan and place in an oven preheated to 220 degrees for about twenty minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before bagging in plastic bags.  Place any extra in a bag in the freezer and take out about 2 hours before you intend to eat it.

 This is such a favorite that I now watch for boneless chicken breast on sale at the grocery store just so I can make poultry jerky all year long.  Whether you use turkey or chicken I have a feeling this will become one of your favorite kinds of jerky.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The New Taurus TX-22 Pistol is a Winner


 I have been shooting .22 Long Rifle revolvers and pistols now for over fifty years.  I have my favorites and have not been impressed with a lot of the new .22 caliber pistols on the market, most are too compact, and have a safety that works backwards or the trigger is terrible.  Several of my old favorites are made of steel and have some weight to them but are not really comfortable to carry all day.  Being a sheep and cattle rancher, I carry a pistol most every day for snakes, predators bent on a free lamb chop dinner and what other varmints I might have to contend with in this day and time. I like to carry something that I forget is on my belt and that I am not constantly having to re-adjust.  I recently got to shoot a new model from Taurus called the TX 22. I was so impressed with the lightness; accuracy and the round capacity of this new pistol that I decided to get one of my own. 

Taurus designed the TX 22 as a budget minded competition rimfire pistol.  I have not shot competition since the mid-nineties so that is of little importance to me.  I do find that competition firearms are often the best for most shooting purposes as they usually have all the bells and whistles right out of the box. The Taurus is a polymer frame constructed gun with an aluminum slide that makes this gun very light to carry.  The barrel and most internal parts are stainless steel.  My gun weighed in at about 17.5 ounces unloaded and just under 20 ounces with a loaded magazine. The pistol came with two magazines that hold sixteen rounds of .22 long rifle ammo plus one in the barrel for a total of seventeen rounds giving this pistol an advantage in firepower over the competitors.  The pistol has ambidextrous safety levers and the magazine catch release can be reversed for those that shoot from the left hand.  The trigger has a hidden safety that I really like without an exposed lever to press down.  It breaks very clean with next to no creep and the trigger reset is very short allowing accurate rapid fire.  The gun is striker fired instead of using a hammer as most other rimfire pistol designs. My pistol trigger feels to be around 4.5 to 5 pounds but I haven’t put a pull scale on it as of yet.  The sights are clean, white three dot sights with the rear adjustable for windage and elevation. It also has a frame rail for adding laser or light aiming devices for those that care to.  The feature of this new pistol that I am most impressed with is the grip.  This is a full size pistol and the grip is very ergonomic and fits my hand very well.  It has a texture that makes it easy to hold on to and also seats in your hand so that when you point the gun the sights are pretty much lined up.  Accuracy of this pistol is very good with one inch groups from a rest at about fifteen steps are pretty much standard if I do my part.  Offhand groups at the same distance ran me from 2.5-3 inches, but then I am not as steady as I used to be. For those that use a suppressor this pistol comes ready to attach one with a simple adapter included in the box.  Also Taurus includes a complete manual and safety lock with the firearm.

I have carried this gun for the last few weeks almost every day here on the ranch while in the truck, while shredding, on horseback and riding around in my two seat Kawasaki.  It is very comfortable and does not pull my belt down while working.  I am now very confident in this pistol as I have put over 500 rounds of bulk .22 ammo through it with no malfunctions. This is simply amazing to me as .22 semi-automatic pistols are known to be finicky.  The disassembly on this pistol is very simple and the least complicated of any semi auto handgun I have owned. I have found two things that bug me a bit but both may be just me.  I have short fat thumbs so it is hard for me to reach the magazine release without changing my grip unless I use two hands.  Those with longer thumbs will probably not have a problem.  The other is that I prefer leather holsters but have not found one built specifically for this gun as of yet. I have been carrying it in a nylon BB gun holster I found in Wal-Mart that cost $6.99 and even had a pouch on it to hold the extra magazine.  It will do fine until I find a leather one I like.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price on this pistol is $349.99 but I have seen them online for as little as $259.99.  You could buy one online and have it shipped to your favorite dealer if they receive firearms and do the paper work for their customers.  Depending on what they charge you to receive and do the background check would determine your final price.  I bought mine from Hilltop Gun Shop here in Lampasas and have been very pleased with the service I get there. Hoffpauir’s Ranch and Supply had them on display at the Outdoor Expo so they most likely have them in stock.  If your favorite dealer does not have one in stock I would bet they can get one for you in just a few days. The really nice thing is until September 30, 2019 Taurus is offering a $50.00 rebate on this pistol making it one of the best bargains out there for this quality of firearm.  I am sure I will be carrying mine for quite some time.