Sour Kraut Salad


1 quart of sour kraut, well drained
1 4-0unce jar of Pimentos, drained
2 carrots shredded
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil


Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Let sit in refrigerator over night. Serve cold.

Babes in the Woods

When driving on a back road, I met this fawn standing in the road. It attempted to run away, but could not climb the steep bank next to the road so it lay down in the shadows to hide. I took a quick photo and drove past. When I was a ways away, mom came of of the brush and lead the fawn to safety.

As I was driving home last week, two Canadian geese with a bunch of goslings attempted to cross the road twixt my car and an on-coming pick up truck. Both drivers saw the geese scramble out of the ditch and head across the road, so we stopped and gave the geese plenty of room. That didn’t stop the adults from excitedly honking and flapping their wings while herding the goslings across the road. One gosling slipped on the edge of the black top and flipped head over webbed feet. The fuzzy yellow bird which was nearly the size of a crow ended up on its back. Both the goslings’ webbed feet and undersized wings were flailing madly in the air as it righted itself and then proceeded in a hurried waddle across the road.
This comical incident is a reminder that many species have recently given birth. Creatures from deer to rabbits to possums to birds to bears have young ones that need to be protected, raised and taught the ways of survival. Each species has a repertoire of tricks to ensure the survival of enough newborns to ensure the survival of the species.
Camouflage is one method adult animals protect their young. I tend to despise yard work and lawn mowing in particular so I delay mowing as long a possible in the spring. Hence the grass gets a bit long sometimes. One spring day, I noticed our dog Izzy running back and forth from her dog house to a single spot in the long grass. I investigated and discovered that Izzy had found a nest of baby bunnies and that she was carrying them in her mouth, unharmed, to her dog house. The nest was within five feet of where we park the car and was invisible until one had knelt down and parted the grass. We distracted Izzy long enough to put her back on her chain and then place the bunnies back in their nest. By the next morning, the mother had moved the bunnies to a safer location.
Many newly born animals are scent free, which makes it easier for them to hide from predators. Fawns are one of the critters that are scent free for at least a few days. Fawns rely on being scent free and on hiding to survive. The spots on a fawn serve as camouflage and the fawn instinctively knows from birth to remain motionless for long periods of time. The fawns remain in one location for several weeks while the doe wanders off to eat and ruminate. The doe only approaches the fawn when it is feeding time for the fawn. If the doe has multiple fawns, she will hide each fawn in a different location. This strategy increases the odds that a least one of the fawns will survive – even if the others become dinner for a hungry bobcat or coyote. As deer have become more prevalent in urban and suburban areas, hiding fawns are found more frequently by well intentioned but biologically misinformed people. They see the “cute little Bambi” all by itself and assume the deer has been abandoned by its parent. Then they scoop up the deer and head to the DNR office or to a wildlife rehabilitator. Since the fawn and parent are pursuing a time proven survival strategy, the best course of action is to take a picture or two, from a long distance, and leave the fawn in its spot.
Producing prodigious numbers of offspring is another survival strategy. Rabbits, squirrels and many birds have adopted this strategy. The idea is simple: produce more offspring than will die before they reproduce. Robins are the masters of producing multiple broods of young in a year. Robins pull off at least two broods every summer and maybe another one in the winter. I can observe the prolific nature of robins every spring because a robin always builds a nest on the front porch light. So many nests have been built there over the years the siding on the house is permanently stained. Yet, it is highly doubtful that the same robin builds the nest from year after year since robins have an 80 percent mortality rate. That the robin population remains so large while 8 out of 10 robins die annually makes it apparent just how many robins must be born each year. Distraction is how birds like killdeer and waterfowl protect their young. When I lived in Southeastern Ohio, I walked home everyday across a park. A killdeer had a nest in the corner of the park and like clockwork, the killdeer presented me with the “broken wing” pose at the same spot every day. The killdeer would trill loudly and flap its ‘broken wing” all the while leading me away from the nest. After leading me for about 50 yards the bird would fly away. Most hen ducks will also exhibit this behavior on the water. Many times I have surprised a hen and her ducklings while canoeing; the ducklings will beat a hasty retreat to the nearest cover, while the mother begins to quack loudly and beat her wings against the water while swimming away. The duck will lead the canoe around two or three bends in the river before taking flight back to her offspring.
Aggressive behavior towards threats is another means of ensuring the survival of young. The old adage of never getting between a mother bear and her cubs has been proven statically true. Most bear attacks on humans do involve a mother with cubs. Other animals with young can also become aggressive. One spring, I was hiking and camping in the Jones Spring wilderness area in the Nicolet National Forest. Suddenly an animal burst out of the weeds along side the trail and headlined towards me. I had a brief thought of a bear attacking as I stumbled back. Then I realized the whir of motion and sound of furry was actually a mother grouse. I also saw her poults scampering off in the opposite direction. My brother and I once attempted to fish a small remote lake in Northern Minnesota, but found it impossible because a pair of loons were using the lake to raise their little loonie (not sure what you call a baby loon). The two adult loons repeatedly dive bombed the canoe. Sometimes they swooped as low as our heads when they passed over the canoe. We decided there were other lakes in the area that had better fishing and left.
Critters with young become less mobile during the rearing season. Thus animals like bears, foxes and coyotes, which normally roam a large territory, hunker down near the den or limit travel to a small area until the offspring can travel large distances. The dilemma the animals face is eating while remaining in one place. Hence any good food source will be utilized repeatedly. This causes issues in populated areas as bears and other large critters raid feeders, garbage cans, fledgling gardens, and any other food source. The best method of dealing with feeding animals in the spring is to remove easy food sources like feeders. If an animal like a fox is suddenly present repeatedly in a yard or area, be aware that there is most likely a den nearby. Give the den as much space as possible and use the opportunity for some wildlife photography.
Wild critters, both feathered and furred, have many means of ensuring the survival of their young and the species. We humans can best help the animals pursue raising their offspring by doing no more than observing the process.

Hook, Line, and Sinker.

Catching fish depends on many variables: weather, water temperature, wind, fish movement, all of which are beyond the control of anglers. One variable that anglers do have control over is how to rig their lines. There are many options for tying a hook to a line. Each method has both strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes how the bait is presented makes all the difference in catching fish or going home skunked

Before one can become adept at rigging tackle, an angler must first know how to tie a few knots. The two most commonly used knots are the improved cinch knot and the Palomar knot (illustration 1). The improved cinch knot is the most commonly used knot since it can be tied on in any situation. The Palomar knot is a bit quicker to tie than the improved cinch, but it can not be used in all situations.

One other knot trick is to leave the knot loose rather than cinching it tight upon the lure. This allows the lure to move in more directions and hence to have more action. This trick is particularly effective with ice fishing jigs.

The simplest rigging is a jig (Rig A) . Jigs have the benefit of being relatively cheap, but are still effective. Jigs can also be fished with live bait like leeches, minnows or worms, or they can be used with plastic tails. Jigs can be fished vertically, cast and retrieved or trolled.

A hook and sinker is another simple and effective rig. The hook is tied on the end of the line and a sinker is placed somewhere on the line. The placement of the sinker depends on the presentation the angler wants. If a float is added to the rig the bait can be suspended and the bait becomes more visible.

A three way rig (Rig C), sometimes called a Carolina or Wolf River rig consists of a three way swivel with one swivel tied to the rod and reel, one with an appropriately sized sinker, and the third with a floating jig or hook with live bait. Often, the line with the sinker is a lighter weight line than the other lines so that if the sinker becomes snagged that is all that is lost. The rig is very effective when fishing rocky bottoms for walleyes. It gets the bait off the bottom so the fish can see it and helps to prevent snags. I like to fish this rig on the Chippewa River where the rocks and trees make fishing the bottom tough. The two main drawbacks to this rig are that it takes time to tie it up and the number of knots needed. Each knot is a weak point so limiting the number knots keeps the line stronger.

The drop shot rig (Rig F) is currently considered the hottest thing since sliced bread for bass fishing. The hook is tied on first but it is not tied on at the end of the line it is tied one to two feet from the end of the line with a Palomar knot. After the knot is completed, the line is run again through the hook eye and a sinker is tied on the end of the line. If done right, the hook is perpendicular to the line. The bait is the placed on the hook. It is attached at the very end of the worm. This rig works ok for walleyes but really does not out-fish other rigs.

The bobber is another addition to rigs. There are two types of bobber—clip on (Rig E) and slip (Rig D). The clip on bobber attaches to the line through a spring loaded catch. Clip bobbers are either ball-shaped or an elongated float. The round bobbers are generally made of plastic and the longer floats are usually balsa wood or plastic and Styrofoam. Plastic bobbers are the cheapest and the floats are more sensitive. The trick to using the floats when fishing light-biting fish is to have the line weighted so the float rests on its side. When the fish starts to bite the bobber will pop upright. The clip on bobbers work if one is not fishing in water deeper than the length of the fishing rod.

To use a slip bobber, a stop is put on the line at the desired depth. The tie on stops are best because they do not abrade the line. Then the line is threaded through the bobber. Finally the hook is tied on and the sinker attached to the hook The weight of the sinker is critical when bobber fishing. It must not be too heavy or the bobber will sink, but must be heavy enough so that the bobber sinks easily when the fish strikes or the fish may reject the bait. Anglers can also fish a jig below a bobber. Jigs are multicolored and on some days the color may trigger fish to strike that otherwise would just swim on by.

The Lindy rig (Rig B) uses a specialized sinker that is shaped like an old telephone receiver. It has a hole in the small end. The sinker is threaded on the line and then a snap swivel is tied on. A lead with a hook or a jig or a lure is then tied at the end of the leader. The rig was developed by Al Linder, (hence Lindy Rig) for catching walleyes. The idea was to reduce the resistance the sinker.

A floating jig or a hook with a float ((Rig B) can be tied on to get the bait off the bottom. Personally, I like to use floating jigs. Not only do I catch more fish, but I catch more game fish and fewer rough fish, especially when working the rivers.

No matter what kind of rig an angler is using, using 4 to 8 lbs test line is generally the most effective. 6 or 8 pound line will work in most situations. Line that is heavier than 8 lbs reduces the action of the lure. It also makes it more likely that the fish will feel the line when striking and spit out the bait. Lighter line also casts better than heavier. The only reason to use 10 lbs or heavier line is if one is fishing for big fish like muskies or big northerns. Also anglers should use the smallest hook and sinker combination possible for the given conditions. Finally, when tying a knot wet the line with saliva or water before cinching the knot tight. The lube allows the knot to chinch tighter and help to avoid abrasion. When I was fishing the Mississippi River from the Alma Float, a 3 ounce sinker was as light as it got. But for a river like the Chippewa or Red Cedar a 1/4 or 3/8 ounce sinker will do. When fishing some brook trout streams a sinker is not even necessary. Give these different rigs a try, and the next time you are fishing you may also be catching.

Rabbit Gravy over Wild Rice

By using a pressure cooker, rabbit and gravy can be made in about one hour.

This recipe is for all the gardeners who are wondering what to do to keep rabbits from destroying their gardens. I used a pressure cooker for the rabbit which is a fairly fast way to make really tender and juicy rabbit. While the rabbit is pressure cooking, make the wild rice and you have a delicious meal in short order.


1 rabbit dressed and quartered
I teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 onion quartered
1 cup of water
and ½ cup white wine.

1 can cream of mushroom soup
¼ to ½ cup flour
cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sprinkle poultry seasoning and paprika on rabbit pieces. Place rabbit in pressure cooker along with water and wine and onion. Bring to pressure and cook for 15 minutes. (My cooker is calibrated for 15 psi of pressure). When the rabbit is done, depressurize the cooker and remove rabbit. Stir cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper into liquid left in the cooker. Mix flour into cold water and add to mushroom soup mix. Stir until gravy thickens. The amount of flour used will depend on how much liquid is in the pressure cooker and how thick of gravy you prefer.
Use two forks to debone rabbit meat and return deboned meat to the gravy. Let simmer on low for a bit.

Wild Rice

1 carrot thinly sliced
2 stalks celery chopped
½ cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped ramps (can substitute 1 medium onion and one clove diced garlic)
1 cup wild rice*
2 cups water

In a cast iron skillet heat 1/3 cup oil and sauté carrot, celery, mushrooms and ramps. Add wild rice and stir in for a couple of minutes. Then add water and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let steam for 5 minutes. * If using commercially harvested and processed wild rice the cooking time will be about 30 to 45 minutes and you will need 2 ½ cups of water so the rice will need to be started before the rabbit and cooked separately from the vegetables

To serve, put wild rice on plate and add gravy over the top.

Results are Tabulated for the 2020 Spring Conservation Congress Hearings

The results for the first ever fully on-line Spring Conservation Congress hearings are out. Many of the questions involved major changes to the deer season. But Wisconsin deer hunting traditions run deep and many of the proposed changes to deer season were rejected. The statewide results are divided into two categories “All Participants” and “Wisconsin Residents,” and the county results are divided into “Dunn County Residents” and “Respondents indicated they recreate in Dunn County.” For consistency and simplicity, the results listed will use the “Wisconsin Residents” and “Dunn County Residents” data.
The first deer season question was Question 10 which sought to add 10 days to the current 9-day season. It failed statewide 14,380 yes to 41,531 no and in Dunn County 190 to 592. Eliminating the holiday hunt was the subject of Question 11 and statewide it passed 32,461 yes to 20,057 no. The question also passed in the county 483 to 273. Question 12 had three potential results, a 2 day or a 5 day no hunting period prior to the start of deer season or no change to the current no hunting period before the deer season. Maintaining status quo was the overwhelming choice both statewide and in the county. Invalidating crossbow and archery buck tags during the gun deer season was the purpose of Question 13. It failed 17,897 yeas to 34,608 nays and 256 to 492 in Dunn County. Question 14 called for limiting the crossbow season to October only for most hunters in the state. The question was defeated by a relatively close margin of 25,159 to 27,407. The county results were 343 for and 409 against. Question 15 called for the elimination of the deer management zones and just using the county deer management units. It passed 34,368 to 14,073 overall and the tally locally was 500 to 206. Question 17 called for closing the crossbow season in November and then reopening it when the 9-day season opens. In Dunn county, the tally was 268 ayes and 468 nays. Statewide, the totals were 20,387 to 31,113. Question 19 sought to reinstate the authority of the DNR to authorize the Earn-a-Buck management tools. The statewide total was 20,185 for and 32,399 against and in the county the total was 278 for and 466 against. Question 20 proposed giving CDACs the ability to use Earn-a-Buck tools in their respective counties. The tally was 19,646 for and 29,716 against. And locally it was 267 to 427. Giving the CDACs new tools for managing the anterless deer population was the goal of Question 23. It passed statewide by a tally of 23,082 to 20,675. The vote in Dunn County was 322 to 300. Going to a 16 day gun deer season which would open a week earlier than the current season was the suggestion in Question 24. By a vote of 15,231 to 37,502 it failed. It it also failed by a wide margin in Dunn County.
Questions 1-7 surveyed the willingness of hunters to use non-toxic shot and projectiles. The use of non-toxic shot on all DNR lands was approved by a vote of 28,952 to 26,136. Dunn County respondents approved the Question 377 to 359. Question 2 on the use of non-toxic bullets and slugs on all state owned and managed lands failed on a vote of 22,856 to 32,604 and also failed in the county 284 to 465. Questions 3 and 4 called for the use of non-toxic shot while hunting doves and pheasants. Both questions passed in the statewide vote but both failed in Dunn County. Using non-toxic shot while turkey hunting (Question 5) failed both statewide and in Dunn County by margins of 25,009 to 31,075 and 329 to 426. Question 6 looked at using non-toxic shot for grouse. The state wide vote was 25,853 to 29,203 and locally 341 to 409. The final non-toxic ammo question was Question 7 and it recommended using non-toxic shot and bullets for hunting small game on state owned and managed lands. It failed statewide 22,373 to 33,302 and in the county 274 to 475.
Multiple questions dealt with the subject of baiting and feeding. Restrictions on using artificial water sources for attracting deer and elk was the topic of Question 8. In Dunn County the measure failed by a 242 to 551 vote and statewide the total was 23,245 to 32,574. A prohibition of baiting and feeding was the topic of Question 16. It failed 25,307 to to 28, 521 across Wisconsin and failed 253 to 509 in Dunn county. Question 21 calls for giving the DNR more authority to create baiting and feeding regulations-especially bans to help control the spread of CWD. In Dunn County, which just had CWD identified in the county, the measure failed 288 to 439. The tally statewide was 24,725 to 26,457. Question 22 sought to give CDACs authority to make recommendations on baiting and feeding their respective counties. It failed on a narrow vote statewide 24,536 to 24,766. The vote locally was 310 to 380.
All the questions concerning bear hunting passed. Question 18 called for establishment of a spring bear season. It passed by a wide margin both locally and statewide. Questions 25 and 26 made modifications to what is considered a legal container for bear bait. The two Questions also passed by wide margins.
Other Questions that had a statewide impact included, opposing the Back 40 Mine on the Michigan side of the Menominee River by a very wide margin of 35,406 to 6,946. Question 49 calls for having appropriate harvest and protection levels for native Buffalo Fish. It passed by a wide margin both statewide and in the county. Moving the opening day of muskie season to the first Saturday in May (traditional opening day of fishing season) in the northern part of the state, with the May season being catch and release only passed by a vote of 24,048 to 8976. The vote was 347 to 98 locally.
One important feature of the Spring hearing is the ability of citizens to introduce their own resolutions into the process and if they pass to have the resolution taken up by the Conservation Congress. Three citizen resolutions were introduced in Dunn County. The first resolution calls for CDACs to have more options to recommend for deer hunting structure in their counties to help stop the spread of CWD. Some possible options are additional permits for buck harvest and hunters choice permits in counties affected by CWD. This resolution passed by a vote of 273 to 233. Another resolution in the county called upon the WI DNR to deny permits for the Dairyland Energy Cooperative Nemadji Trail energy Center. The resolution states that the construction of the plant threatens to dry up the water table, pollute underground water, destroy wetlands, and exacerbate climate change. The resolution passed by a vote of 293 to 128. The final citizens resolution calls upon the WI DNR to accept the national Every Kid Outdoors pass at Wisconsin state parks. Currently, the program is not accepted by the DNR. The program is a federal program for 4th grade students and encourages the children and their families to get outside. The tally on the resolution was 437 to 79.

Red Dragon Pie


Red Dragon Pie is a Hearty and filling vegetarian meal.

Fortunately, one does not need to don shiny armor and a sword and head out to mystic mountains to slay a red dragon to make this vegetarian dish. The red comes from the use of the red adzuki bean and red pepper. Adzuki beans are hard to find so you can substitute any red bean. I used a mix of beans from the garden. Kidney or chili beans will work well. There is also red pepper flakes in this dish so it could be as hot as dragon flames if desired. Another possibly hard to find ingredient is soft goat cheese for the mashed taters. Cream cheese can be substituted for the soft goat cheese. If canned beans rather are used instead of dry beans many hours of cooking time will be saved.


1 cup of dried adzuki beans or substitute another dry bean or canned beans. If using dry beans, soak them over night. 2-8 oz cans of beans will work.

1 teaspoon thyme or 1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
2 stalks of celery diced
dried chili flakes to taste
1 large red pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
3-4 large potatoes chopped
2 tablespoon butter
1 cup of soft goat’s cheese or cream cheese


1. Simmer the soaked beans in a large pot for about an hour or until beans are tender with the bay leaf and thyme. If using caned beans-open the cans. When done simmering drain beans, but save liquid.

2. Heat oil in cast iron skillet and then saute the onion, carrot, celery and chili pepper. When this mix begins to get soft, add red peppers, and cook for about 8 more minutes.

3. Measure out 1 ¼ cups of bean liquid and add it to vegetable mix, also stir in tomato puree and soy sauce. If using canned beans, now is the time to add the bay leaf and thyme. (remove the bay leaf when done simmering) Simmer gently for half an hour. Add parsley at end of cooking time.

4. While bean veggie mix is simmering, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain. Place in bowl with goat cheese butter. Wait a few minutes for butter and cheese to begin to soften and then mash.

5. Spread potato mix on top of bean/veggie mix. If using cast iron leave bean/veggie mix in skillet. If not, transfer mix to casserole before putting on mashed potatoes. Bake at 325° in the oven for about 30 minutes. Pie should be bubbly on bottom and lightly brown on top.

California Style Ramps & Eggs

Ramps are one of the first wild foods to emerge in the spring. To me, their flavor is a cross between onion and garlic. Ramps can be eaten raw or incorporated into many dishes.

Last December, we were fortunate enough to spend a week in California. We visited my daughter who lives in Los Angeles and ate some amazingly good food. We quickly noticed that just about every dish in LA is served with avocados. We also had some really great vegetarian meals. So I used these ideas for my starting point when I created this ramps recipe. The ramps are up, but their growth so far is stunted. They are about half the size that they normally reach. Not sure if the slow growth is being caused by the snow, cold, or lack of moisture.

CA Style Ramps & Eggs


1 bunch of ramps cleaned
1 green pepper
1/2 container of fresh mushrooms
2 cups diced potatoes
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
handful of cherry tomatoes

Thin slice the white bulb and purple portion of the ramps. Slice the green leaf part into 1 inch wide strips and set aside. Chop green pepper and slice mushrooms. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet then begin to saute sliced ramps, green pepper and mushrooms. After about 5 minutes add diced potatoes. Stir frequently. While potatoes are cooking, beat eggs well and then mix in milk. When potatoes are cooked, stir in cherry tomatoes and ramp leaves. Next, stir in egg and milk mixture. Reduce heat, and cover and let cook until the egg mixture is solid.

Sparking a Flint Lock

FFtbang! Shooting a flint lock is the most challenging and rewarding type of shooting there is in the shooting sports

I had been wandering around the woods all day in a raging blizzard. It was the third weekend of deer hunting and the first day of the Wisconsin muzzle loader season. During the 9 day gun deer season, I had harvested two deer with my .54 cal Mortimer flint lock. I figured one more big Wisconsin deer would completely fill the freezer, and keep the family supplied with meat until the following fall. When I got up in the morning to hunt, the blizzard was raging so hard I couldn’t see past the end of my short driveway. “I thought, “Yup, its gonna be a great day in the woods”. I charged up my trusty flinter, put on an extra layer of longies, pulled on the Capote, and headed out to the woods. My drive time to the happy hunting ground was triple the normal drive time. I guessed that with the snow flying and the wind howling, the deer would be bedded down in the shelter of the swamp rather than up on the ridges. I was hoping to kick up a deer or cut a set of fresh tracks and then run down the deer. But the deer outsmarted me and I did not see a single deer or fresh track all day. As the gray light of the storm began to fade to the black of the night. I moseyed back to my car, I pulled the cow’s knee off the lock and discovered there was snow packed around the frizzen. I gently blew the snow off the lock, cocked the rifle and pulled the trigger. The gun went off like clockwork.
A flint lock can be a finicky and unpredictable beast, but with proper loading procedures and care, a flint lock can also very reliable. My Mortimer has dropped many a deer and even bear.

IMG_3638 labled

The main components of a flint lock are the cock, which holds the flint and scrapes the flint across the frizzen to generate sparks. The frizzen- piece of high carbon steel on a hinge, which does two jobs-create spark and hold the priming powder in pan. The pan which holds the priming powder, and the touch hole which is the conduit between the flash of powder in the pan and the main charge in the barrel.

Understanding the process by which a flinter ignites the main powered charge is vitally important to making one work.The pan is primed with powder, the cock is pulled back. the target is in the sights, and the shooter squeezes the trigger. Now what? The springs in the lock propel the cock forward and it collides with the frizzen. The collision causes the frizzen to snap forward uncovering the pan and priming powder as a shower of sparks from the frizzen descends on the priming powder in the pan. Then POOF!. The priming powder ignites. A fraction of the flame from the priming powder flicks into the touch hole and the powder charge in the barrel goes BOOM!
There are three things that can happen when the trigger is pulled on a flint lock. The best result is the rapid boom described above. Second is a fffft-boom, this is a called a hang fire. The third is silence. This is called a misfire. Of the three, the misfire is the most dangerous because the lack of firing may be a really long hang fire. Hence, if there is a misfire, the muzzle must be pointed in a safe direction for at least a minute before the shooter begins to tinker with the gun. Even after a minute, the muzzle must always be pointed in a safe direction.
If a hang fire or a misfire occurs some thing prevented one or more parts of the firing sequence from happening. The good news is that with meticulous loading techniques, a shooter can get a flint lock to go Boom nearly 100% of the time.
I am going to describe my meticulous loading process and explain why each step helps my flinters go boom with no delays. The first step in the ignition process is the flint striking the frizzen. To make sparks, the flint must be sharp. The best way to ensure a sharp flint is to put a new flint in the cock before heading out to hunt or starting a serious competition. If plinking or a friendly competition, just run your finger along the edge of the flint. With some experience, a shooter can tell if the flint is sharp. If the flint seems dull, employ the knapping hammer until one or two small flakes of flint drop off. Now get the frizzen ready by wiping it down with a cloth. And while you’re at it, wipe the pan out as well. Doesn’t hurt to wipe the underside of the flint too. Now that all is clean and sharp, the gun is ready to load. It should also be noted that the wipe down process can be done after the barrel is charged. First powder goes in the barrel along with a patch and a ball. After the powder is dumped in, it doesn’t hurt to tap the butt on the ground a time or two to make sure the powder settles down into the breech and in front of the touch hole. The next step is to ensure that the touch hole is not obstructed. Do this by running the touch hole pick in and out of the touch hole a time or two. Some shooters will put the touch hole pick in the touch hole prior to pouring the powder down the barrel. In addition to clearing out the touch hole, the pick acts to create an air space in front of the touch hole. This pocket allows the flash from the pan to ignite more granules of powder than if the powder was flush with the touch hole, which means a faster over all ignition time. The final step is to put powder in the pan. Don’t load it up and cover the touch hole. This will cause a delay since the excess powder will act like a fuse. For fast ignition the gun must have a good flash from the pan. Think of the priming powder in the pan as a spark plug.

The tools needed to load a flint lock include (Right to left) Primer, Spare Flints, wiping cloth, touch hole pick, screw driver, flint knapping hammer, and pan brush. Powder horn and measure is for charging the barrel.

When shooting the gun, listen to the ignition process. Do all the individual sounds meld into one continuous sequence? If so, you have your loading process down. If not, try tweaking the loading process. Add a bit more or a bit less prime to the pan. Try putting the flint in the cock with the bevel up or down. Try both 3Fg and 4Fg for the priming powder. The diameter of the touch hole pick may make a difference. I have a thin wire pick that I use on the Mortimer, it works great. But when I got a trade gun, it occasionally had hang fires. I inadvertently fixed the problem when I bought a hand-forged set of flint lock tools. The pick was custom fitted to the touch hole and the hang fires disappeared. The goal is to make the ignition process as fast as the lock will allow.
That brings up one important point on flint locks. As seen from the article, a well functioning flint lock is an intricate device. It takes skill to make one that works well and is reliable. When buying a flinter, its best to check out the reputation of the manufacturer to make sure you get a good one. Buying a flint lock because it is cheap is usually a recipe for failure.
There are a few tricks that can be used when hunting, to increase the reliability of the flinter when dat ole thurdy point buck comes strolling past. A “Cow’s Knee” is a piece of leather or cloth that covers the lock and trigger to make it harder for moisture to dampend the prime and prevent the gun from firing. After priming a flint lock rub a bit of bees wax-based lip balm on the area where the frizzen meets the pan. This will also make it harder for water to dampen the priming powder. Finally, check and change the priming powder often. Even if its completely dry out, I will change out the prime a few times during the day to make sure the gun will go off like clock work.
cows knee outside
A cows knee fitted over the lock lowers the risk that moisture will interfere with the ignition process.

It takes more skill to shoot and hunt with a flint lock than another type of gun. This is what makes hunting and shooting with them so rewarding.

Sour Dough Bread

Few food items conjure up images of pioneers and prospectors like sour dough bread. Hardy Alaskan prospectors who had been in country for a winter or more were accorded special status with the title “Sourdough”. The Sourdoughs in Alaska protected their starter from the cold of winter by keeping in it a bag under their clothes. Since bathing during the long cold Alaskan winter wasn’t practical, I wonder what flavors were imparted to the starter while it was kept under the prospector’s clothing. Sourdough is sort of a self rising ingredient so one can use low gluten flours like all purpose and rye flour which do not work well with active bread yeasts which needs the gluten to make the bread rise. The trade off is that sourdough breads take longer to rise than breads using active yeasts.
Sourdough Starter
The first step to making sourdough bread is to create a starter. This process can take up to two weeks. The two basic ingredients for sourdough starter are water and flour. A third basic ingredient is wild yeast which is everywhere. The water and flour is left open to the air so the yeast can fall into the flour/water mixture where it begins to ferment. Eventually the starter is formed. To speed the fermentation process up, a sugar such as honey, white sugar, brown sugar, or a fruit juice can be added to the starter. Packaged yeast can also be added to the starter. The starter I used called for
1 package of dry yeast
21/2 cups warm water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Table spoon honey or sugar. (I used honey)

The ingredients were dumped in a bowl, a cheese cloth was put over the top and the mixture was left to ferment. The mixture had to be stirred two or three times a day. When the starter was bubbly and smelled like a frat house after a wild beer party-it was ready for baking.
Sour dough bread
1 cup sour dough starter at room temperature
1 package dry yeast dissolved in 1 ½ cups warm water
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ to 1 cup all purpose flour

Mix 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking soda and sugar into dissolved yeast mixture. Add starter, then mix in as much of the ½ to 1 cup of flour to mixture stirring with spoon. Kneed on a lightly greased surface adding flour until you have a moderately stiff dough. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down, divide into two loaves and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape dough into round or oval loaves and place on a greased cookie sheet or round pan. Cut a criss-crossed pattern on top of loaves with a sharp knife. Cover loaves and let rise until doubled. This may take up to a hour and a half. Bake in a 400 degree over or in a hot Dutch oven. One tip from the cook shack: If using the oven preheat the oven to 450 and the turn down to 400 after the dough is in the oven. If using the Dutch oven preheat prior to placing the bread in the oven. Also, place the dough in a cake pan and elevate the pan from the bottom of the Dutch oven to lower the risk of burning. I use metal corner brackets to elevate the pan. The bread is one when you tap on the crust and it sounds hollow.
Sourdough bread is a culinary experience worth the time and effort it takes to make it.