Fresh Black Cap Berry Sourdough Pancakes

From the Woods to the Plate. Fresh Black Caps and Sour Dough Pancakes. An amazingly good combo

The black caps are finally beginning to ripen. I’ve gone berry picking a few times, and this weekend was the first time I was able to pick a significant number of berries. This morning, I made a batch of black cap berry sourdough pancake. They were incredibly good. Eating the pancakes made all of the pokes, scratches and bug bites more than worth it. It is amazing how the best clumps of berries always seem to be surrounded by vines with thorns that resemble razor wire. In the end the berries were plentiful, the bugs, the thorns survivable, and there were no bears, so it was all good.

Black Cap Sourdough Pancakes.
1 to 2 cups of black cap berries
1 cup of sourdough starter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
½ cup cooking oil
1 cup milk
Place all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and baking powder in bowl and blend. Add sour dough starter, egg, cooking oil and milk. Mix with a spoon until blended. More milk may be needed to create a medium thick pancake batter. Gently fold in berries. Cook on a hot greased cast iron skillet until lightly brown. Flip and cook until done. Serve with honey or maple syrup

Shooting a Muzzle Loader for The First Time

A successful first trip to the range with a muzzle loader takes a bit of preparation, but the smoke and bang make it more than worth the effort. Warning: Muzzle Loading is addicting.
Maybe you got the itch and had to scratch it. Maybe its been collecting dust in a closet for a long time. Or maybe a friend gave you a gun they had but had never shot. However the muzzle loader was acquired, you now have a gun to shoot but are not sure how to proceed. I’ll try to provide a bit of help in getting started in muzzle loader shooting.
First you need some stuff to load and shoot that gun. The most obvious being ball and powder. I prefer real black powder, but it can be difficult to find so shooting one of the modern versions of black powder is fine since its easier to purchase. What type of projectile you shoot will be determined by the rate of twist of the rifle. Rifles with a slower rate of twist will shoot round balls and rifles with a faster rate of twist will shoot conical bullets. Twist is measured by the distance it takes for the bullet to complete one full rotation. Thus, a rifle with a 1 in 48 twist would cause the projectile to fully rotate once every 48 inches. Rifles with 1 in 48 is kind of the dividing line between round ball rifles and conical rifles with 1 in 48 twist shooting both types of projectile relatively well.

These are the required tools needed to safely load a muzzle loader. From the left flint lock primer, pick, capper, powder measure, round ball, cleaning loading jag, short starter and at the bottom a powder flask

Getting the powder and ball in the barrel safely and effectively requires some more stuff. The basic support gear for a muzzle loader includes a ball starter, powder measure, primer for flint locks or a capper for cap locks, powder flask or horn, a pick for the nipple or touch hole, and a bag to hold everything. The right sized cleaning jag and a bore brush are also needed. There are lots of other gadgets that make life simpler for the muzzle loading shooting, but these are the essentials.
All ready for a through hot water cleaning to wash any and all unwanted crud out of the barrel.
There is one more really important step that needs to be done before the rifle is ready for that first trip to the range-a through cleaning. A new gun will have grease and oil in it and a used gun may have grease, oil and who-knows-what in the barrel. The best method for a heavy-duty cleaning is with really hot water and a bit of dish soap. Pull the barrel off the stock and remove the clean out screw and nipple or if a flinter the touch hole liner. Heat water to almost boiling. I fill a baked bean can almost to the top with hot water. Put the barrel in the water and add a teaspoon of dish soap. Wet a cleaning patch and begin to run it up and down the barrel. The wet patch and jag on the ram rod will act like a pump and begin to pump the hot soapy water it and out of the barrel. The grease, oil and crud will be flushed out. After the water gets dark, dump it out and flush again with clean water. Next, remove the barrel from the water and swab the barrel with a couple of dry patches and wipe off any water on the outside. Finally, apply a light coat of muzzle loading lube/rust preventer like Wonder Lube or Balistol. Avoid using petroleum base products like the plague.
Now the gun is ready for a trip to the range. Before heading out, triple check to make sure you have everything you need to shoot. Muzzle loading is about details and its really easy to miss a few. I’ve been in the sport for 30 years and still get to the range without important stuff once in a while.
Before loading and shooting, snap a couple of caps to make sure the barrel is free of obstructions. To do this, first drop the ramrod down the barrel to ensure that is its empty, then place a cap on the nipple and hold the muzzle close to a leaf. If the leave moves vigorously when the cap is touched off, the gun is good to go. If the leaf doesn’t move or only moves a little try snapping second cap.
If shooting a flint lock, run a patch soaked in denatured alcohol down the barrel, followed by a dry patch to make sure all is ready.
Now load the gun and shoot. Remember PGIF (Powder Goes In First). 30 to 50 grains of powder will be plenty to make some smoke and boom. Don’t be too concerned about accuracy the first time out. That will come later. Only make minor adjustment to the sight if it is necessary to punch holes in the paper. The first time out, it’s best to adjust the aim point rather than the sights. The first time out the goal is to get to know the gun, avoid misfires, and have fun. If you are new to muzzle loading, you will quickly discover that burning black powder makes a mess. Be sure to swab the barrel every few shots with a damp patch followed by a dry patch to make it easier to load the gun.
After the shooting session is over, it is imperative to clean the thoroughly clean the rifle. Black powder residue is full of salt compounds which attract water and that leads to rust in the barrel. How to clean a muzzle loader is another blog post.
Welcome to the fascinating world of muzzle loading.

Versatile Zucchini Patties Can Help deal with Garden Surplus


Zucchini patties are a quick and versatile dish that can be prepared and served in many different ways. The patties can be served as both a main dish and as side dish to most meals. They can be dressed up or left basic. They can be used so many different ways that the family can eat its way through several oversized zucchinis without being overwhelmed by a constant diet of zucchini. The basic zucchini recipe resembles potato pancakes. I will start with that recipe and then go over several variants.

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs beaten
¼ cup very finely chopped chives
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Preheat cast iron skillet to fairly hot and add some olive oil. With a serving spoon, plop mix on to skillet and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook the same on the other side. Serve immediately. Ranch dressing or sour cream makes a good topping.

Variation 1
Add 1 tablespoon of Italian spices to mix. Serve with tomato sauce on top. Substitute cottage cheese for the mozzarella cheese.

Variation 2
Add one or two crushed dried grape leaves, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of all spice to mix. Serve with Greek Tzatziki sauce fresh diced tomatoes or top with tomato sauce.

Variation 3
Leave out the cheese and add ¼ more flour. Make the patties about twice as big as normal. Top with pizza sauce and your favorite pizza toppings. Bake until cheese is melted on the pizza.

Zucchini patties can be served in a variety of ways. Use your creativity and develop a few more ways to serve this tasty dish.

2019 Forts Folle Avione Rendezvous

The 2019 Great Forts Folle Avione Rendezvous is over. So sad. A great time was had by all. I ran shooting events on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and participated in the Camp Champ competition in on Sunday. Shooters shot the following matches, Hunters, Mike Fink, Novelty, Pistol, and Trade Gun. At night it got so quiet and still, the silence was amazing. My good friends Leny and Dave gave a some amazing musical performances in front of the camp fire at night. Too bad the storms chased us out early on Sunday.

Teaching a new shooter the intricacies of loading, priming, and shooting a flint lock.

Crumby Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is on of the great treats of summer. The sweet/tart flavor is amazing. When the strawberries get ripe, we head out to pick a pail or two, and then cut some rhubarb from our patch and begin to make pies. This pie is a bit different due to the crust which resembles a crisp and the use of an egg in the ingredients. It is as simple to make as other rhubarb strawberry pies and tastes just as good.
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ lbs. fresh rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pint strawberries

Bottom Crust:
pastry for single crust pie
Top Crust
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup oat meal
½ cup cold butter

Line a 9-inch pie tin with crust. Trim and flute the edges. In a large mixing bowl beat egg, then add sugar, flour, and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in rhubarb and strawberries. Pour into crust.
Topping: combine flour, brown sugar, oats. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over pie. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and bake for 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on rack and store in refrigerator.

Wisconsin’s New Bear Hunting Plan


The Wisconsin DNR has proposed, and the Natural Resources Board has adopted a new bear hunting management plan. The current plan was adopted in 1980 so it was a bit out of date. In the thirty-nine years since the last plan was adopted, many factors in bear management have changed. The two factors with the largest change are an expanding bear range and an expanding bear population. In 1980, the bear population was limited to the northern third of Wisconsin i.e. most of the bear lived roughly north or near U.S. Highway 8. The bear population has also greatly increased in the same time frame. A study that occurred in the last 6 years determined there were roughly three times as many bears in Wisconsin as previously thought.
The new Plan has many interesting new features. One on the most innovative features is that the new plan will not use numerical quotas to set harvest total but use a number of metrics to determine harvest total. The metrics that will be used to determine bear population goals and subsequently annual harvest quotas include agricultural damage, nuisance complaints, hunter crowding, success, and satisfaction, bear disease and health issues, and maintaining bears’ ecological role. The bear advisory committee will study the data on a yearly basis and help to set the harvest quotas. Most species are managed with a specific population goal that is maintained by increasing or decreasing the harvest quotas. By managing with a variety of metrics, the DNR will be working on a different approach to game management. It will be vital for the DNR to gather sound scientific data on the bear population since black bears are vulnerable to over hunting. Part of the plan calls for extensive scientific research on the number of bears in the woods and periodic reviews of the estimates to ensure that an accurate population count is established and maintained.
Dealing with nuisance bears and agricultural damage from bears is also written into the plan. One feature of the damage abatement portion of the plan will allow the DNR to issue ag damage kill permits to landowners who have a history of bears damaging the crops before the crops are damaged, so the landowner can respond quickly when further damage occurs. Bears really like corn that is in the “milk phase” and this proactive approach may help limit the damage done to corn crops.
There are two types of way to measure the potential for a wildlife population-biological and cultural carrying capacity. Biological carrying capacity is the number of animals that can survive in an area given the amount of food and the amount of space the critters need. The cultural carrying capacity is how many critters people will tolerate in a given area. This plan is designed to manage the bear population based on the social carrying capacity.
The other major change in this plan is the redrawing of the bear hunting zones. Under the old plan there were four zones. Zones A, B and D covered the northern third of the state and Zone C covered the remainder of the state including Dunn County. Under the new plan, there will be five zones. Zone A, B, and D will still be in northern Wisconsin. However, the boundary of Zone D will shift southward from highway 8 to highways 64, 128, 170 and 40. So Southern Barron County and Northern Dunn County will now be in Zone D. This also means that norther Dunn County will go from being a bait only hunting area to an area that hunting with hounds and bait will be allowed. Zone C will shrink to primarily cover the central portion of the state. A new zone E will cover most of the western part of Wisconsin including the southern two-thirds of Dunn County. And a new Zone F will cover much of eastern, southern, and a portion of central Wisconsin.
The DNR plan states that they will manage zone A, B, C, D, and E for the cultural carrying capacity of the Zone and that they will provide liberal harvest opportunities in Zone F. Liberal harvest opportunities translates as keeping bears out of zone F as much as possible. Zone F has the least suitable bear habitat and the densest human population, hence the potential for bad human-bear interactions is the greatest there.
Besides changing the zones, it was also proposed that the new Zone C be opened to hunting bears with hounds. This change proved to the most controversial provision in the new plan. Many hunters in the new zone C were opposed to allowing hunting with dogs in the Zone for a variety of reasons which included lack of public land in some areas of the Zone, trespassing issues, bear hunter overcrowding, disruptions to bait hunters who have hunted this area in previous season, and conflicts with bow deer hunters. The hound hunters contend that hound hunting is a more efficient method of hunting so nuisance bears would be more likely to be harvested. They also noted that training bear dogs is currently permitted in this area. At the end of the debate, the Natural Resources Board decided to remove the hound hunting in Zone C from the new plan.
The issue of the use of chocolate in bear bait was also discussed by the Natural Resources Board. Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to some animals. Dogs are particularly vulnerable. Documented deaths of bears from theobromine poisoning have occurred in New Hampshire, and Michigan. As a result, Michigan has banned chocolate in bear baits, and New Hampshire has a near total ban on chocolate in bear baits. In Wisconsin, 3 cubs found dead in 2011 were necropsied and presumed to have died from theobromine poisoning. In 2013, the DNR issued an advisory about use of chocolate in baits. Since then there have been no documented bear deaths from theobromine in the state. This is an issue that will get more scientific study under the new plan.
Now that the plan has been adopted, the long process begins to write the rules needed to implement the plan. The rules writing process usually takes a fair amount of time. The earliest the new rules will go into effect will be for the 2020 hunting season.