Duck Hunting Workshop – Part 1

This past spring, I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s “Duck Hunting 101” workshop.  It was a day long workshop consisting of four separate stations: clay shooting, setting decoys, using a hunting dog, and duck hunting and gun safety.  I took their shorter version of the Duck Hunting workshop at their fall retreat and loved it, so I was really excited to go to this.

duck hunting 101

Our view for the day

The workshop was being held at a private hunting club—a men’s only hunting club to be exact.  But, for this one weekend out of the year, ladies took over!  The hunting lodge itself was beautiful.  I wish I could’ve gotten pictures inside of the big vaulted ceilings, wood and stone work throughout, a huge fireplace, and big leather couches to relax in.  I’d love a hunting lodge like that one day!

About 30 women attended, plus all the instructors.  The day began with breakfast.   Washington Outdoor Women sure know how to feed you well at all their workshops!  Breakfast was a huge spread of options, several home cooked.  One dish was a delicious salmon egg bake that I’d love to try and make myself.  After everyone was fed, we had a quick intro then broke off into our groups.

Clay Shooting

duck hunting 101

Clay shooting station

The ladies were separated, groups A-D, and would rotate through all the stations.  My first station was clay shooting.  I ended up in the group with women who had previous gun experience, so we shot first.  Everyone else took the gun safety workshop before getting to shoot the shotguns.

duck hunting 101

A father and son taught this workshop.  They quickly went over the basics and it was time to get shooting!  Each woman had 6 chances for their turn.  I’ve only shot clay pigeons one other time and it was during my Hunter Education field test where I hit it on my first try.  Definite beginners luck!

The shotgun range I shot my first clay pigeon at

The shotgun range I shot my first clay pigeon at

The first couple women who went missed all their shots.  To be fair, we were having some problems with the machine shooting the clay pigeons.  It wasn’t shooting when it was supposed to.  It was my turn to get up and the instructor said he thought I’d shoot one since I shot a deer last year.

I yelled pull and sure enough, he was right!  First clay pigeon shot of the day!  I’d really love to get more into trap shooting.  It’s a lot of fun and I feel like it’s something I could become pretty good at with practice.  It’s also so satisfying to see your clay target break into pieces!

duck hunting 101

The beautiful view while shooting

We had an hour at each station and boy did that hour fly by quick!  Each woman went through the station once.  A couple women were pretty new to using shotguns and they went another time so they could hopefully shoot their first target.

duck hunting 101

One of the reasons I love learning with a group of women is they’re incredibly encouraging.  Everyone cheered and was genuinely happy when a woman did finally hit her first target.  It’s an incredibly supportive environment to learn in.

Our next station in the Duck Hunting workshop was setting decoys and we were getting out on the water to learn!

To be continued…

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Washington Outdoor Women Fall Retreat Registration

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I just got my schedule in the mail for this year’s Washington Outdoor Women fall retreat!  I went last year and had the best time learning about duck hunting and archery.

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I’m really excited for the workshops I’ll be taking this year: Fly Fishing 101, Wilderness First Aid, Survival Skills, and First Aid for Dogs.

I can’t wait for Fly Fishing, the instructor seems amazing.  I remember last year a woman told me she took that workshop and now teaches other people how to fly fish from everything she learned.

I was happy when I saw they offered a Wilderness First Aid course this year.  I’ve been wanting to take something on first aid basics since you can be miles away from help when you’re out hunting.  I can’t wait to see what I learn in there.  Survival Skills is another workshop that’ll teach me skills I’ve been wanting to learn.  The chance of getting stuck or lost in the outdoors is always there, so knowing how to make shelter and fire will be great to make me more confident when I’m out hunting.

I can’t wait, I’m so excited!  September needs to hurry up and get here!  Definitely expect posts on everything I learn!

Registration is open until September 7th if any ladies are in Washington and would like to go!  You can find more information on the workshops and the registration here.

2016 Hunting and Fishing Goals

Country Huntress Goals

Another year means another set of goals!  It’s a little late, but here are my  hunting and fishing goals for 2016.

01. Get in shape
Like last year, this is my main goal.  I’m already off to a good start!  I signed up for a 5k in March that has kept me training consistently.  I also plan to get into weight lifting to help me build arm strength for bow hunting.

02.  Buy a bow and practice weekly
I’m hoping to be able to buy my first bow in the next month!  I have a friend who is willing to join the same shooting range with me so we can go practice together.

03.  Shoot my first buck
Last year, I shot my first deer which was a doe.  This year, I hope to shoot my first buck!

04.  Hike and scout more
Living in a new area, I have a lot to do to learn the land around me.  I plan on looking into public land around here to then go out and hike/scout.  Hopefully I can find some decent public land spots around me.

05.  Learn how to use my elk call and get out for elk season
One of my presents for Christmas was an elk call which I’m so excited about!  Now I need to learn how to use it because I’m sure the sound I’m making is NOT right.  I hope I can get out for an elk hunt too!

06.  Cook more wild game recipes
I’m going to steal from the Deerslayer’s Wife here and add that I want to be more adventurous in my cooking!  I’ve got a good chunk of deer meat left that I need to think of great recipes to cook it with, I’m excited!

07.  Find a good, local spot to fish
I really want to get out fishing more this year.  My goal is to find a spot near me that’s good for fishing that I can go to often.

08.  Go duck hunting and get my first duck
I’m hoping to attend a Waterfowl class this year, put together by Washington Outdoor’s Women.  Since the timing never worked out last year, my brother has promised to get me out a couple times this year.

09. Go upland bird hunting
This may require me to head back toward the area I used to live, but I’d love to get out for grouse or pheasant hunting this year.

10.  Get involved and volunteer with a conservation group
I’m really hoping to get more involved with conservation groups this year.  I’m attending some events, but I’d love to be able to volunteer and help out with their conservation efforts.

Hopefully I’ll be able to mark the majority of these off at the end of the year!  My main goals are to get into bow hunting, go elk hunting, and volunteer with a conservation group.

Most importantly, I just want to enjoy the year and get out to enjoy the outdoors more.  I can’t wait for it to be spring so I can get back outside!  I miss the sunshine!

Do you have any big goals you’re hoping to achieve?  Share them below!

Venison Meatloaf Recipe

A few weekends ago, I made my first venison meatloaf and it turned out incredibly delicious!

I hosted a “Friendsmas” dinner with several friends and made a feast of venison meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole (my personal holiday favorite).  Meatloaf was one of my grandma’s specialties and I’ve always liked it.  So I was excited to try out this recipe because I hadn’t eaten it in years.  It didn’t disappoint!

The feast!

The feast!

To make the meatloaf, I first needed to grind up some of the venison in my freezer.  This meant I got to use my new meat grinder for the first time!  I took out a couple packs of stew meat to thaw out so they’d be ready to grind.

country huntress deer butchering

I read the manual, it seemed easy enough so I started grinding the stew meat.

wild game meat grinder

I ran it through a coarse grinder plate on the first pass through. Then, I switched it to the fine grinder plate on the second.


When it was all done, I was left with over a pound of venison! So cool and really easy to use.  I can’t wait to try out the sausage stuffing setting on there.

Over a pound of ground venison!

Over a pound of ground venison!

For the meatloaf, I followed this recipe. The venison weighed out to around a pound and a quarter, so I increased all the ingredients a bit.

Egg, crushed saltine crackers, barbecue sauce, onion, sage, steak seasoning, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce

Egg, crushed saltine crackers, barbecue sauce, onion, sage, steak seasoning, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce

Like my grandma always said, the only way to mix meatloaf is to get in there with your hands.  I combined all the ingredients together and then filled a small loaf pan. It smelled amazing, but to make it even better you add some bacon strips on top.

venison meatloaf
Mine took almost twice as long as the recipe said to cook. An instant thermometer was a life saver cooking this one!  Make sure the inside temperature is at least 160 degrees.  I poured over the BBQ sauce mixture and viola!

venison meatloaf
Not everyone at the party knew they were eating venison.  But they all said it was one of the best meatloafs they’ve had!  Definite success!

One delicious venison meatloaf dinner!

One delicious venison meatloaf dinner!

I think the next time I make it, I’d form the meat into the rectangle shape on a baking sheet. That way you put full slices of bacon over the top and sides.  And the entire meatloaf will be covered in the sauce that everyone said was their favorite part.  I think the sage adds a really great flavor to this recipe so don’t skip that ingredient or swap it out!

Writing this post makes me want to cook this again, it was so delicious!  This meatloaf is also great the next day between two white slices of bread with mayo.  But it’s not likely you’ll have leftovers!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Butchering A Deer

When I got back from my hunting trip, I had four deer quarters to butcher.

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Meat to butcher!

My family has always hunted with farmers so they’ve harvested and processed their own deers for decades.  Thanksgiving morning my brother came over and taught me how to butcher the meat.

We both started with one leg.  He showed me how to work the filet knife between the different muscles to start separating the meat.  He said the knife will do the work, just follow where the tension is.  It was interesting to see how it was all connected.

He also showed me how to use your hand to feel where the muscle goes.  Eventually, we got out our first big steak.  Then came what he said was the most important part—cleaning the meat.

Our workspace for butchering the deer

I got off all of the film that keeps the muscles together.  Then I worked to cut off all of the silver skin, that part wasn’t easy!  If any of the meat had fat left on it, I also cut that off.  It took awhile, but when I was done we were left with really nice cuts of meat.

The reason he said this step was so important was all of those parts added to the gamey taste of meat.  So the less of that on the meat, the less gamey it’ll taste.

It took us a couple of hours but we finished butchering two of the quarters.  We were left with steaks and stew meat mostly.  I learned a lot, my brother was really helpful at showing me how to do everything.  It was nice being able to learn the family tradition of what they do after someone gets a deer.

He took two pieces of meat we’d cleaned and grilled them in a cast iron skillet.  With only salt and pepper to season it, it was a delicious piece of meat!  Not too gamey at all!

The first steak from my deer!

The first steak from my deer!

A few days later, I finished butchering the last two quarters.  It took me a few hours.  It probably wasn’t the best butchering ever done, but it was a good feeling to do it myself.  It’s a lot of hard work, but rewarding to see all the meat you’re left with.

For Black Friday, I purchased a meat grinder from Cabelas.  I’ll be using it for the first time this weekend as I grind stew meat to make a venison meatloaf.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

country huntress deer butchering

Do you butcher your own deer or take it to be processed at a wild game butcher?  Share your family’s tradition below!

Shooting My First Deer – Part 2

If you missed Shooting My First Deer – Part 1, read it here!

I had just shot my first deer and now the hard work started as we began to track the blood trail.

Kelli and I began make our way through the thick salal bushes that were much taller than us.  To be honest, I don’t know how she cleared a path for us to follow because the second we went through, the path was swallowed up by branches and leaves again.

country huntress deer hunting

Following the trail!

Trying to follow a blood trail in that brush seemed impossible. We worked our way to one clearing and no blood was to be found. We looked in every direction she could’ve gone but nothing. We each took turns going back into the salal to try and see if the blood trail moved farther into it in another direction.

Eventually we decided to move from where we were to try and get farther back in the brush near where we saw bushes move. We made our way back in and again came to another small clearing. I looked down and there was another patch of blood—back to tracking once more!

Continue reading

Shooting My First Deer – Part 1

A week ago, I shot my first deer!  My life has been a bit hectic lately.  But when I had the chance to get out to the San Juan Islands for a late season hunt, I jumped on it.  I headed up on a Saturday to meet them at the marina and they took me over to Decatur Island–a small island in the San Juans not accessible by ferry.  The couple helping me hunt is the same couple that helped me catch my first salmon.

country huntress deer hunting

Decatur Island to the right

We ate lunch and made a game plan for the rest of the day.  Kelli and I would head out to an area that they’d seen several deer before.  I changed into my hunting gear and off we went.  We made our way back through trees until it opened up a little bit.  We found a large tree trunk that had a log in front of it that was a good spot to sit and have some cover.

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Kelli and I waiting for deer!

One of my goals getting into hunting has been to find other women to hunt with.  It’s a lot easier said than done.  So it was an awesome feeling to be out there with another woman!  We sat quietly and the craziness of everyday life faded away.  One of my favorite things about hunting is feeling connected to the outdoors.

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Surf Fishing on the Oregon Coast

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!

Surf Fishing Sunset

I spent my weekend on the Oregon coast and got to experience surf fishing for the first time.  Quite the change from fishing on a quiet lake!

I was given the homework to learn how to tie an improved clinch knot before the trip.  The night before we headed out, I helped get the poles ready and tied a couple of knots.  I was definitely slower at making my knots than my friend, but the lines held up in the ocean current so it worked!

You need to get a ways out there in the waves to get the line far enough, a bit too far in the ocean for my liking.  So I stood back on the beach and took pictures/hoped waves wouldn’t knock him over!

Surf Fishing Sunset

Oregon Coast Surf Fishing Sunset

Surf Fishing Sunset

Surf Fishing Sunset

Oregon Coast Surf Fishing Sunset

Oregon Coast Surf Fishing

surf fishing oregon coast

Toward the end, he had me try to cast the line out once.  It was a ten foot pole and not the easiest to cast out as you’re trying to keep your balance with waves hitting your legs.  You definitely had to stand in a power stance to keep your balance.

Reeling the line back in with the current was also a little difficult.  A lot of line went out so it took awhile to reel it all back in.  It was definitely fun and I’d love to try it again!

He had one bite on the line.  He said it felt big, quickly brought the rod down then left with the bait.  It could’ve been anything swimming out in that ocean, part of what scares me about surf fishing.  I wouldn’t want to reel in a shark!

Oregon Coast Panoramic

It was an absolutely beautiful night after raining all day.  So enjoy the many pictures I took of the waves and sunset.

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast Waves

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast Waves

Oregon Coast Sunset

Oregon Coast Waves

Oregon Coast Waves

Oregon Coast Waves