Mon09012014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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Outdoor economics

All we seem to hear about right now is how bad the economy is. So, how does that apply to the outdoorsman? With times tight it may seem that spending time outdoors is going to get tougher. I beg to differ.
There are many ways to make that trip outdoors not only a great memory in tougher times but an economical one as well. Here are a few tips to get you going. We would love to hear of any others you may have and maybe we can put it at the end of the weekly column if it is good enough!

Small game
Many hunters overlook small game hunting. Most of us started our hunting with small game and those that went straight to deer and turkey hunting really missed out. Small game hunting does not require much in the way of equipment, can be done just about anywhere you can gain permission to hunt and the game is plentiful. A small game license is $18.
With that license and a box of shells or .22 cartridges you can easily feed your family several meals between now and the end of January. It takes approximately three squirrels to make a “loaded” version of Brunswick stew. Some may balk at eating squirrels but rest assured that these little critters eat only the best nuts and blooms and the meat is lean.
Squirrel is good fried if you par boil them to make them tender. I have also found that by aging them as you would a deer for a few days they become tender and it is easily done by leaving them in the refrigerator for two to three days prior to grilling, frying or making stew from them.
The same advice goes for rabbit. Rabbit is quite tasty, easy to cook and very nutritious. Again the rabbits eat good vegetation and are common everywhere. Rabbits are a whole lot easier to clean too. Both of these small game animals provide a good opportunity for entire families to spend time together. The stories told over dinner only add to the adventures and flavor of the day.

Big game
There are a few days of deer season left. I feel like I am pointing out the obvious here but going deer hunting and taking a deer will provide 30-40 pounds or more of meat that is lean, nutritious and very inexpensive. Again the memories made with your sons, daughters, spouse or friends are invaluable and the deer you take out of the herd helps the remainder of the herd by freeing up resources such as food.
It also cuts down on the number of vehicle collisions if we harvest enough deer. The cost for a big game license with six deer tags, three turkey tags and a bear tag is another $18.  A shotgun is standard fare and a box of buckshot or slugs can be had for less than $10. Remember your blaze orange!

Fishing
We are very fortunate in that our local rivers are filled with fish. The most common fish in our waters has to be the catfish and the supply seems endless. They bite pretty much all year although the bite may be slower right now. Bottom fishing with worms, cut fish, or commercially prepared baits will bring home dinner quite easily.
But what if you don’t have a boat?
Well, there are numerous bank fishing opportunities from here to Fredericksburg. Wilmont Landing, the $5 Hole at the train tracks off Rt. 3, Little Falls, the whole riverbank in Fredericksburg, and Hopyard Landing is fair game and offers good catfishing. We could use more public access on the Potomac.
Local ponds in Westmoreland are open year around and offer free fishing with a license. There are bass, catfish and bream as well as crappie there. Chandler’s Mill Pond and Gardy’s Mill Pond are nice quiet places to fish and definitely good places to take family.
The fish you catch on your outing make good dinner and once again good conversation while saving money and spending time with your family. It is not unreasonable to expect to catch dinner, particularly once the weather warms up some. You do not need expensive gear to catch local fish. I have seen $20-$29 set ups that will do the job just fine. If taken care of correctly these setups will last years.
Finally, if you do not have the gear and do not know where to go to fish and have the time to learn or go often, don’t rule out a charter trip.
”But they are expensive,” I hear someone saying. Yes, they can be expensive if you pay for the whole thing yourself. But, consider the following first. If you take an average charter at say $600 and get a total of six or seven friends to divide the cost of the charter and the gas, you have significantly cut the cost for yourself. Some charters are still less than this depending on the species and the boat.
All gear and bait is provided and most will clean and bag your fish. I have never come back from a charter without some fish. Almost every time I have had my cooler slam filled with fish which will last months if you eat one or two meals a week. When you count the cost vs. the amount of fish you get, it evens out and you may even come ahead if the trip is successful. Do your homework on what fish are biting, the success of the captain and the time of year that is best to go.
This year don’t let the economy keep you out of the woods or off the water. Gas prices are reasonable and now is a great time to spend with the family and get back to the things that matter most.

 

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