Hey everybody, I’ve been working a lot lately and unfortunately haven’t had much of a chance for a real adventure. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have anything interesting to ramble about.
As many of you are aware, I shot a deer this year. It is my largest deer to date and I am very proud of it, to the point where I’m basically bragging. Anyway, I’ll try to refrain from that on this post… no promises. The meat for this deer is currently hanging in my step-dad’s shop waiting to be butchered in to tasty roasts, steaks, jerky and all other kinds of goodness. The head has been turned in for CWD testing, which is necessary for any deer taken in the area where I got mine. Before I turned the head in I cut the antlers, and skull plate connecting them, off. I’ve had a plan for them for a while now, but this week I finally got around to actually doing something. Here’s what I did.
First I skinned any fur, fat or meat off of the bone connecting the antlers together (skull plate). It was a little on the gross side but Rose, my dads pug, kept me company and was very interested in what I was doing. Next I took some plain table salt and rubbed it on the skull plate to absorb any moisture left on the bone or any flesh that I had missed. I then left the antlers in my dad’s shop for a few days where it could dry out. While it was drying I rounded up some supplies, I needed a plaque to mount it on, so I took some aged wood off of an old grainery. It came from the same area as the deer did, and I think that’s kinda neat. Next I needed something to cover up the skull plate. I went to a thrift shop and for $5.49 I had a nice plaid flannel shirt, it was perfect.
I cut the reclaimed wood into a piece about 8×10 inches, I opted to use a small piece of wood like this to make the antlers stand out more when its on the wall. I have seen people use larger pieces of wood and it looks great, as far as I’m concerned there’s very few wrong ways to do this.
Next I cut a sleeve off of the thrift shop shirt and wrapped it around the skull plate. To make it stay in place I used hot glue, just under the base of the antlers.
I then cut the excess material off at the back and glued it down too. I then drilled pilot holes into both the plaque and the back of the skull. Make sure to cut the fabric with a knife before you drill, otherwise it will catch in the drill bit and ball up, its a mess. From there I put some screws in from the back, through the plaque and into the skull plate.
Lastly I needed a method to hang it. I used some short screws to attach picture hanging wire and I was done.
Now I’ve just gotta find a good place in my house to hang it.
I also think, for a laugh, I should share this.
I’m sure many of you have seen this photo before.
Its from an older story of mine titled “Blast from the Past”. I also posted this photo to my instagram account with the same caption. Someone felt the need to post the following comment (along with a few others but I especially like this one)
“Oh look a deranged killer that could of been helped but is now a terrible thing forcing the other to obey him or else he will be killed too the other one is a poor pug in terrible murderers hands”
I think English may not be their first language, so I wont harp on the syntax here. I think what they are trying to say is that they feel sad that Rose, the pug, is being forced to kill animals or risk being killed by me for not performing.
This might be my favorite”hate mail” (ish) comment I have ever gotten (and there are some tough contenders in this category). I find it absolutely hilarious. Some of you are likely laughing right now, and some of you might need an explanation. So allow me. Rose, has never killed, flushed, or retrieved anything… ever. Her being a hunting dog is true, in that she comes with us when we hunt, but really she just wears an awesome camo vest and tags along with us. Anyone who thinks shes in danger of being put down for not performing has never seen how much my dad spoils her. He openly admits to preferring her over his kids, that’s ok, we understand, because we kinda like her more than we like him.
Rose is also a rather accomplished fisherwoman. Her and I hope that doesn’t upset anyone.
Posted in Huntingwith 3 comments.
The last deer hunting story I posted got so much attention that I nearly had a heart attack. Since it was so well received, I decided to post the story of the first deer I ever shot. I was fortunate enough to see this story published in the “readers stories” section of the July 2014 issue of “Alberta Outdoorsman”. Some of you may recall that this marks the second time I have seen my writing in legitimate print, something that I hope to see again someday. Without further delay, here’s the story of my first deer.
I have been around guns and hunting for about as far back as I can remember and I’m seldom known for forgetting. That being said the first time I actually went deer hunting was when I was 14 and just out of hunters training. It was all of three sparse days where in I saw two mule deer dos and got rather cold. It seemed after that, that my hunting career had come to an abrupt and uneventful end. I did not hunt for many years after that, I did however, field dress and butcher many deer in that time with my step father. At the time it was just for the sake of being helpful, I thought. In the end however, I feel it was a good skill to gain that will help me a great deal in life and it might sound strange to a non hunter but I do intend to pass these skill on to my children someday.
My second year of university I found myself working at an outdoors store, it was an easy step to make as I had already been exposed to the outdoor world as I mentioned earlier. In this time I found myself more and more tempted to try hunting again. It was at this time that a beautiful gun came through the shop, an older and, somewhat, abused Ruger M77 International in .243 Winchester. I immediately fell in love with this old gun. It had on a beautiful and well worn in wooden mannlicher stock and an older weaver 4X scope. For what seemed like a better portion of an arm and a leg at the time it was mine and I was happy to have it. I brought it to the farm and we sighted it in with some 80 grain soft point and away I went to my good buddy Troy’s house for some fun. Troy didn’t seem to mind the idea of me coming hunting on his land I figure it’s because he’s a nice guy and he’s usually only after moose, they have more meat. On this particular hunt we were joined by a lovely lady Troy had been seeing at the time, whom I haven’t spoken to in many years, so let’s leave names out of it shall we. She had in her possession a moose tag that she had hoped to use along with her normal deer tags. We began our day on the quads, me naturally being overly protective of my possessions opted to put my rifle in a hard case and strap it to the quad rack. In my youth I was open to many things but as I have gotten older I’ve grown more opposed to things like hunting from an ATV, at the time it seemed the way to do it, now it seems like cheating. At any rate we drove the back country trails me on my quad and the others sharing another, after a sightless morning we came to the house for some lunch where I realized that there’s no point in hauling around my rifle because I wouldn’t get it out in time to make the shot anyway. So we opted to all just kind of share the one gun of Troy’s. It was perfect for the job; a stainless synthetic Remington, chambered in .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Mag. Before you break out the reloading manual, yes that is a real caliber and no I don’t know anyone else who has one.
That afternoon we resumed scouting via the ATVs until finally we came around a corner and there was a beautiful buck just standing there on top of the hill. Troy looked, so did his companion and they asked “Tyson, you want him?” “Yes, yes I do” Troy handed me the rifle and I took aim and paused for a moment as I calmed and realized that it really a faux pas to shoot a sky lined animal even that far out in the middle of nowhere, the deer looked at me, looked away, looked at me, and walked casually into the bush. I looked back at the group with what I am sure was a sad face and he pointed and said “there’s another cutline farther down” I was off! I didn’t know I could run that fast, especially with a rifle. Sure enough there was that same buck standing in a clearing with a nice broad hill behind him, I felt good about this. I brought myself down to one knee took aim and yanked on the trigger the whole gun lunged forward off of my shoulder and did not go off, I looked at the safety still in the on position and re-evaluated a better part of my life and in that second I was about as disappointed in myself as I ever hope to be. I took a deep breath flipped the safety off steadied the rifle with the crosshairs just behind the shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger this time I was solid like a rock. With a thunderous crack that Remington let out everything it had and that buck fell down just as fast as it possibly could. In the distance I hear “Did you get him?!” to which I rebutted smugly “YOU EVER KNOW ME TO MISS?” I opted not to tell them about my first attempt at firing that gun. We then took a few pictures and they went off to get a truck to haul out the deer while I stayed with it and took a moment to sit there proud of myself and then began to field dress it. While field dressing I had noticed that my stead aiming behind the shoulder had landed me a perfect neck shot, I somehow was a foot and a half out on a sixty yard shot and managed to get perfect placement, again I would fail to mention my intended trajectory for the bullet to my companions.
Eventually I got tired of waiting for the truck. I brought out the winch line on the quad and found an old t shirt under the seat I wrapped the shirt around the deer’s neck and the winch around the shirt and began to slowly drive in reverse dragging my trophy toward the house. I eventually found the holdup. The truck, in its haste, had found its way off the trail and become hung up on the edge of the path, luckily no damage but the pilot had to go back for a tractor to get the truck out. In hind sight this tractor coming to get the truck that was coming to get the deer was starting to remind me of an old nursery rhyme. The truck came right out and then we remembered there is a perfectly good trailer for pulling behind the quad, we grabbed that, loaded the deer, and hauled it back to the house. By this time I had learned a few valuable lessons about planning and preparedness little did I know I wasn’t quite done learning that lesson on that day.
The next snag in my plan was that I drove a rather boat like Pontiac at the time, a car not known for its deer hauling capacity, though I’m sure if I didn’t like the seats it could be done. So I had to get it hauled to my parent’s house via Troy’s pickup truck. Between the time I shot the deer and we got it out of the bush and into my parents garage where I could skin it, about 3 hours had passed in about -15C temperatures. For those of you who have never tried to skin a cold deer it’s a lot like trying to open a Christmas present wrapped with duct tape while your hands are numb from the cold. We cut and pulled so hard we broke the deer off the hanger twice and eventually had to tie its legs to the metal spreader. We got it eventually but it was not pretty or pleasant.
All in all I got a beautiful buck that scores about 140 gross inches. I found this out later in the year when a friend of mine took me to his uncle who scores deer for a hobby… I guess. More importantly than the size of the animal was that not only did it fill my freezer it taught me some valuable lessons about being prepared, checking your equipment, and remaining calm while firing.
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I bought a tomahawk for my mountain hunting trip because its lighter than a hatchet and well… I’ve always wanted a tomahawk. I wasn’t particularly happy with the fit and finish of it so I decided to make it better, with a little help from the internet and my step-dad.
When I first got it the handle was unfinished and splintered a bit at the bottom and the head was loose. For a quick fix I put a wrap of tape around the handle under the head to keep it from wiggling and wrapped the bottom of the handle with cotton hockey tape to protect myself from the splinters. After the trip I decided to actually do something about it.
Lets look at the handle first since it was the easiest. Basically I took out the set-screw holding the head onto the handle so I could take the head off. Then I removed the tape I had previously put on. I then began sanding the handle down. I found that no matter how much I sanded the last four inches or so of the handle just seemed to be too damaged to be recovered. So I just cut the end off, I decided to do this at a 45 degree angle, I like the way it looks and there was no way I was going to cut it perfectly square with my hand saw.
Next I used a rub-on oil as a finish. I wanted a darker finish so I went with minwax brand antique oil. I just followed the directions and rubbed on a few coats with a cheese cloth.
Now the tomahawk head. After taking the head off I placed it in a plastic grocery bag with some paint stripper and let it sit for about a day, reapplying more paint remover ever few hours. Once all the paint on it was loose and flakey I rinsed it and used some steel wool to remove all the excess.
Next using a metal file, I ground the edges of the eye of the head (the hole that sits around the handle) this is to make it fit a bit tighter on the handle and prevent it from scraping and splintering the handle when the head is taken on or off.
Next I decided to give my tomahawk a little more character, I wanted to patina the head making it look much older than it was. I decided I wanted a bit of an uneven patina, to me that looks more “authentic” so first I cleaned the head thoroughly with nail polish remover to get any grease or oils off of it. From this point on I was careful to never actually touch the head with my hands, I just handled it with paper towel, rubber gloves would also have worked. I then spread some mustard on the metal head, then wrapped it in paper towel and then soaked it in vinegar for about an hour. The acid from both the mustard and the vinegar forced oxidization at different rates which created a unique pattern.
I unwrapped it and rinsed it in the sink to remove all the surface rust. In my research I had seen people leaving the head in a jar of vinegar for a more even finish, if you wanted a wilder one you could use a lot more mustard and wrap it in plastic. This is a part where you can really get creative and make something interesting, there aren’t a lot ways to do it wrong.
Now that my tomahawk head had no finish on it and had already been rusting I needed to do something to make sure it wouldn’t start rusting the first time I took it outside. I was informed that the best solution was to heat it with a hair dryer and then coat it with a protective oil. So I heated it up and wrapped it in an old rag soaked in a CLP (Clean, Lube, and Protect) there are many of these on the market but I opted to use “Frog Lube” for no reason other than I had some handy. Wd-40 would likely work just as well. I then left it to soak and cool over night.
The following day I put the now completed head onto the previously completed handle, but something was still missing. So I decided to fancy up the handle a bit with a leather wrap. I could try and explain how I did it but it would be much easier to link this video that showed me how to do it.
I opted not to put the set-screw back in. In an emergency if I ever break the handle I can just pull the head off and use it to make a new handle.
I found that I had trouble getting the head to stop wobbling on the handle so I put a wrap of tape under it, it worked well but kinda feels like cheating… so dont tell anyone I told you. If you have any questions feel free to ask, also search online for “custom cold steel tomahawk” and you will find a lot of fancy projects and an overwhelming amount of information on the subject.
Posted in How-Towith 2 comments.