The Tool Every Sportsman Should Have In Their Kitchen

Can you believe one of my favorite tools as a sportsman isn’t a gun…or a knife…or a flashlight…or even a multi-tool of some sort.   Nope.   It’s a gadget, and quite honestly a device that should be found IN EVERY KITCHEN!   I’m talking about a trusty thermometer used specifically for cooking.

Now, let’s get something straight.   Most kitchen thermometers suck.   That’s right…if you have the old dial thermometer that takes 15–20 seconds to slowly react to the cooking temperature, that’s not good enough.   Let me put it to you this way…if you were shooting at a flock of geese and pulled the trigger with a long delay in firing would this situation please you?   More importantly, a gun with a long hang-fire time such as this scenario holds the potential for being a true safety hazard in the field.

Well, guess what…a slow thermometer not only slows you down as a cook.   But chances are quite good that it’s slow in reacting because it doesn’t incorporate the latest in thermocouple science.   This could mean it’s simply not accurate.

For the past couple years my go to device has been the Splash-Proof Super-Fast® Thermapen® produced by a company called ThermoWorks.   I wholeheartedly endorse this product and I can say this IS NOT A SPONSORED EVALUATION.   I can honestly say I spent the $96 plus freight to get the product just like you would.   In fact, I am so impressed with a whole host of this company’s products I have purchased several types of thermometers, timers, etc.   The entire product line appears to be top notch in quality.

It’s important to note you can’t purchase these products in stores or even on Amazon.   Well, technically you can buy it on Amazon, but it simply directs you to their corporate store.

So, why invest nearly $100 in a thermometer?   Good question.   My first response would be because the safety of your family deserves it.   If you’re cooking any type of perishable meat or fish attaining the correct minimum temperature is not something you should be guessing about.   In fact, see the graphic (below) and click on it to enlarge.   This gives you the minimum temperatures as established by The National Restaurant Association and provides a good guideline.

TemperaturesforFoodSafety

As you will see, in general if you are cooking any large muscle like a steak or a roast the minimum internal temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.   Ground meat which has had more surface area exposed to knives or cutters is more prone to bacteria growth and must attain a temperature of at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit.   Poultry and most any game birds are even more highly susceptible to nasty organisms and should be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just a few simple rules to observe for safety.   Also, one of the main benefits of using the Thermapen is the slender probe to easily penetrate muscle.   Yet, the main benefit in buying quality is this probe reads the temperature at the very tip of the probe.   Other cheaper types of devices use different measuring technology and the reading could be an inch or two higher along the probe shaft.   With the Thermapen there simply is no guessing as you know what the temperature is within a split second…not several seconds later.

Check out most cooking shows on TV and you will see how many professional cooks tend to gravitate to the Thermapen because of the superb quality.   But what prompted me to write this post today is something new ThermoWorks is offering.   Check out the new ThermoPop at almost 1/4 the price ($24 introductory price) of the Thermopen.

ThermoPop

Sure, you sacrifice a bit of speed(this probe states a reading in 5-6 seconds), but the quality of this device very likely is second to none you will find in any store near you.   I’ll be getting several of these to test out in upcoming weeks to come.

In closing, we all know about the importance of food safety when it comes to cooking and checking temps.   But there is another important quality factor involved in the cooking process.   To be a consistent cook it requires taking the guess work out of where things are at during the cooking process.

As many of you know, I come from the world of competition BBQ and often times when a piece of smoked muscle attains a specific temperature it gets pulled from the smoker to rest.   Even a 5 degree variance can spell the difference between food that is outstanding and food that is simply just good.

And when you are constantly checking temps you want to do things fast.   As the saying goes, “when you are looking, you’re not cooking.”   Hence the need to open door, insert probe, get the reading and shut that oven door quickly once again.

As a sportsman, you should take as much pride in how you present things at the dinning room table as you do in the field or the waters where the food is obtained.   If you’re one who downplays the importance of a good meat thermometer, than you’re missing out on an important element of enjoying the total sportsman experience.   In other words, why sacrifice good food to a $3 piece of junk when you’ve already likely spent several thousand dollars to bring that meat into your home.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Deer Camp Rules Gleaned From Over 35 Years Of Hunting Experience

With the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season just around the corner (on November 9th) I thought it might be appropriate to share some of the wisdom gleaned by attending over 35 years in hunting camp.   As you prepare for your hunting camp this fall, please take this sage advice into careful consideration:

  1. Never trust a skinny person to pick up the morning donuts for deer camp.  They will either severely underestimate how many are needed or pick up some healthy crap nobody wants to eat.SLD_1557
  2. The snoring in deer camp will be far worse than ever imagined.  Just trust me on this.
  3. Never complain about the cook’s grub.  They might actually tell you what they put in it.
  4. Don’t be the first hunter to come back to camp because you’re cold.  Deservingly so, this person should receive a great deal of harassment from the other hunters who all wished they were back toasty and warm near the camp stove.
  5. Don’t bring your clothes and hunting gear to camp stored in garbage bags.   Duffel bags tend to reduce the chances of getting old coffee grounds and food waste being thrown into your pseudo-luggage bag by mistake (or on purpose)?
  6. Position your sleeping cot as far away from the bathroom door or tent entrance as possible.  Is it necessary to elaborate on this one?
  7. Don’t be the youngest person in camp.  Always make sure there is someone more junior than you who has a stronger back for chopping and carrying heavy firewood (or a host of other menial tasks likely to be assigned by camp elders).
  8. Never bet more than $1 on either the first deer or during a game of camp poker.   There are always hunters in the camp who will find a way to take your money.
  9. Beware the hunter who seems overly willing to let you use his favorite deer stand.   What they’re failing to tell you is it was their favorite deer hunting stand a decade ago when it last witnessed a deer kill.
  10. And finally, even if you get a cell phone signal NEVER TELL YOUR SPOUSE or significant other that fact.   Let them continue to think how you’re hunting so deep into the woods reaching you by text or voice is simply not an option for the upcoming few days.

There you have it.   Just a few suggestions (some tongue-in-cheek) on how to best survive deer camp.   What other thoughts might you add from your years of experience hunting in deer camp?   Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Hunters What Does It Take For You To Become A Believer?

Let me preface this post by stating upfront that I do not intend for this post to be a product review.  Instead, the product I use as an example in this post is mostly just a prop to frame the question.   In fact, you could page through a hunting supplies catalog and pick one of thousands of similar products that this same question could apply.

That being said, I have never used an electronic scent eliminating product that uses ozone as its means of neutralizing human odor in the woods.   I have had an employee who distributed on her own these types of units for home use and, after listening to her sales pitch and seeing them in use, albeit for an entirely different use…well, let’s just say I am not sold and highly suspect of the product’s true value.

I believe these ozone devices have been available for hunter purchase now for several years.   I’ve heard both pros and cons.   I know I will certainly not run out to the store to purchase one at $400.   Hell, I would give one a try if someone gave one to me.   And therein lies my question.

When a new hunting aid comes along what does it take for you to become a believer?

Do you have to actually try it first hand?   Do you watch the product in use and highly promoted by celebs on TV?   Does a close personal friend need to be your guinea pig, so to speak?   Or does equipment like this just seem so far-fetched that you take one look at it and snicker?

The challenge of controlling human scent in the woods is a prime objective for lots of products touting their value.   And I get that.   I grew up and I still am a trapper and NOBODY is more keenly aware of human scent than trappers are.   Yet, I see successful trappers all over the board when it comes to human scent management.   Some go to extremes taking every painstaking precaution to leave no traces of human scent.   Others, well…they realize the importance of being careful, but they don’t go overboard when it comes to their practices.   Yet, both are still successful.

I often wonder if those of us who are hunters don’t often interpret our experiences the way we hope they exist.   By that I mean, if you just plopped $400 down for some electronic scent device or some scent reducing clothing, by default we all want them to work, right?   Hard to justify how something costing nearly as much as an inexpensive rifle or bow could possibly not live up to our expectations in every way.

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is this way.   Assume one of your hunting companions makes a new equipment purchase making big claims it can be a potential game changer in the outcome of the hunt.   Do you feel the pressure to buy because you don’t want them to have an advantage over you?   Or do you initially scoff at the notion that any newfangled equipment has such revolutionary value that it will likely change the outcome of the hunt?

As an aside, sometimes I fear those of us in the hunting community put too much credence in the next new gadget that comes along.   Oh, sure, many of them are fun to play with and the science behind them can make sense, but is it truly necessary?

It’s sort of like the deer whistles that people mounted on their truck bumpers several decades ago to scare deer away and to avoid collisions and damage.   Did they work?   Oh, you bet they did…but likely not for the reason you might imagine.   They worked because the people who invested in them watched the ditches more closely hoping to see the deer run away by hearing the whistles.   The psychology was people like to see their investments paying off.   This can be true even if the science behind the product being sold is never actually field-proven.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.