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Adirondack Lean-to Camping and IceFishing

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“The core of mans spirit comes from new experiences” – Into the Wild

 

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It took a 5 hour drive after work to reach the point of entry into the beautiful Adirondacks before pulling sled a mile or so over land and ice to the planned shelter spot and beacon of lantern light left out at the edge of the water by a friend. The trip was designed originally as a canvas hot tent outing but due to the heavy rains and warmer temps we ended up staying at a nearby location in a lean-to and never took the tent out of the bag. The lean-to made for an easy base camp and was situated 100 or so yards from the waters edge. We woke before the sun and drilled holes through the approximately 10 inches of ice and placed tip-ups according to plans made after reviewing the state water depth maps and considering the fickle habits of our target species.

We caught many Lakers but to be a keeper they needed to hit the 21″ regulation. They bit on jigged lures baited with spikes (aka maggots) as well as tip-ups at varying depth baited with live shiners and later baited with smelt when they were caught. It took till sunset to reel in a keeper the first day and although it wouldn’t have been necessary it was a moment of satisfaction to know that the planning, patience and perseverance before and during the trip paid off handsomely. That fish would make the first dinner for the 4 of us along with an onion, oyster mushrooms found in camp and some black trumpet and chanterelles pulled from the freezer. A cup of foraged wintergreen leaves made a tea that was added to the first nights feast.

It rained all that evening and when we woke, the mist rising off the lake added to the beauty of the Adirondack landscape and kept providing new scenery throughout the day. We fished hard another day catching more Lakers and Smelt as well as small mouth bass but no Brook trout would be had on this outing.  Later in the afternoon a big storm blew in and took the tip-ups with line and bait and blew them down the ice. We scrambled to gather our belongings and take shelter in the comfort of the lean-to. The storm made water collection easy off the corner of a tarp we rigged as both an extended roof and to cover the face of the lean-to at night in order to block the winds.

That second night we fried and ate many of the smelt caught earlier in the day and enjoyed them as appetizers. The main course consisted of venison, wild rice, pierogies and other goodies like Pillsbury wrapped hot-dogs. All of it helped to fuel and warm our bodies after a wet day and during a blustery stormy night. As we got settled in, the temperature began to drop, reaching 20f, the rain turned to snow, winds picked up and when we woke the forest floor was covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

We slept in past sunrise and tidied up making sure to leave the place better then we found it and left behind a pile of split firewood for the next campers in Adirondack tradition. With packed sleds and a final sip of coffee we were off across the ice, using a spud to check for stability and safety and then up the trail to the vehicles for a long ride home.

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Wild Mushroom and Venison Meals

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Autumn has arrived and so has the excitement of finding delicious mushrooms on forest walks.

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Hen of the Woods & Chicken of the Woods

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Together my wife and I made Anthony Bourdain’s Mushroom Soup Recipe.

The same day I managed to harvest a doe from the forest and it being Saturday, we finally had the time to try butchering it ourselves. The process was very time consuming having not done it before but very much rewarding. We took our time scavenging all the meat including the smallest scraps that would be put into a grinder with a mix of bacon fat.

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Exhausted, I threw some in a pan with a few slices of mushrooms for a quick meal.

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But later after all was packaged, placed in the freezer and wiped clean multiple times… my wife made the most delicious venison meatballs with home grown tomato sauce.

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It was a rewarding day and felt like a culmination of skills recently learned put into the culture of our daily lives.

Foraging & Making PawPaw Crescent Rolls

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Took a drive out to a forest in Pennsylvania with a known spot for foraging wild PawPaw.
The broad leaves of the tree give a jungle like feel to the forest and produce a sweet sugary fruit full of large seeds.

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My companions as botanists had a secondary goal beyond enjoying the fruit in the shade of the forest.
They plan to grow trees from the seed for their own backyards and to share through a native wild plant nursery.

We tasted and collected many fruits to find the most choice potential seeds.

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I gathered them gently in a basket hoping to avoid bruising the highly delicate fruit.

Along the Way, I found some very large and abundant Spicebush berries.

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and some Jewelweed seeds that have a taste very similar to walnut.

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Afterwards, I wanted to make a pawpaw crescent roll.

To do so, I made a mini fire to have just enough coals to cook over. The goal is to gently bake the crescent but not the pawpaw in a tinfoil pouch. A flip after 3 minutes and about 2 more minutes provided a delicious fruit filled pastry treat..

 

Making Oyster Mushroom Jerky

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If you follow my blog you may recall that I made some  Hen of the Woods Jerky that came out delicious.  Well, I tried the same recipe with Oyster mushrooms and it did come out tasty but Hen wins easy for texture and flavor.

To make the mushroom jerky, I boiled pieces for 10 minutes, strained and placed them in a marinade overnight.  The marinade was a mix of honey, chili powder and soy sauce.  The jerky went in the dehydrator the next day at a low temperature for about 8 hours until it felt right.

 

 

Spring Trout & Wild Edible Outing

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Had a great weekend camping for the opener of trout season in NJ.  It’s become tradition to catch some rainbows and make a meal with some mixed wild edibles including wintergeen, wintercress, watercress, chickweed, dandelion, leeks, trout lily and partridge berry.  Hope you enjoy the video!

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it.” -Nessmuk

24 Wild Foraged Autumn Ingredients Cooked over a Campfire

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I was challenged in a friendly competition to put my naturalist knowledge into action and make my best possible meal in an Autumn Foraging, Fishing, Hunting and Camping scenario. Recognizing that native people must have eaten over a 100 different wild foods in a year, a more varied diet than many or most of us today, I wanted to try and incorporate as many foods as I could possible find in this truly local meal.
I was able to create a menu composed of 24 fresh and local wild crafted ingredients (18 plants, 2 mushrooms, 4 animals).

Animals: Trout, Deer, Squirrel, Bear (lard)
Plants: Stinging Wood Nettle, Lambs Quarters, Onion Grass, Wild Apple, Autumn Olive, White Pine, Mixed Acorn, Black Walnut, Wintergreen, Sweet Fern, Sweet Birch, Spice Bush, Sassafrass, Garlic Mustard, Wild Leek, Staghorn Sumac, Juniper Berries, Fox Grape (water)
Fungus: Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods

The meal has been cooked over a split oak wood fire that was lit with a white pine bow drill friction fire.  Bear grease was used as the cooking oil.

AUTUMN BUSHCRAFT FORAGING MENU 

Salad & Soup (Served with a Sweet Fern Tea)

Nettle, Lambs Quarters, Onion Grass, Garlic Mustard, Crab Apple with an Autumn Olive Drizzle
Wild Foraged Autumn Salad (3)

Mixed Wild Mushroom (Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods), Stinging Wood Nettle and Rice Soup
Wild Foraged Autumn Soup (4)

 

Entrée (Served with White Pine Tea)
Roasted Trout with Wild Leeks, Chives and a Staghorn Sumac Spice
Wild Foraged Trout, Hen of the Woods, Chives Meal with Sumac Seed Spice (5)

Venison Heart, Hen of the Woods and Wild Leeks flavored with dried Spicebush Berries
Wild Foraged Autumn Meal, Venison, Nettle, Leek

Squirrel stuffed with Autumn Olive, Juniper Berries, Wild Apple and Stinging Nettle surrounded by Hen and Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms. (Bacon Wrapped and covered in tinfoil and cooked in the coals)
Squirrel stuffed with Wild Foraged Edibles

Desert (Served with Tripple S Tea made of Sweetbirch, Spicebush & Sassafrass)
Acorn Bannock Tart made with Black Walnuts and Grape Vine water. Topped with Wild Apple, Fox Grape and Autumn Olive fruit.
Wild Foraged Autumn Bannock Tart Dessert

 

Part 1: Wild Foraging Harvest

Part 2: Wild Foraged Feast

 

 

New Specials added Seasonally!

Foragers Spice Kit aka The Spice of Life: Spicebush Berries dried and chopped finely, Sweet Fern dried and powdered, Mountain Mint dried and powdered, Wild Ginger dried and powdered or infused into oil, Sumac Seed Heads, Garlic Mustard Seeds, Bay Berry Leaves and Seeds, Juniper berries.

 

 

Evaluation

  • Well it sure would have been easier to do this with a team!  The gathering of ingredients took exploration in multiple habitats and would surely be collected throughout the seasons and not necessarily in a hurry for one specific meal.
  • The changing of the seasons made collection a challenge as well as competing with wildlife and the changing appearance and growing location of plants. Focusing on lower elevations and wetlands allowed for the harvesting of certain species that would otherwise be too far gone at higher elevations or north facing slopes.
  • The biggest help was familiarity with local habitats that reduced the gamble of trying to find specific plants and made for easier and faster acquisition.
  • Survival needs are often discussed to include Shelter, Water, Fire and Food in that progression.  However, once you have the top three of four priorities met the majority of your time will be spent on food gathering.
  • The easiest of ingredients to find were mushrooms, nettles, acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts. I could have spent the majority of my time gathering and processing nuts in one general location (while simultaneously fishing) and happened upon a few other ingredients along the way.  This would have been the most calorie efficient way to go. 

Leave a reply below and let me know what you think!

Autumn Mushroom Foraging & Cooking

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I like to bushcraft, forage and cook. When I’m able to combine all of those interests that makes me a happy camper. So, with both rain and cool nights the autumn mushrooms begin to appear and I try and get out to find my share.

I’ve been lucky on my walkabouts to come across Laetiporus sulphureus: The Chicken of the Woods and Grifola frondosa: The Hen of the Woods.  Both tend to grow on decaying oaks and add great flavor to a cooked meal.

My wife and I made Jamie Oliver’s recipe for “Wild Mushroom and Venison Stroganoff for two lucky people”. It was delicious!

I also used a bunch of the Hen to make jerky.  To do so, I boiled larger pieces for 10 minutes, strained and placed them in the marinade overnight.  The marinade was a mix of honey, chili powder and soy sauce. The jerky went in the dehydrator the next day at a low temperature for about 8 hours until it felt right.

All the extra mushroom got diced and fried in butter and a splash of olive oil to be frozen for use another day.

To see more of my Mushroom posts check out:

Wild Foraged Mushroom Tempura

July Mushroom Foraging

Dehydrating Chanterelles

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