Sunday, December 18, 2011
(Written in 2005, and lifted from my files...still may be interesting to some, especially related to Christmas history.)
Hey, I'm a Christmas junkie. I love the music, the food, the giving of gifts, and the fact we celebrate Christ’s birth.
As soon as Thanksgiving hits, I start scanning the car radio for Christmas music, and this year I have found several stations that are playing the music 24/7. One station is in Louisville (106.9) and the other in Santa Claus, In (103.3).
I enjoy the Christmas music, especially the old carols and tunes. It seems there haven’t been many new good Christmas songs added to the old favorites. I also enjoy the old Christmas TV shows, and some of the new ones are enjoyable too.
Christmas has always been an important celebration with the Junker family. In the past, it included a trip to church on Christmas eve. The kids of the church always put on the special program.
After the service, the entire clan gathered at Grandma Junker’s house. There was chili and oyster stew, plus sandwiches and Christmas cookies. Santa came and we kids all received a toy. We had to wait until later to receive the gifts he left for us at our individual homes.
The next day after we had our individual Christmas celebrations at home, we gathered again at Grandma’s house for a big family dinner--lots of really good stuff to eat, especially desserts.
This year, the family Christmas celebration came early. As kids get married and have their own kids, and each family has two sets of in-laws, it is difficult to get everyone together as we did in the past. However this year we had a great gathering and wonderful dinner a week early. It wasn't quite the same, but still wonderful.
In this country, most people celebrate Christmas related to our religious holiday; however thinking about the holiday caused me to do a bit of research. I knew that many of our symbols originally were pagan symbols, but was surprised that a winter celebration goes back much further than the birth of Jesus.
Many Europeans rejoiced during the winter solstice when they believed the worst of the winter weather was behind them. They would look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
The Norse in Scandinavia celebrated the Yule season starting Dec. 21, which is the winter solstice, through the month of January. The men of families would bring home large logs in recognition of the return of the sun. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could be as long as 12 days.
The Norse were delighted to see sparks fly. It seems they thought every spark represented a pig or cow that would be born during the next year.
For most Europeans, it was probably the best time of the year to celebrate and feast. Most of them had slaughtered most of their cattle, rather than feed them through the winter, so there was plenty of fresh meat on hand. Also, it was time that most wine had been fermented and was ready for drinking.
Also occurring this time of year is Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This year for the first time since 1959, Hanukkah and Christmas overlap as Hanukkah starts at sundown, Dec. 25..
Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for dedication, is an eight-day festival celebrating a victory for religious freedom in about 165 B.C. and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
According to people of Jewish faith, During that rededication, there was only enough oil to light the temple for a day but, miraculously, it burned for eight days. That was enough time to prepare more oil for the menorah. To symbolize that miracle, an additional menorah candle is lighted each night. Because it is often near Christmas, Hanukkah has become a time for gift giving.
While the early Europeans had their reasons for celebrating this time of the year, I prefer ours.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and to my Jewish friends, happy Hanukkah.
It seems like it was just almost to hot to fish the other day. Then along came Thanksgiving, and now it’s almost Christmas.
As part of my Christmas tradition, I try to pass along some gift ideas for the outdoors person. Some people think it is tough to buy a Christmas gift for an outdoors person. But, really it’s easy.
Outdoors people love gadgets and anything that will help them enjoy their sport, whether they are anglers, hunters, boaters, hikers, or pursue any other form of outdoor recreation.
But in case you are short on ideas, here are a few that come to mind as we approach the final countdown for Old St. Nick. Several came from friends, and several are available online. However, most are available from local stores, which offer good service and connivence.
COLEMAN GRILL -- The Coleman Roadtrip grill is great for RVers, campers, tailgaters or cookouts in the backyard. It sells for about $179, but is a good investment.
The grill is fueled by propane. You can use the same bottles or attach a larger tank as I do during the winter in Florida. I cook on it almost every day.
The grill folds for easy transportation, yet has a 285-square inch cooking surface. There are removable mix and match surfaces, grill, griddle and stove top. Mine came with two grill surface and a year later I purchased a griddle top,which receives a lot of breakfast use.
The Coleman Roadtrip is available from most sporting goods stores, or may be ordered on line, including from the Coleman Company.
Coleman’s website even has a gift guide where you can view dozens of gift ideas by price range. It’s a Coleman.com
COCOONS -- Sunglasses for the outdoors person who wears glasses. Cocoons® is an excellent brand of optical quality sunglasses designed specifically to be worn over prescription eyewear.
Cocoons specializes in a variety of OveRx® (over prescription) options, from sunglasses, to clip-ons to low vision absorptive filters and more.
These special glasses can be purchased for under $50 and are available at a number of sports retailers and on-line.
HOOSIER GIFT -- Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources offers a number of items anyone would like to find under the Christmas tree.
Outdoor Indiana gift subscriptions are $12 per year, plus a calendar. And OI also sends a card announcing your gift.
Or, the $99 State Park Holiday Gift Pack includes a 2012 resident Annual Entrance Permit, an Indiana State Park Inns gift certificate worth $70, a one-year subscription to Outdoor Indiana magazine, and a 2012 Outdoor Indiana full-color calendar.
More information is available on the Outdoor Indiana Facebook page, or call Amy at 317-233-3046, or Jessica at 317-233-2347.
STOCKING STUFFER -- A fishing lure always makes a good stocking stuffer. Even if the recipient already has a duplicate, he or she can always use a duplicate. You never can have too many lures.
TIMELY GIFT -- Giving a gift of time to take someone fishing, hunting or hiking is special. Simply write on a card that you are giving them a trip in the outdoors. This is especially nice for a youngster or oldster, who might not be able to enjoy the activity alone.
# # # #
Contact writer Phil Junker by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Recently on an evening radio news show, the host and a guest
were discussing that fewer people these days take the time or effort to say, “Thank you.”
There were several speculations as to why. Younger people aren’t taught to say it, people just expect more, some just have learned or care about good manners. Maybe they don’t appreciate what they receive and what they have.
It seems the right thing to do to thank the waitress at the cafe for filling up my coffee cup, the pharmacy tech at the drug store for smiling and obtaining my scripts quickly, the woman at the hardware store for helping find an item. I’ve heard people say it is unnecessary. That’s their job.
However for me, a “thank you” is in order for good service and a smile. It just seem right. My grandkids do say it. Others should too.
OK Junker, why the “thank you” sermon.
It had been on my mind, and then a friend, Tammy Sapp, sent me a news release from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, which seems to be right on target related to the subject and the time of year. It’s relevant whether you are in New Hampshire or here in the Midwest.
“ If you're a hunter or angler, the holiday season is an important time to extend thanks to landowners who share access to their land, says Charles Miner Jr., who heads up the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Landowner Relations Program.
"The generosity of landowners often makes outdoor experiences possible, especially in a state like New Hampshire with more than 70% of land under private ownership," says Miner. "It really makes a difference when you take the time to let landowners know you appreciate their allowing access to hunt and fish on their property."
A few ways to say thanks to landowners::
• Visit the landowner at the end of the season to express your appreciation, and, if possible, provide them with some of your harvest.
• Send a personal note or holiday card to the landowner, thanking them for sharing their land.
• Send a gift basket, Fish & Wildlife Calendar, magazine subscription, or gift certificate to a local restaurant.
• Help them protect their property by documenting and reporting suspicious activities.
• Offer to help with outdoor tasks, or to clean up and properly dispose of illegally dumped materials left on their property.
If you are mentoring a young hunter or angler, be sure to include them in thanking the landowner – it's a great lesson for them to learn!
“Remember – the tradition of hunting will only continue if we all follow the basic principle of landowner relations: Treat the landowner as you would like to be treated and treat their land as you would like yours to be treated.
“Fish and Game’s Landowner Relations Program works in partnership with landowners, hunters and anglers to identify problems landowners experience in providing access, and work proactively to address them.
“As the foundation of the Landowner Relations Program’s efforts to work with landowners who provide access for hunting, Operation Land Share provides direct assistance to landowners to resolve issues resulting from sharing their land. Landowner Relations Program efforts are funded through generous donations, sponsorships and grants. If you'd like to help, or to learn more about the program, visit www.wildnh.com/landshare. Your support will help to provide access for present and future generations of hunters and anglers.
Many states have similar programs to make private land available to hunters, espescially after the growing season is over.. Such programs are important as the amount hunting land and habitat shrinks throughout the country.
# # # #
READER’S NOTE -- “Funny that you had an article about sandhill cranes in today’s newspaper. I heard and then saw my first sandhill cranes of the fall migrating south only yesterday. A few minutes later I heard some others and looked up saw my first Whooping Crane flying over the farm. It was with 15 sandhill cranes but larger and all white with jet black wing tips.
“The Whoopers used to fly east of here near Louisville but changed to Southern Illinois a few years ago to avoid the Smokies. I have seen whoopers in Texas but never before in Indiana.
“You might tell your readers to make sure they know the difference. There would probably be a jail term for shooting a whooper.”
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
By Phil Junker
Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with tradition, and it dates back to before the founding of our country. It predates the event called “the first Thanksgiving” when the Pilgrims and Indians met to share a meal or meals.
When the Indians and Pilgrims gathered, it is likely the gathering went on for several days. There undoubtedly was plenty of eating, but it may not have been much like pictured in some books. There weren’t any pumpkin pies because there were no ovens for baking. There also weren’t a lot of eating utensils around, so probably there was a rush to grab a turkey leg or wing to chew on.
Records don’t indicate that the Thanksgiving event was repeated by the Pilgrims, so apparently no tradition was started there.
However, even before the Pilgrims arrived in this country, the first Americans (Indians) conducted traditional ceremonies and rituals related to the harvest to express their gratitude to a higher power for life itself.
One Seneca ritual stated, “Our creator...Shall continue to dwell above the sky, and this is where those on the earth will end their thanksgiving.” Also attributed to Indians prior to the arrival of Columbus was a saying that “the plant has nourishment from the earth and its limbs go up this way, in praise of its Maker...like the limbs of a tree.”
Thanksgiving over the years has become known as an American tradition. It certainly is a holiday the Junker family enjoys.
For years, the family gathered at Grandma’s little house at Marshall, Ill. The men usually hunted in the morning while the women prepared a big meal--more food than we possibly could eat
As family members moved and older members passed away, things began to change. It was harder to get the big group together, so individual family members began to gather with their children.
For the Junkers and my wife’s family, the day became one of thanksgiving, food and football, and for some a nap after the big dinner. That dinner was not only a turkey, it also included ham, several types of dressing (some don’t like oysters), at least two kinds of cranberry sauce, and who knows how many pies and desserts.
For several years, I made a meager attempt to get the women to agree to go out to eat, but they wouldn’t listen, let alone agree. The meal preparation is an integral part of the holiday. The women catch up on each other’s lives in the process. My brother-in-law Paul cooks the turkey outside in a smoker.
Most families have their traditions, and a ran across a couple of different ones last week while fishing with friends at Kentucky Lake.
One family gathers for homemade pizza. Now, that’s different. The other meets in Paducah for a wiener roast. Yea, wiener roast. They cook over an outdoor bonfire and enjoy the outdoors.
All of the members I know from another family, meet at a shelter in Indianapolis to help cook a hearty meal for the disadvantaged and homeless. That’s their way of giving thanks for their own personal bounty.
In this country, we truly have been blessed. Most of us have an abundance of food and warm homes. And whether we dine turkey, hot dogs or pizza, we have much for which to be thankful.
Thanks on this special day should not only be offered to the Creator, but to our spouses, family and friends, who do so much for us every day.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Several days ago, a nice buck darted in front of the car on a rural road. He went a few yards into the woods and stopped to watch as we passed his spot. It reminded me this is a peak time for deer and autos to tanglle.
Deer have been especially active earlier this year. That means more opportunity hunters, but it also means more chances of deer-auto collisions.
Many farmers harvested their crops weeks sooner than normal. That has led to increased early fall deer movement during the time which traditionally is the top time of the year for deer-auto accidents.
Over the years, I’ve had more than my share of accidents involving deer. I think my number is somewhere around 13 or 14. Maybe it is because I’ve lived many of my years in a rural setting, and also because I seem to put a lot of miles on a vehicle. Otherwise, I have a good driving record, and fortunately I haven’t collided with any deer for a number of years.
Once, I drove 2,000 miles on a fall hunting trip only to hit a deer about a mile from my house on the return trip. I even installed deer whistles on my car and had one of them knocked off when I collided with a small buck.
So when I hear or read about wildlife officials issuing their annual fall deer warning, it catches my attention and is something worthy of passing along to readers.
When I received a news release from an auto insurance company about states where drivers are most likely to strike deer. I just assumed Indiana would be near the top of the list--at least somewhere in the top 10. To my surprise I was wrong.
While the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past five years has increased just two percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in this country during that time has grown by 10 times that amount.
Using its claims data, State Farm®, one of the nation’s largest auto insurers, estimates 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. That’s 21.1 percent more than five years earlier.
To put it another way, according to State Farm, during your reading of this paragraph, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place (they are much more likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening).
For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer. Using its claims data in conjunction with state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a West Virginia driver striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 42.
Iowa is second on the list. The likelihood of a licensed driver in Iowa striking a deer within the next year is 1 in 67. Michigan (1 in 70) is third. Fourth and fifth on the list are South Dakota (1 in 76) and Montana (1 in 82).
Pennsylvania is sixth, followed by North Dakota and Wisconsin. Arkansas and Minnesota round out the top 10.
The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 13,011). The odds of a Hawaiian driver hitting a deer between now and 12 months from now are roughly equivalent to the odds of finding a pearl in an oyster shell.
So where was Indiana on the list? The state was in the middle of the pack, with one chance out of 160 drivers of colliding with a deer during the past year. Kentucky had a rate of one out of 161, and Ohio was one out of 121.
Don’t become one of the “ones” in the statistics. Be especially cautions during early evening through a couple hours after dark.
Monday, October 31, 2011
It was fitting for Halloween. Several weeks ago neighbor Scott Wahl power washed my fifth wheel RV located at Hickory Hills Campground. He used his step ladder for the cleaning.
It was a pleasant fall day. Ideal for the project.
As Scott finished the project, he noticed damage to the rear of the camper. A limb had fallen and poked a hole in the roof. As we prepared to leave the campground, our thoughts shifted to getting the roof repaired before rains scheduled in a couple days were to arrive.
As a result, we left the campground forgetting the ladder. At home we realized the ladder was missing.
I drove back to the campground the next day and the ladder was gone. I asked several campers about it. I also checked with the campground folks. No one had seen it. Had been sure the ladder would be sitting waiting for me. Fortunately at the campground, no one ever bothers anyone’s property.
I visited the RV several times over the next couple of weeks. Still no ladder or word of its disappearance.
I drove to the camper Halloween weekend to do some closeup work anticipating the upcoming winter, freezing weather. The ladder had somehow reappeared set up in exactly the place near a slideout, just where it had been left several weeks before.
It probably was the result of someone who borrowed it, remembered it, and returned it as they also were closing up their RV. Or, maybe it was the Halloween ghost of Hickory Hills.
Anyway, the ladder is safely back and stored in Scott’s tool shed.
When most people think of dessert treats for Thanksgiving, images and thoughts of pumpkin pies come to mind. For others it is persimmons and persimmon pudding.
For many, persimmon pudding is as traditional as that oven browned turkey and pumpkin pies with a bit of whipped cream on the top.
However, persimmon pudding probably is losing the popularity battle as persimmon pulp is harder to come by these days. There is canned pulp available as some specialty stores. It's OK, but it's not as tasty as the home grown and process pulp. (My opinion).
This year, there reportedly is a shortage of pumpkins. But if you are willing to pay a little more, there are plenty for both Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas pies.
Persimmons are one of the most popular items harvested in the fall, although other fruits of interest include the pawpaw, wild grape, elderberry, and wild cherry. These can be picked while on a fall hunting trip for squirrels or a fishing trip, or they can be hunted and picked on any fall hike or outing.
Many people have their favorite persimmon tree grove where they gather their fruit.
Persimmons apparently were an Oriental tree and imported to this country many years ago. Animals, including possums which love them, have helped spread the seeds in many areas.
The persimmon tree has gray, fissured bark. Once you learn the tree, they are easy to identify.
Persimmons should be picked from the ground and not the tree. If picked from the tree, they may be what we always have called “puckery”. One not fully ripe will leave the inside of your mouth with an awful taste and make the inside feel as though it puckers. Some people shake the persimmons from smaller limbs, but there is a danger of getting some puckery ones included in your picking.
Persimmons can be used to make wine. To process them is easy. You just look them over in the kitchen. Wash them off and make sure they are clean. Then squash and drop skins, seeds and all into the container where you make your wine.
However if you plan to use them to make persimmon pudding, cookies or pies or to save and freeze for later, much more work is involved. The biggest problem is getting out the seeds. They are sizable, but difficult to easily remove. The skins and stems also must be separated. They need to be run through a colander or Victoria strainer, and that is a work of love, but one well worth doing. I
Here is a persimmon pudding recipe::
Ingredients -- 2 cups persimmon pulp, 2 cups sugar (granulated), 2 cups milk, 2 cups flour, 3/4 stick of margarine or butter,1 teaspoon cinnamon, three eggs, pinch of salt, and one-half teaspoon of soda.
Melt the butter and stir into the pulp. Then stir in flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cinnamon in that order, and stir it well.
Pour the mixture into a nine by 13-inch cake pan, and bake for one hour in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. It can be served with whipped cream, or it can be cut into squares and eaten with the hands, although you may have to lick your fingers afterward.
There are a number of other recipes. My mother-in-law always made a pudding that was less like a cake and more like a soft pudding to be eaten with a spoon. Either way it is delicious.
# # # #
Contact writer Phil Junker by email at: email@example.com
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Most hunters recognize the importance of getting in shape before hunting season, but some don't think about getting their hunting dog ready for that first hunt of the season.
Clyde Vitter, a professional dog trainer, who also does some training and research for Purina, says getting a hunting dog in shape is just as important, maybe more important as the hunter being physically prepared.
Vitter recalls that open day of pheasant of a recent season in South "Dakota was a disaster for bird dogs. In excess of 100 dogs died in the unusual heat of opening day. The heat and poor conditioning were a fatal combination for the dogs...The dogs overheated and were overweight."
What happened opening day in South Dakota was extreme, but it happens all too frequently. In most cases the lack of conditioning and proper nutritional food simply results in a dog that can't properly hunt, thus often leading to a disappointing outing.
"Good dog food and conditioning are critical to the dog's health and hunting ability...A good, upper level dog food is needed to provide the dog what it needs for a good hunt," he explained.
Vitter says just like with humans, it takes time to get dogs in shape for hunting.
"You can't just start feeding a high performance dog food and have it take immediate effect. It takes two to four months to effect the dog," he said.
And like with humans, exercise for the dog should start slow and then be increased. Vitter passed along several conditioning tips:
- You can ride a bicycle while the dog runs along, but the initial run should be no more than 10 minutes, not 10 miles. Build up the time daily. He suggested short runs at higher speeds mixed with slower speeds. A dog in the field does run at one pace.
- He said for some people, jogging with the dog is good. It conditions both the dog and the owner. He said training should gradually be increased to the point where a dog can work without fatigue for 45 minutes to an hour.
"Water is very, very critical. It is as important as dog food," Vitter added. "If a dog gets dehydrated, it goes down much faster."
Take along a water bottle to give dog water from time-to-time, not just a lot of water once.
A large amount of water can be harmful to the dog. The water also should be given to the dog's head level or lower. The dog should not have to look up and extend his head to receive the water.
Vitter said there is a myth that hunting dogs shouldn't be permitted in the house and made pets.
"Totally opposite is the best," said Vitter who has trained and raised world class bird dogs. "By keeping a dog in the house, you teach it manners, develop a bond with the dog and it will want to hunt for you. It isn't going to take off and leave you in the field."
He also said a hunting dog should be kept thin. A trim dog usually will live four-to-five years longer than an obese dog.
Vitter also recommends feeding a dog once a day (evening) is sufficient. For research purposes, he split his kennel and fed half the dogs twice a day and the others once per day. He said the dogs fed once a day out-performed the dogs fed twice per day. The dogs fed once in the evening with much more energetic and ready to hunt in the field of a morning.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Indiana’s proposed changes in black bass fishing regs have created a stir among bass tournament anglers along the Ohio River.
The intent of the proposed DNR reg was to protect smallmouth bass in Indiana streams, including rivers. However, it appears the way it is written it would essentially eliminate largemouth bass tournaments fished out of locations like Rocky Point in Perry County.
The DNR is aware of the problem and angler input will be considered.
According to an earlier DNR release, the Indiana Natural Resources Commission will conduct two public hearings on proposed changes to the black bass fishing rule, one at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 in Spencer at McCormick’s Creek State Park, the other on Oct. 17 in Peru .
The term “black bass” refers to smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and spotted bass.
The DNR has proposed changes that will replace the minimum size limit of 12 inches for black bass taken from rivers or streams with a requirement that black bass taken from rivers and streams must be less than 12 inches long or more than 15 inches long, with not more than two being greater than 15 inches long. The bag limit of five in aggregate per day will remain the same.
The DNR says it believes that this proposed slot limit will afford increased protection, particularly for smallmouth bass populations, and may increase the quality of smallmouth bass fishing opportunities in certain streams.
Allowing some harvest of bass less than 12 inches is aimed at preventing “stockpiling” of small bass, and the resulting slow growth that occurs. It would also allow the take of spotted bass, which are plentiful in some streams, compete directly with smallmouth bass, and seldom grow larger than 12 inches.
If approved as is, the reg would prohibit weighing in a string of five largemouh bass over 12 inches from streams like Deer Creek, Oil Creek and other Indiana embayments.
When I contacted Phil Bloom, spokesman for the DNR, he said, “ The proposed slot proposal does not apply to the main stem of the Ohio River, but as written, it would include the tributaries and embayments. That is not our intent, but it will need to be addressed following the two public hearings.
“The DNR is working on rule amendments that will help resolve the concerns of tournament anglers that use the Ohio River, as well as it’s embayments and the tributaries.
“As part of this process, the DNR may request to postpone the final vote on these rule changes while a resolution is made,” said Phil.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Kids love campfires and throwing sticks into water. I’m not sure why. But, they do. It is like an instinct. It’s like part of nature.
Somebody probably has studied why they are attracted to campfires as well as tossing stuff into water. Everything else seems to have been studied. However, if anyone has studied kids and campfires or skicks and water, I’ve never seen one.
Most people enjoying sitting by a campfire, but tossing things -- other than fishing lures -- in the water seems to be a natural kid thing.
This past weekend, I enjoyed watching grandson Denver build two campfires from scratch. No lighter fluid or starters. He is a Boy Scout and practicing for his Firecrafter award. And while Denver built the fires, his sister Molly also enjoyed them.
She also was into tossing sticks and small pebbles into the lake.
These activities are fun, but do require adult supervision (grandpa) for the younger ones. Both water and fire can be dangerous. Well, obviously.
Recently, another granddaughter, Meredith, was with me when we built a fire for Smores. She is only three. No one threw anything into the lake, which might have served as a guide and attracted her attention. It just seemed natural for her at just three years of age to pickup twigs and toss them into the water.
Not that all this means anything. It’s just an observation from an old guy who used to enjoy skipping flat stones at the creek as well as relaxing by a campfire.