Tag Archives: Maple Syrup

On Wisconsin Outdoors: March/April 2017 Product 6-Pack

Product 6-Pack
Warmer Weather Ahead Means Maple Syrup, Turkeys, and Open-Water Fishing
By: Jim Servi

Maple Syrup Bags and Holders Starter Kit
Making maple syrup is becoming a popular spring hobby for outdoor lovers across Wisconsin. Whether your operation is big or you are starting small, it doesn’t matter because the syrup tastes delicious! If you are interested in getting started, this kit has what you need. Includes 12 blue sap bags, 12 galvanized sap bag holders, 12 aluminum 7/16” spouts, and one titanium 7/16” tapping bit that can be used with any cordless drill. Enjoy! ($80.95)

Lake X Lures Cannonball Jr
Every musky fisherman I talk to says these lures are extremely difficult to find, but they are worth the search. Since Lake X Lures is working on a new website, I went to blueribbonbait.com and found this message, “due to an extremely limited supply, there is a 2-lure max per customer on all Lake X Lures.” This topwater lure makes a unique, deep popping sound that catches the attention of big fish. Available in 14 varieties. Take advantage when you find them. ($41.99)

Inshore Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket
Great for outdoor adventures, fishing, boating, and safely exploring that late season ice. This life jacket is designed to automatically inflate when immersed in water, but can be manually inflated as well. Designed for mobility and comfort with wide neckline and lightweight design. Chest size of 30-52 inches. Buoyancy of 25.5 pounds is higher than most life jackets. Reviews say it is lightweight, comfortable, easily adjustable, durable, and has good ventilation. ($109.99)

Fire-Ball Jig
This short-shank gumball jig has been boasted as the “#1 all-time money winning jig on the PWT & FLW Pro Walleye Tours.” With that alone, it might be worth adding to your tackle box as you chase spring walleyes. If you look closely it also has a place to attach a stringer hook to catch those short strike fish. Comes in weights from 1/16 to 1/2-ounce jig head and 12 different color varieties. ($3.29)

TZ TP14 Turkey Pack With Chair
Getting ready for your big turkey hunt, but can’t find room for all your gear? Sick of carrying a chair only to have it bang against trees and brush? Or worse yet, sick of sitting on the ground? This turkey pack will solve all your problems with an abundance of well-placed pockets perfect for all your gear. Two of the pockets are designed to warm your hands as you patiently wait. Best of all, is that this pack has spring loaded legs that transform into a padded, hunting chair. With this pack, you’ll be turkey hunting in style. ($319.99)

T-BONE’S Turkey Magnet call
Gobbling on the edge of your range, it’s the biggest gobbler you’ve ever seen, but you can’t move. He’s watching your every movement and your call is an arm’s length away. You’re stuck. That’s where this call comes in handy. It’s made with magnets so the push button style call sits safely against the non-action side of your shotgun. With a simple reach of your thumb, it creates realistic yelps, clucks, and purrs to bring that gobbler in the last few steps. ($39.99)

Published in On Wisconsin Outdoors March 1, 2017.

On Wisconsin Outdoors: Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup is a Delicious Spring Time Hobby
Celebrate the End of Winter with a Tasty Treat
By: Jim Servi

As the days get longer and the temperature begins to push above freezing, an amazing (and delicious!) process is taking place throughout the maple forests of Wisconsin. This time of change means maple syrup season has arrived. More and more people are starting maple syrup operations right in their own backyard as a great springtime hobby.

It’s relatively easy to get started, but timing is everything. Although the first tapping of the year varies a little, it is generally around the middle of March. Maple trees run the best when the nights drop below freezing and the days are above freezing. This causes the tree to become pressurized and the sap begins moving from the roots up the tree. As the temperature drops, the reverse happens and suction is created. When you tap the tree with a small hole, and insert a spout, you are taking advantage of this natural process. The sap will begin to drip. You can then use buckets, bags, or plastic tubing to capture the maple sap.

After you collect your maple sap, you filter the sap, and begin cooking. Amazingly, it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup, depending on the sugar content. A good old-fashioned cooking pan is the easiest way to get started. These pans can be found at any maple syrup specialty store or by shopping Craigslist for a used option in maple syrup country. Many operations have evolved into using reverse osmosis systems, evaporators, and other modern technology, but all that is truly needed for delicious maple syrup is an open flame.

Your maple syrup is ready when it reaches 219 degrees. although you should take it off a little bit earlier. Evaporation will continue at a fast pace as you filter in one more time. Hydrometers, which measures the percent of sugar by density, also work well and are among the special tools you can buy to test when the syrup is ready. Once it’s filtered and cooled just a bit, you’re ready for the best part – tasting! Try it warm from the pan over cold vanilla ice cream for a delicious treat. Sealed properly in a glass jar, maple syrup will last for years.

If you’re not ready to start your own operation, you’re in luck, because there are locations throughout the state to learn more about, and taste, this unique process. After visiting many maple syrup operations over the years, I’ve also learned that you can stop by nearly any sugar shack in the spring. Most are more than willing to show their setup and are always happy to have the company. Just drive down a country road until you see steam pouring out of a side-building or a pan set up in the yard, and you’ve found your place. Of course, you always have an open-ended invitation to visit our maple syrup operation as well.

For those that don’t like stopping by random strangers, there is a better option. MacKenzie Center, near Poynette, offers a fun-filled day of maple syrup festivities on April 1, 2017 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. First, they discuss the progression of making maple syrup from the Native Americans to modern day. They have a horse-drawn wagon ride and other activities as well. Best of all, you get to try fresh maple syrup during their pancake breakfast. Our little red country school house, Maple Grove Elementary School, has their annual First Tapping pancake breakfast at the end of March. Many other communities have something similar. From the Sugarin’ Off Pancake Breakfast every Sunday in March at the River Bend Nature Center in Racine to the Maple Sugarin’ Open House in Newburg, and the Taylor County Lions Maple Fest in Medford, there are opportunities to see, learn, and taste for yourself in every corner of Wisconsin. But be careful, it gets in your blood. Taste too much maple syrup and before long you’ll have a new springtime hobby.

To read the latest copy of On Wisconsin Outdoors, please visit  the On Wisconsin Outdoors website.