My name is Hans, and I'm a new member here on the SMF although I've been reading for close to a month.
My introduction to smoking was when I borrowed a thoroughly used Brinkmann charcoal smoker from a friend, and my first smoking project was a single whole chicken. I didn't think it was smoking enough, so I kept adding chunks of hickory every time it wasn't absolutely billowing smoke. When I took the chicken out, it looked like it had been dunked in India ink. It was BLACK. LOL There was no identifiable smoke ring because it had penetrated the meat to such a degree that almost all the meat was a very dark brown. So, yeah ... my first project was a "learning experience." I did another chicken or two and a pork butt after that that were far, far more successful.
After a hiatus of about 5 years due to living in an apartment where we couldn't have a smoker or a real grill, we recently moved to a place where I can have both. I'd been saving up my Cabela's points for a few years, and was able to snag a floor model WSM 22.5" for less than $100 out of pocket. My first smoking project was a little over a week ago -- I used the Minion method and smoked a pork butt and 3 whole chickens with 100% apple. I got it a little hotter than I wanted to due to being a relative newbie, so the chickens were done in about 3.5 hours and the butt was 200° at about 6.5 hours. Great success all around. Great bark and smoke ring on the butt which we turned into pulled pork, and the chicken was super tender and flavorful. My next project is in two weeks -- smoking enough pork and chickens to feed about 60 people. I'll be smoking the pork ahead of time so that it can be ready to go instead of trying to time everything.
I'm looking forward to participating in this community!