Sunday, October 29, 2006

What well-dressed DU guys wear to banquets

Hey gang,
here's a hot link to a CabinBoyEsque pair of slacks that I think should become the official uniform of the Seneca Falls chapter of Ducks Unlimited. Yours for only $98 from Brooks Brothers. Be the best dressed duck hunter out there.

What well-dressed DU guys wear to the banquets

Hey gang,
here's a hot link to a CabinBoyEsque pair of slacks that I think should become the official uniform of the Seneca Falls chapter of Ducks Unlimited. Yours for only $98.50 from Brooks Brothers. Be the best dressed duck hunter out there.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Most Memorable Hunt

My daughter Charlotte had a tooth extracted today, which caused her great discomfort. So much so that the wife asked that I "occupy" my eldest daughter whilst mommy-care was dispensed to the infirm. This meant that I couldn't attend the local Ducks Unlimited chapter meeting, but, if I was clever, could baby-sit Victoria on a low-expectation duck hunt. Proposing the idea to 6 year old daughter Victoria was a snap. She was eagerly in, especially since I offered the Canoga Creek beaver dam hunt. She loves beavers.

We trudged through overgrown multiflora and checked all of the usual bends and meanders. No ducks. We jumped a few heron. All the hot spots were barren of ducks, though we got a beaver tail slap, which is always cool. We got to the point in the creek where the trees give way to the cattail marsh and I thought sure we'd sneak up on a black duck. Nothing. Victoria was a trooper dealing with the prickers though. And geriatric Fiona would have given our stalk away anyway with all of her heavy breathing. But it was a beautiful evening, reddening maples, yellowing cattails, and all that.

We sat down at the 90 degree bend in the creek where it turns sharply and heads to the mighty Cayuga, often a good pass shoot spot. I lit a cigar, Victoria cracked a juice box and we chatted. It was great. I learned much about her 1st grade social interactions. We spotted a small flock of swans, lots of geese and gulls, and a birding highlight, three Bald eagles. Victoria spied these first, which she was very proud of. But no ducks.

The 6:00 Canoga Fire Dept whistle sang out and we listened to the coyote response. "Fifteen minutes left" I said. "It's ok daddy," she said. A flock of high flying mallards teased us. I let Victoria call at them. She bleated beautifully. I threw my cigar butt into the creek and a lively pollution and physics of ripples conversation ensued. She wore me down and I apologized for littering, checked my watch. Five minutes to go. I scanned the skies, Victoria fidgeted, Fiona groaned. Then, over the creek screaming towards us like a bat outta hell, a single duck, flying low, winging right up the creek.

The beauty of sitting in this spot is that the ducks naturally follow the path of the creek, so they give you a brief belly shot when they make their passing turn. Left to right swing, my shot. LC Smith (real) 12 gauge barked once, and a green wing teal lay in Canoga Creek feet up. Victoria was squealing with delight. Fiona was matter-of-factly retrieving the beautiful little duck, the bosky light of the marsh embraced us in pinks and lavenders, and all was well with the world.
Greedy T & "Mine" revisited

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maine: Anti-Trapping Lawsuit

Courtroom Turns into Battleground for Animal Rights- (10/23)

Animal activists are suing the state to derail trapping in Maine. The suit is the latest in a spate of court cases that could lead to the end of trapping, hunting and fishing wherever endangered species exist.

On Oct. 12, the Animal Protection Institute (API) filed a federal lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW). The case, which is nearly identical to an existing suit in Minnesota, centers around Canada lynx, bald eagles and gray wolves. The API claims that because these federally protected species could be caught in a trap, trapping should be prohibited. There is no data proving that there is a problem.

“The anti’s are not filing these lawsuits to protect the integrity of threatened and endangered species, but rather to advance their own political agenda,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation (USSAF) vice president for government affairs. “They want to establish a legal precedent that can be used to stop all hunting and even fishing anywhere endangered animals exist.”

The USSAF and its U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund (U.S. SLDF) asked the court for permission to join the suit on sportsmen’s behalf. The U.S. SLDF is the nation’s only litigation force that exclusively represents sportsmen’s interests in court.

The U.S. SLDF received permission in September to join in a third anti-trapping lawsuit, which was also brought in Minnesota. The Humane Society of the United States and a smaller animal rights group are suing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to stop trapping because Canada lynx could be caught in a trap. The U.S. SLDF has asked Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond Erickson to combine the suit with the one brought by API in that state.

“Each of these cases could set precedents that would affect how the ESA can be applied throughout the nation,” said Sexton. “If anti’s can stop trapping in a place where they assert there is a risk of catching lynx, they can just as easily try to stop fishing in bodies of water where they claim there is a risk of catching endangered sturgeon.”

Animal rights groups previously used the Endangered Species Act to force the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to suspend trapping with snares. The state’s coyote snaring program is still in limbo as state wildlife officials attempt to obtain incidental take permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the state if any listed species are inadvertently injured or killed in a snare.

Information on this website can be reprinted with a citation to the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and
For more information about how you can protect your rights as a sportsman, contact The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, 801 Kingsmill Parkway, Columbus, OH 43229. Phone (614) 888-4868. E-Mail us at

Grousers hunting philosophy quote of the day

"Every hunter knows that, with regard to the animal, what he has to fight most is the beast's absence."

- José Ortega y Gasset
Meditations on Hunting

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ernieus Maximus

Here's Cagey Without Spinelli Backup

You Count the Number of Non-Lethal Shots

What can I say? if Cagey had Spinelli for backup, that black duck would be dead by now.

"Greedy T" and his friends

see "Greedy T" Tantillo and his friends in action...see this:

Or hear him here

Not this good but close

Some of you may remember this winter goose hunt of a couple of years ago and how much fun we had that day. Well opening weekend out of BC hunt club (that's right there is a new Blog site by that name) was almost as good! Saturday morning found 4 of it's members hunting the infamous Canoga Creek Conservancy and enjoying the early morning sunrise watching about 20 coot, not grebe, swimming in the decoys in front of the double black. While there were plenty of birds flying, despite the prevailing conditions on Cayuga Lake, there were few of them willing to fly into the sights of the group. While one teal took the opportunity to challenge the shooting skills of one Mr. JT it had the misfortune of collecting a couple of pellets propelled its way from the muzzle of the "Spinellie", but had the final laugh on Jim by hiding in the marsh until being flushed out by Fiona and back into the lake and finally swimming away. The only clean kill of the morning was made by yours truly, when I tired of the patience of my fellow hunters, and took the opportunity to fall one of three American Widgeons that were cautiously circling the blind. Again this bird also fell into the marsh and once again Fiona came to the rescue by sniffing out the delectable little river duck and bringing it back proudly to Keith's call. The rest of the morning was spent watching birds fly into competing blinds to the south only to find their demise for their actions. The afternoon found Mike O, Robert T and myself sitting in the Dozer pile behind beer camp. While many birds challenged our hunting skills only 2 fell to the earth , but the die was cast for the following mornings hunt. Sunday morning found 5 anxious souls lurking in the goldenrod that surrounds the dozer pile. First light had woodies challenging their patience as well as a small flock, of what most thought were teal, attempting to take off Roberts head. These birds came through so fast that by the time Mike O got out the words"Take Em" they were by us and gone. Many laughs were had at this entire act which took no more than 3 seconds to elapse. Then the real fun started. Ever watch one of those hunting shows where birds seem to rain from the sky? Well the next flight of birds were just like that. A group of Mallards, whose numbers were too many to be accurately counted, made the mistake of entering "the zone" from which 4 birds dropped like rain and the hunt was on. Many more birds were fallen through the day for a final tally of 20 ducks making for the best duck hunt ever out of beer camp. There were many events through the day that will be recalled around the campfire for years to come. Some of these involved a certain professor who received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2001 and is the author of such learned publications as Ethics vs. Preferences (2004) and The Morality of Hunting:A Damnable Pleasure (2002). As a result of his exploits we will now and forever more be calling him "Greedy"! The first such exploit came when a single bird attempted to fly through the spread. This drake Mallard, with a band glistening on his leg in the early morning light, came from right to left when what appeared to be a single shot rang out. I was positioned towards the right of the group while Greedy was directly to my left. As the bird fell lifelessly to the ground I made the polite gesture of thanking greedy for the backup. Well one would have thought my act of appreciation was tantamount to a kick in the nuts by the reaction I received! "What, you shot too?" was all that came out of the mouth on and extremely reddened face. I naturally stated the obvious as the bird passed by me first " of course I shot, didn't you hear me shoot?" That's all it took to set off a cloud of steam from the ears and a barrage of profanities from greedy's head. One would think that he would at least acknowledge the landowners claim to the bird, as Mike O did when he retrieved the duck from the base of the flying circus and dropped it at my feet. Mr. Greedy was so upset that only then did he notice the bird was in fact banded, as he never noticed like I did, while the bird was in flight! Well this is when he must have received the second kick in the nuts because he really went off the deep end then! Being the gracious host I am I threw the bird to him and let he believe for the rest of the day that he had in fact made the kill, but those of us that were there know the true story.

It wasn't much later when 4 more birds entered the zone and to the delight of all they all fell to the earth dead on impact. Again while I screamed out "4 in and 4 down" Mr. Greedy raised 3 fingers indicating to all that he had caused the demise of 3 of the 4. Now remember there were 5 hunters 2 of which, Mike O and Mr. Tidball, are extremely good shots by anyone's judgment, yet greedy is claiming 3 out of the 4. Don't you think this is a little bit egotistical?

Despite all of the antics of greedy a fun day was had by all and many retrieves were made by Fiona once again. All those that participated with many belly laughs and I'm sure will comment to this post with further discussion about greedy's antics. Thanks all for a memorable hunt!

"Oh, you shot too?"

Notice the lack of smoke at the muzzle. Something's fishy here . . . .

Thursday, October 19, 2006

cold front, baby

Check out what's coming through today:

I'm thinking woodcock tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Black Lake Armada

Pete's PT Boat

Black Lake Armada in the Narrows

Eric's Destroyer

Keith's Scow

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This is just not fair

Unless you are a bowhunter you may have missed the fact that bowhunting opened in central NY on Saturday the 14th. I knew it had to be the opener becuase: 1) I had no chance of getting out (wedding) and 2) because dopy was in my driveway when I got home. Pics is from 6 yards out. Just call me Rodney.


One from the archives

I got tired of looking at Linda Lovelace. Josh, you certainly do post some, uh, interesting posts.

This was originally posted to grousers on December 21, 2005. Enjoy.

Another long lost photo from Pete's Black Lake hunt

Hey lads,
Last night I spent a considerable amount of time padding about the dusty archives in my robe and slippers, piecing together a photographic record of our group's various exploits. You can look forward to seeing more of my discoveries in the weeks to come.

This photo is of Pete, Keith, Mike O, and Little Billy returning from their duck opener up at Black Lake. Keith's boat has broken down, so our heroes have had to borrow the S.S. Ankle Deep. As you can see from the photo, everyone got his limit except Pete. heh heh

The owner of the skiff and his young son seem to be taking it all in, while Pete and Keith are both striking in their white fedoras--Keith especially.

later boys.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I swear it wasn't me, unless Grousers is sexually explicit ...

... man, those OIG are such kill-joys:

Interior Dept. Reports Computer Abuse

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 5, 2006; 2:22 AM

WASHINGTON -- In one week, several Interior Department workers spent more than 30 minutes on sexually explicit Web sites.

That same week, another computer showed more than 2,300 log entries at two Internet game sites for about 14 hours.

Still another was logged into an Internet auction for almost eight hours.

Those were just some of the results of a weeklong internal investigation of the 80,000 Interior Department employees with Internet access. The report by the department's inspector general, Earl Devaney, was made public Wednesday.

Devaney called his findings "egregious" and "alarming," but noted the department since 1999 took just 177 disciplinary actions for inappropriate Internet use. Of those, 112 were for accessing pornographic or sexually explicit Web sites.

His report is titled "Excessive Indulgences," and its cover features a photo montage, including a shot of a woman's bare stomach, to illustrate the types of Web sites employees visited.

"Computer users at the department have continued to access sexually explicit and gambling Web sites due to the lack of consistency in department controls over Internet use," he wrote. "Without strong and effective controls, we believe that this activity will continue and possibly increase."

Department officials say they are taking action to cut back on abuses by employees with Internet access.

Employees received a department-wide memo on Sept. 27 reminding them that some of the activities Devaney found "have significant legal and administrative consequences," and violators could be fired or turned over to the police.

The department is working on blocking inappropriate Internet sites, the memo said. But it reminded employees that "just because an inappropriate site is not blocked does not mean that it is authorized for access."

Devaney said he wanted to test just how effective the department's rules were for Internet usage. Most of the checks were for employees' visits to sexually explicit, gambling, gaming and auction sites, he said, because they obviously were not work-related and ate up employees' work hours.

Devaney also found, during one week of investigation, more than 1 million log entries in which 7,700 employees visited game and auction sites. More than 4,700 log entries were for sexually explicit and gambling Web sites.


Thai fishermen netted a catfish as big as a grizzly bear, setting a world record for the largest freshwater fish ever found, according to researchers who studied the 646-pound Mekong giant catfish as part of a project to protect large freshwater fish.

“It’s amazing to think that giants like this still swim in some of the world’s rivers,” project leader Zeb Hogan project leader said in a statement. “We’ve now confirmed now that this catfish is the current record holder, an astonishing find.”

Others have made claims of finding larger sturgeon, but the International Game Fishing Association says the largest sturgeon on record is 468 pounds. That fish has also held the record for largest freshwater fish caught.

For more of the story


Cagey and I managed to get out for an afternoon of woodcocking yesterday, and we were glad we did. It was close to 60 deg F and blustery, but we ran into what we assumed was a flight of woodcock. In about two hours of hunting we put up close to 20 birds, over a dozen or so over Katie's points, and reflushing several--so all told there were probably 15 or more individual birds that we pushed around.

We were in the Bower Road pasture once again, and right away I got on the board with a second barrel shot at a bird that Keith had gone in to flush. That was to be it for the next hour and a half, however, as we engaged in one of our annual blastfests as birds ran and flew hither and yon. At one point I went in to flush a bird in the gnarlies, and seeing it on the ground two feet in front of Katie's nose, I threw a stick at it. Hit it, too! That was the only thing I would hit during the long dry spell that defined the middle of the hunt.

Keith finally got on the board with a nice shot from deep within the Thicker 'N Hell covert. It took Katie a while to find the bird, which was resting dead at the feet of a live 'cock who flushed at our approach to Katie's point. At the flush Katie moved in and tasted a mouthful of feathers from Keith's dead bird: and there was much rejoicing.

Keith had to leave by 5:15, so we hunted our way out after 4:30. Of course we pushed one little bird back and forth across the covert at about 4:55, and at one point the cock got up between us, flew straight up, and we both proceeded to dork out with both barrels before said bird landed unharmed elsewhere on the hill. We never did kill that bird.

Right on the way out Katie pointed one last bird in some brush, and I moved in to flush. Away it went, and from a crouch I managed a snap shot that dropped the bird cleanly. Every now and then one goes your way.

I don't know about Cabin Boy's shell count, but I ended up with two birds on about 2 for 6 shooting.

This morning:

Things went so well last night, and there were so many birds, that I returned to the scene of the crime this morning. It was still blustery, 34 deg. F at the truck, and I wore my tattered blue air force sweater under the ancient Carhart hunting vest that I really ought to replace. We were in the covert by 8:30.

By 9:16 I had killed my third bird. This is this.

Colorado Dreaming

A picture from my recent trip to Colorado. All that was missing from this picture was a bow and a hunting license, and I suppose a little taste of reality (you can’t shoot them in Rocky Mountain National Park – or at least you shouldn’t get caught doing it). Scenes like this one cost $11,000 whether you pay the guide or the fines, but it’s free to dreamers. To all you aspiring elk hunters, go with 7mm or ‘06, those bulls are big and don’t give you looks like I got all that often…….usually all you get is a Texas heart shot (rump running away)! Good luck to all grousers this week in the woods. And be careful out there, last week a hunter died in WI when he foolishly left his gun in a bad spot where his dog then stepped on the trigger. You know the rest of the unfortunate story……


Thursday, October 12, 2006

See Bill Kill

Care to tell a story Bill?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My son the future hunter

This past Saturday I managed to get out for my first grouse hunt of the season. Actually, two little short hunts. At my little woods in northern Wisconsin. My 8-yr-old son, Aaron, and I were at our place for half the weekend. You all heard last year about his anti-hunting sentiments. I took your advice, especially that from Mr. Mike, who mentioned that reading Outdoor Life as a boy turned him toward hunting. I've been showing that magazine to Aaron ever since, reading part of it to him and letting him pore over it. In recent months he's become very interested in guns. He'll spend hours looking at all the gun ads in OL, as well as Gun Dog, Pointing Dog Journal (I know, I know--I expect my next dog to be a Brittany; sorry, Rich), Upland Almanac. Also the ATV ads, knife ads, and photos and articles about anything related to animals or birds. Let's just say his anti-hunting days appear to be behind him.

Well, on this trip I let him decide whether to bring a buddy along (a big favorite of his) or to bring Betsy and go grouse hunting with me. He chose hunting. I packed my gear along for the day, during which I also planned to work on our building. On Saturday morning at 7:30 he popped out of his sleeping bag and asked, "Can we go hunting now?" As he ate his breakfast outside, I heard him shout, "I just saw two grouse fly over me!" Yeah, yeah, I thought. Probably crows or starlings.

I sprayed us up, got the dog ready, put some ammo in my vest (Columbia hunter orange, over a sweatshirt and under a Lewis Creek Marshfield waxed jacket), and we headed out into the woods. Aaron carried his SxS cap shotgun. I carried my SKB 20ga SxS with skeet chokes in both barrels. I had him walk slightly behind me and off to the side a little. After about 20 minutes of slow creeping through the woods, a grouse fluttered into the air off to my right. It didn't go far, but Aaron got a good look at it. "That was definitely the kind of bird that flew over the cabin," he assured me. Hmmm, I thought, it must be so then. He wouldn't likely be wrong on a comparison like that. I called Betsy over and put her to the bird, which flushed straight north. My first shot of the season went far astray, knocking a branch or two off an aspen as the bird soared toward a stand of balsams. Aaron was still delighted. "That was loud," he observed, not apparently too disappointed with my miss.

We followed the bird into the balsams, and one got up from the ground off to my right. I didn't shoot, though it was a decent chance. On the report, another took off from the balsams behind us. At about 30 minutes in, Aaron said he was getting tired so we walked straight back to the cabin.

He spent the day playing with his cousin, who lives nearby; I spent most of the day with my tool belt on. The woodstove will be working next trip and we've got insulation scheduled for Oct 21-22. Things are progressing, slowly.

At 6:00 we were back for our second hunt of the day. This time we took a different loop south toward the creek, where a bird flushed twice out of sight and disappeared (to the west?). Toward dusk we headed back to get ready to leave for home. As we walked down the driveway from our field into the woods, just after I'd told him why grouse are often found on or near gravel roads, Aaron suddenly asked, "Daddy, is that a grouse?" Sure enough, a bird was standing near a little puddle on the road just 30 yards ahead of us. I hadn't seen it in the gathering twilight until he said something. I called Betsy over by me and walked toward the spot with her. Aaron trailed behind. At about 6 yards, the bird finally took off straight south into the woods. I fired once and nicked it, again and dropped it. For about the second time in my life, I actually connected on a bird that I'd seen on the ground before the flush.

Aaron was ecstatic. "We got a grouse, Daddy! We got a grouse!" he shrieked. As always, but more than usual, this was a minor miracle. Not least because he'd been able to see the whole thing from his safe vantage point behind me. Also, of course, because I'd hit a flying grouse. He got to see Betsy find the dead bird where it had landed off the ground in the middle of a clump of hazel bushes. He chose to carry it back to the car. "This must be the biggest grouse you've ever shot," he offered. Yeah, it sure is a big one. He admired the bird during the walk, commenting in a steady stream about how he'd first thought the bird was a rock and about its beautiful plumage and about how we actually got a grouse! I cut the tail off for him and it now decorates his bedroom. Which his mom just loves. But my son is evidently on a path to an avid hunting career. He's looking forward to hunting at age 12, maybe getting his own .22 at 11, maybe getting a BB gun before then. Oh, the possibilities!

So here are the day's statistics: An hour and 30 minutes of hunting on our 30 acres of woods, 6 grouse flushes, two birds shot at, one in the bag. And one very happy and enthusiastic second grader.

Reward for Information Offered

Missing from Camp: Have You Seen this Syrup?

REWARD: $5 or a six pack of your favorite beer for information leading to the identification of the felonious syrup grabbing duck hunter who absconded with roughly 1/2 pint of maple syrup from the Lakewood Cabin near Black Lake, NY, on or about the afternoon of October 7, 2006. Suspects were seen driving away from the vicinity in a tan colored Ford pickup with out of state plates. Please contact the blog administrator with any and all information. Leads will be kept strictly confidential; the culprit(s) will be fingered publicly and humiliated accordingly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A rare duck indeed

So it was my turn to don the mantle of "The Reluctant Gourmet" in the conspicuous absence of the Great Gourmet and Grand Gourmand, our own Peter Kleinman. And we had killed more than a few ducks on our opening day at Black Lake, 2006. ( I hope those stories are forthcoming.)

The menu was hoped to be elegant yet simple. Pan-seared duck and wild rice, a nice Finger Lakes wine, and a mixed greens salad with viniagrette. After a misfire with the finicky gas stove at "our" lodge over looking the Narrows of Black Lake, called Lakewood, I was off and cooking. Things went right and dinner was served...or at least that was how it could have been.

For the record, and in my defense, naturally, I felt I would do my good comrades in arms some small service in at least providing justification for my culinary choices, said choices having been foisted upon two unlucky comrades at least one other time.

According to L. P. De Gouy, author of the Bible of wild fish and game culinary artistry The Derrydale Cook Book of Fish and Game (1937), "The different methods of preparation of all the wild ducks including mallard, canvasback, and ruddy ducks, may be applied to the teal duck. Without exception, wild ducks should be cooked and served rare" (p.113). De Gouy goes on to say, "I have no apostolic (should we say academic instead) avocation, but if I had been a missionary instead of a chef, it would have been most certainly my irresistable duty to convert the culinary barbarism, the vandals, who under the pretense of enjoying a duck, be it wild or domestic, begin to bleed completely this delicious bird. They most certainly do not know that the duck. above all its excellent gifts in cookery, is a philosopher (my emphasis) and as such never worries, never frets, and never loses its presence of mind, having a sort of knowledge that it was born to end in a pot for the enjoyment of the human species. Then why throw away (or cook away) what is best, what is most precious in it--its blood?"(p. 126).

Irma Rombauer, the author of the bible of all cooking, The Joy of Cooking (I have the 1995 version) echoes the sentiment above when she writes "...most dark fowl is cooked vert-cuit or saignant, that is, roasted brown on the outside under high heat, but still rare and running with juice and blood within" (p. 436).

So I didn’t break any rules. No breech in culinary tradition, cultural norms or mores. But Taste, Taste is a finicky thing. There is of course the way food tastes. That kind of taste is comprised of five primary senses detected on the palate. They are salt, sour, sweet, bitter, and "umami"-a Japanese word describing a savory essence. All foods exhibit one or more of these components. Then there is Taste.

Taste (according to Wikipedia) refers to appreciation for aesthetic quality, significantly applying the purely physical term to an intellectual quality. In such contexts Taste begins to be used in a metaphorical sense to refer to certain degrees of cultural competence, closely related to the concept of discrimination; it can set distinctions between "tasteful" and "tasteless" or the embodiments of "good taste" or "bad taste", thus providing categories for social division and reinforcing cultural hierarchy.

So, Taste came into play at Duck Camp. Put simply, no matter what culinary luminaries like De Gouy and Rombauer have to say about internal temperatures of duck breast, the Band of Brothers at Black Lake Duck Camp insisted that red inside was tantamount to cultural incompetence and in bad taste, thus reinforcing a social hierarchy, in which I, the cook, was commanded to return to my post immediately and remedy the transgression post haste, which I dutifully did. I did my best to salvage the duck meal, but felt the sting of having been besmirched. Worse, this was a repeat performance, as I had served rare duck once before, with similar reviews, as I mentioned earlier. And of course, we are now dealing with the specter of Avian Bird Flu, complicating the Duck tar-tar issue considerably.

So here it is, my mea culpa. I am guilty of the aforementioned breech of taste, at least that of the Black Lake Band of Brothers, for which I humbly repent. I promise I will never burden my friends with bloody duck breasts again, so help me God.

Is It a Grebe or Not a Grebe? that is the question

Here is one of the more interesting birds taken over the weekend at Black Lake. This is a hen ruddy duck that took nearly twenty dollars' worth of heavy shot to reduce to possession. On Day Two of the hunt I hit it on the wing, and then Captain Eric, Co-Captain Cabin Boy, and I chased it all over Black Lake as it skillfully attempted to elude capture.

The moment of panic in the boat occurred when we had the bird twenty yards off the bow, at which point Keith says to me, "Hmmm. That could be a grebe." At which point I, stationed in the bow, quickly returned my firearm to the port arms position to await further, more positive, identification.

A South Dakota bird identification web site tells us:
A unique small duck, readily identifiable by the male's bluish bill, white face, and long, stiff, upright black tail (See photo at the right). A female is depicted on the photo at the bottom of the page. Ruddy Ducks are often reluctant to fly, and when disturbed, seems to prefer sinking below the surface and swimming away underwater like a grebe. They are nearly incapable of walking on land, with legs and feet set very far back on the body. Ruddy Ducks are generally very tame, making it susceptible to hunting pressures.
Little did Captain Cagey know how intuitively astute he was to the diminutive little duck's gestalt ( . . . I believe Ernie will like that sentence, don't you think?). As per South Dakota's description, the wounded and as yet unidentified little duck proceeded to play underwater hide and seek with us, while Captain Eric patiently following Cagey's "hurry up, slow down, cut the engine" instructions the whole time.

It was during this heroic naval battle that I emptied a box of Heavy Shot at the little sucker, until its susceptibility to hunting pressure caused it finally to succumb to the effects of "one pellet too many syndrome," whereupon it expired dead on the water.

We surfed over to the now lifeless form at which time I scooped it up out of the water and, handing it back to Mssrs. Cagey and Eric, I said somewhat hopefully, yet tentatively, "teal." Yeah right. It was back to shore and a consultation with the duck identification guides (we had two on board), and after a short interim period of deliberative reflection we arrived at the consensus judgement of "hen ruddy duck."

Pretty much a highlight of the weekend for me, and I think a relatively good time was had by all. My thanks to Captains Eric and Cagey for keeping us safe, legal, and within shooting distance of the bird that "when disturbed, seems to prefer sinking below the surface and swimming away underwater like a grebe."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Duck Camp

Just gotta say that the food at duck camp this year was awesome.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

back in the land of the living

Well, I’ve resurfaced, at least momentarily, just long enough to get out grouse hunting around Ithaca for an hour yesterday. My report is as follows:

It was easy to slip back into the mode of being a grouser, although one needs more time in the woods to really decompress and get into the “zone”. It was a little rainy and a bit warm, and a bit too brushy for my dogless jaunt through the coverts that have produced in the past. The foliage did redeem itself for interfering with my field of view by providing lots of color and the scents of autumn that make one want to go out regardless of the weather. The gun was heavy for one that weighs only 6# even, a sure sign I’ve been spending too much time typing instead of pushing through the woods. Lots went wrong, but I never fell like last time and it was a pleasure to not have to field strip the gun to get the mud out.

And lots went right too. Even without a flush it was worth every second. We hunt not to fill the bag but to fulfill the need for adventure, and there is always a misadventure near at hand in Marshall’s woods when the grouse are sneaking around.

Until the cold condenses the cover a little bit I’ll be hunting trails with my full choked goosed gun in hopes of swatting one for the pot (I guess I do hunt to fill the bag a little!). But I’m really waiting for the time to go mono-e-mono on the wing when I get a chance to surface again.

Hope you are all out spending time in the colors.


what they're eating at duck camp

No masaman this year. Instead, home-made venison stew. This stuff is good! Here's the recipe.

Slow Cook Venison Stew

2 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled Yukon gold or red potato
2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 cup (1-inch) cubed onion
1 cup (1-inch thick) slices celery
1 cup (1-inch thick) slices carrot
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 tsp chopped fresh (or 1 tsp dried) oregano
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp chopped fresh (or 3/4 tsp dried) thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh (or 1/2 tsp dried) rosemary
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or pan searing flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 pound venison stew meat, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 tbs canola oil
1 cup brown ale or stout
1 (14 ounce) can less-sodium beef broth
2-3 veggie soup stock boullain cubes, dissolved in 2-3 cups hot water.
1/4 tsp kitchen bouquet

1. Layer first 14 ingredients in an electric slow cooker or crock pot.
2. Combine flour, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in dish (omit salt and pepper if using pan searing flour); dredge venison in flour mixture. Heat oil in non-stick skillet, brown venison over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until browned on all sides, turning frequently. Add venison to slow cooker. Pour beer, beef broth, and veggie soup stock over venison. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Yield: 6 servings. Double recipe for duck camp.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Local opener report

Well, Katie and I got out for an hour right at the end of the day today for the grouse opener. Kind of weird weather all afternoon--rain showers off and on. Temp was 58 deg F, and it was actually pretty humid given the rain. I'm sporting a new blaze orange Filson cap this year. We were in a brushy pasture by 5:00 and hunted until 6 or so. Katie pointed two woodcock, one of which held so tight in front of her I could see it on the ground as I walked in to flush it. Pretty cool. No grouse were flushed, but we weren't exactly hunting hard for them in a spot where I'd say they ought to be (although I've flushed grouse in this pasture and have actually killed one here a couple of years ago).

It won't be long now. Woodcock opens Friday.

photo haiku of the day