Thursday, October 30, 2008

More on lead in Venison

DEC now has a web page with general information for hunters and meat processors about lead fragments in hunter-harvested venison. See The page includes links to NYS Dept of Health web pages about lead exposure and links to research from Minnesota.

For health related cautions and advice, we are directing readers to the NYSDOH.

Thanks for your review and comments on this issue.

Jeremy Hurst
Wildlife Biologist

NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233
Phone: 518-402-8867
Fax: 518-402-8925

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Music Men--sure beats politics

A different take on Maine

All data counts toward the whole. Here are a couple of images that don't involve trees, birds, moose (tried to upload the moose video yesterday, but the application stalled out after 3 hours), or dogges, but which helped define the trip.

Winchell: aka "lil' baby absolut' meets his match in Tina, the Best Waitress in the Whole World Even Though She Turned Down My Invitation to Grouse Camp (her fingers in the foreground, the only photo evidence we have of her):

The "did I say Italian" genius appears background left.

Here is a shot of everyone doing what they do best, and presaging Wednesday night's political "discussion": Josh is finger pointing, perhaps even finger waggling, drawing his conclusions from his recent perusal of People magazine; Pete is gazing worshipfully at his Personal Political Savior, wondering what kind of scotch he should ask for next week; Jim is wisely holding back; Keith is biting through his tongue, wishing he were somewhere else, and manfully restraining himself from...what?

Didn't notice this before, but the "Florida" coffee mug could be a sign of some sort...hmmm.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Double Black Opening Weekend- Cayuga Lake


Sat- 13. 5 teal, 8 mallards
Sun- 12
1 black duck, 1 merganser, 10 mallards

Dog Retrieves

Brant- 5
Suzie- 3


Sat 25-30 mph S/SE
Sun 15-25 mph, S/SE

Canoe Trips

Sat- 3

Best opening weekend in the history of Double Black. Period.

Weather fit only for ducks, or not

What an opening day! The season opener found duck hunters in the area trying to stay dry but to no avail. The skies were gloomy and wet but the ducks didn't seem to mind flying, up until the point they mad the mistake of flying past the Dozer Pile. While the three man team of Big Jim, Mike O and myself were not able to pull off a full limit of birds like our pond neighbors to the south we still had a great opening day. The first shots went off about 5 minutes into the season and a limit of mallards and a couple of blacks were on the ground within 15 minutes. the rest of the day was spent trying to get some geese in but only 4 fell from the sky. Full weekend story, especially the egret hunt, to be found at

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spider/Black Lake Woodcock

My sister lives around the corner from the restaurant March. I haven't been there for years, as our last bill for four was around $500 and my brother-in-law graciously offered to bail me out. Embarrassment aside, Wayne Nish, the chef/owner, knows how to cook wild game (as opposed to farm raised). He published the following recipe for woodcock, memorable in that it not only uses those tiny legs, but it elevates them to the level of culinary centerpiece.

Four woodcock - legs in skin, breasts w/or w/o skin
2 cups upland bird stock
1 shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 TBSP coriander seed
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP fresh thyme
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt

The legs (prepare these first - roughly 1-2 hrs)
Put legs in saucepan with 1.5 cups stock, shallot, garlic, coriander seeds, bay leavs, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Bring to boil, then back down heat, simmer for 1 to 2 hrs (check occasionally to see if more stock is needed).

The breasts (cook when legs are essentially done)
This is the straight forward Tantillo/Weik method (let's call it the Kate method): season breasts with pepper and salt, light dusting of flour for texture, sautee in hot olive oil (smoking) to sear exterior, leaving interior bright enough to scare away those with PETA inclinations. I like to add a bit o' chopped garlic so that the breasts stand up to the legs (I think that is in keeping with the Kate method too). Cook breasts primarily on one side, so that a good crisp skin develops, to contrast with the succulent interior. Do not flip them too early. If you overcook them, the ghost of every good woodcock dog will haunt you until the next time you prepare this recipe, when you will undoubtedly cook them properly.

The plate (serves 4)
Symmetry is nice, keeping legs and breasts separate. These morsels are worth more than their weight in gold, so serving only one leg/breast per plate offers a warranted tease/lesson. A toast point can be used to soak the delicious braising liquid from the legs.

Friday, October 24, 2008


From Canoga Creek to Spider Lake. It's what's for dinner...

Macannamac, our home away from home

This seems to be the morning for posting pictures. Thank God it's Friday. Anyway, here's the Mac Lodge on a pretty sunlit morning, and below are what grouse campers were left at 7am on Saturday.

These campers are what's known in grouse hunting as resting in the "pre-flight position." Which would make them relatively safe from Pistol Pete's Popple-Perching Partridge Pokes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stella's First Grouse

Remington 870 w/ 7 1/2's
Bonasa umbellus
Lobster stock pot w/lobster carapaces
PW's box o' ammo
Spy looking jealous
Boykin spaniel w/ lower abdomen slightly distended from pair o' socks
Concerned but proud Metro-Nimrod (not shown)

Grouse Camp Snippets

First, thanks to all the spouses and kids for your understanding/tolerance/encouragement about the grousers going off to camp in the Maine North Woods for a week. It was great to spend time with these characters and to recreate ourselves. I think it's safe to say that we all really needed this. Thanks a bunch.

Stella showed great intestinal fortitude by getting aggressive on bird scent and putting up a couple grouse before her camp experience was cut short by a trip to the operating room for sockectomy. I think that bird scent will be locked in her noggin for good, and Josh will be enjoying the autumn woods and bringing home many more birds with the help of Stella.

Pete's pup Lilly is full of hunt -- she didn't want to stop to pose for a photo atop this old log. She was fun to watch in the woods, stalking anything and everything, but especially grouse. I'm really looking forward to hunting over her a year from now.

Lilly was so birdy that you'd be on pins and needles, ready at all times for a bird encounter -- we had to remind ourselves that this was training. The hunting will come next year.

Camp was loaded with pups and 11-year-old dogs -- 4 of each, with Artemis in the middle. Baxter, one of the elders, didn't hunt but helped to entertain the ever energetic Conley (aka Meatloaf, white buffalo, and twenty other names). The pup appears larger than life in this photo due to the fact that he is larger than life.

Conley executing a stylish retrieve.... or a quick getaway.

Cody, one of the elders, put this grouse right over Path Walker. Bang Bang.....................Bang.
And that was that.

You could spend all day in the coverts above Drowned Road. Great views and hunting.

It was good to have a gunner like Richie Fella along to honor the dog's points. (it's not every Grouse Camp that one can say that about Richie Fella, so enjoy it Rico!)

A nice bird taken by a good shot over a pretty point.

Spy had this woodcock (bottom center) pinned. On this trip I recall seeing 4 of Spy's pointed birds (1 woodcock and 3 grouse) on the ground, which usually makes the bird bullet-proof. But we were 4 for 4 on these birds. Spy and Katie are littermates, 11 years old, spawn of Butch.

This, plus one more grouse (pictured above in Conley's grip), was the take for Rich, Pete, and Andy the last day of the hunt. When I got home and showed the kids this picture they wanted to see the birds... which of course by then were cleaned, wrapped, and frozen.

..... So I had to go out and get a fresh one....

Nearly had a woodcock tug-o-war a couple times, so I'd better bring home two (or multiples thereof) next time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First bird '08 (from ramblings...)

At home I found wired dogs, crazy from a day being cooped up, and a strong urge to take the DeHaan out for a walk. I’d used the Remington all afternoon to shoot clays as shells are much easier to come by and cheaper than for the 16ga. And seeing those pheasants gave me an itch for the flush of a bird. As light was fading, I quickly loaded up the dogs and headed up to Greens Valley for a short hunt. We worked the pines just to the left of the side road – nothing – then headed up to the right of the pipeline gate. On the edge of the side-hill thicket the dogs flushed a woodcock. It went fluttering up and off to my left as the gun rose and fired. I didn’t see it go down, but was pretty sure I’d made a good shot. “Dead bird” got the dogs going and they were quickly on the downed timberdoodle. First bird of the year. Tried to take some time with the dogs to enjoy the moment and get them riled up about our first kill. The dogs, however, needing no more encouragement, weren’t happy about a break in the action and although interested in the bird were more anxious to get going again. We circled through the thicket and worked the cover until dark – no more flushes here today. Maybe later this week…

Monday, October 20, 2008

Homage to Kate

This was kind of a bittersweet camp for me this year. The new dogge Phoebe getting her first lick of grouse feathers, but the old dogge Kate in attendance at what was undoubtedly her final grouse camp. I've got to say, it was one tough ride home in the truck with Kate . . . it's really about over except for that last big decision.

Thus in an elegiac mood I spent some time today putting together this ode to Kate. It's just not going to be the same without her.

Grouse Camp 2008-Cagey's Take

Call's for red meat and carnage not-withstanding, the 2008 Maine Grouse Camp was for me all about the meaning of a good dog.

As we avoided thinking about aging, about the fact that much had changed in the world and amongst ourselves since the last time we raised glasses of whiskey in the Macannamac Camp (a mere month after 9/11/2001),we were constantly reminded of the hope for the future, the joi de vive of puppies reveling in existence, in their own lives, all wrapped up in ours. While we ignored aches and pains, new conditions found in old men, and politics and religion at the dinner table, our consorts tussled, vied for top dog, and did their best to make us proud, while doing their damnedest to learn and be who they are. Here's to Connolly (Sp?), Lilly, and Phoebe-- who will teach us much.

I took special pride in Lilly, progeny of Canoga's Artemis. She was a part of the Tidball family for a short time, stole our hearts and took up the banner of our dreams for the everyman's dog; versatile, close-working, and a loved family pet. The Kleinman family is her family now, and she is thriving by any measure. The fruits of Pete's labors were evident though-out the week, and I beamed with muted pride as he walked out of the woods having shot at his first grouse over Lilly. Very nice work Pete.

The "grown-up dogs" had their work cut out for them. There were three; Stella the Boykin Spaniel, Spy the English Setter, and Artemis the German Shorthair Pointer. Stella, the least experienced, made a nice debut before succumbing to what so many ardent hunters find irresistible, a woman's stocking. Not all of us eat them, but be honest, the thought crosses the mind when confronted with fishnet, lace, etc. God bless Stella and women's stockings.

Spy had all the work he wanted, given his age, and from all reports, did not fail to impress. I wish I would have had the chance to hunt over him and with Andy.

Artemis was the "go-to" dog for the trip, hunting hard and hunting well every day, all day. Of the 20 grouse and 5 woodcock the camp brought into possession, Artemis had a large share. She was gritty, she was smart, she was tolerant. She impressed me beyond my wildest dreams. If only my performances were as virtuoso has hers.

These three grown up dogs were all great camp mates. They held up their ends of the bargain, and were great role models for the puppies and the people in camp. They continue to teach us much.

And there was Kate, the veteran. Her career cut short by illness, the infirm inspire. So many firsts with this dog, for so many of us. I admired Jim's commitment to her, and empathized with his feelings of betrayal, never by Kate but by whatever Red God graces us with the number of years we will spend with our canine partner. Damn you Red Gods...thank you Red Gods. The paradox and the sublime before us all, and the era that was Kate, at least for me, ending where it began, at Spider Lake. I said my goodbyes, and visualized a place on my wall for a picture of her, where a taxidermied grouse adorns my office, pointed by Kate, my first grouse and the opening of new galaxies. Thank you Kate. You will not be forgotten.

Our dogs define us at least as much as we define them. The beauty of that is that they are doing their best to train us not to measure ourselves by what we kill, but by how well we hunt. This is both art and craft, measured not in numbers but by our ability to reach, or to be taken to, the ecstatic place of "now." Always optimistic, always seeking, they are helping us learn the meaning of unconditional love, of true courage, and of faithful loyalty. There were feathers in mouths and game birds in the bag, to be sure. But the 2008 Maine Grouse Camp was, for me, all about the meaning of a good dog.


Hard to believe it's Monday already and there's no pictures of carnage yet, only metrosexual hunting rigs and housekeeping hints from Heloise.

Here's Phoebe's first grouse. And it only took one shell to kill. Pete.
heh heh

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tire Repair in the Bush-101

Thought fellow grousers might like to know that the "it'll never work" tire plug and Fix-a-Flat combo held from Spider Lake, BFE Maine (Macannamac Grouse Camp 2008) to Seneca Falls,NY and was still holding when I left the "Bling" mobile at the Hertz rental shop (they were impressed). If you weren't paying attention, you can get a refresher on the technique here.

Road Hunting with the Metro-Sportsmen

Fine Corinthian leather, heated seats, NPR on the radio, Parker and/or L.C. Smiths nestled at the side (gun-clinging is an essential element of Obama supporters on the prowl for grouse ... if you're not clinging to your fine double, you'll miss an opportunity to sluice a road pahtridge).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

South Platte, Bailey Colorado

Got a chance to run away from life for a 3-day, long weekend to Colorado and catch some ridiculous fish. Part of the story here. More pictures here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Invest in BC Hunt Club today, it is sound!

In today's economic times this only goes to prove that you should invest in BC hunt club!

If you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of Delta Airlines stock one year ago you would have $49.00 left

With Enron you would now have $16.50 from the same $1,000.00 investment

With World Com you would have less than $5.00 left

BUT, If you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of canned beer in NY State for beer camp, helped to drink all of the beer, then we turned in the cans for the NYS can recycling refund, you would now have $214.00 cash.

Based on the above, it is BC Hunt Club's opinion that the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

This strategy is called 401-Keg

Call or e-mail today if you wish to make an investment.

Drink up, we'll see you around the campfire!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Phoebe's first woodcock

Decided to take a day off from the theater business to pretend I'm a college professor. After spending the bulk of the morning grading papers, it was off to the thickets with Miss Four-Month-Old Phoebe for the woodcock opener.

We were in a favorite covert by 3pm (and if I told you which one, I would have to kill you). It was a balmy 50 deg F, I was as usual wearing jeans, Carhartt vest, Filson cap, LaCross rubber boots with the airgrip tread, but in a nod to safety with Phoebe not yet wearing a bell or beeper, donned an extra Filson blaze cape over the Carhartt.

I was with my new best girl Phoebe. She had received some preliminary gun training before today, mostly 22 cal plinking in the back yard during chow time, and one or two shots with the 16 gauge while she's playing in the dog pen. I figured today I'd take the gun along, "just in case" the opportunity presented itself. So I toted the 16 gauge Parker with the lightest 7/8 oz. RST loads of #8 shot I have.

So along we went through the brushy pasture, poking through all the likely spots and looking for splash. Phoebe was using her nose throughout, sniffing the ground, plants, leaves, dirt, you name it. Very nose-oriented. After about an hour of that, with no results, we landed in a corner that has always produced woodcock in the past.

We weren't disappointed. After ten or so minutes in the thick stuff, Phoebe went off into some dogwood and all of a sudden stopped short, standing totally still. I took a close look at her, and her head was up, nose out, nostrils flaring. The real deal.

We took it slowly, me trying to let her figure it out for herself. When all of a sudden, a woodcock flushed from my right and circled back to the rear of the dog. I let it get out about 25 yards and dropped it cleanly with a single shot.

Phoebe didn't seem fazed by the gun, and I had a great mark on it. Found the bird pretty quickly, and Phoebe had an absolute ball mouthing her first bird. Needless to say I was pretty pleased.

After a couple of minutes of playtime, I gathered up the bird and we moved on. Almost immediately she got birdy on another track, and I looked down and saw splash. Sure enough, within twenty feet another woodcock went up. This one presented an equally good opportunity, and once again after letting it get out about 25 yards, I dropped it as well, marking it on a gnarly apple tree blowdown.

This one was hard to find. I had marked it well, but I circled it twice before Phoebe finally found it! she was mouthing it before I saw it. So that was cool, her first real "retrieve" of a downed bird. Once again needless to say I was pleased.

After another two minutes of letting her play with the bird, off again we went. This time we made our way slowly upslope, not getting any hints of bird scent or anything. Just as we were running out of terrain, she scented a track from the gulley she was in and headed up over the bank on the other side. I crossed the gulley and followed her, this time convinced she was completely in charge.

Sure enough, she followed the track about forty yards, probably the longest trailing of the day, when she stopped in some dogwood. I slowed, again trying to let her figure it out. She relocated, me moving alongside, and within ten yards the third woodcock of the day went up. Once again, the red gods smiled on us, and I dropped the bird cleanly with one shot at about 30 yards. We marked it well, and Phoebe found her third woodcock on the ground as we approached it.

Phoebe's first three birds

Three birds, and a four-month-old woodcock dog. All in all, I'd say it was a successful day. She's got an idea now what the bird scent is about, she's absolutely crazy for woodcock feathers in her mouth, and I'm not at all doubtful about taking her in the woods next week in Maine, gun in hand.

A great opening day all around. And this dogge loves to run around with the bird in her mouth--which Katie never did. Looks like I may have a retrieving setter in the works, boys and girls.