Friday, November 21, 2014

A hunt, a Cook and a Book.

It was Thursday, November 13th around 8:30 in the evening when I received a text from a buddy of mine... This buddy of mine happens to shoot in my old blind that's located out there in Willows. He said, "Do want to hunt ducks tomorrow with Ed and I?" To which I replied, "Hell yes I do." This prompted a phone call... to summarize, the conversation went something like this... Specks are gone, ducks are in, Ed's dog is laid up due to surgery, we need a shooter and a good dog... I was their guy.

I quickly remembered why I didn't rejoin, 3:00 am wake up call, long drive... just my dog and me. However, I do enjoy that aspect of waterfowl season. I'm never without a hunting partner.

I arrived at the parking lot with plenty of time before I was scheduled to meet the other guys and we're socked in with fog. Super thick, but there's a ton of birds around... Mallards and widgeon mostly, on our ponds, on the next guys ponds and for as far as I can hear. Sent the guys a text to let them know that I was going to head out and get Penny's blind situated and the lids opened up.

It was evident that when shoot time would arrive, the fog would still be there. Some guys love hunting in the fog, I don't. It's like a vacuum of missed opportunities. You can hear the birds, you know they're right above you, but you can't see them... and when you do, it's almost too late and too quick of a look to get a shot off. This is how the majority of the morning went. Regardless, by 10:00am, I had 5 birds down (1 mallard and 4 widgeon).

The other guys had to take off, but said I was welcome to stay out to try and finish my limit, I gladly accepted. The fog was finally beginning to lift and I felt good about the odds of pulling two more birds in. As the guys were walking out, I took a few photos.

I saw the guys pull away in their vehicles and things started to pick up immediately. Got bombed by a single wigeon, which spun around to the call after I watched him pass by... he cruised the decoys for a sec, and then came right over the top of me at like 100 mph, I missed. I like shots over the top, but the over the top, while flying downward at 100 mph, that tends to humble me from time to time. Oh well, onto the next opportunity. Way off in the distance, I saw a group of four mallards, they were headed south and they were over an adjacent blind that had no hunters in it. I grabbed my Lares A-5 and sent out some prayers. They quickly banked my way... I figured I'd get them in the pond and then have to work them a bit more before sealing the deal, but as soon as they crossed the line onto our property they began to descend, they came right over the blind... 3 hens, 1 drake, 1 shot, 1 dead drake. Easy retrieve for Penny.

This whole day I kept thinking to myself, man, it would be nice to shoot a bull sprig, so when I finally saw a bull sprig. I was stoked, but he was with four other birds and they didn't look like sprig. Got on my pintail whistle, and he worked into it perfectly, but so did the other four... they were all wigeon. Worked him a few times out over the decoys and then it was time, I flipped the lids and came up... the bull was bunched with three out of the four wigeon, with one bird to go, I took the only bird away from the group... a drake wigeon. My hunt was over.

 Back at home, I got to processing the birds. Prior, to the hunt, I was browsing through Hank Shaw's book, "Duck, Duck, Goose". I have to say, it is one of the most well written wild game cooking books to ever hit the market... and what I mean by that, is that it is absolutely complete and extremely informative. One thing I admire about Hank, is his care and his approach to processing wild game. He makes use of just about every edible part of the animal. The recipes in the book are brilliant. Anyway, Hank has inspired me to take on a new mission this season, and that is, to leave nothing edible behind. So as I was cleaning the birds, I took everything I could. The wigeon's had very little fat, so I skinned those and removed the breasts and the thighs. The mallards had some good fat, but after a long debate with myself, I figured I would skin them along with the others. I picked out a recipe for the mallards, and "gifted" the wigeon to a friend who wanted to make some Florida original "Duck Stew". For the mallards, I chose "Duck Bulgogi" from Hank's book. My good friend Sam provided me with some real deal kimchi. The meal was absolutely amazing.

I marinated all the thighs in the same marinade as the breasts and grilled everything together. The thighs, though tougher in texture than the breast meat, were probably my favorite part. I can't believe, and I feel a bit shamed to admit, that I have tossed so many birds without removing the thighs, they're absolutely delectable and well worth the little effort it takes to remove them... now I need to find something to do with the innards. On to the next adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog entry!! My husband and I read it. I'm trying to inspire him to start a blog instead of just posting on forums. Also, we may buy that cook book! -Brrrittanyyyyy