Turkey Day in the Loess Hills

Spring did not appear and it felt like we went from winter to summer in southwest Iowa.  It is turkey season and the toms have been out looking for love.  With the number of hens I have seen, they should not have any problem, other than competition from another love sick big boy.  

The place to be hunted has produced for me in the past four years.  North of Council Bluffs in the Loess hills, this farm has it all.  There are plenty of woods for hiding and roosting.  With plenty of  water in the dams in the valley and the gravel on the roads for their gizzards, what more could a turkey want.  

A gentleman that I hunted ducks with for 17 years had the good fortune and luck to be an excellent turkey hunter.  He once told me that more big toms are shot between 08:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. than any other time.  With that in mind, I was in no hurry to head to the hills and set up on a good spot.  I did not do any scouting of the area first as I felt that I knew the farm well enough just to pick a spot that was successful in the past.  Plus, I had been following this advice for the last four turkey seasons and was having excellent luck.

flextone Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy

Click on the link or the pic to buy from Bass Pro. 

On this morning I was up early, and had a healthy breakfast.  Plus, watching all the news and the weather for the area, I enjoyed several cups of coffee.  Drinking at least a half a liter of water, in addition to the coffee, is important for me.  If you drink a lot of water when you are sitting or scrunched up in the woods, I believe you eliminate the chance of leg cramps.  The turkeys have, as their defense for survival, an excellent set of eyes and can recognize movement if it is not quite right.

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Zink Calls Avian-X LCD Feeder HenDecoy
Click on the pic to order from Gander Outdoors. icon

As I pulled into the farm, I noticed up the valley were a couple of toms following a group of hens.  After parking about 200 yards from where they were pecking around, the truck was well out of their view.  I made my way to a hiding place I had picked out on the side of a hill where a fine bird was harvested last year.  Obviously, they split when their eyesight caught me walking to the hillside.  So I put out the funky chicken and a couple of feeder hens and climbed up behind a tree and was surrounded on the side by undergrowth of small branches and weeds.

I was hiding right behind the tree.  Sitting down there was good coverage on both sides and to the front
There is funky chicken and the two feeder decoys.  The manufacturer recommending a couple of feeders.  Also the hunter who recommended using this decoy said it adds to the area looking more secure. 

My past experience with the funky chicken decoy has been fantastic.  Each time it has been used, it has drawn the toms.  When they see it they get really mad and try to beat up on it.  It is really funny to watch.  The turkey hunter that told me to buy one, said after a couple of seasons with it you will have to buy another one as the toms will wreck it.  Putting out a couple of feeder hens helps provide a feeling of safety for the toms, which was recommended by the manufacturer and my friend.  It makes sense and seemed like the right thing to do.  Plus, it gives you the opportunity to buy more equipment.  It is important for a hunter to have a lot of stuff.  It makes hunting more fun.  When I am questioned about some of this stuff, I just say, “I don’t know where it came from.”  It works for me. 

 
Looking straight ahead. 

On the ground by 08:15, it was important to let the woods settle down, and so I pulled out my Kindle and began reading.  No movement was made.  Soon after 08:30 I could hear the squirrels running around and the birds began to sing and fly around.  A couple of doe stepped out of the woods and strolled by me about 30 yards out. A light wind was in my face.  They never even looked my way and went across the open fields to the next stand of timber.   Turkey hunting was now beginning.

Looking to my right
Looking forward
Looking to my left. 

Soon off to my left was a distinct gobble.  Loud and clear the big boy was out looking for love.  He was promptly given some quick calls and promptly answered.  I have always wonder what they are saying.  One evening when talking with a fellow hunter, we came up with the idea that the gobbler is saying, “Where are you my darling? I am looking to find you.”  The answer by the hen is, “Over here, big boy, come and see me some time.”  Calling has produced a response and results.  It has also produced nothing for me, but I keep doing it.  The one thing I do differently now is limiting the calling.  I give a few responses to a gobble and then wait.  This time he just shut up and shut down.  Who knows, maybe he saw me or something just wasn’t quite right, but he failed to answer anymore and was silent.  He never stepped out of the woods to beat up on Funky Chicken.  

Anyway, that was fun and it always gets a person excited.  After calming down and wiggling around, it was back to my kindle and to the spot I had just left.  

Then it happened.  Mother nature and three cups of coffee plus all the water that was drank this morning began to have its effect.  I should have seen to this need before sitting down, but I didn’t.  At the same time, I looked up and there was a big tom about 150 yards out heading straight for me very slowly.  He responded to a quick call and puffed himself all up and showed his fan.  As he slowly drew nearer, I saw a white head through my cataract eyes. He was a mature big boy and was looking for some action.  I needed to pee badly, but did not want to foul up this shot.

I took time for some deep breaths.  Then I placed my hands on each side of the tree and with my arms and legs pulled myself into a standing position.  This relieved the immediate pain and pressure and gave me a little time to re-position the gun.  It would be better to stand up and shoot rather than sit in the previous sitting position.  The bird was now out about 80 yards.  I slowly peeked around the side of the tree and saw that he definitely was a fine looking specimen and would taste very good.  He slowly made his way toward me.  By now he should have seen the funky chicken and should have begun to show some anger.  But instead he seemed to move off to my left.  

He got another short call and then turned and puffed himself up and gobbled real big.  What a phony big shot. Still, this was a really nice bird and I wanted to shoot him.  I keep the turkey breasts, but give the legs and thighs to my good friend John, a long time hunting friend.  He is from West Virginia and will eat anything. 

 
At least, I got a picture of him.  He was probably 100 yards out and I stuck the camera around the side of the tree and put in its max magnification and when I got home the picture turned out pretty well.  He has no idea what he just missed out on.  Notice his neck all stretched out.  I had just given him a couple of clucks and he stopped to gobble.  

Still, he was no longer coming toward me but moving off more to my left and it became obvious he was not going to come into the decoys.  Finally, with his actions it was time to step out of my hiding place and look after myself.  All that pain and no shot.  It is called hunting, not shooting.  Tomorrow is another day.  

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

The Flower Festival of St. Cecilia’s

During January in Omaha/Council Bluffs and it was really cold.  We were having sub zero temps at night and during the day the temp never went above ten.  Add the wind chill and it was really cold outside.  My wife Pam always finds things for us to do instead of sitting around in blankets reading and watching the idiot tube.  You watch that thing for any length of time and your eyes get bigger and your brain gets smaller.  My father said that to me when we got our first TV. 

 
OmahaNE StCecilia.jpg
“We shape our buildings; Thereafter they shape us.”

Winston Churchill

 
 

This weekend was St. Cecila’s Cathedral for their annual Flower Festival.  This is an Omaha tradition and one that will give you a bright break from the middle-of-winter doldrums.  Construction began on the Cathedral in 1905 and was consecrated in 1959.  It was listed as one of the ten largest Cathedrals in the country when it was completed.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

 

Pam and I have traveled all over Europe and especially eastern Europe and have been in many churches and cathedrals.  St. Cecilia is one of the grandest we have ever been in.  We always look forward to attending the festival every year.  

 

More than 30 area florists created displays for the event.  Last year the event celebrated Nebraska’s 150th anniversary with exhibits honoring the state’s history.  This year the planners built on last year’s success with numerous displays.  The event also honored the the American Institute of Architects, Nebraska Chapter.  Enjoy the displays. 

 

 

 
The Cathedral dome is magnificent.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 

I have been following the temperatures up at Spirit River in Alberta, Canada where I will be hunting moose.  They have been warmer than we have been.  Also, St. Anthony, Idaho where I hunted Elk last year has been warmer than our area and they are only an hour from Yellowstone. 

 

Stay Warm my Friends 

 

Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck, Hank

 
 

Nebraska’s Best Walleye Spot

I  need a new lake to hammer some walleye.  Eastern South Dakota did not treat me very well last year and it is not like it was 20 years ago when I first went up there to fish.  The one advantage to the area is that there are a lot of lakes to fish all within a 30 mile radius of Webster, SD. 

 

The Merritt Reservoir in northwestern Nebraska is an oasis amid the giant oasis of the sandhills. The second deepest lake in Nebraska is just  a few miles south of the Snake River Falls and the Samule R. McKelvie National Forest.  Surrounded by gentle bluffs, there exists 44 mils of tree-lined shores baked in sugar-sand beaches. The lake is 11 miles long, and with 3000 acres of pure waters, this is a fishing adventure land. Maximum depth is 111 feet with an average depth of 25 feet.  This is outstanding and makes for excellent fishing.  Water levels are stable, except during the summer irrigation season when they drop.

The source of water for the lake is an impoundment of the Snake River completed in 1964 by the Bureau of Reclamation.  Boardman Creek is the only other significant tributary that supplies water to the lake.  Another plus is the lake is 98% composed of sand.  What do walleyes like?  It is sand and running water.  The more I read about the lake, it just kept getting better.

Weed growth develops in various coves and shallows from late spring until the summer draw down.  Areas of submerged timber remaining from pre-impoundment years provide good habitat for fish.  As reported a local organization constructs tire-reef that attract fish each summer.  The local Fire Department has an on-going habitat improvement program using discarded Christmas Trees.

Sand, running water, and structure makes this lake an outstanding opportunity to spend some serious time this spring to catch some really nice walleyes.  The lake also has Northern Pike, large mouth and small mouth bass.  It appears that whatever you want to fish for, this lake has it all. According to the DNR this is the best walleye lake in the state.

It is big, but narrow.  The question is what is the best way to fish it. Several recommendations were made as I reviewed all the information I could find on the lake.  The walleye spawn the first week or two in April and it was advised to fish along the face of the dam in 18 inches to six feet of water.  Floating minnow plugs such a Rapalas work best.  It was also advised to fish in low light conditions.

The post spawn bite will heat up around the 2nd week of May. Suspending live bait just off the bottom in 7 to 10 feet of water along brushy banks and over the tops and near edges of submerged weed beds is a good pattern to work. Mid June was recommended to fish with leeches and night crawlers.  As fall moves in and the lake is taken down for irrigation, the fish move deeper on flats humps and points.  Trolled baits, it was said, work best in the late fall.

This is really interesting.  Anglers at Merritt are allowed a daily bag limit of four walleye which may include one from 15 to 18 inches.  The rest of catch has to be 18 inches or above.  Only one fish can be over 22 inches.  Now think about this and concentrate on four 18 inch walleye.  It has been decades since I have had such success.

Another fish we like to catch and eat is the Northern Pike.  Besides being a really fun fish to catch, They are excellent eating.  Decades ago, my son and I fished with a local native guide in northern Manitoba.  He cooked shore lunch for us and we always ate the walleye.  He was always after a medium size northern, took out the Y bones and dined on fillet of northern pike.

After that we never threw a decent sized pike back again, and learned how to take out the Y bones. One of the first fish to turn on after the ice is out is the Northern.  It can be caught in shallow water on spoons, spinners tipped with a minnow.  Chartreuse or white is a good choice and the northern go for flash or a red and white daredevil.  We have caught them deep, mid lake, and shallow.  An outfitter decades ago told us when you find the northern, move off to one side or the other and there will be the walleye.  Northern feed on walleye, but I believe they will feed on anything.  Taking out the Y bones will leave you with a great eating piece of fish.  Watch this link and see how it is done . (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS_cHdKS-_A)

The fishing descriptions and reports look like this is the place to go.  Now, where do I stay and where do I eat, clean and store fish?  Where to stay is important to me if you read my book, “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”  The same concept applies to me now when it comes to fishing.  You do not have to rough it in life to have great experiences.  In fact, over the many decades that I have fished and hunted, I have found that not roughing it is the way to go.  You just have a more enjoyable experience, plus, if the hunting or fishing stinks, you have still enjoyed yourself and those with you will have a better experience.  Camping out sucks. 

So now, I noticed that there is a trading post and a resort at the lake.  You can find them on line or call at 402 376 3437.  There is also the Water’s Edge Restaurant.  I did not find anything on line for this business, but you can call at 402 376 5934.  As I am writing this blog it is February and everything is probably closed.  I will keep on checking as we get into March.  You can rent a cabin at the lake and I believe you can store your boat in the lake at a slip if you rent a cabin.  If you do not rent a cabin, there is a charge.  Either way, this is a convenient way of not having to take the boat in and out of the water.

When we fish the glacial lakes in SD we do that a couple of times a day and it just gets to be a nuisance.  When we fish this lake we are going to rent a slip and just leave the boat in the lake and pull it out when we leave.  It is gentleman fishing.

Valentine, Nebraska is only 26 miles from the lake and the area is a tourist mecca for people that love the outdoors.  The Niobrara River flows through the area and there is a plethora of campgrounds and outfitters for a really nice river experience.  Finding a motel that caters to hunters and fishermen was not a problem.  I talked with the people at the Trade Winds Motel in Valentine, and they have a place to clean and freeze fish plus they serve a free breakfast every morning.  In addition, they have parking for my boat and trailor if I decide to pull it out every day.  Follow the link to learn more about Valentine and the entertainment they offer or just go to the site visit Valentine.  (https://visitvalentine.org/explore-here/)

All in all, this looks like a fishing adventure to spend a few days, and experience the beauty of the sandhills of Nebraska.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

 

One of my favorite recipes.

Almond Crusted Walleye

  • 1 or more walleye or saugeye fillet
  • ½ cup almond meal (ground almonds
  • panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 fresh peach or pear, sliced
  • splash of dry white wine (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, etc.)

Mix the almond meal with a little panko and the salt and pepper. Place fish fillet in egg wash then roll in almond meal/panko mixture. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons canola oil in a pan over medium low heat, then add fish and sauté about 4 minutes per side (depending on thickness). Remove the walleye to paper towels, turn heat to medium high and add the sliced fruit. Stir and fry for a minute then add 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and cook until butter browns. Add wine; reduce. Place fish fillet on plate surrounded by fruit and drizzled with sauce. Makes 2 servings.  Once you open the wine, you will have to drink it.  I recommend this recipe with a bottle or two of Tusker Beer if you can find it.  I have a friend bringing us a supply for the summer from Sante Fe, New Mexico.  I will post the place they bought it on my next blog.

The Snow Geese Have Returned

 

A couple of  decades ago the refuge at Desoto Bend was a stop over for the migrating snow geese and other birds.  I knew some farmers that cultivated some of the refuge and they were required to leave 1/3 of the crop on the ground.  Well to waterfowl, corn is like cocaine and they will gorge themselves on it.  A beautiful facility was erected with viewing areas out over the water where you could come and see all the migratory wild fowl.  It went unused for several years, but now the birds are back. There is not a few thousand but hundreds of thousands of snow geese with some blues mixed in, and my wife and I drove up to DeSoto Bend to see the birds.  It was phenomenal.

 

Every year they go through, and now they are stopping at DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge just east of Blair, Nebraska. That is a 45 minute drive for us.  As they make their way up the Missouri river to their nesting grounds above the arctic circle, it is a sight to see.  The snow geese have become so plentiful that there are now no limits as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife want to thin the numbers before Mother Nature does. As they migrate they stay just south of the snow line.  As it melts off in the northern states they are gone and it may be only a few days but not over a week that they will be here.

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 Mother Nature is not very kind when it comes to thinning the numbers.  Some day there may a disease as they are thinned out.  Hunting them in the fall at our blinds has not been very successful as they fly over in enormous flocks, flying very high, and going from refuge to refuge.

 

 

When stepping out of the vehicle at DeSoto, the first sound you hear is a high pitched yelping, that when multiplied by many thousands, will leave an indelible print on your memory.  When massed together they look like an enormous island of geese. Then all at once they begin to yelp, rise up off the water, swirl around and land back again.  We stood for an hour and watched this spectacle several times. 

 

I truly believe snow geese are smarter than other waterfowl.  If there is one important lesson that snow geese have learned and learned well, it is that there is safety in numbers.  When my friends and I began hunting the birds during the mid 1960s, snow geese migrated across Iowa in small flocks that usually consisted of anywhere from a dozen on up to 20 or so birds.  The migration was well distributed statewide, and the geese stopped wherever there were suitable marshes. 

 

How times have changed.  Today, most of the snow geese are hunted in open fields with big spreads of decoys and with the use of electronic calls.  They do not decoy as in the past.  If you do get them to start coming in, a 20 yard shot is about all you can get.  I really believe the snow goose is the hardest bird to deceive and that includes the wild turkey.  I had a chance to hunt in western Nebraska with an outfitter that specializes in snows.  They put out over 1000 decoys in wheat stubble and hunt out of layout blinds.  

 

 

DeSoto is not only a stopping off place for snow geese, but for waterfowl of all types.  There was also a migration of Trumpeter Swans which we were able to photograph.  They stayed at a considerable distance.  In addition, there were bald eagles everywhere in the trees. 

 
 

A decade or so ago, I had the privilege of hunting with Richard Hart.  It was great seeing the sculpture of the eagle he had made. 

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Good Hunting, Good Fishing and Good Luck.  Hank


It is almost time to head to the fields and whack on a big tom turkey.   

Turkey and Broccoli Almondine

  • 2 cups medium noodles
  • 1 package (10 ounces) broccoli (fresh or frozen), cooked
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced Cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups diced cooked turkey
  • salt
  • ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
  • Tusker Beer

Cook and drain noodles, put in shallow baking dish. Add broccoli to the noodles. Make a sauce with the butter, flour and liquids. Add cheese, Worcestershire and pepper; stir until cheese is melted. Add turkey and salt to taste; pour over ingredients in dish. Arrange broccoli blossoms on top and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes.  This goes really good with Tusker Beer or a really good Piesporter wine from Germany.  Our recommended brand is Hirschbach & Sohne Piesporter Michelsbers Riesling Spatlese.  It has a big stag on the front of the label.  Your choice the beer or the wine.

Ducks and the WRP

A close friend of mine who is an avid duck hunter is in the process of developing his own private duck hunting hole.  I hate to use the term old friends, but we have known each other for decades and he is an expert when is comes to hunting ducks and especially mallard ducks.  

His experience goes back to when he was thirteen years old and he hunted on a well known commercial hunting site and became a close friend of the owner, and still is.  He was the senior member in the club I belonged to for seventeen years.  Last year before the season, we lost the owner of the land we hunted on who also managed the club.  This club had been in existence for 25+ years and consisted of 80 acres with 40 acres of water and less than a mile from the Missouri River. It has a well and a pump to circulate the water,  so we always had open water even in the coldest of days.  The blinds buried in the ground were heated with comfortable padding for seating and hot plates for cooking. The best part of the hunt at this location was the dogs.  Some of the club members had outstanding dogs that were well trained.  We never lost a cripple.  This was gentlemen hunting at it’s finest.  Read my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”  There are real life experiences hunting ducks in the book. The book can be bought through Amazon or Lulu. 

I really miss those days of the bounty of ducks produced at this spot.  All I had to do was show up before shooting time, find a place to sit in the blind and wait.  I never had to get out.  The decoys were always located at the right location for the wind and conditions. There was always an excellent duck caller in the blind.   But with our leader gone, the family leased the blinds back to the club.  For club members like myself, that was a good thing.  They could have sold it.  This has been prime duck and goose hunting property for years and fully developed.  Still it just wasn’t the same for me.  Several of my close friends also decided not to renew their membership.  I am looking at other options.

In the meantime, my friend decided it was time to live his dream of a place of his own design based on 40+ years of hunting experience and a lifetime of studying the habits of migrating ducks.  And so he found a place near the river that was in WRP and it was for sale.  

 

The question is, what is WRP? The information below is taken from The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) a division of the USDA.

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) was a voluntary program that offered landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. 

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts through WRP.

This program offered landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.

The goal of NRCS was to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.

Lands that were eligible for WRP:

  • Wetlands farmed under natural conditions
  • Farmed wetlands
  • Prior converted cropland
  • Farmed wetland pasture
  • Certain lands that had the potential to become a wetland as a result of flooding
  • Rangeland, pasture, or forest production lands where the hydrology had been significantly degraded and could be restored
  • Riparian areas that linked protected wetlands
  • Lands adjacent to protected wetlands that contributed significantly to wetland functions and values
  • Wetlands that had previously been restored under a local, State, or Federal Program that need long-term protection 

Lands established to trees through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) were ineligible for WRP enrollment.

NRCS was committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill and was eager to discuss with all interested parties about the many potential benefits that the WRP offered.

Former Enrollment Options

Under the easement options, the USDA paid all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance.

  • Permanent Easement: A conservation easement in perpetuity. USDA pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
  • 30-Year Easement: An easement that expires after 30 years. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the easement value and up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
  • Restoration Cost-Share Agreement: An agreement to restore or enhance the wetland functions and values without placing an easement on the enrolled acres. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
  • 30-Year Contract: A 30-year contract option is only available on tribal lands. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

Rights Retained By Landowners

Speaking generally, under the voluntary easement the landowner retains the rights to:

  1. control of access
  2. title and right to convey title
  3. quiet enjoyment
  4. undeveloped recreational uses
  5. subsurface resources
  6. and water rights
Wild sunflower.  A native to the area.
Looking southwest across the wetland
Looking south across the wetland  The trees at the south form the southern boundary. 

My friend will be buying the 80 acres provided approval is given by the government for the land changes and arrangement he wants to do to the ground.  The focus on the spot will be to provide ducks with a resting place and feed obtained from native moist soil annual plants.  These produce the most seed. The whole 80 will not be for hunting but only a few acres will be shallow flooded for hunting.  No permanent blinds will be built or sunk into the ground.  Instead  the hunters will hide in the natural grass lands of the prairie consisting of switch grass and other native grasses.  You will have to hide.

Barnyard grass, a native to the area.
Crawdad hole.  The holes are everywhere. 

Most importantly, the spot will not be hunted every day but only on certain days of the week and only with a limited numbers of hunters.  Ducks will have an opportunity to feed and rest, move on or stay until the weather drives them out.  This is a great way to give the birds a rest and still have some excellent hunting.

White Wing Stem
 
Ironweed

In the spring when the birds move north the area will provide a great place to stop, rest, feed, and possibly stay and produce more ducks.  

 
Canada Wild Rye

I usually only harvest a two day limit for the season of Mallards.  That is all we will eat during the next six months after the season closes.  There are other meats to dine on besides ducks.

Recipe of the Week

       Duck Fajitas

  •  four duck breasts
  • 1 box of frozen red, green and yellow peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 fajitas spices/seasoning packets
  • 1 pack medium sized flour tortillas
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • tomato
  • cilantro
  • guacamole
  • shredded cheese
  • toothpicks
 

Cut goose or duck breasts into thin strips. Place in a skillet with a small amount of hot oil, cook thoroughly. Add fajita seasoning packet to duck. At the same time in another skillet sauté the frozen peppers with chopped red onion. Cook until tender. When both pepper and meat are done, place flour tortillas in microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. This will warm the tortillas and allow them to separate easier. Take out one tortilla and add meat, peppers, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc. Wrap the fixings inside the tortilla and use a toothpick through the middle to hold it together. Accompany with Spanish rice and refried beans. Serve with Tusker Beer.

Orvis

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank

The Moose Hunt is On

 

It’s on this year.  My moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019.  We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot.  That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt.  So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting. 

 

Moose Bull, Alaska, USA

 

What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean.  Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game.  The main element of  the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3.  I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.

 

The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family.  They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males.  Other members of the family have twig like configuration.  Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time.  Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia.  Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation.  The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears.  Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.  Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.  Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America.  They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions.  Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer.  The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.

Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose.  Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990.  The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game.  The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area.  The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest.  (Source Wikipedia)

An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds.  That is a lot of meat.  Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home.  The trip back will be a race against time.  However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid.  My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.

The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.  They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants.  They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw.  They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation.  The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs.   have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms.  They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes.  They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal.   The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.

I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans.  However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined.  During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”

I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk.  With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer.  As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza. 

 

When Pam and I get back in late October, there will be full report of our experience.  

 

Orvis

Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck,  Hank

 

 Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
  • 1 – large onion – chopped
  • 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
  • 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
  • 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – small can tomato paste
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
  • 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms
  • 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 – red chili peppers – diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
  • 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tusker Beer
 

Preparation

In a 5 quart or larger  Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.

Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.

While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).

Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.

At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.

Cover and simmer for at least one hour.

While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish. 

Drink the Tusker Beer. 

From Trash to Treasure

January has made itself well known in the Omaha/Council Bluffs cities and it is really cold.  Fortunately most of the heavy snow has gone north of us, but winter is not yet over.  What is a person to do? Fortunately for me, my wife makes sure we have plenty of entertainment and it is my turn to do what she wants to do.  That is how I get to hunt and fish whenever I want to and squander money on equipment.  I really mean to say invest in hunting and fishing equipment.  Plus, during the winter months of the year I plan my next big game hunting events.  This can be from hunting alligators in Louisiana to shooting big game in the mountains or in Canada.  

 

This winter one our favorite places, Lauritzen Gardens, had an outstanding event planned for members and the community.  This is one place I really like to go as there is always something interesting taking place, plus the gardens are a beautiful and peaceful place to visit.  

 

Two artists have turned plastic pollution into a beautiful, powerful and educational exhibit.  This is a demonstration of how to rethink our use of plastics and change our own habits.  The amazing creations have been built from reclaimed materials. The displays had an affect on us and changed the way we look at art, plastics, and our environment. 

 

We first visited the exhibit in the glass enclosed conservatory at night.  The lighting was absolutely magnificent.  Because there were so many people, taking picture was next to impossible, so we came back on a Saturday afternoon when the gardens were not so crowded.  

 

The pictures below are of the art work and animals constructed out of plastics taken from trash. 

 
The penguins meet you as you enter the door.
Then you see this magnificent bird. 
 

 
Another beautiful bird made from plastic throw aways

 
 
My favorite, the rooster. 
Different angle of a beautiful  work of art. 
 

 

 
The whale was one of our favorites. 
Picture the jellyfish at night and you can see the beauty.
The dolphins are magnificent. 
In the main building. 
I can’t pass up a picture of a koi.
 
 

An evening and an afternoon at the Gardens is well worth the time invested.

 
 

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck.  Hank

 

Stay Warm 

 
 

The Great Moose Hunt is Planned

The thought pattern started at least 10 years ago.  The conversations with fellow hunters that had shot a lot of big game also started 10 years ago.  Where do you go to do this and how do they taste?  Moose are a really big animal if you hunt the bulls.  How is all this done and where is the best opportunity?  The research was then started over a period of time.

A bull moose sniffs the air for pheromones during the autumn rut in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

That is what we hope to shoot. 

Somehow I have gotten on e-mail lists for hunting brokers that represent different types of lodges and hunting opportunities not only in North America, but all over the world.  I have never used one, but they seem to have access to some really interesting hunts in prime places with decent prices.  I enjoy contacting lodges and listening to the owners tell me about what they have to offer, and then make my decision as to whether this will work for me.

Wave�


Wave�

Click on the pic or link to price and buy from Leatherman. 

Now we get to the requirements.  If you read my book, “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman,” I am no longer into roughing it.  I want a nice lodge with a private room and private bath, three squares per day, fully guided, preferably one on one with the guide, and a good processor in the vicinity.  No more horse back trips as I have done all that, and a four wall tent is out of the question.  Things really start to narrow down with those requirements and the price goes up too.  I am somewhat flexible.  But I will not live out in the woods in a tent anymore.  If my wife comes along, and she likes to go, flexibility goes out the window.

When looking at Alaska, there are some really good hunts up there, but that is out of the question.  It is a little over my budget on some of the hunts.  Bringing back meat from the hunt is a major goal, and with the quantity you get with a moose, I would not get it all.

I talked with my good friend Bob Barlow with Barlow Outfitting in Wyoming and a moose tag takes preference points.  I know what it is like getting points for elk in Wyoming and it is probably cheaper to buy the general tag.  He was just not encouraging that getting a tag the first time without points would happen.  As I looked at other western states, the same problem existed.  This is a popular animal to hunt and they are limited in numbers.  Each state wants to maintain a healthy and robust population so they control the number of animals they are willing to have hunted. 

The next stop was to move north to Canada.  Here the opportunities get really plentiful.  Ontario is close to my home and there is a lot of place to go.  You have drive in or fly in to a remote lodge.  The fly ins that I reviewed had limitation on the amount of meat you could take out.  Each one was not a place that I could take my wife, and she wanted to go on this trip.  Success rates are high and you have the opportunity to fish for walleye.  Adding a bear or a wolf was a possibility on many of the lodges.  I did see some of the lodges where you would hunt one on one with the guide and that always gets my attention.  For this animal, I really prefer it as I don’t want a bad shot made and then an animal coming over mad to find out who did that.

After checking fifteen spots, I just could not settle on one that made me say, “I want to go here.”  I did not call anyone either to get more information and that is my mistake.  Pam wants to go, and I want to keep that in mind.

Moving over to Manitoba, there was Webbers Lodges. I had shot Caribou with them before and knew the process.  You drive or fly to Thompson in northern Manitoba, take a King Air to the Lodge at Little Duck, and a float plane to a camp. That was a really great experience, but they were out of my budget for this hunt.   There are also several lodges in the area, but all of them were out of my budget.  If you want to hunt Caribou, Webbers or the Lodge at Little Duck are excellent choices.

I skipped over Saskatchewan and went straight to Alberta and focused on the northwest part of the province.  I like the area because it is close to British Columbia.  There were a lot of lodges that met my requirements and several had their hunters bring their wives with them.  I focused around the Peace River Region because there were a lot of lodges in that area.  Prices were good and some phone calls were made.

After checking out the sites, I found one that really got my attention.  All the requirements were met even though Pam and I would not stay at the lodge, we would be just 20 minutes away in Spirit River but would still take advantage of the food and amenities offered by the outfitter.  I made the phone call after studying the website for several days and we visited for about 30 min.  The decision was made and I booked the hunt.  That is the good news.  (http://www.mikesoutfitting.com/)

The bad news was the hunt would not take place this year but in 2019 during the first week of October.  However, I was put on a cancellation list, and if someone cancels, I will be in line to hunt in 2018.  This is a long drive and should take us about 3 days with gear and all the coolers I will be bringing along.  We will have the opportunity to see some really great country through the Dakotas into Montana and up to Alberta.  We generally do not drive hard, but take a lot of breaks and if there is some interesting scenery or site to stop at we do that.  That is going up. Coming back, things change drastically.  We drive really hard and into the night because we have meat that is frozen and packed in dry ice.  We have never had any spoilage in the past, and the meat, after a hard several days drive, has always been hard frozen.

I found early on, the places with excellent success are booked early and you are lucky if you can get into one the same year you book.  We will be patiently waiting for 2019 and maybe, if lucky, a cancellation will take place.

Check out my Facebook page as there is some excellent discussion on ammunition to use.  I have shot a Buffalo at 300 yards with my 300 win mag.  I used a Nosler Partition round 180 gr.  It took two shots to bring him down.  After the first one he just stood there and the guide said, “Another round,” and he fell.  I like quick kills. 

I watched a video of a moose hunter.   After the first broadside shot on the moose, the beast came charging toward the hunter and he had to shoot two more times.  I did not like to see that and would prefer a couple of steps and then dropping.  I do not know where he made his first shot on the animal.  

One of the people writing to me said to go to a 200 to 220 gr bullet.  I will probably buy some and do some shooting.  Then I will compare the drop between the 180 gr and see how much elevation I need to adjust to compensate for the added weight.  I am not going to tame the moose for a pet.   2019 can’t come too soon. 

Good hunting Good fishing and Good Luck, Hank

Recipe of the Week

 

Venison Chili

  • 1 pound dry kidney beans
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1 pound venison stew meat, in 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 28-ounce can tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion,diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large green chili pepper, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup masa flour or all purpose flour
  • Substitute elk, buffalo, caribou or moose for the venison. 

Rinse beans and place in a large soup kettle. Add 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoon salt; cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil gently for about 2 hours, until beans are tender. Brown meat in a large skillet containing oil and garlic. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and saute for an hour. Drain the beans and add 1½ quarts water, tomatoes, onion, peppers, cumin and parsley. Simmer for an hour, then add meat mixture. Stir masa flour into ½ cup water to form a paste and blend into chili to thicken. Simmer for about half an hour, adjust the seasonings and serve. Nothing satisfies more than chili on a cold night in deer camp!

North Platte River Hunt

 

The second day we were back at the sand pits.  The wind continued out of the northwest at 20 to 25 mph.  This is western Nebraska and it does get windy at times.  After the decoys were out and the layout blinds in position, we began to wait for the first flight of birds.  Geese locked up to the southeast of us and just began locking up and floating with their wings cupped into the wind.  Gripping my gun I was really tensed up and ready to knock open the spring loaded covers.

The Canada Geese are locked up and coming toward us.

All of a sudden they just stopped coming and flew off to the south.  We were shocked and all three of us said we should have had those birds.  Another group came from the north turned and started into the wind, then turned away. What was it?

 

We got out of our blinds to check what it was that was turning them off.  There it was right behind us.  We had failed to put out a stack of silhouette Canada decoys and they were stacked upon the bank right behind us.  We fixed that in short order and distributed them along the shoreline.

RedHead Canada Goose Sleeper Shells


RedHead Canada Goose Sleeper Shells

Click on the link or the pic to buy from Bass Pro. 

It was dark as we put out the decoys and left a dozen of sleepers all in a neat stack.  This was immediately corrected and we put them out where they would be effective.  That changed the nature of things and we immediately had some geese come in and finish.  It was easy shooting.  Slam, the guide’s dog, was quick into the water to haul them in to the shore.

When I hunted in the club north of Tekamah  it seemed that everyone had a different type of shell they were trying out.  I was glad to see that our guide had the same shell we were shooting.  He stated that he had better luck with this shell than others he had used. I could not agree more.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Metal Waterfowl Shotshells - 12 Gauge - #2 Shot - 1-1/4 oz. - 25 Rounds


HEVI-Shot HEVI-Metal Waterfowl Shotshells – 12 Gauge – #2 Shot – 1-1/4 oz. – 25 Rounds

This is the best shotgun shell that I have ever used and highly recommend it for your waterfowl shooting.  I shoot 3.5 inch shells for geese and 3 inch shells for ducks.  The way we were having birds decoy to us coming right into our face, I could have used 3 inch shells on the geese.  

 

As it got more light it began to thin out.  Up to this time we had not shot one duck and had not seen any.  We are basically duck hunters, but will take geese if that is all to harvest.  Little by little they got higher and finally quit altogether.  The wind was still up and had gotten stronger.  The decision was made to take a break and come back about 3 p.m.  That would give us a couple more hours of daylight as shooting time ended at sundown. 

 

Lunch was at the Windy Gap again and my partner and I decided to eat tonight at Ole’s Big Game Bar and Steakhouse.  If you come to Paxton, you must eat at least once at Ole’s. 

 

Back at the pit by 02:30 p.m. we got the decoys all out and got in the layout blinds.  Once inside, I was warm and comfortable and after lunch it was hard keeping my eyelids open to watch for birds coming back from the fields for water and sand.  A single duck came in and was quickly dispatched.  Slam was out of his camo covered crate and immediately into the water to retrieve the bird.  The dog was a really strong swimmer and it was fun to watch the dog work.  

 

The evening came and the sun sat on the horizon.  It was all over for the day.  Shooting was good in the morning, but the afternoon produced just the one duck.  The next morning the plan was to go to the North Platte River.  That was the beauty of hunting with this outfitter.  There were lots of choices from two different rivers to sand pits and cornfields. 

 

Next morning the temperature really plunged and the wind picked up out of the north.  We headed to the North Platte River for some action.  Decoys were place in the calm waters and were set up above the river in a blind along the edge of an embankment.   

 

Looking west out of the blind, you can see the decoys in the calm water and along the sandbar. Up against the embankment with the wind at our back created a lot of calm water along the shore line.  Perfect for birds wanting a drink.

 

 

Looking east out of the blind you can see the decoys in the calm water next to the sand bar.  This is perfect duck water and with the good strong north wind we felt we would have some excellent shooting.  

 

 

That is Riley our guide, adjusting the decoys.  Here is a good shot of the blind after it is opened up.  

 

We stayed till noon and did not see a bird.  The general feeling was not positive and we picked up and headed for home by 2 p.m.  Even though we were not coming home with a possession  limit of ducks, we did have some really good goose shooting and it was an excellent trip.  The food in the two restaurants was good and plenty of it.  The motel had really good accommodations and we were able to get our coffee in the morning.  They serve a breakfast in the morning, but we left at 5 a.m. so we used the micro wave in our rooms to heat up a grocery store breakfast.  This more than filled us up. 

 

The equipment used by the outfitter was excellent and the locations we hunted were also very good.  A great guide with his dog, and a total good hunting experience left us both with the feeling to try again next year.  It is called hunting, not shooting. 

 
 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck Hank. 

 

Goose Breast Stir-Fry

Chop desired vegetables into bite sized pieces such as:

  • green and red peppers
  • mushrooms
  • snow peas
  • squash
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • goose breasts
  • milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil
  • soy sauce
 

Prior to cooking, marinate breasts in milk to tenderize and get rid of the blood. Be sure to rinse meat thoroughly fully removing extra milk. Cut breasts into ¼ inch strips for ease of consumption and cooking. Use a wok or frying pan with hot oil to cook the vegetables in order of needed cooking length. Add garlic to taste. Remove vegetables from the pan when they are done, holding them in a large mixing bowl. Once the vegetables are done, brown meat through and add soy sauce to taste. Mix vegetables back into the pan, cooking until all of the ingredients are heated through. Place on top of a bed of steamed rice for a great meal.

 

High Plains Duck Hunt

The high plains stretch from Grand Island, Nebraska to the Rocky Mountains in the west.  The countryside gains altitude as it goes west and the air gets dryer.  In addition, the winter temperatures become milder with the altitude, lack of humidity and the brilliant sunshine.  This is farming country with small towns and villages and thousands of acres of wheat, corn, and beans. It is also an opportunity for ducks and geese to hang around as there is plenty of food, water and sand.   I know when God looks down on the land and the people here He is pleased.

Chimney Rock

 Chimney Rock is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks for pioneer travelers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, a symbol of the great western migration. Located approximately four miles south of present-day Bayard, at the south edge of the North Platte River Valley, Chimney Rock is a natural geologic formation, a remnant of the erosion of the bluffs at the edge of the North Platte Valley. A slender spire rises 325 feet from a conical base. The imposing formation, composed of layers of volcanic ash and brule clay dating back to the Oligocene Age (34 million to 23 million years ago), towers 480 feet above the North Platte River Valley. 

My wife is from Sidney,  in the panhandle of the state and is home to Cabelas.  Before Bass Pro came to Council Bluffs, a lot of sporting goods were purchased by me at the store in the town.  Whenever we visit the town, we visit the store.

Every time we drove west in the fall and winter, the ducks and Canada geese were very plentiful as we traveled along the Platte river.  West of North Platte the river has separated into two streams, the North and South Platte each going in a distinct direction. This is duck and goose heaven.

Last summer I decided not to renew my membership in the club I had hunted for 17 years.  The owner of the land and leader of the club had died and it just wasn’t the same.  In addition, the hunting was poor as the birds seemed to stay longer in South Dakota, and there was now six hunting blinds in a square mile.  That was too much competition for me.

After a search of commercial hunting spots in three states, it was decided to go with Central Nebraska Outfitters.  Jim Martinosky came with some good references from people I know in the area.  (www.centralnebraskaoutfitters.com) Follow the link to learn more of the operation.

Jim recommended several times to come out and all of them were later than what I have been used to.  That is because the season is longer and later in that part of Nebraska.  You can hunt ducks and geese in January and that month can be the best of the season.  January across Nebraska does take a risk.  While the weather is generally milder than back east, the land can get some really rough weather in the form of severe blizzards.  I did not feel the risk was worth it. and settled on mid December.  Invited were several people like myself that I had hunted with over the years and were also former club members.  They agreed that to play it safe with the date.  Out of the three people I asked to go along, only one could make it on that date.  While Jim prefers three to four hunters at a setting, we still hunted with only ourselves and the guide.

Paxton, Nebraska is a village of about 523 people.  The highlight of the town is Ole’s  Big Game Bar and Steakhouse.  Ole was a big game hunter and hunted all over the world.  The restaurant is famous as it is full of mounts Ole harvested in his trips across the world.  He must have spent a fortune on traveling the world and hunting. Besides a couple of places to eat, there is a Days Inn on the south edge of the town and it is neat and clean, and we stayed there the duration of our trip.

You walk in the door at Ole’s and you are greeted by a polar bear in a glass box. 
Inside Ole’s you are greeted with mounts everywhere that Ole has shot and collected. 

Jim’s son Riley was our guide and met us at 05:15 our first morning.  The most important member of the group was Riley’s black lab, Slam.  This fine boy was probably one of the best and behaved labs I have ever hunted with.  He is a two year old and Riley has trained him well.  Labs are generally social, but not always and this was the case.  Slam was a one man dog and stayed close to Riley whenever we were out of the blinds.  He just  basically ignored us and I have seen this before.

We went to the South Platte river to start the hunt. The company has leased land along the South Platte and one of their blinds was positioned on the bank.  The first thing I noticed was that the bank was quite high and we were elevated above the river.  The river was not more than knee deep and had a sand bottom.  Riley did not want us to wade out as he took care of this himself.  He put out two dozen decoys in the calm water.  The current looked quite swift but was narrow so there was lots of calm water around and next to the bank.  Sand bars were everywhere and the river just wound its way through the bottoms.

Morning on the South Platte River.  Notice the ice flows on the river. 
 

The company manufactures blinds and these are excellent.  Made of one inch square tube steel, they are then wrapped in canvas and native grass covering the blind.  Roomy inside, there is room for four to five hunters with seating and a shelf in front of you to pile shells and other things we buy at the sporting goods store and never use. We all buy various pieces of junk and never use it, but we bring it anyway.

The blind we were in.  Tube steel wrapped with canvas then covered with native grasses

make this blind a perfect hiding place. 

 

There was slush ice in the river as the temp had been well below freezing during the night, but as it got lighter the temp came up and the ice disappeared.  Ducks and geese would fly up and down the river.  This would be a new type of shooting for us.  A couple of Teal came in and we scared the daylights out of them. Then they flew away.  I commented that this was the first time dead ducks had every flown.  Ducks in small groups would work us, but did not come in for a shot.  We also had some geese that came up the river at tree top level, and we scared them also.  It was more like pass shooting and neither one of us was prepared for that type of hunting.  We were used to lake hunting where the birds circled, locked up and came in.

Looking up river.  The decoys are next to the bank and on the opposite side in the calm water. 
 

Here they would come up the river, lock up and come into the decoys in the calm water.  You must be on your best behavior.  After a couple of screw ups, Riley said “we got the rust off now and we should start killing some birds.”

After the sun had risen fully the traffic just stopped.  It was time for lunch and we needed to make new plans.

The Windy Gap in Paxton sells lunch and dinner. The food is just basic and good with plenty of it. Riley wanted to move to one of the sand pits near the interstate.  These ponds existed because material was dredged out for road bed when the interstate was built.  We had a really strong northwest wind and we would be in layout blinds next to the calm water with the wind at our back.

This was a new experience for both of us.  The decoys were put out in the calm water and we were about ten feet from the waters edge in the layout blind.  There is a right way and a wrong way to function in these blinds.  Getting in and out is not easy for old dogs like myself and my hunting partner.  You must rise up from a partially laying down position and the side covers will pop open.  I found that laying my gun on my right side would not give me time enough to mount the gun to my shoulder.  The solution was to lay the gun on my chest with the barrel pointing out the bottom end of the blind.  This way the gun would be pulled up into my shoulder as the sides of the blind popped open and I rose up.

The decoys were in the calm water with the blinds just ten feet from the water edge.  The birds would

lock up and come straight into your face.  It can’t get easier than that. 

 

We started hunting around 2:30 PM. It not take long and a flock of ten came into us.  With the wind at our back they came straight toward the blind and right in our face.  We screwed this up due to not being able to function properly in the operation of the layout blind.  This was a learning curve.

There are the three layout blinds in a row.  Riley is on the left, my partner in the middle and mine is open
 

Shortly after and a discussion on how to function,  a single Canada came to us, locked up and my hunting partner popped up with the gun mounted in his shoulder and plunked a really nice Canada.  The dog was out side of his hiding place at his master’s command and into the water to retrieve the goose.  Watching the dog work is the highlight of any hunting trip.

The sun hit the horizon in the west and it was time to fold it up.  While we only had one goose for the day, the experience was a really good learning curve.  The plus side was doing some different kind of waterfowl hunting that we had never done before.  Tomorrow is another day.

Orvis

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck Hank

A Favorite Recipe

 

Duck Schnitzel

  • 2-4 duck breasts
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup Cajun spices (any)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 10 ounce jar of brown mushroom gravy

Start with 2-4 duck breasts. Remove all silver skin and sinews. Place between layers saran wrap and pound thin (less than 1/8″ thick) with a meat mallet. Place in a Tupperware container and cover with buttermilk. Leave in the refrigerator for 3 days. Remove and pat with paper towels. Mix 1 cup flour with ¼ cup of any Cajun spices shake well to mix. Cover the moist breasts in the mixture, shake off excess. Beat 2 eggs and ¼ cup milk. Mix 1 cup bread crumbs and ¼ Cup Parmesan cheese topping. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Dredge the breasts in the egg wash then cover with the crumb/cheese topping. Over medium heat, fry the breasts until golden brown and medium rare, don’t overcook or burn them, adjust the heat as necessary. Cover with a jar of brown mushroom gravy (any brown gravy will do). Serve with au gratin potatoes and red cabbage.