He Came, Looked, and Got Waxed

 

If anyone tells you the Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy does not work, do not believe them.  This is the fourth time I have used this decoy and the toms literally hate it.  Once they lay their beady little eyes on it they want to come and beat the living daylights out of it.  

 
flextone Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy

This is it boys, click on the pic or the link and buy from Bass Pro.  Add two feeder decoys to add security to the site


flextone Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy

 

My first day out was good as I saw birds.  This morning I did not see any at all and I did not hear any of them gobbling away.  I tested the air and gave out some “come up and see me, big boy,” calls, but got no response.  What I did see were a lot of deer crossing between the woods to the west of me and into the timber behind me.  I also got on site about an hour and a half earlier than yesterday.  That made no difference. 

 

I placed myself on the opposite side of the valley where I had been yesterday.  I had seen turkey along the hillside and moving up to the northeast end of the valley and into the woods.  Also, I had experienced some really great luck on nice sized birds on the hillside.

I got to the farm around 7:30 a.m. and loaded up my gear which consisted of a gun, lawn chair, personal pack of TP ammo, calls, 22 cal. Ruger pistol, bug and tick spray, and extra strikers for the two calls.  The bug and tick spray is most important as there have been cases of West Nile Virus reported in the area.  At my age, I do not need that problem.

The alfalfa had grown up to just below the knees and this was cause for concern, as my experience has shown that grass too tall was avoided by the turkeys.  It makes for good cover, but they cannot use that magnificent vision to spot danger.  A big bird would not have any trouble, but one smaller might not make the climb up the hill to beat up on Funky Chicken.

 

Putting out Funky and a couple of feeding decoys completed the spread.  This set up was based on the advice of the manufacturer.  It makes a lot of sense as the two feeders show the tom that there is no danger.  All he has to do is come up and kick sand in the face of Funky.

My hiding spot was behind a tree initially and practically at a 90 degree to the decoy.  After sitting there for a little bit, things did not look good.  I was well hidden to the right of me with scrub brush, but the left side was open.  A bird coming down the line of timber to my left could spot me very easily.  There was no distinct pattern of movement for the birds as in the past they would come from any direction.  I moved over to my left and had my left side totally obscured.  To the front was good coverage and to my right was satisfactory but not real great.

This was the initial hiding place behind the tree.  Good coverage to my right but not to my left.  I moved.

I pushed myself into the dark spot you see in the bushes. In the foreground you can see the two hen decoys.  A little open to my right, but I am really pushed into the bush.  

A “come up and see me sometime, big boy” call was made, but there was no answer.  No one was home or so it appeared.  It was now 08:30 a.m. and as an old friend with loads of turkey experience told me, most big toms are shot after 08:30 and before 01:00 p.m.  I was on time and waiting for the fun to begin.

The morning could not have been more pleasant.  Comfortable, but not too warm or cool made this the time to be outdoors.  A high overcast kept the glaring sun away from making it too hot.  My Kindle was opened up and a book that was in the process of being read was underway as I waited for Mr. Tom to show up.  Periodically a couple of calls were made just to see if an answer could be made, but still, no one was at home.  Slowly my eyes got heavy, my head dropped, and I fell asleep.

Suddenly a loud noise broke the quiet as a jet going into Omaha Eppley Airfield flew over and ended a really nice peaceful snooze.  Forty-five minutes had gone by and it was now 09:45 a.m.

Down toward the bottom of the hill and in the alfalfa, a dark body was seen moving in a direction directly toward me.  Then a head stuck up and it was the white head of a mature tom.  With that magnificent eyesight, the Funky Chicken had been spotted.  He was at a perfect angle where he could not see me.  That was good, but what was bad is that I would have to shoot through the bush in front of me.  I wanted a picture of him, but he just might see the movement, and the only movement now was to get the gun into position to shoot.

Slowly, but very steadily, he came toward the decoy.  The gun was laying across the arms on the lawn chair, and slowly the gun was eased until it was pointing outward.  This was done with each step he took.  The gun was now eased into my shoulder.  I waited as he slowed his pace.  This was unusual as I had seen the toms get violent as they approached the decoy.  He was within range.  He continued onward toward the decoy as the gun was slowly lifted and the barrel gently eased through the bush.

Now I was looking straight down the barrel and the barrel covered his head.  The safe was clicked off and my finger slid slowly onto the trigger and rested on it.   Still he came with caution and was now well within range.  This was going to be a close shot.  I said to myself, “Do not pull or jerk on the trigger and  shoot over the top of him.” The gun was now getting heavy as the barrel was kept on his head to allow him to get closer. I took a  partial breath and held it.  My finger now gradually tightened on the trigger and then there was a loud explosion as the 3.5 inch shell found its mark.  The shot rolled him over backward and there was no doubt, this was a dead bird.

HEVI-Shot Magnum Blend Turkey Load Shotshells - 20 ga. 1-1/4 oz - 5 Rounds
Click on the picture to buy from Bass Pro. This is the shell I shot in 3.5 inch. 

Putting the safe on the shotgun, I grabbed the Ruger 22 cal pistol and ran out to where this fine looking bird was laying.  A quick coup-de-grace to the head eliminated any chance of him coming back to life.  This allows the bird to bleed out so that you don’t have blood all over your outfit. Also,  I have had them get up and take off before, so it is an added insurance policy.  These are amazing birds and really tough customers.

Funky is off to the top left of the picture.  Beautiful bird. 

 

After a successful hunt with Funky Chicken and friends, I took him home and got him dressed out by 11 a.m.  He weighed in at 18 pounds with a 12 inch beard.  My good friend John came to get the thighs and legs, and my wife and I kept the big breasts.

A beautiful bird.  He had a 12 inch beard and weighed about 18 pounds. This picture was taken by my wife at our home. 
 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

My wife and I cooked this recipe first to try it out before inviting friends.  Outstanding.

Baked Rigatoni; Wild Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:

 

Meatballs

1 pound of ground wild turkey

1 egg

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley chopped

1/2 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs

4 cloves of garlic minced (sounds good already doesn’t it)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Other Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of olive

2 cloves of garlic chopped

4 slices of bacon chopped

8 ounces of mushroom

2 (14) ounce cans of chopped Italian tomatoes

1/3 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 pound of uncooked rigatoni pasta

8 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese

1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese

1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a pot of water to boil with a generous pinch of salt.  Cook rigatoni per directions.  Drain and set aside reserving some of the cooking liquid for later. 

2. Make meatballs, combine ground turkey, 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan, parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic salt and pepper.  Roll into balls and brown in olive oil until browned on all sides.  Remove meat balls and set aside. 

3. In the same pan lower heat and cook the bacon in the remaining oil.  Add mushrooms to the bacon and saute for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and stir for a minute or so.  Add tomatoes with juice and parsley.

4. Simmer until thickened 20 to 30 minutes. 

5. Take the tomato sauce off the heat.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked rigatoni, tomato sauce, meatballs, grated mozzarella cheese, ricotta and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan.  Add some of the reserved pasta liquid to keep mixture moist.

6. Transfer mixture to a baking dish and bake the mixture for 20 to 30 minutes at 400 or until the top turns gold and the cheese has melted. 

7. Serve with a good Piesporter wine or Tusker Beer, if you can find it. 

 

We are looking forward to having guests over to enjoy this recipe. 

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.

icon

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.

Save $10 on your order of $50 or more. Sign up for Orvis Email and Save.

 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.