And A Gun Dog

Fiskeørn got onto the water well before we left for Africa. A much newer development was Nyrkki. I picked him up from the trainer on Monday the 14th. He’s pretty much all done. I got some harrowing texts while in Africa about the grueling 6 weeks he spent on force fetch. My poor trainer- Nyrkki is apparently a highly stubborn guy, who also cannot be allowed to get away with anything. The very evening I picked him up, Trainer had me doing pile work and basic refreshers with him, and he was refusing to do it. He even bit me twice when having pressure applied from his collar. However, pile work in the back yard went just fine. I’ll be meeting with Trainer when I can here before duck season starts. I have an open invitation in his boat on the Mississippi or Wisconsin rivers, since Matt’s gone for the best part of the season. And Trainer is also a guide.

Midway through training in July at a boat launch on the WI River.

Midway through training in July at a boat launch on the WI River.

Backyard pile work, and he got to do it with a dead bird.

Backyard pile work, and he got to do it with a dead bird.

I am considering studding him out, and Trainer thinks this is a great idea, with his pedigree. He recommends I find a more biddable, docile dog to breed him to, however. But now grouse, pheasant, and duck hunting should be much easier.

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Labor Day Weekend

Late Saturday evening, Matt and I drove up north to get to work on improving our duck hunting site, as well as hanging trail cams and various other odds and ends. We turned around and came back Sunday afternoon, hoping to hunt the opener Monday morning for early goose and teal, so we weren’t there long, and packed a lot of activity into a few hours. Continue reading

Rubber Backing and Carpet Glue

We had a wedding to go to on Saturday, so we didn’t do a whole bunch besides more boatwork. Not that fishing would have been productive- it’s been hovering near 90F the last week or so, but with humidity well over 70%, you could swim about as easily as you could walk. However, I’m not complaining. I was desperately trying to remember this weather last winter, to give myself hope and a reason to keep going. At least my feet are warm and sweaty, and I can feel my extremities burning in the sun. Continue reading

Hunting Season Draws Inevitably Nearer

I wanted to put together a bit of news while we’re in a lull just before hunting season. Early goose and teal both open on the 1st of September, and this year is Wisconsin’s first teal season. You used to just have to wait until regular duck season. We’re planning on canoeing and kayaking up to the very northern end of Cherokee marsh for the first time in almost two years, as that’s the only place we’ve seen them. I’ve asked a coworker if we can goose hunt in her family’s corn fields, since they already have people bowhunting. She’s getting back to me on that.

Matt went and bought all his permits at once this weekend. The roll of tags was about 3 1/2 feet long.

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Wisconsin really changed around deer tags this year. They cut the number of tags dramatically. We knew the zone up north by his grandfather’s land was going to be buck only this year and probably next, but they are also only handing out two tags, and they’re now these “Farmland Zones”. This year is also the first for crossbow hunting. He has a tag for that, and plans to get a crossbow in the next few weeks.

I haven’t bought my tags yet, but I plan on getting my waterfowl stamps and archery deer. I was invited back down to Illinois to hunt, so I hope to make a 3 day weekend some time in October once their season starts, and Matt hopes to come with this time.

He also has his bear tag. His hunt is coming up fast- it’s the second week of September, the 10th to the 17th. I hadn’t originally planned on going, since my classes will be on by then. But I also need to work that week, and all the rest of September as much as possible.

The reason for my needing to work is an exciting one. Come mid-January, I’m going to Germany for ten weeks. Back in May, I applied for an internship with the State Department. I found out late Sunday night (Monday morning in Germany) that I got one of the open positions, after interviewing with Leipzig, Düsseldorf, and twice with the Embassy in Berlin (Public Affairs Section and the Economic Section). The pool of German speakers was fairly small. I’m going to be assigned to the US Consulate Leipzig, pending receiving my security clearance.

This means I’ll miss almost all of ice fishing season, and the first week or two of Spring turkey. In fact, I may be heading out to turkey hunting within days of getting back stateside. The internship is done April 15th, and as of now, I’m planning on sticking around at least 2 or 3 days to get my stuff packed. Last time I went to Germany, everything was too rushed, and I left stuff behind, never to be seen again. There’s a lot of planning to be done. I’m waiting to buy my airline ticket until my clearance comes through, just in case. I need to find a place to stay, and I won’t be able to do that until about month before I go. And then I have to pack.

I’ve been looking in to fishing and hunting both in Germany, and both look tricky. I plan to do my homework  little more closely now that I know for sure where I’m going. I think it would be an amazing experience to see how the outdoors gets done in a foreign country, and to do it not as a tourist so much as a visitor with a decent knowledge of the culture and language. To do that, though, it seems I will need to both make some connections and very likely travel to either Austria or Switzerland (I do not speak Schwyzerdütsch). It’s a good thing Europe has a good train system. At the very least, I hope to travel at least a little while I’m there, and do some hiking, hopefully in the Alps. We will see how it pans out, I suppose.

Wild Food: Hunters Eat Salad, Too.

There hasn’t been a lot of action around the house of late. Matt’s pushing really hard to get things done on the Ditch Boat (to the exclusion of every other task but work), and en route to Milwaukee a week ago Sunday, my kayak rack blew off my car on I94. Excellent. No outdoorsing for us, really.

This past weekend, we were invited to a 4th of July party thrown by the family of one of Matt’s college buddies. It was down in Wilmette, Illinois on Lake Michigan. I contemplated bringing a fishing pole, but opted not to. We ate and socialized, and camped on the beach. It was a pretty decent time.

Lake Michigan under steely gray skies.

Lake Michigan under steely gray skies.

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Sunset on the beach, facing north-ish

Sunset on the beach, facing north-ish

 

Waves by firelight. The lake water is definitely still cold.

Waves by firelight. The lake water is definitely still cold. Sources say about 45-50F, with some areas in the 30s.

So, when we got back, Matt dove right back into doing his work on the boat (of course). I did a bunch of yardwork, and decided a nice, light dinner was in order, after Maxwell Street Polish, hotdogs, and french fries all the night before. So after looking around at a few recipe ideas, I set out the last duck we had from last year, and picked up salad materials.

 

Arugula, watercress, duck breast, green pepper, zucchini, artichoke hearts, pickled beets.

Arugula, watercress, duck breast, green pepper, zucchini, artichoke hearts, pickled beets.

I started with watercress to go along with the idea of “if it grows together, it goes together”. I added the arugula because I like it. I also threw in some baby red leaf romaine from the garden. So I had to sear the duck, the zucchini, and the peppers.

The skin turned nice and crisp.

The skin turned nice and crisp.

Fried zucchini

Fried zucchini

Rare duck breast

Rare duck breast

After that, it was time to assembled the whole lot. I went with a nice, simple olive oil vinaigrette for dressing.

I like my salads to be loaded down with other veggies.

I like my salads to be loaded down with other veggies.

It was good. I had seconds. I’ll probably have more for lunch today, too.

We’re really hoping to make it down to Illinois again next weekend, only this time to my home town. We’re planning to go back after asian carp in the Illinois River.

Wild Food: Miso-Rubbed, Roast Wood Duck

Tuesday was an eventful day around these parts. One of my goals from last year was to be in Spring classes for 2014.  It almost didn’t (hasn’t? tenses are weird) happened. But, at the last minute, I paid off the last of what I owed UW-Madison from two years ago. And super-extra last minute filled out an re-entry application. Even laster-minute I contacted my advisor, via cell phone, to ask what class he would recommend. That was last week Thursday. Classes started Monday on this week.

Well, the class he rec’d is full. But I attended today anyway, in hopes that some poor sap will drop it before the deadline & I can snap up that spot. I’m checking the course guide every 30 minutes or so. I was speaking full German sentences for the first time in a little over two years. My vocabulary is rusty. The class is named similarly to, and uses the exact same book as, a class I took during my last full time semester (in, ahem mumble2007mumble). Being a transfer student, unfortunately, means repeating some work, in gen-eds as well as my major. But I do need the language practice, so hopefully I can get in. This is all on top of shuffling a ton of paperwork to change my state residency status with the University, as well as applying for some scholarships which apply to my poor, education-interrupted ass.

Anyhow, given my combo fear/determination regarding college courses anymore, I felt a little bit like celebrating today. So when I got back from class and my first homework assignment in two years, I set a duck out to thaw, one of the last two we have.

Looking a tad mushed from being jammed into the freezer.

Looking a tad mushed from being jammed into the freezer.

This was Matt’s little wood duck from up north. At first, I had no idea what to do with it. And nothing in my Duck, Duck, Goose cookbook was speaking to me. I browsed the fridge and my spice cabinet. Still nothing. Until I spied the Ziploc bag holding my leftover shiro miso paste. I’d seen recipes for chicken seasoned with the stuff. Adding even more savory, umami flavoring to duck could only turn out well, I thought. So I rubbed the cavity with miso paste, stuffed some green onions in, and rubbed the outside. Then I brushed it with a smidgen of sesame oil and olive oil, and roasted it in my cast iron pan.

I still have tons left. More miso soup is in my future.

I still have tons left. More miso soup is in my future.

Fresh from the oven at 350F . No idea how long I had it in there- I always forget to check the clock.

Fresh from the oven at 350F . No idea how long I had it in there- I always forget to check the clock.

Glossy, browned skin

Glossy, browned skin

About med-rare

About med-rare

You want to eat that skin. Believe me.

You want to eat that skin. Believe me.

I served it (to myself, Matt’s chronically working late these days) with seared artichoke hearts and a baked sweet potato. The flavor was incredibly rich. This duck had probably been gorging on wild rice all summer. His skin is that lovely white color indicating neutral-tasting fat. And there was quite a bit of it- my cast iron is duck-fat seasoned now.  The miso added an excellent depth of flavor to the skin and meat. I would definitely roast another duck this way.

The Problem With Public Land is the Public.

This past weekend, we only got out on Sunday. Matt was out Friday night, and was only able to drag himself to the pool function, and then home to nap. His brother, sister-in-law and their newborn stopped by in the afternoon. His brother announced that their grandfather had given him permission to plant 12 apple trees and some food plots on the land up north. We’ll be putting that in with them and the skidsteer next Spring, which is exciting.

Setting up the decoys.

Setting up the decoys.

Dumping out his glove after tripping on a submerged log.

Dumping out his glove after tripping on a submerged log.

A whole mess o' coots.

A whole mess o’ coots.

It cleared up and became gorgeous.

It cleared up and became gorgeous.

GEWe did a double today. The morning was for ducks and geese. Or it would have been, if we’d seen any. The closest any ducks were to us was maybe a quarter mile away. No geese flying, whatsoever. The only birds we got were some coots, which have a daily bag limit of 15. They’re plentiful little critters, even if they’re only really good for sausage making. The skins will be good taxidermy practice for Matt, and I’ll grind them up with some pork fat or something and smoke the sausage.

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We got home around 10:30, after some gasoline-related mishaps at the launch (the truck was completely out and I had to walk a few blocks to the gas station). We showered, had coffee and brunch, and hung out for about two hours before heading out for deer in the afternoon and evening.

My view to the west.

My view to the west.

To the north-northwest

To the north-northwest

There was one truck in the parking area when we arrived around 1:30. Matt took his normal spot, and I opted to hike all the way to the back of the land.  I haven’t hunted here since the last day of last season- which would have been early January, on a day that was about 10F. In nearly three feet of snow. But this is the field I harvested my first deer in.

On the way back, I finally saw some sign around a puddle in an old tire rut. There’s a couple puddles like this that never really fully evaporate, even in summer. The deer drink out of them all the time, since the nearest water source next to them is the creek all the way up by the road. There were all sizes of hoof prints with those from does and fawns/yearlings dominating. But there were a couple big ones, too.

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In spite of this, I saw only a turkey hen, two bird hunters, and two people lollygagging around, walking the field edge right at 4pm. About 45 minutes before the sun set. They stopped at the entrance of every game trail, and stopped to wave at me, oblivious to my growing frustration.

Seriously? Go home.

Seriously? Go home.

The turkey and hunters at least came and went early in the afternoon. I sat in an old stand in the middle of the field- Monday hopefully I’ll get brave enough to use the climbing stand and get inside the tree line of this back field. Even if it’s a mile hike, uphill most of the way. I have to find the deer here at some point.

Daily Prompt: Golden Hour

6AM. I was up at 6 this morning. In fact, many week end mornings, I’m up at 5.  Unfortunately, I was not up early to hunt today. I had to be at work a little before 8, and we were wearing Halloween costumes in today, so I had to put on my makeup for that. Today was our last public golf scramble, and the course was full for the day with 150 people. I made 50+ bloody maries this morning. And I make a mean Bloody Mary.

First light.

First light.

But I like 0600. Granted, it’s far easier to go out and hunt in the evening. You’re already awake, you don’t have to leave a warm bed. It’s light out already. But when I do manage to drag my ass out from under the covers, stuff my feet into boots, and pull on my camouflage? I go out, I usually spend a couple hours chilly, and then I come back and have the rest of the day. There’s something about being able to get up, go hunt for 3 or 4 hours, and then come back before it’s even lunch time. Most early morning hunts, I even beat my caffeine headache home.

Probably taken around 6.

Probably taken around 6.

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Salmon fishing Sunrise. In August, this was probably a bit closer to 5am.

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If I’m up that early, we’re typically after some waterfowl. We’ll hunt deer that early if we’re already up north, and it’s rifle season. Then it’s a short jaunt to the stand, no big deal. But down in Madison, it’s a 30-35 minute ride to the public land we hunt. So a person would need to be up around 4AM to be dressed and out the door by 4:30, to make it over there a little after 5, so that you’re there an hour before dawn at this time of year. It’d be pointless to go to that trouble only to be late and scare out deer. Hence, the quick drive down to duck hunt. Most bird movement happens for us within 45 minutes of first light. Sometimes there’s a bump in activity around 9, but it’s hit or miss.

SAMSUNGSo, on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I’m usually already bundled up, sitting outside, gun (or bow) in hand by 6AM. Sometimes, early in the season, I’ve already taken a couple shots by then. I like 6AM. I like 6AM especially if I made it to bed around 9 the night before.