Monthly Archives: October 2010

Denman Duck Hunting and Sweating

Yesterday morning was Tuesday, which means it was early morning spin class day. Normally I get up, go to spin class at 5AM then swim laps or lift weights until it’s time to go to work. This time I mixed it up a bit.

I went to spin, (sweated my ass off), but instead of swimming or lifting, I drove home, snuck into the garage grabbed a bag of duck decoys, the dog, and  my shotgun and headed to Denman for some local duck hunting.

I was scheduled to be at work at 8AM, which wasn’t gonna happen. I called and left a message for my coworker that I’d be a half hour late.

Denman is a wildlife area on the edge of town. This time of year it is filled with flooded fields and big ponds which sometimes hold ducks.

It was raining when I pulled into the parking lot, which is probably why there weren’t any other vehicles. It looked like I would get to hunt without other hunters messing it up.

As I walked to the hunting spot, the rain stopped and the moon peeked out from behind the clouds bathing the fields and ponds with a soft white glow. I went to my normal spot, and jumped a bunch of ducks off the pond. It was still dark and about 15 minutes before legal shooting hours. I watched as their dark silhouettes disappeared into the night. Continue reading Denman Duck Hunting and Sweating

Best Wild Duck Recipe (ever)

With all the duck I shot over the weekend, my wife decided to make a big meal of fresh duck meat. If you’ve never had it, wild duck tastes a lot different from store-bought duck. Wild duck is dark red meat and has an intense, gamey taste.

It’s always a challenge to knock the gaminess flavor from the duck. Usually the only way this is possible is to marinade the duck in a strong sauce for days. My wife, however found a recipe online that didn’t require much marinade time but completely overpowered the gamey taste.

Not only was the duck not gamey, it was also incredibly tender and rich. On top of that, it was relatively quick and easy.In short, this is the best duck recipe I’ve ever encountered.  So without further ado, here’s the duck recipe. Enjoy!

Klamath Duck Hunting Day (continued)

I woke at 4:30AM got the kids dressed and going, loaded the truck and drove to the boat ramp where I was to meet my brother and his 12-year-old son for some duck hunting. They were right on schedule, for a change.

The boat worked beautifully and we blasted our way upriver in the dark. It’s a twisting turning ride through a narrow river corridor.

I’ve done it many times, but it still gets my adrenalin going as we fly up the river narrowly missing the tule covered banks. I always feel like I’m travelling upstream on the Mekong delta in Nam or something (I wouldn’t really know) sans the AK-47 fire.

We beached the boat, shouldered our gear and started walking into the marsh. We crossed many deep canals in our secret method, without too much incident and found a likely pond to set up on. We threw out all our decoys, and waited.

There didn’t seem to be as many ducks as the evening before, but there were ducks in the air most of the time.

Once again I was shooting exceptionally well. The ducks would come in, I’d let my nephew shoot his single shot 20 gauge, then I’d drop the duck he’d missed. He wasn’t shooting well that day so I had a lot of cleaning up to do. My brother missed his share too… Continue reading Klamath Duck Hunting Day (continued)

Duck Hunting in Klamath

It wasn’t opening day but this weekend I took my boys duck hunting in the Klamath marsh area. I took Friday off, took the kids out of school and headed to the marsh.

My oldest boy hunted with me last year, but for my youngest this was all new. Both of them were excited to be pulled out of school and even more to be going duck hunting with their dad.

We got to Petric boat ramp on the Wood river and motored out for an evening hunt. Unfortunately the jet engine wasn’t working so we had to use the 10 horse prop. It took a looong time to push the big boat up river, but finally we made it. It was a warm day and both kids were drowsy from laying in the sun watching the bottom of the Wood river pass by.

I shouldered the decoy bag and we headed into the field. It was 65 degrees and we were dressed in neoprene waders, so we got hot fast. I was dripping sweat by the time we crossed the many deep water canals to get to the pond we wanted to hunt.  The canals are deep enough that the kids can’t cross without my help, so I had to go back and forth carrying them. Meanwhile ducks were flying everywhere.

There were thousands of ducks winging around the pond we intended to hunt. I hadn’t loaded my gun yet, we were still trudging across the treacherous marsh.

occasionally the kids would hit a mini-sink hole and I’d have to help extract them. Unlike myself they would hit a hole, sink and then calmly ask for assistance. I tend to panic a bit when I start sinking into mudholes, but not my boys, they thought it was funny. Continue reading Duck Hunting in Klamath

Bear(s) in My Backyard

A couple of nights ago, at around 2:30AM, my normally quiet labrador retriever started going absolutely ape-shit in the backyard. We live on the edge of the woods, so we frequently get raccoons and other nuisances trying to get into the garage to steal cat food, but this bark was different. This bark was more on the frantic side and instantly got me out of bed.

I poked my head out the door and saw my lab bouncing around the base of a large ponderosa pine, her head tilted up barking like a damned hound dog.

I called to her and she bounced over to me panting and obviously very pleased with herself. I shined my light up into the tree expecting to see the glowing eyes of a coon.

I saw glowing eyes alright, but they were all wrong. Instead of the eyes being close together and right up against the trunk of the tree, they were far apart and 2 feet from the trunk. It was something much bigger than a raccoon.

I realized it’s black shape was that of a large black bear. It was a third of the way up the tree looking down at dog and man, wondering what we were gonna do. Continue reading Bear(s) in My Backyard

Taking My Boys Pheasant Hunting

The other day I took my kids and dog to Denman wildlife area to hunt for planted pheasant. From my previous post, this isn’t my favorite thing to do, however it’s a good way to get out of the house, exercise the dog, and expose the boys to some hunting.

Of course it doesn’t take long for the boys to get bored. After they tire of pointing out tweety birds and blue jays and asking me if it’s a pheasant, they start looking for other ways to entertain themselves.

Since Denman has been used by thousands of hunters over many seasons there are lots of used shotgun shells and wadding on the ground. They quickly start collecting these, the newer the shotgun shell the better the find. If they can still smell gunpowder it’s a true treasure.

Once they have their pockets filled with shells they wait until we get close to one of the many shallow ponds throughout the area. Then they beg me to slow down so they can launch the shells into the ponds.

The game is to try to get the shells to hit the water light enough not to fill and sink. If they throw them just right, the shell will bob with the open side up. If they accomplish this the shell is called a, “buoy.” They keep score as to how many buoys they get.

AS we head off and continue the hunt they quickly try to replenish their supply of spent shell casings. If they find wadding, they usually end up stuffing the open end of the shell with it and the shell becomes a spaceship with the wadding representing the fiery blast from the rocket engine. No matter how many of these I’ve seen they still tug at my shoulder and say, “look at my spaceship, daddy.”

Eventually, hopefully, all that walking will scare up a pheasant. If that occurs I am usually able to bring it down. They congratulate me and describe exactly what happened and what they thought of the event. They recount what they were doing when it jumped, what they thought was happening, what the sound of the gun was like, what the dog did, what it smelled like, whether it was windy or calm, if  they were sweaty or tired…anything they can think of relating to the 5 minutes before the actual shooting occurred.

I love hunting, but I never knew just how interesting and fun it really is until I started taking my boys along.

Opening Day of Duck Season

Yesterday was opening day of duck season in Klamath county. Normally I’d be sitting in the marsh up to my knees in cold water watching from behind thick tules as ducks wheeled and tipped into our decoys. But instead I’m here, at home, writing on my blog.

What happened? Well, it’s a long story which I won’t get into, but suffice it to say I’m not happy with my work situation…nuff said.

But, as I’m sitting here missing opening day of duck season, which I haven’t missed in 30 years, I’m thinking about all the opening days I’ve had.

It all started when I was 9 years old. Myself my Dad and two older brothers would head up to Rocky Point Resort on Friday. I’d be pulled out of school, which was great enough, and we’d pack an enormous amount of clothing and gear, hook up our aging camouflaged duck boat and go.

The “resort” is a ramshackle fishing village, which would close down for the season soon after opening day of duck season. Duck hunters aren’t the usual Orvis wearing primadonnas that fisherman are, so the owners would usually have their noses turned up slightly at our uncouthness. But, I suppose our money was as green as the fisherman’s, so they put up with us.

We always met another family there and we’d move into one of the plywood cabins for the weekend. Once settled we’d don our rubber chest waders (neoprene waders didn’t exist yet) and get into the duck boat and go on a scouting trip into the marsh.

Opening day is in early October, and around here it’s usually still sunny and warm. Invariably the engine would fire up without a hitch and we’d sputter our way into the depths of the marsh.

We had a “secret spot” we’d always go, which involved some harrowing navigation through seemingly impassable marsh. In fact there was one spot that had a large beaver dam that we had to literally jump over. My Dad would gun the engine, and we’d launch off the beaver dam into the pond beyond. Continue reading Opening Day of Duck Season

Outside Magazine Girls got Nothing on My Gal

After reading the Outside magazine article about the double X factor girls, I realized that as impressive as those young ladies are, they aren’t the real bad ass women they should be interviewing and taking suggestive pictures of.

Of course taking pics of twenty something athletes and writing short snippets about their accomplishments sells magazines. But the real badasses aren’t the twenty something trust funders (actually I don’t know if they’re trust funders, but how do they support 6 hours of surfing every day without jobs?) but the women that bring it while having real lives based on family and external commitments.

Women with kids and jobs that have to get up at 4AM and hit the pavement for a 2 hour run. Women that sacrifice their sleep and their time in order to stay fit, while still being there to put the kids on the school bus and have dinner ready in the evening. Those are the true badasses. Those are the women that know how to overcome adversity.

Oh and guess what, they aren’t twenty or even 30, but wait for it…40. These women, like my wife, have been treading water, staying fit, but not having the time to really take it to the next level. But now the waiting is over, the kids are old enough to take care of themselves (for the most part) and that frees up more time for training.

My wife competes in triathlons, runs and even some bike events, but you’ll never read about her in Outside magazine. She finishes in the top 10 in most events she enters, but she doesn’t have the time or money to travel to exotic locales and compete in high-profile races. She’s a hero to me and her friends and family but beyond that she’s an unknown.

Yet every event we go to, we see these women (and men) competing; unbelievably driven athletes kicking ass and taking names.

The 40 year olds understand what it takes to compete and win or at least do well, they understand the power of training even when the body starts screaming to stop. They know their bodies won’t fare as well as the 20-year-old bodies but they’re willing to take the pain in spite of the facts.

I compete as well, mostly in triathlons and there is no better feeling when you pass another competitor and you notice the number on their calf says they’re 20. That must be awful to realize the person passing you is twice your age. (I’ve actually been passed by many 60 year olds…it aint fun)

So, Outside magazine can keep taking pictures of their super-fit twenty year olds, I’ll probably keep ogling them, but for me the true badasses aren’t the world cup winners or the olympic athletes but the men and women in suburbia busting out workouts in the darkness of early morning in the rain.

Gold Ray Drift

I finally got on the new stretch of river that was created as a result of the gold ray dam removal on the Rogue river. It was a quick trip in my drift boat to check out the new area and try to catch some wily Rogue river steelhead. 

Of course the top part of the stretch is the same as it’s always been with one exception. There were tons of spawning Chinook Salmon. This is the time of year that spawning occurs but I’ve never seen so many salmon in this stretch of river. It was weird, I literally couldn’t keep from hitting them with my oars. they were darting around like great logs just beneath the surface. 

Rogue River
Rogue River with Table Rock in the Background

 

I was perplexed as to why this area was so full of them, but finally got my answer when I got to the area below where gold ray dam was taken out. But first let me tell you about my float. 

I’ve done this stretch before but always in my tiny pontoon boat. Now that the dam is removed I can row my drift boat and use the never before accessible boat ramp. For a further explanation see my previous post

Besides tons of spawning salmon, I didn’t see a change in the river until I was about 2 miles above where the dam used to be. At this point I started seeing some of the silt and mud on the side of the river. 

First signs of silt
Silty banks

 

This silt is an accumulation of 104 years of a stopped up river. It was thick, loamy, and black. For many years to come this is the stuff that will run off and muddy up the Rogue with every rise in the river. Hopefully, we’ll have some big rainy winters and get the Rogue to really flush all this shit out of there in one or two seasons. Continue reading Gold Ray Drift

South Beach Surf Session

We spent this past weekend in Crescent City, CA surfing the south beach break. This was also the weekend of the Noll long board surf contest, but we weren’t there to participate. We just wanted to surf, or I should say, I just wanted to surf.

The magic seaweed  site was rating the swell at 5 stars. It was 8 or 9ft  at 14 seconds…pretty damned big surf.

We got there late, set up camp at my favorite Crescent City camp spot, and headed to the beach. It was getting late, so I dashed out and with my 6′ 4″ quad fish. The swell was big but  mushy, there wasn’t much wind to speak of.

It was hard to find the correct spots to set up for the peaks, they seemed to be moving all over the place. I paddled my ass off and got very few rides, none longer than maybe 10 seconds. The rides were short, closeout, which left me inside and I’d have to struggle my way back out through the chunder.

The only good thing that came out of that session was my duck dives got a hell of a lot better. I haven’t had this short board very long, and am still trying to get the duck dive technique down. This session went a long way to accommodating that. By the end I was actually figuring out how to go fairly deep under the break. A well done duck dive is almost as exhilarating as a nice long right…almost. Continue reading South Beach Surf Session