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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

Kids and Duck Hunting Tips

Next weekend is opening day of duck season in Klamath county and as tradition dictates we’ll be there. I haven’t missed an opening day of duck season since I was 10 years old.

Last year was the first time I took my oldest boy and this year I’ll be bringing both boys to the marsh. Neither of them are old enough to shoot yet, (the oldest will take his hunters’ safety course next year), but they are very excited to be joining my brothers and my Dad for the opening.

Taking kids duck hunting is rewarding and fun, but I’ve learned it can be miserable unless you follow some tips.

  • Be sure they have neoprene chest waders. These are essential for staying dry and warm in the wet marsh. I know hip boots are much less expensive, but they aren’t nearly as warm as chest waders. Buy them big and they’ll get a few years use out of them.
  • Besides the waders be sure they have plenty of warm clothes. Start with polypropylene long underwear and layer up to a warm, waterproof jacket.
  • A good pair of warm gloves and a warm hat are essential items.
  • Bring a big thermos full of hot cocoa (don’t forget cups). Of course don’t forget to bring yourself some coffee, but cocoa goes a long way to easing a cold morning for the kids.
  • Bring lots of snacks. If the hunting gets slow, inevitably kids will want to start eating, be prepared. You should also have a sandwich or some kind of lunch ready to go.
  • Bring drinks too. I usually mix lemonade in water bottles so they each have their own.
  • If they’re ready, let them bring their B.B. guns. It’s fun for them to shoot at ducks or bugs or whatever and is a great lesson in gun handling.

This is also a great way for you to teach them gun safety. Remind them to keep the gun’s safety on and to always know where the barrel is pointed.

I remember my Dad taking my B.B. gun away after I swept the barrel across his chest too many times. It upset me, but I’ve been hyper-vigilant ever since.

  • Be sure to bring ear plugs for the kids. You don’t want to injure their ears just yet, let them do it with their music when they become teenagers.
  • Before leaving the hunting area, be sure to pick up all the pieces of clothing, food wrappers, and whatever else they try to leave behind. Last year we lost a hat, one glove, and an action figure he decided to bring.

 

Exposing your kids to duck hunting is a great idea, and can lead to a lifetime of fun memories, but it’s a lot easier if you follow the listed duck hunting tips.

Rogue Valley Pheasant Hunting: What Happened?

When I was growing up in East Medford, I always looked forward to Autumn, not for the cooler days and changing leaves but for the opportunity to hunt the wild Rogue Valley Pheasant.

The field across the street from my house was filled with Pheasant, quail, and even an occasional duck sitting on one of the Pear orchard ponds.

Typically I would wake up long before I had to be at the bus stop, and sit on the porch looking out over the fields. As the sky lightened with the coming dawn I’d hear the crow of Pheasant. I’d decide the area I’d hunt based on where I thought the crowing Pheasant was sitting. Then i’d grab my excited labrador and head out into the field with my 12 gauge on my shoulder.

Most mornings I wouldn’t come up with a Pheasant, but it was mostly because my untrained labrador would jump the thing so far out that the range was too much. Or the Pheasant would lead us on such a wild run through the brambles that by the time it jumped I’d be so out of breath I couldn’t hold the gun steady and I’d miss. That’s right, I’m blaming it on the dog.

Now that  field and orchard are gone, replaced with tract housing and mini-malls. Also gone are the Pheasant that used to inhabit the area.

Pheasant hunting was never great in the Rogue Valley, but it was good enough to keep me interested. Now, however there simply aren’t any wild Pheasant left. There’s nowhere for them to nest and feed and do the things Pheasant do, now there are people in those areas.

I was lamenting this sad passing because yesterday I went out to Denman Wildlife Area and hunted planted Pheasant.

Denman does a good job of stocking the fields with pen raised Pheasant, but it’s not the same as hunting wild Pheasant. Continue reading Rogue Valley Pheasant Hunting: What Happened?