Tremendous Ten: 10 Manly Books To Defeat Cabin Fever

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Not on the list.

 

Dude its cold outside. A man should combat this frigid arctic blast by reading macho books in front of a roaring fireplace, wrapped in a bear/wolf skin rug while sipping scotch or mulled wine (making sure to keep his pinky firmly tucked), and only bothering to answer any interruptions with deep guttural growls and death stares.  Here are ten books, in no particular order, for you to consider while waiting out this malevolent weather:

1.  Goodbye to a River: A Narrative by John Graves

When they began earnest discussions of damming the Brazos River, Graves sets out to float it in his canoe one last time.  During the trip he hunts, reminisces about Indian battles, hardships of Texas frontier life, and the importance of the river in history, commerce and ecology. After this classic, you are likely to hate dams.  I do.  You may also feel as though life is too civilized and we have lost something in our modern life.

2. A Thousand Miles of Mustangin By Ben K. Green

When ways of life are at an end, it seems one last hurrah is available for those who seek it hard enough. Ben K Green successfully milked the heifer that was the offer of free wild horses available to those cowboy enough to come get them in the wilds of Northern Mexico, Big Bend and Arizona.

3. Blues by John Hersey

Equal parts fishing stories, recipes and naturalist treatise, Hersey uniquely recounts a summer of catching Blue fish off of Martha’s Vineyard.  A veteran angler takes a non-fisherman out and the result is a conversion.  Uniquely written, it counts as one of my favorite fishing books of all time.

4.  American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella

Starting with the discovery of a buffalo skull, Rinella sets down a path that leads him to drawing a permit to hunt one of the last wild buffalo herds in existence.  His book gives an excellent history, both natural and cultural, of perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the American West.  The collection of buffalo facts is worth the $15 by itself.  However, American Buffalo is also an epic hunting tale complete with hypothermia survival and hungry grizzly bears.

5.  When the Dogs Bark Treed by Elliot S. Barker.

Stories of a man and his dogs are captivating.  Barker spent a year on the Vermejo Ranch in New Mexico with his Airedales attempting to curb mountain lion depredation on deer, elk and cattle. He skins the lions, feeds the meat to himself and his dogs, and at one point ties a bobcat he thinks dead to the back of his very alive horse.

6. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

An acceptable interruption to your time in front of a fire is when training your boys on how to be a man.  In this kids story, a boy survives a plain crash only to be stomped by a moose, stuck by a porcupine while asleep, and has his shelter obliterated by a tornado.    Hatchet is an easy out-loud read, and boys love it.

7.  Line Down!: The Special World of Big Game Fishing by Jack Samson.

The furthest I’ve lived from an ocean was during my time in Memphis, and after reading Line Down! I’ve never wanted to be on the sea more in my life.  Samson recounts his tales of a life time of deep sea fishing from his 17 foot cuddy cabin Boston Whaler in the Florida Keys to chasing blue fin Tuna and Marlin out of Kona, Hawaii.

8.  The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garard

This British tale of a losing team’s race to the south pole and effort to collect penguin eggs in Antarctica is an easy read on the beach during the summer.  Only a grown a*& man should read this right now.   The -75° weather, frozen parkas and beards, and descriptions of white out snow storms will illicit a shiver from lesser men in the middle of July.  Cherry-Garard is the youngest on the expedition, and is part of the search party that discovers the leader of the trip along with three others, dead from the elements.  An amazing adventure story from the south pole.

9.  The Tecate Journals:  Seventy Days on the Rio Grande by Keith Bowden

Starting on a bike and ending in the gulf, Bowden might have accomplished a goal never again to be matched given the current geopolitical climate of US/Mexican Drug Cartel relations.  Then again, he might just be crazy enough to do it again.  Either way, his tale gives an excellent account of the duality of life on the border of Texas and Mexico.

10. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Louis Zamperini is a man’s man. He was a hero, because like many, he helped win WWII.  But unlike many war heroes, he was an Olympic middle distance athlete.  He survives a horrific plane crash, held the record for the longest survival adrift in the sea, and was a tortured POW.  Hillenbrand does an excellent job immortalizing this patriot’s life.

Though not an exhaustive list, you will enjoy these books.  What books are you reading now, or you suggest reading?

Tremendous Top Ten: 10 Steps in Planning a Successful Out of State Hunt

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DSC_0027Adventure.  There is a longing in some of us to leave the familiar and go to distant lands to vanquish an opponent.  The adversary might be a cliff face in a far away National Park, or maybe a treacherous river racing past wet jagged boulders.  For a lot of guys, dimpled balls, manicured lawns, and tucked in collared shirts are all they ever need.

Me?  I require a more visceral experience.  I like the smell of gun powder, cutting up an animal, and bringing home something tangible and bloody.  Early spring is the time I begin my quest to invade a foreign land and bring home its finest meats.  If you are like me, but have never attempted an out of state hunt, here are ten steps to get you started:

  1. Choose an animal (or two). There are numerous opportunities for you to bring home some honestly won meat.  Antelope to alligators, the species you can hunt are varied and many.  Some are a once in a life time hunt for most–think Desert Bighorn Sheep–so odds are against you drawing one of these fine hunts.  I also like going somewhere with a couple tags in my pocket. No sense flying or driving across country without maximizing my chance of pulling the trigger. Mule Deer, bear, and elk often have overlapping seasons and just about everywhere that has turkey has a fine pig population nearby.  I’m not opposed to small game either.
  2. Choose a Season and Method.   Do you live in  a subtropical climate and dream of hunting in the snow?  Maybe you are looking for something in the spring or summer to chase.  Many western states have seasons beginning in August and some going through February.  Spring turkey and bear are available as well as exotics like pigs and axis deer during any month.
  3. Decide on a destination. There are trophy hunting locations, just as there are trophy animals.  From the Maine North Woods to the Brooks Range in Alaska there are many epic places to spend a week hunting in North America.  Many are full of critters you can chase with a rifle or bow.  Why not choose one of these?
  4.  Read the Statistics.  Once you’ve decided on a general region, look at the draw and harvest statistics to determine where your best chance lies. If you want to hunt this fall, don’t count on being drawn for that Bison tag in Montana if you live in Texas and this is your first year to apply.  (Though, still apply–miracles do happen and you can accrue points in some states).
  5. Pick a Unit and buy the maps.  At this point you should have an idea of a few spots you want to hunt based on numbers, but your research is far from through.  The Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest Service, and even National Geographic will likely sell quality maps covering the areas you want to hunt.  The problem is, they don’t build their maps for hunters so you will likely need to buy a couple maps to cover your unit.  For one unit I hunt, I need four different BLM maps to cover the area I need.  
  6. Talk to Locals and Internet Scout.  Every region has an online discussion forum of some kind like this, this or even this.  Find it, and read through their discussions.  Of course, you have to sift through the malarkey–which can be thick at times–but for the most part you can find some kernels of truth.  Also network with any friends and family in the region.  Take a summer scouting trip and talk to the guys at the local outdoor shops.  No one will or should give you their honey hole’s GPS coordinates, but they can give you helpful advice.
  7. Call a wildlife biologist.  With the above research accomplished, call your units wildlife biologist with specific questions.  They are busy, so it pays to have your questions be specific. “Will I see any bear?” may not get you as good an answer as “Do you think the bears will be out of their dens by April 29th or am I too early?” or “I am expecting snow to be on the ground in my late season hunt, but if it hasn’t snowed heavily how will this change the elk’s migration pattern?”
  8. Apply for multiple hunts.  Make a chart with the  deadlines, dates and fees for each state you dream to hunt and get your applications in on time.  Also, if you are applying for points make sure your unit is not an automatic draw.  Mistakes can be costly.
  9. Work your credit card to your advantage.  Most states have now gone to requiring you pay your tag fee upfront and refunding your money if your tag is not drawn.  I like to use mine to build flyer miles and points at Cabelas.   From my research, no one offers better flyer miles than Alaskan Airlines.  I’d highly suggest you applying for this card and using the miles to your advantage.
  10. Develop your budget. Decide what you want to spend a year on your out of state adventures and set a small portion aside each year for when your dream tag is drawn.  Those muskox hunts can be expensive!

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Recipe: Roast Joints of Venison in the English Style with Yorkshire Pudding

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20140313-213418.jpg I’m a history buff.  I like old things–be they Clovis arrowheads, Viking shields, or fishing and hunting pictures from a century ago.  This explains why a dish from the book The Whole Duty of a Woman, published 1737,  has made its way into a blog about doing manly things. During a recent freezer defrost, I ran across some deer shanks from 2012.  They are still  fine to eat, but as a good manager of the deep freeze, it was up next in the batting order.  Thumbing through my copy of Le Guide Culinaire, another old text written by the king of chefs and chef of kings–Auguste Escoffier– I decided use my shanks in recipe number 3894, which reads thus:

3894 Roast Joints of Beef in the English Style with Yorkshire Pudding.

“These are cooked rather well done and are always served accompanied with Yorkshire pudding.”

Easy right? So with Auggie’s guidance, this is how I did it:

Ingredients

Roast Joints of Venison

  • Venison Shank per person
  • Bacon
  •  3 tablespoons of bacon fat, rendered
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Sprig of Thyme
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 4 cups of venison stock

Yorkshire Pudding

  •  1 cup of flour
  • 1.25 cups of milk
  •  pinch of sea salt
  •  3 tablespoons of bacon fat, rendered.
  •  3 eggs
  •  pinch of black pepper
  •  pinch of grated nutmeg

  Method

Roast Joints of Venison

  • First, melt your rendered bacon fat over medium high heat in a dutch oven.
  • Season and lard your shanks with bacon.
  • Brown your well seasoned shanks on each side, about 5 minutes each, then setting each aside in a large bowl.
  • Deglaze with red wine, scraping all the bits of flavor from the pan between each shank.  Then pour the juices into your reserve bowl until all shanks are browned.
  • Add veggies and cook until glimmering, about ten minutes.
  • Deglaze with the remainder of the wine and return shanks and drippings to the bowl.
  • Braise for 4 hours at 275 or until meat begins to separate from the bone.

Yorkshire Pudding

  • Turn your oven to its highest setting, or about 550 degrees.
  • Whisk eggs, milk, salt, spices and flour into a bowl and let it sit for half an hour in a pitcher that’s easy to pour.
  • Drop your bacon fat into a well seasoned cast iron skillet, add a spoonful of juice from your roasted joints
  • Turn your oven to its highest setting, and insert dish into the oven for about 5 minutes
  • Carefully open the door and pour the batter into cast iron skillet and cook for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and cook for 15 more minutes
  • Remove and serve immediately.

20140313-213606.jpg This quintessential British dish is tremendous.  With an eggy custard like middle with crispy crust at the edges, akin to savory French Toast, Yorkshire pudding is a wonderful medium on which to serve braised venison.  There’s a reason this dish has lasted so long.  Get after it!

Babies, Birdnests, and the Beach or Raising Kids To Love Fish Slime

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Beaches and babies have been a big part of the last 5 years of my life. Today was fairly representative: sand castles and sand fights, trophy birdnests on the fishing reels, and an ice chest full of panfish–growing up, goofing off, and making memories. 20140308-205334.jpg

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Fiesty Atlantic Spadefish

 

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Can I touch it?

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Boys and slimy fish are well suited.  If you have access to either, I suggest you combine them and see for yourself.