Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Snow In Orange County? Yes. Snow In The OC

When I got a call this morning from my buddy Mike that he had snow in his backyard, Kaiser and I had to go check it out.  Yes that is snow in the OC.   It's too bad Mike is recovering from surgery otherwise we would have done a snow run up Santiago Peak.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kaiser Is Finally On Facebook...

...If you care to befriend him.

Tired Of Turkey

Decided to whip out some of the venison steaks Dave gave me the last time I went up to the Owens.  Served with mash potatoes and mashed peas with a herbed, juniper, star anise and chive sauce.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

More Hiking With A Gun

The hiking with a gun series continues but in this case I at least managed to take home a little meat.  After driving around looking for a few huntable fields we stumbled upon a few dove roosting on a tree.  I put a sneak on them and ended up idiotically flock shooting them as they flushed.  Singles and pairs would sporadically come in.  Miss after miss I finally connected with one.  We would drive around about without any success.  We never did see any pheasants.  I did speak with a pair of hunters that did see a rooster earlier in the day but before legal shooting time.  As it sucked I chose to head home and bypass the last day.  That's it for pheasants for this year.
Another Hunter But Seeking A Different Kind Of Game

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hiking With A Gun

This is the last chance to try and get ourselves some pheasants and doves before the season closes.  My intention was on the way here to try and intercept the covey of quail Chul and I flushed while hunting turkey last spring but with the entrance loaded with trucks I decided to bypass that and head straight to the farmlands.  But before that we had stay in cell phone range to receive an important call so we headed for a restaurant for a Persian lunch. 
We arrived at the farmlands with a few hours to roam a few fields,  no pheasants were flushed nor seen.  I managed to flush a dove in a ditch, took a shot and it landed in the nearby field so we gave chase only to have it flush again with me missing him with both shots.  Other than that it was a lot of hiking with a gun.  It was time to head into town for some Thai food and call it a day.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hoping For A Better Outing

Saturday afternoon I got a call from Jeff telling me how shitting the hunting was at the club.  Shocking, considering how much weather we have gotten.  Jeff theorized even with the rain, it's been a warm rain and it's not pushing the birds.  Despite the poor outing and with his wife away for the weekend, Jeff asked if I wanted to join him for a hunt today.   Without hesitation I agreed with the hopes of getting the bad taste out of my mouth from the past Owens trip.
Sunday hunts are late affairs for Jeff, so I met him around 10:30am.  Again we had the club to ourselves and Jeff expected the ducks to tucked away in the back ponds.  So as we approached our blind we would flush the birds but the plan would be for us not take a shot and would set up and wait for them to return.  After switching blinds, it would be hours before we would see any shootable bird.  The first bird was a lone drake gadwall that came over us, I shot first and missed with both barrels before Jeff nailed him blinding himself in the process.  Last night he sprayed his gun with WD40 as it jammed on him Saturday.  When he shot the oil sprayed all over his face.  After cleaning himself and flushing his eyes he was fine.  More time would pass before we finally had a drake mallard come within range but we both missed it.  Not long after an eclipse drake spoonie came within range and I took it.  Wounded, the duck was on the move, Kaiser and I gave chase.  Kaiser dove into the reeds to dig him out.  We got some flights but none were within range.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Final Day. Bust.

We headed north into higher elevation in search of a better outing than the previous day.  While we did see more birds, they were all located in ponds that were wide open.  Several ponds held 20 Canada geese, another 30 mallards, and another with a mix of divers and puddle ducks. Stalking them for a shot proved difficult.  Desperation lead us to flush the birds out of the ponds, and while they circled back, without any calls or dekes, we skybusted them like idiots.  Normally I wouldn't do this but I figured that since there were no other hunters around it really did no harm other than our wallets and pride.  Later in the day we moved south and managed to pass shoot a few ducks at last light but of course I couldn't hit shit.  The trip was a bust but that's how it goes sometimes.  It was nice to see some winter weather for a change.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Second Day. Hanging In There

Day two wasn't much better than the last.  My usual spots all proved to be duds.  After visiting Dave to say hi, he gave us some venison meat that he harvested this year.  Since he bagged three in so many states, I think he had plenty to spare.  We took off to check some nearby areas.
After we finished lunch, some serious winds hit the valley and so changing to fly fishing was not an option.  It took me forever to find the pond I met Bob two years ago.  It was mostly loaded with coots but did hold a few ruddies and three hen ringnecks.  I dropped the old man off at one edge of the pond and drove to the other end hoping to flush the birds toward him.  When I got to the side the two hens already took flight.  They were borderline too far but I took the shot anyways, missing with both barrels.  It did though turn the birds toward dad and he managed one shot at them but missed as well.
I drove back to pick up dad and we moved to a smaller nearby pond.  There we found some more hens, I wasn't too sure what they were but I believe they were gadwalls.  I told dad to head over to an opening of the reeds and see if he could get a shot from there while I swept over toward the edge.  When I made it there I stepped into the tules and felt the ground slowly give in.  I was sinking to my knees and while I tried to get out I sank even more.  By this time I heard dad take his two shots.  I managed to drag myself out of there by pulling myself with the tules but not before a rush of water entered my waders.  When I got out dad told me he nicked one and the direction of the flight of the birds and it looked like they may have flown to the pond we were just hunting.  So we drove back, while glassing the area I noticed a fair sized covey of quail on the far side running along the bank.  We made our way to them and after switching our bismuth and tungsten rounds for lead, we began our search for them.  I managed to take a jackrabbit in our search.  We eventually saw the covey of thirty flush wild afar.  We gave chase and managed to get them to rise but we missed our shots.  They flushed into a mass of impenetrable tules and we gave up before we ran out of legal shooting time.  Last night we asked the nice Indian owners of the motel we stayed at if the Indian restaurant was any good.  They said it wasn't bad for the area and it was worth a visit so that's what he did.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The East Side For the First Time This Season

Weather is predicted to reach us by the end of the week and with that in mind we decided to hit the river in attempt to jump a few waterfowl.  We had only little more than two hours to work with and while we attempted some old and new areas none could be found.  While heading back to the SUV we did flush a few quail and with No.5 Bismuth I took a few shots at them.  I managed to nail one but even after a gallant attempt to retrieve it we ran out of light before surrendering him to the wild.  The setting sun forced us to town for a French meal where we met a nice couple from Turlock who managed a nice 3x3 Buck earlier today.  Tomorrow we try again.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Rain Didn't Quite Bring In The Birds As We Hoped

At around 9:30 this morning Jeff called me to ask if I wanted to meet him at the club to hunt in the afternoon.  Without  hesitation I agreed so I hastily got my stuff and packed the truck.  Having shot as much as we did the last outing, I chose to bring my Winchester Model 12 so I could save money by shooting steel.  Jeff hunted yesterday and he said it was rather poor.  He and his regular hunting buddy managed 7 birds of wigeons, scaups, ringneck, gadwall and spoonies.  He said it was tough getting those birds.  The rain came and with it our hopes for a great hunt.  When I arrived just before noon, birds were working all around. 
The entire club was empty and we had it all to ourselves.  So Jeff could work the birds and we could hunt them properly without someone skybusting them.  Early we had a lot of promise as flocks and flocks of spoonies came in.  Despite having them within range we passed on shooting them waiting in favor for the good ducks to show.  The occasional mallard, wigeon came into our pond but not within shooting range.  The weather began to improve and was not as foul as we hoped and the flocks of birds slowed. 
We waited for hours and with the club all to ourselves, Jeff suggested we moved to a nearby tule island.  I walked over there to recon it to make sure we could stand on dry land.  When I was making my way over I flushed a pair of mallards behind me. Jeff expertly took both of them with two shots.  I walked back with Kaiser to get the retrieve.  These mallards were big, Jeff estimated them 3 or 4 years old.  The chest of the drake was grey suggesting an mature bird.  After we made our way to the island we had a few flights fly over.  I couldn't hit jack with the pump.   After shooting empty on a spoonie Jeff dispatched it after seeing I was dry.  After that it was pretty much over and we called it quits saving enough legal shooting time to see if we could jump a duck or two on the way back to the trucks.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Greenwing Teal Sushi!?!

Duck Breast
Grated Ginger
Sushi Rice
Rice Vinegar

After rice is finished cooking.  Mix vinegar, mirin and salt and set aside to cool.  Heat skillet in medium low heat and add oil.  Season the duck breast and cook skin side down until golden and flip to cook the other side.  Cook to medium rare and set aside to cool.  Once cool slice the breast on a bias.  Wet hands and form the sushi rice.  Top with duck, momiji-oroshi, grated ginger and chives.

Last Hunt Video Day 2.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Peking Inspired Duck Green Onion Pancake and Chinese Picked Cucumbers

This dish is obviously not Peking duck.  Peking duck's focus is on the crisp skin.  The meat is secondary.  This is just an inspired version of it that is a lot easier to make.  I cooked the breast a in a skillet to medium rare.  Original Peking uses a steamed bun or thin pancake.  I store bought the pancake and used a thick green onion pancake.  You can make them easily by hand.  There are several recipes online if you are so inclined.  I used Hoisin and Sriracha  sauces to finish.

Spicy Pickled Cucumbers
Red Peppers
Rice Wine Vinegar
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil

Cut cucumbers lengthwise in half.  Spoon out the seeds.  Cut into strips.  Place in a colander.  Sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt.  Don't worry about using too much you will rinse it off later.  The purpose is to exact as much water so the more salt the better.  In a container place slice one clove of garlic and let it sit in the rice wine vinegar.  Then slice ginger and red peppers and place in the container with sugar.

After about 20 minutes rinse cucumbers with water.  Then grab a handful of cucumbers and squeeze with your hands removing as much a water as possible, continue until the batch is finished.  Place cucmbers in the vinegar mixture.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil.  Place in the fridge and let sit for at least half a day.  The longer the better.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dove And Pickled Beets Salad

Soy Sauce
Rice Vinegar
Mixed Greens

Pickled Beets:
Wrap beets in foil and drizzle with oil.  Roast Beets in 400 degree oven until al dente (usually anywhere from 30-45 minutes).  Careful not to overcook and keep the beets somewhat firm.  Once cooked remove form oven and let cool.  Once cooled, with a spoon scrape the skin off.  Slice the beets.  Chop the shallots and mix with all the liquids in a tuperware with beets.  Taste for desired level of acidity season with salt and whit pepper.  Cool the pickles in fridge until ready to use.  Ideally this should be done a day or more ahead so the flavors meld.

Spatchcock (butterfly) the doves. Generously season with salt and pepper.  Heat a cast iron skillet.  Once hot add oil and cook the dove skin side down.  Once golden flip the other side.  Cook to a medium.

Serve with mixed greens and any other vegetables of your liking.   Use beet juice mixed with olive oil to use as salad dressing.  Place doves on top.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Booty Fabbed Aging Rack

Prior to the season, Lou and I had the intention of making a very nice aging rack for our birds.  We picked up the material, cut it to shape for the most part but due to life in general we ran out of time to build it.  All the pieces are lying in a corner in Lou's shop. The rough cuts are made but the assembly and finishing work still needs to be done.  Since I had limited out on ducks last weekend I needed something to hang my birds, so I grabbed a bunch of left over wood and crudely made an aging rack for this year until I could finish our "presentation" piece.  It's ugly and an embarrassment to any proper woodworker but it works for now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not Like The Day Before

After staying a night in the biggest shithole motel I've ever slept in, it was time for another day afield.  Sunday's hunt was much different than the previous day's epic duck hunt.  I knew the hunt would be difficult without a group of hunters or dogs to pressure the birds. Despite that I choose to give it a try in the hopes of getting a rooster to rise.  Early in the hunt we managed to flush up two hen pheasants but to have them only fly into a posted field.
One or the first things I noticed this year was a lot more fields were posted this year.  Some of my favorites were now off limits.  Also several fields were barren and were now dirt pits not sure if that is the result of our drought or the farmer's economic conditions nevertheless it was disheartening. But with the Santa Ana winds picking up I was caught up in some massive dust storms for a while so I drove out of those areas.
I drove around looking for new fields.  Kaiser managed to scent a bird in a large alfalfa field that ran on him.  I saw the track it left and we worked the field as thoroughly as possible but the wily bird out ran us.  I'm confident that had we had a number of hunters with us, we could have flushed the little bastard.  While driving around I found a duck club loaded with quality ducks.  Of course it was off limits to me but it was impressive to see the number of mallards, pintails,  among other waterfowl.
Hunting, as I predicted, was tough.  I only managed to flush two hen pheasants that flew into a posted field.  While I saw a number of doves while driving, I only had a minimal number of shots at them.  I did take two for the day. So at least I wasn't skunked on this trip.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Double Limits Menagerie

Day One.  It seems that any plan I make, it only ends up being altered.  I had planned on hitting the Sierra earlier in the week only to have that canceled.  So rather then head north I decided to head south for the weekend and chase pheasants.  On Thursday Jeff called and let me know his regular hunting partner cancelled on him and asked if I wanted to sub for him.  In a heartbeat I answered in the affirmative.  Jeff had ran his dogs on Tuesday at the club and saw an abundance of big ducks.  The northern arctic freeze had pushed the birds down and Jeff predicted a good day.
Not an uncommon sight for the spectacular day
At 3am my alarm went off and I packed up the shotguns and headed to the duck club to meet Jeff.  Unlike our last outing Jeff would have to draw a new blind for this time around since he didn't like the blind he was assigned to for this round.  Luckily he drew number one and chose blind 15, one of the best of day's vacant blinds available.
In the darkness of night while heading to the blind, we could hear the variety of ducks teasing us within the various ponds, pintails, wigeons and mallards before legal shoot time.  We sat patiently as quality ducks flew overhead teasing us as we waited for the buzzard to inform that we could begin hunting.  By 5:56 am Jeff began skillfully calling them in. The first birds to fly by were shovelers and we let them pass, waiting for the quality birds that Jeff was so confident would eventually pass.
Our first pintail
It wasn't long before we had birds falling from the sky.  Jeff was dead on with his Beretta auto taking the first bird, a greenwing teal.  Jeff had several before down before I finally connected with my first bird, a hen spoonie.  My first several misses were caused by my over thinking each shot; I was trying to calculate the lead rather than letting it come naturally.  Once I finally shut the brain off I was connecting with some regularity including my first pintail, a drake in eclipse plumage
Jeff readying himself for a shot
Time in a blind is often spent waiting staring at the sky with a brief moments of action which was the case the last time Jeff invited me to his club.  Usually the only thing to pass the time is excellent conversation but on this day it was not the case.  In fact most of our conversations were abruptly cut off with someone interrupting to point out birds flying by.  For the first several hours it seemed nonstop.  Jeff hooked many and got them to commit to landing in the spread but was ultimately foiled by our neighboring blinds that foolishly skybusted birds.  I thought duck clubs had a better class of hunters than refuge hunters but I guess this is not the case.  Naturally this type of nonsense inflames Jeff and rightfully so, most of the birds the neighboring blinds had taken were because Jeff managed to get he birds to commit and work the area.
I expelled more shot than I care to admit.  Shooting Bismuth, Hevi Shot Classic Double, and Tungsten Matrix, at an average of $3.00 let's just say it was an expensive day.  I actually feared I might run out before we reached our limits.  That would not be the case though thanks mostly due to Jeff's dead aim.  On the advice of Jeff he suggested I ditch the side by side in favor of a gun that can shoot steel.  I agree and if he invites me again, I'll take my Model 12. Financially speaking I think this is prudent especially if we have another day like this one.  I'll keep the Merkel Model 8 for jumpshooting.
We managed our limits and had a just about ever species in our bag.  Three mallards (two of which were drakes), one drake pintail, three greenwings (two drakes), one drake cinnamon teal, one hen bufflehead, one hen spoonie, one hen ringneck, one hen gadwall and two hen wigeon.  It was quite a day and I am truly appreciative of Jeff's generosity and not to mention his patience with Kaiser.   while my drahthaar is an outstanding upland dog, a decent jump shooting dog, he is unfortunately an annoying blind dog.  He simpy wants to run.  Sitting and patience are not his forte at least when it comes to hearing gunfire or birds in the air.
We limited out at around noon.  Since I was already packed for pheasants and my drive already cut in half I decided to continue the day looking for roosters.  I drove down and had about 2 hours of light to work with.  I tried a few new fields but had no luck in finding any.  I headed toward town for some burgers at In-N-Out before looking for a motel to rest up for the next day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Specklebelly Au Poivre


  • Goose breasts
  • Heavy cream
  • Vermouth
  • Demi glace (or powdered chicken stock)
  • Green peppercorn


Put breast in a pan, skin side down, and cook on low heat.
Discard the fat and turn them and brown for a few minutes.
Put the duck warm plate and cover with tinfoil. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and add the green peppercorn, cream and chicken stock.
Salt and pepper lightly.
Simmer 2 minutes over low heat until the sauce thickens.
Remove the duck breasts on hot plates, surround them with sauce.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Specklebelly Breast With a Soy Glaze and Onigiri

After about a week of aging, I finally prepped the speck from last week's hunt.  Jeff warned me that cleaning these specks are going to be a pain.  He was not kidding.  It at least an hour to clean the bird and even then it wasn't fully plucked.  There still were down and pin feathers that needed to be removed.  It took forever and ended up butchering the bird and then take a butane torch to the remaining feathers.

Goose breast
Short grain rice

Shio Koji
Dashi powder

Soy Sauce

Place the breast and marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and leave for several hours.   Start with the sauce by placing all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Once bubbles occur lower the heat and simmer until it thickens to s syrup like consistency.  Using cooled cooked rice place rice in an onigiri mold.  Place duck fat in heated pan and place the rice frying until golden on each side. With duck fat, pan fry the breast to rare or medium.   Once acheived place on a plate and top with thickened sauce.  Not there is no need to season the meat, the shio koji will salt the meat.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Duck Club Invitation

I've never hunted a private duck club before so I was excited when I received an invitation to hunt The Little Ramona Duck Club from my new hunting buddy Jeff.  I met Jeff on an online forum when I posted a picture of one of my past hunting trips and he inquired about my Merkel Model 8.  He had thought it was a Sauer, a gun that he had once owned in the past.  This struck a conversation regarding fine doubles and we became fast friends.  He asked if I would like to join him at his club and I jumped on the opportunity.
After about three hours sleep I awoke in the morning to meet Jeff personally for the first time near the entrance of the club.  After a few pleasantries and war stories we made our way to the blind (14).  Half way to there Jeff realized he forgotten the duck stamp in his car.  So we unpacked the gear once we made it to the blind and raced back to the car to get it and raced back before legal shooting time.
Only a handful of club members showed up today which meant most blinds were available but this blind was one of the more sought after ones.  The club assigns blinds for two weeks after that you move 5 blinds away.  Jeff hunted last week on the opener and managed a handful of teal and spoonies.  He did clean up the algae from his decoy spread the day before to ensure a landing spot for the birds.  When he returned again today he was disappointed to see the algae return covering the all his previous week's labor.  This meant birds would unlikely land in the spread making calling somewhat useless and also meant we'd be pass shooting for the most part.  Had he know the pond was covered in green stuff he would have taken another blind.
The morning was slow with the occasional flyby by a teal but with the low light and speed at which they came in there were no shots fired.  Eventually we'd see spoonies fly but none in shooting distance.  Typically Jeff doesn't take shovelers and lets them pass.  Since he figured not many "good" birds were around we'd take them.  Not long did one buzz through our pond.  We both fired and it fell from a lung shot.  Since it was before 7:30 and it fell beyond our pond, club rules didn't allow us to go get it at this point.  So we marked it and would go fetch it when we were allowed.  Of course this did not go well with Kaiser as he it made him whine even more.  Kaiser is not much of a blind dog.  He never was trained to sit patiently (not that he would even had I trained him to) while hunting.  He simply is too impatient and wants to run and hunt.  I warned Jeff about it and asked whether I should leave him home but he assured me that he didn't mind.  Not knowing Jeff, I was still slightly uneasy and not sure if he was just being polite I really didn't want to tick the guy off on our first meeting.  Especially since I wanted to be invited back!  I brought Kaiser though figuring he will be annoying but if we had a cripple or bird in the tules he would make up for it.  That is exactly what happened when the time came when we could leave our blind.  We worked the area we though the bird fell and after about twenty minutes of searching Kaiser the hen shoveler our of the cattails.
Hours would pass with no action.  Jeff seemed annoyed and apologized trying to reassure me but that was not needed.  I was hunting for free and in a place I have no access to, not to mention I didn't have to endure the tedious process of the "sweat line."  I was all good. If it's slow, it's slow. Nothing we can do about so I just enjoyed the company.  Jeff and I have a lot in common and we think alike so time goes fast when conversation is easy.  Eventually Jeff saw a flock of geese in the distance and he followed them down into a nearby pond.  So we loaded our heaviest loads and headed there to jump shoot them.  Jeff misjudged their landing.  They landed on a closer pond than he thought. So he had me stay put as he would back track around the brush and try and drive them to me.  When he got to them they flew the opposite direction so he took them and nailed three all specklebellys.  There were small Canadas among them but Jeff managed to avoid them shooting the king of geese instead.  I saw one drop and saw another one cripple which Jeff gave a follow up when he reloaded.  Kaiser and I walked around to help with the retrieve.  Jeff had already picked up one and let me know they were specks and Kaiser picked up the one I saw fall.  Jeff let me know he hit a third bird and couldn't find it.  So Kaiser was tasked to find him.  Eventually Kaiser found him and gave chase as the bird tried to lift off.  Finally he caught up to it and brought the bird to me.  As it was in the high 80s we were sweating and returned to our blind.  After a quick rest in the shade of the blind we called it a day at 11.  All in all it was a good day.  Kaiser got his first taste and retrieve on geese.  The king of geese no less so I was happy even though I didn't get to pull the trigger on them but that's okay.  Thanks Jeff.  We really enjoyed ourselves and thanks for putting up with my annoying dog.