First covering Shotshow in 1997, perhaps it was about time to attend Media Day: I prefer to trial and evaluate new products in the field, so shooting at the public relations range event is more often just a redundancy…except when patterning shot and performing ballistics tests. It was also an opportunity connect up with a classmate of mine from my childhood days attending the Phoenix Study Group in Saigon.
Because of how the proliferation of AR-15 style rifles have inundated the market, and been effectively used in the battle against the overpopulation of ole Mr. Razorback in states like Texas, what better decision than to release a powder and projectile match as these rounds with a proper bullet to rip through hog hide and gristle and reach the vitals in a large pig?
The Armalite offering for wild boar?
The Razorback XT .223 round was released in a 64-grain bullet, while the .308 version is delivered in a 150-grain. Some might think that a .223 round is a little too light for feral pig hunting, but up to 200 yards, this round does it job. For someone who hunts most of his feral hogs in California, and often in the lead-free zone of Central California, the non-lead attributes of the Razorback XT is a God send! It is specially designed to not start deforming until after having pierced the hog’s armor. Now, all we have to do is get around the legal restrictions of the AR-10 and AR-15 design in California, which is laughable.
This year they’re releasing a #5-shot load in 2-3/4-inch shell, along with a #2-shot load. From the way it patterns it looks like a great round to get those ducks in the 25 to 40-yard range…my favorite for shooting over decoys. Check out the latest episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV below:
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If you remember the British cooking series, Two Fat Ladies, of PBS and BBC fame, you’ll immediately recognize Clarissa Dickson Wright as the taller of the two, not the proud chainsmoker who passed away from lung cancer in 1999. Dickson Wright is the co-author of The Game Cookbook with Scottish farmer and outdoorsman, Johnny Scott.
A gorgeously illustrated review copy sent to us by the publisher, The Game Cookbook takes standard table game and puts a variation on it that brings out the best qualities through innovative experimentation, with classic recipes and those that seem to have been magically created by neighbors on the other side of the authors’ hedge.
Included are recipes that are very traditional in the UK and Europe. Others reach to the Middle East and South Asia, modified from recipes based in preparing more traditional farm-raised meats. Well-read and always willing to tell a story, Dickson Wright colors the recipes with asides of family histories and remembrances of foreign travel and meals had with friends.
You’ll find that it’s very much a UK book with such references as “wapiti”, which those of us in the US and Canada recognize as elk: what they call elk in Europe and the UK, we call moose in North America.
The artwork gracing the pages is a mix of old paintings, of hunting and fishing in North America and Europe, even movie stills (James Mason looks quite dashing with a side-by-side), and then photos of completed dishes just as beautiful as the sketches and historical art. Together they bring to the reader the old and new of game and fish cuisine, along with anecdotes that can prepare the neophyte hunter or angler for their first hunting or fishing experience.
At the end of the book is a listing of hunting and fishing organizations in the UK and US, along with a collection of wildlife agencies in the United States. For those who might not be personally able to collect their own main component of a game or fish dish, a listing of game suppliers offering meat farm-raised animals (unlike in Europe, where wild game and fish are sold in many shops, the selling of true wild game in the US has been illegal for years) provides an option.
One of the topics that I keyed in on, because it puts so much fear in the new game chef, is aging. In the US of late, as the tradition of hunting has skipped one, two or even three generations, the result of more Americans moving into urban areas in pursuit of employment, the art of aging has been forgotten. If you read some of the forums on the Internet, there’s such an intimidation toward aging and meat contamination that it can sometimes be humorous, sometimes sad…. What would people do if suddenly our refrigerators no longer worked and we were suddenly dumped into a kitchen life experience most families had up until the end of the early part of the last century?
Aging was a heavily practiced technique for stretching the day’s take, improving flavor and tenderizing a tough old bird, or side of venison. It all has to do with air temperature and humidity: cool and moist tops the list, and extends the aging time. The author goes through the aging process for just about every meat type taken, from grouse, to pheasant to venison.
There are also recipes for those that might not be specifically sought in the US and Canada, but are looked forward to in Europe and the UK, such as carp. There are recipes for grouse, pheasant, elk, moose, antelope, caribou, wild boar, partridge (chukar), quail, dove, American woodcock, snipe, hare (jackrabbit), cottontail, salmon trout, sea trout, zander (yellow perch), pike and of course goose.
At the back just before the meat supplier’s list, is a collection of recipes for compotes, sauces and stocks bringing out the best flavors of the dish.
When it came to testing a recipe, I decided it was time to use one of the many pheasants that Ziggy had pointed out for me last year—the dish quick to prepare and a rich, creamy mix of flavors!
PHEASANT WITH NOODLES AND HORSERADISH CREAM
A bit sweet. A bit tangy. All delicious!
1/3 cup (3/4 stick) butter
4 pheasant breasts
4 shallots, chopped (if unavailable, use 4 tablespoons of chopped mild onions)
Only a few more weeks and a number of duck hunters will be heading out for the start of waterfowl season. At the outset of duck hunting, even the worst duck caller will get shooting. As the weeks go by and the ducks get wise, the numbers go down…
Good calling and understanding duck behavior is what separates mid and late season successful duck hunters from the rest of the pack. Often this is the result of always being on the lookout for good information and practicing calling as much as possible.
If you haven’t picked up your duck call since last season, you better start now to be ready for this season. Get a good CD or DVD and imitate the master on the screen or coming through the speakers to you.
More Repetitions are Best
Some might think the best place to practice is at home. In your car, as long as you can pay attention to your driving as well, is the best place. You’re alone; you don’t have to pay attention to volume and most importantly, especially if you commute to work, is you get regular practice.
Like many activities that require muscle memory, more repetitions and less time is better than less repetitions and more time: ten minutes a day, everyday is much better than one hour once a week.
Too many hunters are want to build the biggest blinds on the refuge, especially the beginners. The smart guys, the ones who come back with stringers full of mallards and sprig are those who know how to take their profile down as low to the ground as possible.
For years I used to drag out a major coffin blind that used to be manufactured by the Outlaw Decoy company in in Spokane, WA. Sadly they went bankrupt and I could never get another from them.
Gianguinto has a better idea: get one of those cheap kids sleds you can find Walmart and Big 5, just about every sporting goods store that caters to skiers and snow enthusiasts has them. Paint the thing black or olive drab, and you can use it to pull your decoy bag out to the blind, and then you can lay down in it. Put on a camo facemask and you can call with impunity.
You’ll be able to look straight up at the ducks and keep your call directed at them (something Billy and I talk about in the Cork’s Outdoors Radio interview below) and then all you have to do is sit up and shoot—you’ll be amazed at how many more ducks you’ll take this season!
Check Your Dekes
If you get started now you might have time to get your decoys in shape this season. Many have thousands, especially if you hunt a private duck club and put out your own dekes.
Unlike many who’ve told me in the past that more females is better than males, master duck hunter and instructor Billy Gianquinto says it’s better to have more males in your decoy set. From how he describes it in our interview, I’d have to agree: much easier to see that silver-gray off a drake, than the brown camo of a hen’s feathers.
Check out Billy’s Duck Calling Techniques DVD where he and assistant show you proper breath control, how and why to do “changes ups” and variations, and how to best use volume and aggressive calling. http://www.billygducks.com/Products.html
Listen to Billy’s instruction below on a number things that will help improve your duck hunting this coming season: great calling sequences!
For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Billy Gianquinto’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio: