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North to Alaska…The Gold Rush is On!

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Cork Graham

L-R: Cork Graham, Joel Holder, Tom Zarilli in the Alaska Interior on a gold mining fiasco

L-R: Cork Graham, Joel Holder, Tom Zarrilli in the Alaska Interior on a mining fiasco, summer 2013

If you’ve read my 2004 NYT bestseller, THE BAMBOO CHEST, you’ll probably have gathered from that coming-of-age memoir about an 18-year-old on his first major photo assignment for the Associated Press, covering a hunt for Captain Kidd’s treasure off the coast of communist Vietnam, that I’m not particular to treasure hunting, what many who’ve not been on an adventure, or as I prefer to call them, “an event resulting from one or more ‘accidents’”. It’s a philosophy I picked upon my return from 11-months imprisonment on trumped up charges of spying for the CIA in 1983-1984. The historical character who most famously coined that philosophy on “adventures” in one of his books was none other than the man, who INDIANA JONES was fashioned after: Roy Chapman Andrews.What I’ve learned about treasure hunting and going after the gold is that the culture and environment draws a number of nuts, geniuses and scam artists.

It’s something I’ve become even more keen on as the world experiences a major gold rush in a number of places: Australia, New Zealand, Southeast, Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, Mexico, and of course, Canada and the United States. What with the oversaturation of TV shows such as GOLD RUSH, BERING SEA GOLD, it’s become hard to separate the flim from the flam and the solid information from the useless, nor that entertaining. Even GOLD FEVER which has always been a worthwhile show, amped it’s broadcast from a 30 min. show to a one-hour episode of added fluff.

As a resident of Alaska and having a number of the personalities on this slew of Alaska “reality” shows as neighbors, I’ve heard quite a few stories that are frankly a bit dismaying: salting of concentrates with gold taken from a prior dredging; $800,000-plus buy outs of rest of seasons contracts of show participants to stop a tell all book about who they slept with. With many reality TV show personalities drawing annual salaries from the productions companies running into the six-digits, where’s the incentive to get the gold?!

My own introduction to this gold fever that has taken the world came about as an invitation as a camp cook and extra miner on what was supposed to be a mining operation, but turned into useless bit of prospecting, and more adventuring than actual mining. There’ll be more on that in later articles: knowing when and how to prospect and when and how to mine. There is a solid group of gold miners and prospectors in this country make a solid living day-to-day, treasure their favorite activity as a proper money-making business, getting gold from the land without crazy through the roof start-up costs, as an example, an USAF retiree who makes more in a two week vacation going through abandoned mine tailings with a metal detector than he gets in a year off his retirement check. 

Aside from the obvious, such as how poorly the economy has been doing lately, especially for those who understand why a good day on Wall Street means nothing to the average American citizen, or the world at large, in the way it used to; and currency is not money. Currency value is based on the whims of banks and government, and is only supported by the trust given it by the people. Money, on the other hand, retains its value: gold, silver and platinum—a gold Buffalo, whose currency value is $50, was trading at $1,297 today. It’s one 1.001 Troy ounces: market price are traded in Troy ounces.

It’s no wonder that during every political and economic upheaval people have done everything they could to own gold. When I was photographing the refugees escaping Vietnam during the late 1980s, they all escaped with gold coin, ingots, gold jewelry and even miner’s buttons they’d hidden from the communists.

In the US, during the start of the regime of FDR, major uproar occurred when he ordered the confiscation of privately held gold (yes, purchased at a price, but not what it was worth—refusal meant major fines and imprisonment), and made it illegal for the private citizen to own gold, except for dentists and others who used gold for their professions, and even then in small quantities. It only affected those in the poor and middle class who weren’t able to ship their gold to banks in Europe. The original meaning of “sniping” in the gold prospecting community came into use at this time.

Sniping, in the traditional sense and its contemporary definition, will be the subject of many upcoming articles with which to aid you in your first steps: the original definition described hiding a pan, a small geologist’s pick, tweezers and a medicine bottle, and perhaps a climbing rope, into a daypack and heading out into the hills. Slung over their shoulder might be a rifle, shotgun or fishing rod to create the ruse of doing something else than gold prospecting and mining.

To some this might be dated, but in a time when the economy is in the tank, the “free press” is in the pocket of the governments and a sounding board for false and fudged statements about what’s really happening, while smalls independent businesses are being sucked dry to feed bigger and bigger government, turning what I call THE PYRAMID OF WEALTH on its head, where government has gotten so large it can only survive as long as the ever-shrinking free market can support it with its taxes; being able to go out into the wilds, get your own gold and not letting the whole world know how much you’ve got might once again could mean what it meant back in the 1930s: whether you lived or starved…

The key is to get proper knowledge about gold, prospecting for it and mining it from the earth. And I’m totally coming from the point of a conservationist, doing so in a non-heavily impacting manner on the environment. Contrary to what you may have gathered from some of these shows: you don’t need a $200,000 or more, to make as much gold mining that you could surpass your present income in an office job. It’s not for everyone.

It’s hard work. You do have an element of luck. But, as you’ve probably gotten to know me through my writing; though there’s always “dumb luck”, consistent good luck is the result of thorough research, proper planning, and a plan put into action, with adjustments made to reach a goal.

What you’ll learn from upcoming interviews from those I consider to have “got it together” those who are squared away with their knowledge, people like Mike Pung, co-owner and co-developer of the Gold Cube and Todd Osborn, owner and developer of the Bazooka Gold Trap, along a with a number of gold prospecting and mining product manufacturers and developers is that these people are miners and prospectors first, who got a fire to improve what is out there and make a tool that does what it’s supposed to do: make your better at what you’re trying to do!

Oh, and you’ll learn how to do much better than my introduction to gold mining in the Interior of Alaska: you’ll learn that you don’t have to come up to Alaska to find your gold, and you’ll definitely learn how to get much more gold than what was got by the investors on that operation, $200,000, almost six months of work that included shuttling equipment to a remote claim only visited by float plane or helicopter: half an ounce…as Jimmy Horton used to sing, “North to Alaska…the Gold Rush is On!” Well on TV it is, but you don’t have to go to Alaska, since just about every part of the world has gold (only 10-percent of it has supposedly been recovered since the beginning of time): the key is to get it in amounts worth the effort and expense…come on back for how to do just that in the upcoming articles, and Cork’s Outdoors TV/radio shows!

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CORK’S OUTDOORS COMPETES ON FINNISH TV’S “AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE”

Posted on 23 June 2012 by Cork Graham

California draws visitors from all over the world. Some come for the wine. Others come for the sun. Many come to see what has been described by such literary luminaries as Jack London and John Steinbeck. It was Steinbeck Country (the Duckworth family, depicted under a pseudonym in The Grapes of Wrath, has a family graveyard and ranch just down the way) that a production team from Finland’s JIM TV had come to film an episode of AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE. The main ingredient was to be the well-known feral hog of California.

Within an hour of meeting the cast and crew at the gate to Native Hunt Ranch, we were onto pigs. They were huddled under the overhang of a large, old oak when we came over the knoll in a four-wheeler. I knew they had to be there what with how a cold snap and rain had rolled in the night before. I breathed a sigh of relief as they weren’t where they normally were on Native Hunt Ranch. There was a lot riding on getting a pig today. I had a new AR-15 that UT Arms had specially made for our sister online publication, GCT Magazine, that need to get practical use, and I was guest-hosting a new cooking show for Finland’s JIM TV satellite channel. AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE had come out all the way from Helsinki to see how we hunt and eat in Monterey.

Frankly, I was actually delighted with how swiftly things were happening. Though I have spent a bit of time at rocker and friend, Michael Riddle’s Native Hunt Ranch, and enjoyed watching the multitude of animals on the property, there’s nothing guaranteed in nature. Normally, the pigs like to hang out in a canyon that bisects the ranch, a thoroughfare between the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base on one side, and another ranch on the other.  It wasn’t very comfortable navigating across the green hills of Monterey County in the early morning drizzle, and so I knew the pigs had the same problems. Like the log house lodge that serves as respite from the cold and rain to guests, the shelter  under California oaks provides the same.

When we encountered the feral hogs, I pointed to a glade of oaks, and hushed, “Pigs!” Henry Dhuy, the cameraman, grabbed his equipment from the back of vehicle. I grabbed my AR-15 from its case, and did my best to chamber a round quietly. The pigs were tired from what must have been a horribly unsettling night of rain, thunder and lightning, and were sluggish in making a break from comfort: all of them were huddled next and on top of each other to keep warm from the wet and cold. By the time I edged over the hill, and checked back to make sure the Finnish cameraman was ready, two had come to their feet. One of them would be mine.

Laying the forestock of the AR-15 on a collapsible bipod, I quickly lined up the crosshairs on the smaller of the two pigs. This was a cooking show and I was doing my best to get the best-tasting porker in the bunch, 50 yards away. With the RR-CQLR’s crosshair bead centered on a point made by an imaginary crossing of two diagonal lines, from base of ear to eye on the other side, I touched off a round. The 65-grain hollow-point hit the 55-pound sow, and she jumped straight up in the air, just like countless cottontails I’ve shot in the head with a .22LR. After a few photos to record the event, we transported her over to the skinning shed on the other side of the ranch, and began the quick process of gutting and skinning the perfect-sized porker. Innards are oft lost in this modern day.

“You want the liver and kidneys?”

I think it’s because so many hunters, and even cuisine enthusiasts, just haven’t been taught the merits of liver, heart and kidneys. Our parents delighted in these. Our ancient ancestors, long before the advent
of agriculture thrived and survived on these, so much so that it was all they needed….and they didn’t get tooth cavities which became more prevalent as we moved from hunter/gatherers to farmers, from meat to grains.

“Do you want to work with these?” I asked our culinary masters from Finland. Chef Henri Alén, and Sommelier Nicolaus Thieulon, are co-owners of the successful Muru Ravintola, a French and Italian fusion restaurant in Helsinki. Veterans of a variety of cooking and travel shows in Finland, they’re well-versed in not only cuisine and but also pairing good food with wines. They took the liver, kidneys, heart and ham. I took the ham and the backstrap. The meat cut like butter it was so tender.

Heading back to the lodge’s open bar and roofed kitchen, we began work on meat preparation. I was going to offer my old bear, deer and wild boar standby Vietnamese-style marinated and grilled meat on rice noodle and salad, for the competition. The Finnish team opted for wild boar bourguignon.

Knowing the Fins have a long history with firearms, not the least of which is noted in history and present day by Sako, a manufacturer of fine rifles and ammunition, I invited the hosts to do a bit of target shooting off the back deck at a metal target stand 50 yards away. I’d been looking forward to getting more practice with a GLOCK 17 and my new favorite 1911, the S&W 1911TA. Emptying the 1911’s magazine into the target, the show’s producer, asked if he could have Henry Dhuy, a Los Angeles-transplanted cameraman, collect some video of me teaching an impromptu basic pistol shooting class, albeit at very long ranges.

Alén and Thieulon were ringers. Henri attributed his great shooting with the Glock 17 to his days as a recruit in the Finnish Navy.  When we were done it was time for me to get to work on the grilling of the meat component of my dish so that both our dished would be ready at the same time. I’d say more, but that would be cheating the viewers of finding out who won the competition. According to the producer, this season is presently being being edited and will be broadcast on JIM TV spring 2013.

 

Explaining the recipe…

So what was it like to be on Finnish TV? Very edifying! Here in the States, aside from language-dedicated audiences, such as those of Canal 14, we shoot in English for an English speaking audience. In Finland, a nation that was one occupied by Russia and Sweden, the production team shot English with me, and then in Finnish and Swedish between Alén and Thieulon. It gave me a lot to think, and you’ll begin to see some add-ons at Cork’s Outdoors, and our other multi-media publication, GCT Magazine, for our international audience.

 Hunting the Black Rifle

When hunters began using AR-10 and AR-15 rifles many words were fired back and forth between two camps. One camp considered the introduction of the “Black Rifle” a pall on the activity. The other camp lauded the attributes of the AR as a fine addition to the hunting community, either with a full 30-round magazine, for varmint control, or a five or 10-round for big and small-game. Many of those in either group can often be determined by their generation.

Many more options, many more calibers.

Those over thirty years old are often in the first group. They were also likely to have had their first experience in hunting with a more traditional lever action, pump, or bolt-action rifle. AR enthusiasts, on the other hand, were often introduced to the AR-style of rifle through M16/M4 they were issued in the military, or attracted to the firearm through watching action-adventure movies. Perhaps they purchased a civilian version of weapon they carried during their youth and want to recapture that part of their military life, and used it to plink and enjoy the relaxing activity of target shooting. Unlike the other shooter who probably graduated from a learning to shoot with bolt or pump action wood-stocked and started hunting small-game, then developed into a big-game hunter, the shooter first introduced to shooting through the military, had never hunted, but suddenly wanted to try it out, especially if they’re part of the “slow-food” movement that has sprung up in response to Michael Pollan’s bestseller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. They went to the firearm in which they were well-versed: the AR platform.

Personally, I have no problem with the use of using AR type rifles, though I also prefer to hunt with a more traditional bolt-action or lever-action rifle. I’m not partial to shooting fast with a rifle having the type of pistol grip on AR and AK-type rifle. It’s a smoother transition to shoulder a rifle or shotgun from a two-handed, ready, carry with a traditional type of grip, like the straight, English-style grip on a Winchester 1894, or a curved grip on a Model 70. An AR15 on the other hand makes, because of its overall design, for a precision rifle for shooting from a rigid position, a stand or a blind, with a platform a set of shooting sticks. The reason is that the pistol grip  found on Black Rifles positions the trigger hand in a very relaxed position when the rifle is shouldered and enables the shooter to put all tension into the trigger finger.

In the world of traditional hunting stocks, this positioning of the grip hand is accomplished by either adding a pistol grip to a slightly modified stock, or forming a stock in the manner done for a thumbhole stock. One of the most accurate rifles I ever owned, the Savage 93R17 BTVS, was a true tack driver, for not only the stainless steel bull-barrel and AccuTrigger, but also the thumbhole laminated stock.

With regard to whether using an AR-15 or AK-47 is sporting or not, is pretty mute. Most states already require a round limit on magazines. Also, most hunting situations offer only a few viable shooting opportunities before the animals make it to safety: while shooting to remove the enemy’s will fight is the norm in war, incapacitation; shooting for a “clean kill” is the objective in hunting. Regarding overtake, there are laws and whether the shooter is a law-abiding hunter, or poaching game hog, is irrespective to what firearm the person in question is carrying. Finally, do you think the animal being shot really cares how sporting it was that you just killed it with a 5-shot bolt action rifle, or AR15 with a hunting regulation-required 5 or 10-shot magazine?

Whether you hunt with a traditional wood or composite stock, or an AR15 rifle that was originally designed to arm soldiers, is your prerogative. How you carry yourself in the field is was matters, and just as importantly how much time you spent on the field getting to really know the ins and outs of your firearm of choice, and its ammunition, to make sure that your shot is fast and efficient, both for the least amount of duress to the animal targeted, and the increased likelihood its flesh will be delicious at the dinner table.

Cork Graham is the publisher of GCT Magazine and Cork’s Outdoors. For his latest books, writings, and appearances, follow him at www.corkgraham.com, Facebook and Twitter. He is also a small-arms instructor and security consultant with ETS; for more information visit: www.emergencytacticalskills.com

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Cambodian Honey Marinade Bear Steaks

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Cork Graham

Don’t eat anything with a face a mother could love. You’d think this phrase was only the slogan of the vegetarian, but I can almost hear the bane to sound wildlife conservation rear its ugly head even in hunting circles.

That’s where in lies the apprehension of even the hungriest hunter when the topic of culinary conversation falls on the bear. Everyone’s willing to go out and blast a buck, or drop a duck. They might even do the proper work of thinning out coyotes. But will they drop the same hammer on a large Teddy bear?

“Oh it just looks too much like a human when it’s skinned,” is the other retort frequently used. Now, if Fish and Game used these emotionally driven ideas to run their wildlife management programs we’d be in real trouble…wait a minute: they do run their programs based on emotional responses by the public!

Not that the research isn’t there provided by biologists. It’s just that in California, the DFG doesn’t want to ruffle too many feathers: they do have to get paid…but should their pay be based on how they make people in San Francisco and Los Angeles feel all warm and cuddly? Or, should they be taking care of a predator population gone rampant, while the major prey dwindles due to too many deer tags sold for deer zones, Mexican cartel growers setting snares and booby-traps, lack of burning for fawn protection and increased food potential (USFS/BLM is terrified of getting sued by homeowners if their home accidentally burns down), and major mountain lion populations left unchecked?

We have a really big problem in California, as do most of the states along the Pacific Coast, where we’ve let city votes control country wildlife: does a person who’s never set foot in the country except for perhaps an annual picnic local park have better knowledge about wildlife behavior and habitat than a biologist who spends 200 days a year tracking populations? According to the continued moratorium on hunting mountain lions, that only helps the ignorant sleep at night, but has actually led to more lions killed under depredation tags and the rancher’s Tripe S (Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up) than would have ever fallen to a hunter population carrying a mountain lion tag during a set hunting season.

Until California gets its wildlife management practices under actual control of those who are paid to know what to do, i.e. the DFG biologists, we can at least we can do our part to help the deer population by thinning out the next largest predator population, the black bear, in California…and if what I’ve heard rumored is true, there might within a few years be a California bear hunting season with no limit as I enjoyed in Alaska—YES! THERE ARE THAT MANY BLACK BEARS IN CALIFORNIA…when you have bears, coyotes, and mountain lions coming down into heavily populated areas in search of food, it’s because their bigger brother kicked them out of their home area.

And with something as tasty as black bear meat, I’m still perplexed as to why people continue to avoid putting them in the meat locker and cooking them for a fine meal. After all, up until the early part of the last century (the selling of wild game became illegal in 1918), black bear had an honored place on menus in the most respected restaurants of New York.

For me, as I’ve been under the gun with the release of two new novels this year, the re-release of my 2004 bestselling Vietnam Prison memoir, The Bamboo Chest, in Kindle, and a new memoir (I call it the Marley & Me for combat veterans), bear meat has been a true source of comfort: it’s rich like an amazing beef steak, and yet sweet like pork. If you were to ask me my rating on meats, it goes this way from top to bottom: moose, black bear, antelope, wild boar, mule deer, blacktail deer…black bear, especially one that’s been feeding on manzanita berries or black berries, is that good!

In the last few months, I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting. This might be my best bear steak recipe of all. Yes, even better than my Scots Drambuie-Berry BBQ sauced black bear steak…It fits so well with what fellow hunter born under the sign of the archer Chef Marco Pierre White says, that food goes well served with what it eats. And what does a black bear enjoy most than honey?

Khmer honey-marinated black bear steaks grilling on a Big Green Egg.

Khmer Honey Marinade Black Bear Steak Recipe

Ingredients :

· 1½ lbs black bear steaks

· 1 tbs garlic, minced

· 1 stalk of lemon Grass, chopped

· 1 tbs soy sauce

· 1 tbs oyster sauce

· ¼ tsp salt

· 1 tbs honey

· ¼ tsp black pepper

Nuoc Mam Cham (This is the sweet delicious dipping sauce you get served with Chai Gios [Imperial Rolls]) It’s a little sweeter than Khmer, but works fine:

· ½ cup Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce)

· 1 cup cold water

· 2 tbs brown sugar

· 2-3 tbs white vinegar

· 1 tsp fresh lime juice

· 1 Thai bird chili finely chopped

Steps :

1. Put the bear meat in a large container and set a side.

2. In a blender, put garlic, green onion, soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt, honey and black pepper, blended well.

3. Pour the prepared marinade on the bear meat, mix well, cover it and refrigerate it over night, or at least 4 hours.

4. To grill, lay the marinated bear on the grill at a medium temperature, cook until meat tender and singed on both sides and there’s no pink juice leaking when you pierce the meat to test. A great carmelization will occur that seals in the juices and adds to its moistness, though cooked through. Because of the possibility of parasites in bear, you need to cook to a central temperature of 155 degree Fahrenheit.

5. Slice the steaks and serve them hot as an appetizer with rice, or wraps meat with rice noodle, lettuce, herbs and dip in the nuoc mam cham.

Bon Apetit!

Related Articles:

· Veterans Day Mendocino Black Bear

· Hank Shaw’s Bear Pelmeni

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