The Platte River is in full flush mode. Only fools and parvenus fish during the flush. So Dave Brown and I headed to the Green to throw streamers and get Henderson some boat time. The big browns liked the streams (Peanut Envy in Olive) but hated our midges and dries. Henry growled at passing middle-aged men in kayaks and corresponding beards. He jumped ship at Little Hole and Dave had to haul him back over the gunnels. Otherwise it was a great trip.
I landed a short story in the March/April issue of Gray's. I'm so lucky they continue to support my work. I read the whole issue cover to cover. There's some great stuff in there. I am honored to be in the same issue with Don Thomas and Miles Nolte.
I had a frozen goose and a frozen sharp tail that I kept thinking about. They were in my thoughts as the winter persisted and the small disappointments of living in a Western oil town accumulated. Jason Veggie Burger, who is from Texas and knows a bit about Cajun cooking, kept coming up with excuses. So I soldiered forth and did it myself. At 3 a.m. I put both birds in the pot with the usual suspects (carrots, onions and such). By noon the meat was falling off the carcasses. I let the meat cool, then I built my gumbo. It was terrific and not nearly as difficult as the Coonasses tell you. Here's a photo of the roux and the half-complete gumbo.
This elk roast marinated for four days. Will and Elka, of Casper, WY know how to put on an authentic feed. Will even made authentic spaetzle. If everyone honored their game like this we would see an renewed interest in hunting and fishing that has less to do with trophy and more to do with community. This was one of the most memorable wild game dinners I've ever had. If I were an elk, I'd want to end up as sauerbraten.
The mallards and gadwalls are pouring into Wyoming this year. It's been a terrific migration. Ducks seem to be doing well. Other birds, not so well. Henry is growing in confidence, as well as size. He's physical and excited to be out there, which to me, is the most important quality in a dog. Now if I could only get him to stay. It's gloomy here, hardly any sunlight, and snow every night. But this is duck weather at its finest.
My newest essay, "The Spell of the Yukon" is in the current issue of Gray's. Most of my friends don't have the 13 bucks required to buy a copy of the journal, so I'll tell you what it's about. This story tells the true tale of Bill Mixer's prolonged adolescence as he travels north above the 60th parallel. In other news, the ducks are here and I'm working with Henry to improve his skills (and mine). He's giant now. I never owned one of those 100 pounders, but I think he's heading that way. Below is me and Mike Bailey with a limit of greenheads.
This is a recipe that I, and I alone, have created. What's in it, you say? One half bottle of red wine and half an IPA, onions, garlic, potato, carrots, beef stock, salt, pepper, and bacon. Of course there's duck and elk too, fried then added to let simmer for 5 hours. I blended the whole deal and added a bit of cream before serving. It's a perfect winter dish. Make yourself some. We are in full migration, as it turns out, but I'm hardly moving. There's groups of threes and fours overhead. Henry keeps his eyes peeled.
Back in the day, I'd jump-shoot a pond like this. But years of hunting ducks have instilled an ethos in me that resists the easy shots. We opted to put out the decoys and see if we could call them back later. We ended up with just two widgeon and a bunch of busted opportunities. The problem with widgeon is that they're gullibale, incredibly beautiful, and fleeting. When you shoot a pair you are thrilled, then a bit sad becasue we're talking about about 8 ounces of meat. It crosses your mind that a live widgeon is worth far more than a dead one. But it was a great day, December 9th, the coldest week we've had in years. I hope some of the ducks stick around. Maybe we'll get a crack at the ones we let get away. Henry, it turns out, doesn't mind the ice and cold water. He sees the ducks and geese overhead and sort of glares.