We had a rare nice day this week. The winds were light and the temps soared to the mid 40s. I went out to the public access along the North Platte to try for an early season rainbow. I didn't move a fish. But the evening was nice and the dogs got a chance to stretch their legs.
I have a new project to announce. Working with Visitcasper.com , we've come up with a 12 episode newsletter we are calling The Cast. Here's a link https://visitcasper.com/the-cast-the-sweet-stuff/ to the first episode. The Cast will be a place where we will celebrate the fishing around Casper and beyond. I hope you'll sign up and read some issues.
Fresh off the presses, the new edition of The Drake is out. My feature, Mosquito and Char, is in this issue right beside one of my literary heroes, Tom McGuane. My story is a fishing story with a twist. Bill Mixer, my hand model and coffee epicure, is in this version, though we cut his role severely.
I went out with Chad Hanson to look at wild horses and wet a line. The horses cooperated, but the fish did not. I used to not give up so easily, but when your guides are full of ice the line won't flow through your rod, and when you can't cast, why bother? It was a beautiful day and Henderson got to scare up a flock of 14 wild ducks as a bonus.
We finished the upland bird season this week with a limit of roosters. Rocket surprised me by hunting wire to wire, never taking a day off, always being the last dog to load up. Henderson made great strides too, but he gives up early and doesn't quite have it all worked out yet. He loves rivers and fields. He loves to run, but he hasn't quite tuned in yet to what we're going. It will come. It was a great season. Thank god Wyoming has so much public land and walk-in areas. It was a pleasure to meet some of the game wardens this season. Those guys and gals work hard to keep opportunities open for all of us.
This time of year is a good time to take all of those wild bird carcasses and make some stock. I made a bunch this week. I used the legs and thighs of 5 pheasants, a whole woodcock, and the skeleton of a roasted blue grouse. I also baked a slab of Alaska rockfish in lime juice, garlic, and what-have-you. My old dog Rocket has hunted through the season. He's beat up. At 14 (that's 98 for humans) I'm keenly aware that it hurts him. But when a dog like that comes around (and they don't come around) how can you leave them home? After a big day in the uplands, I don't expect him to rise. But he rises, stiffly, and shakes off the years. Look for a post about him later this year.
A blizzard blew in this weekend, stranding truckers, closing interstates, and ruining volleyball and basketball tournaments state-wide. 18-wheelers capsized all over the highways. I did my part by sneaking up to Buffalo, WY for a weekend of pheasant harvesting. The cocks were flying and so was the snow. Some flake where so enormous that I turned on them with my 20 gauge, thinking they were pheasants. What can I say? I did my part. Where were you? Henderson and Rocket were reminded that they are, after all, hunting dogs. They chased roosters all over Johnston County. We ended up in the Occidental, staring at a hefty shot of Eagle Rare, gulping down the loneliness that is Wyoming small town Friday night. The snow plows rumbled all night and we hunted Saturday at first light. The dogs ravished the hotel room, defying my pleas to keep them off of the bed. There wasn't much on tv. Football season is becoming tiresome. Alabama seems to have a fascist-style hold on college football and nobody seems to care. Follow the money. When I got back to Casper I cleaned birds for two hours and then worked to make coq au vin, which means cock with wine for those of you who failed French and much else in your lives. This dish requires half a bottle of Bordeaux. That stateside crap doesn't quite work. If you can't sacrifice a half bottle of Bordeaux then I suggest giving your cocks away to someone who understands vitality. Take your kids to Pizza Ranch.
It's been a quiet fall. John Venable, poet and cheese monger, was out for the leaf change. We camped in the Sierra Madres and soaked in the Hobo Pool at Saratoga. Henry is turning out to be a pure flushing dog. This is his third season. Now you can tell when he scents a bird. He's all business and he seems to enjoy hunting pheasants more than I do, which is saying a lot. Rocket, 14 no, is still getting around. his nose is fading, but he knows where to look. The two hunted well together this weekend in eastern Wyoming. Let s see if we can make something of the season.
This young bull moose followed me around for a half hour on opening day. I was after elk, but couldn't find one to save my life. The moose escorted me along a ridge of aspens. I asked him to go away. I flung insults at him. Eventually, I gave up and sat down with him. The hunting trip turned into a camping trip. Patrick and his son were good company. Fall in Wyoming doesn't suck.