Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jackrabbit (Hare) Ragu

Jackrabbits are considered trash by most American hunters I know.  They don't even bother with them. I've always found this odd as all a jackrabbit is, is an American hare.  Hares are eaten all over particularly Europe.  I seen recipes from England, France, Germany, and Italy among others.  Hares are so popular that D'Artagnan sells Scottish hares to American gourmands for $60 a piece.  So I've wanted to try to see if I could make this meat palatable to my fellow hunters.  I believe I have.  I found an Italian hare recipe from my Culinaria Italy cookbook that I have modified somewhat that is tasty and makes the jackrabbit less gamey and taste more like stewed beef.
  • Jackrabbit
  • A Bold Red Wine
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Bay Leaf
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Juniper Berry
  • Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Italian Parsley
  • Pappardelle
Dice carrots, celery and onion into same size pieces.  In a pot sauté the vegetables for a few minutes, do not cook all the way.  Crush the juniper berries and add with the fresh thyme and bay leaves.  Add half the bottle of red wine and boil until alcohol is cooked away.  Remove from heat and let cool.  While the marinade is cooling, butcher the jackrabbit into bite sized pieces.  Once the wine is cool add to the butchered jack and place in the fridge overnight.

The next day remove all the meat from the marinade and pat dry.  Strain the vegetables and discard the red wine marinade liquid.  In a cast iron pot brown the meat with olive oil.  Do this in batches.  Remove from the pan and place the partially cooked meat aside.  Now in the same pan add oil if necessary and cook the vegetables from the marinade fro a few minutes.  Deglaze with the red wine and once boiled add the can tomatoes and tomato paste.  Once it begins to boil add the mushrooms and lower the heat.  Place the meat back into the pot and simmer on low heat for three hours.  The longer it cooks the less gamey the meat.  For the last 10 minutes add the fresh rosemary, thyme and sage.

Cook the pappardelle.  Once cooked strain the pasta and add olive oil and chopped parsley and toss.  Ladle a scope of the ragu atop the pasta and drizzle more extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan and chopped parsley. 

Tomorrow's menu is the mallard since its done hanging and aging.  I'll figure out how I want to prepare it tomorrow morning.

Snow Peak Lago 2 Tent

Since seeing Chul's Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 on a trip last year, I've been a bit envious and been looking for an ultra lightweight tent for backpacking.   Naturally the first on my list was the Fly Creek but I looked for others to see if there was a better alternative.  While The Big Agnes is a nice tent, it always seemed a bit delicate to me. 
Until a few years ago weight before never was much of an issue for me, as back in the day my trail buddy, Joel and I would share a three person tent and split the weight between us.  Since Joel was from some mutant strain of pack mule and had high tolerance toward discomfort, he humped much of the weight.  Now that I no longer share a trail with him I must carry all the weight on my own.  So a tent around 3 pounds total weight is definitely appealing to me.
As I write this the Fly Creek now can be found all over the internet for as low as $280 and I was on the verge of buying one until I found out that Snow Peak USA is importing some of the tents here in the US.  I checked to see what they had and I was impressed with the Lago series.  There is the Lago 1 (one man) and Lago 2 (two man).  In my opinion, one man tents are a way too cramp for a extended periods of time so for solo trips I look for two man tents.  Generally I add one "man" when using tents.  In other words when I'm camping with another I opt for a three man tent.  The only time I'd share a tight two man tent with another if I were with a child, dog or a gal.  Otherwise sharing a two man tent with anyone my size or bigger would be much to intimate a situation for me.  Given the minor weight difference the Lago 1 and Lago2 I have no problem lugging a few extra ounces to get a little more space.
While slightly heavier than the Big Agnes tent, the Lago 2 is still a very lightweight tent.  This is a proper four seasons tent and has an impressive overall weight of 3.1 pounds with fly.  Unlike the Fly Creek this is designed for mountaineering and for winter use.  This is done by a stronger and more stable 2 pole X-frame design.  Walls are constructed fully from 20D Polyester with mesh only one the top quarter of the door and a small vent on the roof.  Without a doubt the summer months in this tent will definitely be warmer than the Fly Creek which has the walls and roof covering nearly half the mesh of the total frame of the tent.  This may not be too much a concern though as daytime hours will likely be on the stream or hiking or anything but staying in the tent.  Another aspect that keeps the weight down is that the tent does not include tent stakes.  The instructions recommend using heavy rocks as an anchor.  I have done that before but it assumes that there are available stones large enough to actually hold your tent down.  Otherwise you'll need to purchase the stakes separately.

Given it's lightweight, this tent is not as sparse with amenities as one may think, it does have two tiny side pockets and large pocket running the length of the rear wall.  Also there are several hook tabs on the roof for a gear loft or for hanging a lantern via a carbiner.  At each point of the tabs there is a triangular vent on top of the roof.  The other vent is on the top fifth of the door.  It didn't seem like much to me at first but after sleeping in the tent with the dog there was little interior ventilation when we awoke the next morning.

One aspect unique to this tent is that there is no vestibule in the traditional sense, it does have an interior vestibule with a removable floor plate and the fly extends slightly to create a mini vestibule to shield the entrance from bad weather.  Flooring near the door is held in place by tabs which I'm not quite sure about this feature.  In rough weather will it tract water or snow?  In the heavy rain will the flooring flood or will it be able to keep the water out?  How does it affect warmth in cold weather.  What happens if when you pitch the tent at night and realize that you have actually pitched it on top of an ant colony as Chul and Erika did last spring.  I doubt it will keep those ants from entering the tent. 
Not much has been written about this tent here in the States, so when I researched it on Japanese sites I learned that this tent was made in Japan.  I was sorely disappointed when I received this tent and saw that the one I got was made in China.  I'm not sure if the Japanese market gets domestically made tents whereas exported versions get Chinese made tents or if they just moved production. 

The doorway is a bit cramped and it opens from the bottom.  I'm not a big fan of this as when you open the door you actually have the potential of stepping on the door and therefore possibly damaging it.   I don't believe any regular sized American could possibly fit two people in here.  The dog and I spent an evening in this tent and it was quite cramped even more so than my North Face two person tent which the both us have shared in the past.  This tent is plenty though for one man with enough space for most gear.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Kaiser In His Red Ambulance.
My drahthaar must have some mutant healing strain like X-man's Wolverine.  Sunday night he spent the night limping, whimpering and then screaming before I took him to the 24 hour pet hospital.  After x-rays and an examination the vet could not determine exactly what was wrong with him.  All we knew was it was something with the front left shoulder but there seemed like nothing was broken or dislocated.  It must have been a strain or muscle pull.  Armed with anti-inflammatory and pain medications, I went home listening to my buddy cry all night. 

As Kaiser was now somewhat immobile, I asked my neighbor if I could borrow their kid's Radio Flyer wagon so I didn't have to carry Kaiser all the way, every time he need to go to defecate.  It saved my back.  By Wednesday Kaiser wasn't whimpering anymore and only had a slight limp, he was even trotting in his confident gait.  He even wanted to run though I prevented that.  Today he is running despite me trying to stop him.  He is back to his happy shithead self.

What the hell?  The doctor thought he'd be out of commission for at least a month.  I guess not.  I'll see if I can see my regular doc tomorrow to check him out and see if he is cleared to go back afield sooner than expected.  If that is the case my season my have just been resurrected.   I don't plan on hunting quail anymore as the terrain is grueling on the dog and since its a bad quail year anyhow I'm not losing much.  Ducks, it is and if he gets clear before the pheasant season ends hopefully I can get him on his ring neck retrieve.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rabbit "Oyakodon"

Oyakodon literally means parent and child and is a Japanese comfort food made with chicken and eggs.  Since rabbit does not freeze well I wanted to use my rabbit ASAP.  With Kaiser lame, I haven't been able to go to store and had to figure out what I could make with what I have at home.  Oyakodon is a simple recipe that only requires a few ingredients so I decided to see how it would taste with rabbit.
Rabbit (or Chicken)
Sliced Onions
Soy Sauce (but I like to I use Ninben Tsuyu No Moto)

Begin to cook your rice and while waiting for it to cook, butcher and then chop the rabbit (or chicken) into bite size pieces.
Add all the wet ingredients and sugar in a pan and heat on medium.  Once the liquids begins to simmer add the sliced onions.
Once the onions begin to turn color, about a few minutes, add the chopped pieces of meat and cook for a few more minutes until it is three quarters cooked.
Beat the eggs and distribute evenly the egg all around the pan.  Now do not touch or mix the ingredients any more at this point.
 Cover and let cook until the eggs are completely cooked and some of the liquids have evaporated.
Place your rice in a bowl.
Once fully cooked scoop the egg mixture and place on top of the rice then spread the remaining liquid over top and garnish with nori.

Waterworks Lamson Gear Shower

While I was away on my cast and blast trip I received my Waterworks Lamson Gear Shower.  A portable "faucet" is a nice luxury in the field.  For the longest time I carried a 10L MSR Dromedary Bag with a shower kit to wash my hands, face and more importantly my game and to  less extent my gear.  Unfortunately I bought three of those sets as I kept losing the bag.  I would place them on the roof of my SUV and forget about it and drive off.   Those bags are now littered throughout California fields, most likely picked up by some lucky sportsman who has found them.
Unlike the MSR this shower is more rugged casing made from plastic.  So you needed worry too much about breakage and water spilling all over your vehicle. 
On the backside there is two hooks to attach to your car window.  The system is gravity fed do the taller the car the better flow.  All is required is about two inched of clearance.  Attachment is sturdy and is unlikely to fall off.  Having the water system attached to the window is a benefit to me as its hard to forget about it and drive off.  Also since its made of plastic even if you forget about it and drive off you'll likely hear it fall off so you can retrieve it.
The middle of the can is the cap where water is filled.  I'm not sure if that's an ideal placement I would have rather seen it placed on the top to prevent possible leakage.  Perhaps it was designed here to allow a larger hole and the ability for easier cleaning.  The cap is sealed with a gasket so hopefully that is good enough to prevent leakage.  I don't believe this is intended to be an actual shower so I'm not sure how it will fare with warmed water. 
The tube is conveniently designed to be wrapped around the can.  It is secured by Velcro on each side for tidy transportation and/or storage.
The showerhead is a simple pull out system.  Extending the head turns the water on and controls the flow.  The head is also bigger than the MSR shower.
The flow is decent.  Good enough for wash your hands or wash off the grime from hunting.  This system would also be good for salt water fishermen who want to wash the salt off their gear. 
This system was intended or at least marketed to wash off invasive species from your waders and to rinse away debris and mud from gear.  While that is good, as I have mentioned my intentions are less noble.  The gear shower has a capacity of 2.2 pounds.  As water is 8lbs per gallon that equates to about 10 pounds including the shower system when filled.
On the upper right hand corner is the vent.  Its a simple cap that is attached by a tab to prevent loss.
The Gear Shower looks like a good system and it's manufactured here in the USA.   With Kaiser out of action it might be some time before I can really test this thing out but I like what I see so far.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Last Day. Seriously It Might Be Over.

Our Mountainside View.
We awoke in the morning, with the sun starting poke through the mountains.  I was not sure what to expect. After a poor water year I stopped hunting quail pretty early last year and focused on ducks so with even a drier year this year I didn't expect too much but tried to stay optimistic.
Get To Hunt The Fancy Gun (Merkel 147SL) Today.  A Perfect Motif  For The Day.
I intentionally camped within hearing distance of a nearby roosting area in the hopes of hearing some quail calling in the morning.  When we awoke it was dead silent.  After I broke down camp and set up for the hunt we were off in the direction near the roosting area.  We worked the draw as this is highway for the birds to water.  I saw no sign of tracks.  Kaiser worked hard looking for game but we moved out of the draw to the field.   Reaching the next draw, we entered with hopes of busting a few. 
All we saw was a cottontail that I had no shot as once I saw it, it ran into the thick stuff and was lost.  We climbed out of the draw into the fields and Kaiser would go birdy moving from air scenting to ground scenting but would lose the trail after a while.  Eventually he found a single that wild flushed 60 yards away.  No shot and I marked where it landed.  It went back into the draw we just exited.  We gave chase and I hoped the bird landed high into the draw so we worked the top side of it with no luck.  I had no intention of reentering the depths of the draw again and gave up the chase and moved on.   After what seemed like an eternity of hiking another single, a male, flushed wild.  This time I was able to take the shot but missed with both barrels.  I marked where it landed and we made chase never to find it again.
A Hunter I Met With A Purdey Island Lock.  Very Nice.
At this time I started to sweep back to the truck.  We ran into two jacks and I chose not to take the shot as I already had a jack and didn't want to hump it the next 3miles or so back to camp.  I made it to the draw and I was hearing the beep of an e-collar but couldn't see the dog anywhere.  Eventually I saw the two dogs working, an English pointer and a setter.  I looked around for the owner and finally saw him.  I called out to him to let him know where I was and waved.  He waved back and let me know I was there.  We met up and chatted a bit.  He had saw nothing yet I told him of the pair of singles I saw.  I noticed he was carrying a side by side hammer gun and asked to see it.  It was a Purdey Island Lock!  If I recall he said it was from 1877.  You don't see too many side by side in the field, at least I don't.  We traded guns so we could inspect each of them, I asked if I could take a picture and he obliged.  We said our "good lucks" and I told him f the area I didn't hunt yet and that he might want to try it.  Later I heard a single shot in the direction of where I left him so maybe he had a gotten one.
B&P Shells Have The Sexiest Brass In All Of Shotshells.
We left each other and I made it into the draw where a row of cottonwoods were, as I was struggling to make my way up the high embankment five quail flushed.  My gun was broken as I was trying to get up the wall I had to quickly snap the gun back together and took a shot.  I managed to take one and it fell into a thick area of high grass, broken branches and other natural garbage.  In reality when I look back on it, I shouldn't have taken the shot.  First it was too thick to make a retrieve despite our efforts to, but also it was a small covey and since the birds are struggling I should have just let them go and hoped they repopulate this season assuming they made it.
Lunch Time For Me.
Low on water, we quit and headed to the truck.  The field was loaded with trucks I'm not sure if all of them were hunters but I saw at least 10 trucks!  So I decided to see how one of my honeyholes, "The G-Spot", and rove to it but before I made sure to pick up some water at the local country store. 
The Can Made A Nice Water Container For Kaiser.
The G has always produced nice coveys even in bad years.  Most likely because this spot is known by a few and usually only by locals.  We hunted for hours, searching and searching.  I saw no sign of any birds. 
The Bag.  No Quail, Only A Cottontail And A Jack.
After several hours of hard work we began making our way back.  In a small draw we spooked what I initially though was a cottontail and as I drew my bead on it and fired, I then realized it was a jack.  I didn't intend on taking another jack.  As Kaiser handed it back to me we made a few steps and this time a cottontail emerged.  I took it, hitting him in the head taking both eyes out.  It was not a pretty sight but life and death can be ugly at times.
Much The Landscape Is Now Loaded With These.
By this time we were done with the G-Spot and I wondered if any of those birds made it through the tough times.  There were a few nearby spots and when I reached them I choose not to take those roads.  I was in no mood to off road, even if they were easy trails so I headed to another great area on the way home.  Last year parts of this area were started to be posted with No Trespassing signs.  The area I hunted in the past is public but you need to cross through private land .  All the roads now are posted and there is no easy way to enter the hot spots anymore.  I headed home and asked my new iphone if there was any traffic in (hel)L.A. and showed no traffic.  Shocking.  No traffic on a Sunday at a time when everyone is making their way home from the weekend.  I decided to trust the iphone and take the 5 home.  No traffic my ass.  Siri, you lying whore. 
Waiting At The 24 Hour Pet Hospital As Kaiser Gets X-rayed.
On the drive home Kaiser would whimper every so often, I'd pull over and see what the fuss was about but couldn't tell what was wrong.  As I made it home Kaiser was slow to get out of the kennel.  I figured he was just too tired.  I lifted him out and placed him on the ground and left him relieve himself.  He was slow moving and he limped, crying as he walked.  After hearing him whimper and crying I decided to get him checked out.  He showed no sign of injury all day so I was shocked.  I spent about an hour at the vet's and they don't believe he broke anything but they were unsure since the shoulder is the toughest area to x-ray.  The vet believes it must be a torn muscle or a sprain.  I was given some anti-inflammatories and pain killers.  The dog is out of commission for at least a month not counting recovery time.  That most likely means Kaiser is out for the whole hunting season.  We may get the last few weeks but that's it.  I'll have to look at some of the nearby states that have their season's end in February and see if we can get a hunt there.  This sucks.  Obviously the Thanksgiving hunt I had planned is now off.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Good Cast, Bad Blast

Day 3 of my Cast and Blast weekend was good on the former not so good on the later.  After a grueling previous day of hunting in some of the ugliest weather I've hunted in, I choose to sleep in and spend the morning looking for trout willing to take my fly.  I got on the Lower and managed to hit one of my favorite holes.  I fished it for a while but due to the previous day's weather much of the hole was littered with the river's garbage.  Also it was still a bit early for the fish to awaken so I moved to a few holes down, leapfrogging past a few fly fishermen.  Eventually I made to a hole I once caught my largest trout out of this river.
By this time the sun was starting to poke out and the fishing picked up.  On nearly every cast I was on a fish.  Some were landed.  Some came unglued.  All around fish boiled everywhere.  I kept with the nymphing even when my leader snapped.  I rerigged with it stared all again.  Fish after fish.  None of any impressive size but nonetheless it was fun.  Almost brainless fun.  For the next two hours or so I stayed here catching fish.  Seeing no reason to leave as the fish were willing to take.  I broke off a again and with all the fish taking blue wing olives I finally decided to rerig with a parachute BWO.  With a size 18 fly I had a hard time trying to see my fly I missed way too many fish.  I did have a hefty beast take my fly so hard he broke the leader.  I quit with fish still rising as I left Kaiser in the truck and was worried he might be getting lonely.
Having felt guilty for leaving Kaiser alone in the truck, I decided to see if we could get some more ducks.  I drove south and on the way down I look at field along the 395 that typically will hold elk when the mountains get snowed.  Sure enough a herd of five were feeding.  I could see at least two bulls.
I hit up some areas I missed the previous day as the snow made it too difficult to get into.  We saw nothing.  Not a single duck or quail. 
With those areas barren I moved down even more to the area I hunt the previous night.  Its pretty shocking how the day before the area was completely white with snow and within less than 24 hours its all gone. 
We worked the ditch with no luck.  I checked out some of the ponds nearby and saw a pair of gadwalls that there would have been no way to make a stalk on without alerting them.  Some I drove to an area that I hoped we could do some pass passing.
All we could manage was a jackrabbit.  I'll see if I can make it edible.  I'm thinking some sort of stew.  The fur will make some nice flies.
I decided to leave the Valley and head south.  I considered calling the trip short and head home.  I called some buddies to see if they wanted to meet me the next morning to hunt quail.  No takers.  I headed to a Mexican restaurant that Chul and Erika told me about and there I would decide whether or not to head home or the quail fields.  I chose to see how the quail held up after the dry season.
This trip was originally supposed to be a camping trip but after looking at the weather reports I choose to wuss out and motel it when I finally reached Bishop.  I did bring my camping gear so I was ready.  Not long ago I picked up a new tent and I wanted to try it out.  I made camp at a spot I knew was a good area to pitch a tent as it is flat and away from the road.  It took awhile but I slept like a log.