Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Day To Use My 2013 Fishing License

Because of California's decision to use the calendar year for their annual fishing license, today was the last day we could use our 2013 licenses.  Chul, Erika and I decided to get the most out of our $51.07.  In early summer Chul checked out one of our favorite local watershed and despite our drought the stream showed promise.  With some weather earlier this winter, we hoped the water improved.  While there was more water, it seemed to have less fish.

The hike in was quite brutal and we decided to ditch our original plan and started fishing much earlier than anticipated.  Most of my first fish were dinks with a handful of 6-8 inchers.  Considering Chul and I have caught fish in the 14 inch range here, it was a bit disappointing.  I did manage a fish 10 or 11 inches and that proved the best fish of the day for the three of us.  All the fish were vibrant and coloration was impressive.
Wild Watercress
Chul found some wild watercress and we had some with our lunch.  It was quite good, peppery and slightly bitter quite similar to arugula.

A Magnificent Manzanita 
Berries Of The Manzanita
While hiking deeper into the canyon, I heard what I initially thought was an avalanche of boulders on the opposite side of the canyon.  As we stopped to here it, we realized it was not fallen rocks rather the hooves of the either deer or bighorn sheep.  
Luckily Erika brought her binoculars and we started to look for the animals.  Chul impressively noticed them first (without the binos) and we spent the next 20 minutes admiring them from afar.  There were at least 6 or 7 of them and some were pretty impressive rams.

Seeing those sheep was the highlight of the day.  The low point was seeing a butchered hen trout decapitated.  Near the head was a small campfire where it was cooked, along with the innards smeared all over the boulders.  Among the innards were several of eggs along with cigarette butts and powerbait. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pheasant With Tarragon and Juniper Sauce

After a week of aging in the fridge, I finally cooked the pheasant I took before Christmas.  I spent the last week debating how I should prepare it.  Initially I thought of roasting it whole in a simple Italian style but when I plucked him, I noticed his thigh was too bloodied up to keep whole. 
I butchered him cleaning and removing the meat of the shot up area.  Since this was an old bird I figured I needed to braise it to keep it somewhat tender and moist.  I hoped the aging process would have helped with that as well.

Fresh Tarragon
Juniper Berries
Heavy Cream
White Wine

I don't like wasting usable ingredients like the bones and any meat attached to them.  Since one pheasant carcass is really not enough to make a broth, I cheated making a pheasant broth.  I use the left over bones and put them in a pot with chicken stock with onions and carrots.  Bring to a boil and then simmer.

In a separate fry pan on high heat place some oil and butter, add crushed juniper berries and brown the legs on each side.   Once browned add the wings and brown each side.  By this time the stock should be ready.  Strain the contents and add the broth back to the pot and put back on the heat.  Once eth wings and legs are browned add it to the broth and let simmer. 

With the same fry pan, add more butter and place the breasts skin side down.  Once browned flip over.  When the other side has browned, lower the heat and add chopped garlic and shallots.   Deglaze with white wine scraping the bottom clean.  Remove the legs and wings from the broth and place back to the fry pan.  Pour the reduced broth into the fry pan and add cream.  Once the legs and breast are fully cooked, remove and set aside for now.  Turn up the heat, add the tarragon and reduce the sauce by half.

Once reduced put meat back into the sauce just to rewarm it.  When warm it is ready to be served.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Refill At San Jacinto

With Ed on holiday for the next few weeks, we were able to check out on of our local wildlife areas in the hopes of taking some waterfowl.  Ed brought along his son, Kyle for the adventure.  Instead of trying to kill ourselves waking up early to sweatline it, we decided to try our luck with the refill line.
Ed picked me up at 7am and we headed off to our destination.  When we arrived and signed in we were 32nd in line.  We were offered blind A1, a not particularly desirable location but since Ed needed to be home by 3pm, I thought it prudent to take it and try our luck.  The blind is deep and requires a dog.  It hunts well in the morning but once the sun becomes high it becomes less productive.
When we arrived at the pond we made our way to the blind spot, we flushed two redheads out of the thick stuff.  Of  course our guns were slinged and unloaded so we did not even get a chance to take a shot.  It would have been a perfect shot within easy shooting range.  I've never seen a redhead in the wild so I was pretty disappointed that we didn't even have a chance to take them.
Our blind location was less than ideal, our faces were directly in the sun.  This caused at least one lone flier to flare before we could get a shot off.  Kaiser is a terrible blind dog.  He lacks the patience and simply wants to hunt.  Forcing him to sit and wait is simply torture for him.  So after several hours of waiting I let him run around.  He ended up in the water in the thick stuff behind Ed and Kyle.  While he in there he flushed out the couple dozen coots and the lone teal hiding.  Of course when it flushed out I had my gun broken and laying on my shoulder.  Ed was too late to notice it for a shot.  That hen teal was sitting there for several hours unafraid of us the whole time.
Kyle was getting impatient so I told him to come over to me and I handed him a crappy Haydel pintail whistle that's been in my duck bag unused for years.  Unlike a lousy duck call, a whistle won't spook waterfowl so I let him keep his mind busy for at least a while.  I told him to tell his dad to teach him how to blow it properly.
Around 11 we saw a trio of ducks in the distance.  Two flared away and the single came toward our pond.  Ed and I shot at about the same time and we dropped the bird.  It turned out to be a hen shoveler.  Not exactly a premium bird but at least the dog was able to have some fun and retrieve it and Kyle was able to see some action.
We ended the day sometime around noon and headed home.  It was a ridiculously hot day for waterfowling.  I believe it was around 78 degrees but such is hunting in SoCal.  Not exactly what I was hoping for but at least we had a good time.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Don't Forget!

To Ensure Compliance Might As Well Fish Like This
A buddy of mine has informed me that he recently was cited for not properly pinching down the barb on his hook in the wild trout section of the Owens River.  Actually he did pinch the barb but apparently not well enough to pass the tippet test. This is his first offense ever.  His fine is $500.  In typical California retardation this way overreaching, the dipshits that poached Canyon Lake out of 238 fish , 74 of which were undersized, shared a total fine of $410 for four offenders!  So clearly fairness and justice has been served.  I told him to fight the ticket.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry X-Mas To All

Kaiser and I wish you and your family a safe and Merry Christmas.  If your sense for humor is  juvenile and immature like mine this video should put a smile on your face.  If not I'd recommend you don't watch.

The video from the last hunt.  It's shitfree I promise.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Patina On My New Opinel No. 9

I've been so enamored by my Opinel No.8 that I bought not long ago that I decided to pick up another. This time a size larger, No.9, and with a carbon steel blade.  I debated long and hard when I initially picked up my first Opinel whether to go with a stainless or carbon blade.  Ultimately I chose a stainless steel fearing that I would eventually get lazy and fail to properly maintain it and it would rust.
The Stainless No. 8 and The Carbon No. 9
After using the No.8 for about a month, I feel in love with it.  I started searching the internet admiring patinas that carbon blades acquire.  I began beating myself for not buying the carbon blade instead.  To ease my pain I just decided to pick up another knife.
Carbon blades require more attention than stainless steel blades as they are more prone to rust if not taken care of properly.  One unique feature is that they patina as you use them.  It's a chemical reaction that changes the color of the steel and adds a protective layer to the steel.  But to me that is not the reason, patina simply is aesthetically appealing and full of character.  Some like a uniform patina or a man made design but that's not for me.  I prefer a random pattern.  It's like a poor man's case coloring.
Many force patinas by stabbing their knives in a potato or wrapping a vinegar drenched paper towel around the blade or covering the blade in mustard for an hour or two.  I debated if I wanted to force a patina or to just allow it to happen naturally. I spent a first few days using the knife for normal kitchen duties and it slowly created some patina. I grew impatient and grabbed a lemon and stabbed it with the blade and kept it there for over an hour. The blade has now starting to build some character and will improve with age.  I'm digging the carbon so much I imagine the No.8 will not get much use anymore.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


The Merkel 147SL With A Very Appropriate Sidelock Engraving.
This is the last weekend for the pheasant and dove season so I wanted to take my last shot at a rooster.  Despite his hectic schedule, Ed finally made it afield with me and Kaiser.  He arrived at my place just after 4am and we made our mad dash south.  We made it just before legal shooting time and prepared for the day.   Within the first few minutes we flush with the Rover a couple quail along the river.  There was no sense in pursuing them as they ran into a impenetrable fortress of brush.  A good sign.

We worked several fields with Kaiser giving us two points but produced no flushes.  The birds must have run on him.  Driving to some new areas for me, I was beginning to see more hunters in this area than I have ever seen.  With the mercury rising we found a field of shallow alfalfa around 11am.  Within this area were a flock of large unidentified shorebirds, Kaiser began to get bridy, thinking that these were the cause I half assed my way toward him.  As the large flock flushed so did a cock pheasant.  It took a few moments for my brain to process the information and finally took the first shot at about 40 yards.  In all the excitement I miss about two feet behind the bird.  This caused me to overcompensate with the second and the bird flew never to be seen again.
With the heat increasing we took a siesta and had lunch which allowed Kaiser to cool down and rest.  I really can't stand this SoCal weather.  Its December and it feels like the opener for dove season.  After lunch we worked the other side of the same field that  the rooster flushed.  As Kaiser started to slow down and work more methodically a hen flushed before me.  As we watched to fly away, we began to walk further and a rooster flushed to the right of Ed and he took his first shot.  I saw the bird buckle and appeared to start gliding downward only for a moment and the bird began to lift again.  Ed took another shot but failed to bring the bird down.  As I watched that bird fly away another rooster took flight in front of me and in a panic I wildly shot my first barrel.  I calmed myself and took a proper bead on the bird and took him down with the second shot.  Kaiser gave chase.  It was fun to see the bird and Kaiser play cat and mouse as the cock tried to elude him.  But eventually Kaiser gets his man. 
Kaiser's First Pheasant Retrieve.
This is Kaiser's first taste of pheasant and I'm sure it was sweet.  He has been on pheasants several times but I've never been able to connect with them.  I've always felt guilty about it but I finally got him his bird.  While Kaiser was retrieving the pheasant two hens flushed in front of Ed but of course he had no shot.
The One Inch Spurs.
We worked another nearby field without any success.  This was the field that the hens that flushed in front of Ed landed but even these birds seemed to have disappeared.
Just Some of the Magnificent Feathers of this Asian Import.
Most of the day proved difficult.  We tried our luck on ducks, quail and doves.  We saw all of them but proved difficult.  We managed to see a widgeon in a canal and after giving Ed some bismuth rounds he made a stalk.  Unfortunately the area proved a poor area to make a stalk and the bird flushed out of shotgun range.
We Wait For Dove.
Convinced I could get some doves for Ed, we worked a few productive areas.  The first was a bust.  The second was already occupied and we needed to work in a nearby area.  While there were several doves in the area none were within the shotgun range of Ed's Browning.  I had one which I hit, creating a big puff of feathers.  Despite this, the bird only flinched  turned around and kept flying.  That was it for us and in typical fashion with us while we were packing up several ducks and doves flew overhead.  Typical.  These roosters are now safe from Kaiser and I until next year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mentaiko Pasta

Mentaiko is marinated pollock (or cod) roe from Japan.  It can be eaten plain with rice which is quite good but it can also be eaten with pasta.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
*Optional* Heavy Cream

Remove the roe from the packaging and place in a bowl.  The thousands individual eggs are connected by a membrane.  Open the membrane with a spoon.
 Scoop the eggs off the membrane with a spoon.  Remove the membrane and eat it as is or discard
Mix soy sauce and olive oil with eggs.  If you like a creamy pasta you could add a little heavy cream here as well but not too much as you do not want to lose the roe flavor.   I prefer it without it but you can try it either way. 
Add Chopped chives.  Set aside and cook your pasta in salted water.  Any pasta will do but it is usually served with spaghetti which I believe is best.
Once pasta is cooked al dente, drain and reserve some pasta water.  Then toss the pasta with the roe.  Make sure to coat the pasta completely.  Drizzle more olive oil and if the pasta is a bit dry add a little pasta water. Top with nori and garnish with more chopped chives.
If mentaiko is unavailable in your area this sauce is available in Asian markets in premade form and it is quite good but it is likely loaded with preservatives and it is always best to make it fresh.  I usually only use the premade stuff when I'm too lazy to really do any cooking or if I can't make it to the store to pick up fresh mentaiko.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another Mauser M12 Promo

Rascher Coat- The X-Mas Gift For The Old Man

I picked up the old man's Christmas gift, it's a Rascher hunting coat.  Rascher is a long establish German hunting apparel company.  If you've been reading this blog for long this name should not be new to you as I wrote about the hunting pants I picked up a couple years ago.  Like the pants this coat is made in Poland and is of high quality.  It is a loden wool blend that is both waterproof and windproof.  The blend consists of wool/nylon/cashmere mix.
There are several pockets both on the outside and the inside.  The hand warmer pockets also contain tabs that can hold up the shell pockets for fast retrieve of rounds for estate or rough shooting.  
The shell pocket also holds another hand warmer pocket.  In the rear there is a is a zippable game pocket that is lined to protect against blood. Interior pockets consists of several lower pockets including to large velcroed mesh pockets on both sides.
On the left hand side, there are two pockets one with a flap and behind it is a vertical zippered pocket.  The opposite side contains one vertical zippered pocket.  All of these are good to hold iphones, wallets, knife or similar sized items.
The collar is lined with fleece and holds a rather unimpressive nylon hood which seems very much like they thought of this idea as an afterthought.  The coat is so nice but this hood looks and feels cheap.  Its a bit silly.  The waist band can be tighten for a tapered look.
Both the sleeves and back are articulated for great range of motion and ease of shouldering the gun.  The coat is lined with thinsulate so paired with the wool it should prove warm enough for any Eastern Sierra winter.  I've read complaints regarding the Continental zipper, the zipper is left hand side, which in the States indicates women's clothing.  I guess this bothers some but it doesn't and won't bother my father as our Barbour Beaufort coats are the same and I've never heard him complain about it.  I doubt he even will notice.