Posts Tagged With: chef Randy King

Rattlesnake Round-Up

On the long list of dumb things I have done in my life I often count my adventures rattlesnake hunting.

Most days don’t start off snake hunting, they just develop into it. This past year I only nabbed one snake and it was at the prompting of my sons. When I was younger however my snake hunting escapades were much more involved.

While out whistle pig hunting one day in the 90’s I encountered a rock bluff south of Boise that looked like it would give me ample elevation for shooting. My buddy Ryan and I gathered our 10/.22’s and headed out across the sage and hills. When we arrived took a seat, cracked a beer and began to look around. I then heard the rattle sound off next to me. On my right was a snake, not big but big enough.

I jumped up – not so much scared but not wanting to get bit either. Looking around I found a rock and a stick; both critical in a snake hunters arsenal. Sure I had a gun but I had no intention of firing a .22 bullet square into lava rock. Quickly I smashed the snake with the rock as close to his head as I could manage. This does double duty on snakes when hunting them. First it breaks there back, normally and this limits how far they can strike. Second hitting them with a rock most often causes them to run and not hold their ground. A snake on the run is much less dangerous than a snake on the defensive in a tight coil. I have never had a snake strike at me after I it with a rock – sounds odd but it seems to work for me.

With the snake on the run I used the stick to pin it to the ground right behind the head. With one quick motion I pulled out my pocket knife and severed the snakes head. I hooted a little and my buddy Ryan gave a quick mocking round of applause. I buried the snake head under a large rock to prevent it from causing harm to others in the future, legend says rattlesnake heads can hold there poison for months on end.

I won. BBQ at my house...

I won. BBQ at my house…

Often in the spring when you encounter one snake others are nearby as well. I have run across several dens of snakes in my adventures – and this was a particularly nasty type. (I found a 30 pound ball of garter snakes under a stump one spring, one of my boys still talks about it) Knowing snakes den up I began looking for more snakes, a.k.a trouble.Stratleing a small gully at one point Ryan pointed out that I had two snakes directly below me. Curled on themselves unaware that I was about to be hunting them. One of the snakes began to rattle, I smacked it with a rock. The other snake began to crawl off, I grabbed it by the tail and tossed it out of the rocks and into a sage brush.

With some of the best Wild West shooting I have ever seen Ryan proceeded to head shoot a moving rattler, still in the sagebrush, with one shot. Best part – we were hunting that day in Teva sandals, cut off blue jeans and no shirts. The other snake, now trying to escape, received a stick to his head and a quick cut on the neck. Three snakes down, a good day snake hunting.

Some years I get lucky and my truck tires do most of the work for me on rattler-snakes, I aim for the head. I have cast a bass gig into a crack in the rocks and hooked a rattlesnake before, he was a fine campfire meal. One especially stupid day gathering morel mushrooms in Riggins Idaho I watched a local redneck PULL, I shit you not, the rattle off a snake with one hand while distracting it with his other hand. Unreal. Stupid. Perfect stories for the grand-kids.

Luckily I have managed to get this far in my life without being bitten by a snake, but it is still questionable that I should have passed on my genetics. The jury is out, hopefully my boys take after their mother. To this day when I go out in the desert I wear long pants and boots. I have done burned up my snake killing karma in stupid gear.

How to Cook a Snake

Ok, so now the snake it dead. Just what the hell do you do with it? Start off my skinning a gutting the thing immediately! Why? Snakes piss when they die, that pee will get on everything that you own in a short manner of moments and the smell will never come out. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating but snake pee stinks. Do yourself a favor and get it off the meat promptly.

Next, if you can, cool it down. Like any other meat heat is your enemy. On particularly hot days fishing I will soak the meat in a section of moving river water to cool it down. After the meat is cool store it somewhere out of the sunlight and cool. The shade of a tree or in a water proof bag in a river or stream.

To cook the snake I often employ the sausage rope method. With a few sticks I will roll the snake up into a tight concentric coil, see picture, and then skewer the meat into one big wheel. Why? It find this keeps the meat moister than not. Snakes do not have a huge amount of meat on them in the first place so I want to enjoy what I do get.

I have cut the snakes into one inch sections as well. These I often serve in a Thai style curry soup with sticky rice. Recipes for grilled snake coil and soup are below.

The Idiots Guide to Killing a Snake

No. 1: When I hear the rattling, I back away from the snake and find a big rock and a long, sturdy stick.

No. 2: I use the rock to crush the snake as close to its head as possible. This will break its back and shorten the distance that it will be able to strike at me.

No. 3: I use the stick to pin the snake down and then step on the snake right at the base of its head. I never leave any room behind the head or the snake will try to strike me.

No. 4: I cut off the snake’s head.

No. 5: I bury the head.

No. 6: I put the snake in a bag, put the bag in my pack and think about how glad I am to be taking something home for dinner.

Idaho does not have a season for snakes. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game lets a person take up to four rattlesnakes per day with no more than five in his or her possession.

Snake Fried Rice

Yeah, that’s right, snakes and rice. This recipe came out of a trip to Taiwan a few years back. I ate snake in a market after a few to many beers with the Consulate. It was served in a ricey-broth that was packed with ginger, mint and cilantro. It was amazing.

I can’t seem to ever get the broth right but I have managed to make a mean fried rice interpretation.

The Rice

½ cup dried white rice

1 cup water

Add rice and water to a small sauce pan. Heat until boiling then turn to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice is cooked. Remove from heat, let stand. DO NOT STIR.

The Flavors

 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I love using bear fat, but canola or sesame oil will work)

1 ea rattle snake cut into 1 inch sections (or 10oz chicken for the weak hearted)

3 tablespoons fine diced ham

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 clove garlic

1 egg

½ cup sliced cabbage

¼ cup shredded carrot

1 cup cooked rice

1 tablespoon siracha

1.5 tablespoons soy sauce

 

¼ cup packed cilantro and mint leaves (50/50 of each)

2 tablespoons sliced green onions

A non-stick pan works best for this dish. Heat a medium sized sauté pan or wok if you have it, on medium. Add the oil and brown the snake sections. Remove snake from pan. Add the diced ham and brown. Next add the ginger and garlic, brown lightly. Slide all the goodies in the pan to one side and crack the egg into the pan and pop the yolk. Let the egg cook until almost set then scramble it with the other ingredients. Next add the cabbage, carrots and cooked rice. Toss all the ingredients together. Let the rice start to brown a little while cooking, about 3-5 minutes. Don’t stir very often.

Add the siracha and then gently pour in the soy sauce covering as much rice as possible. Add the snake back to the pan, and then add the cilantro, mint and green onions.

Toss all together and serve hot. (Note: the lack of salt and pepper, while I normally recommend their addition to most meals the soy sauce and siracha more than compensate)

 

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How Not to Catch Surf Perch

I knew, somewhere in my mind, that I really should not be fishing right now. The wind was blowing the snow into drifts, then the drifts were being covered with sand and then snow, sand, snow. Creating this mesmerizing layer cake pattern as I punched holes into the drifts with my hip-wader boots. The slowly receding tide was freezing as it rolled out, the breaking ice caused crunching noises as I walked. But, I do not make it to the coast often, so I needed to take advantage of this surf perch fishing opportunity.

Why? Because I have never caught one. Like ever. Seriously, never. Embarrassing, right?Bait/Dinner

This boney little fish has become my nemesis in the Pacific Ocean. I wish it was a white whale, or a blue marlin or even a sail fish in Cabo San Lucas. But no, it’s a perch…but it’s not for a lack of trying.

Frankly, I am at a loss at why I cannot seem to land this bluegill of the sea. I watch people catch five gallon buckets full, tossing out little hunks of clam and sand shrimp that look no different from my bait. Fishing is one of my strong points as an outdoorsman; I know when to set the hook.

I have fished for surf perch during low tide, high tide, slack tide, hot weather, snow storms and rain storms. The one saving grace about my perch deficit is that I It seems that I can catch everything but surf perch. To date I have caught off the coast of Central Oregon and Northern California the following species – bream, grouper, mackerel, rockfish (like 10 types), lingcod, Dungeness crab, red crab, greenling and one ugly SOB I could not identify so I tossed it back.

Almost all of these species are great eating. The only one that is questionable is mackerel, this is a fishy-fish. Some say that all mackerel is good for is cat food. I disagree; it also makes wonderful bait and exceptional sushi.

Over the years of not catching surf perch I have come up with a 3 golden rules, if I follow these rules (I nearly compulsively do) I can almost guarantee myself a deficit of surf perch.

Rule #1 – Fish Near the Rocks

Being an inland fisherman I have a habit of looking for structure when I fish. The idea of simply casting off the sand out into the surf is hard for me to swallow. I assume that fish want something to hide behind or near or whatever. Just like my lake fish and river trout.

But, as I have learned, surf perch have no fascination with this structure. They instead live in that little trough that is formed by the waves digging a small hole in the sandy bottom. This trough stirs up all sorts of critters and sends them floating into the deep blue sea. The surf perch eat the little crabs and clams that the ocean stirs up. For a fisherman then the goal, or so I am told, is to cast a hunk of meat into the trough and hope that a perch strikes.

If you want to pretend to be perch fishing than you should fish near rock out cropping’s or off jetties. What I do is cast out into the surf, simply guessing where the trough is, and with every intention that a surf perch will bite. Then I slowly retrieve my line towards the rocks. I feel more comfortable this way, even if it is totally wrong. Fishing this way and will almost certainly land you something other than a perch.

Rule #2 – Don’t Poke Pole

In a fit of boredom during low tide I started dropping my bait into deep looking holes in the Newport Jetty. Craziest part…I caught a bunch of fish. Only later did I find out that this is a honest to goodness technique, a less refined version at least, of “poke-polling”. The basics of this fishing method are simple – shove bait into the face of an otherwise unbothered fish. The real key to success is constant movement and hole selection. Basically if something doesn’t bite in the first few seconds switch locations. Just keep bumping down the jetty or rocks looking for a fish to bite. One morning I caught 7 in under an hour. I tossed all but one back but it was a great way to kill a little time wishing a perch would bite.

For better success only drop the bait into deep holes, specifically ones where the bottom cannot be seen. As far as set up is concerned I use the typical surf perch rig, drop shot with two hooks coming off the main line. I use clam, squid, shrimp or artificial night crawler. At the Newport Jetty the most common species caught poke polling will be greenling. I hear that along the coast of northern California you catch monkey faced eels. Not bad options when the Surf Perch refuse to bite.

Rule #3 – Don’t Judge the Man Fishing a Bobber

Look, bobbers and jigs work. Just not on surf perch. What I do is set up a ½ ounce head on one of those big red bobbers from Kmart, maybe about 4 feet of line between the two. Then I’ll cast along the rocks and slowly retrieve. I have nailed the heck out of some rockfish this way before. I have never heard of a surf perch caught in this fashion.

A bobber and a sabiki rig (one of those multiple hook jig contraptions) cast into the surf is a total and complete loss. Never ever do that – you end up with a ball of string and hooks. I have caught a whole bunch of bream with a sabiki and a bobber along the rocks, however.

How to Cook Bait

Some days you win big fishing, some days you do not. This recipe is for a day when you are forced to eat what most others call bait. It’s not halibut, salmon or lingcod – but this recipe will give you crispy skinned fish with great garlic and mustard flavors.

The Bait

8 ea small “Bream” or other bait fish, cleaned and descaled

¼ cup canola oil

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon mustard seed powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper, ground

1 tablespoon garlic powderGreens and Fish

In a medium sized cast iron skillet (they hold heat better, but are not absolutely critical) add the oil and turn to “medium” heat. The goal is to get to about 350 degrees. Turn on the oven to “warm” or the lowest setting possible.

To check the temperature of the oil on the stove simply drop small clumps of batter into the oil filled pan. When the batter bubbles quickly and then floats the oil is close to the correct temperature. If the small scrap of batter browns or burns quickly than the oil is too hot.

Combine flour and all spices in a bowl. Wet the fish slightly and then dredge in flour. Wet again and re-dredge. This double batter will stick better than a single layer. Double batter all fish and reserve on a slightly flowered cookie sheet.

Fry the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the fish turns golden brown and delicious (GB&D). Transfer the cooked fish onto paper towel lined cookie sheet in the warmed oven.

The Green Stuff

To compensate for the fried food I always like a little sautéed super-food as accompaniment. Oh, and mustard greens taste great too.

1 tablespoon butter

1# Mustard Greens

4 cloves Garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Sriracha

Salt and Pepper

In a medium sauté pan add the butter melt on medium heat. Next add the mustard greens and garlic cloves. Cook 2-3 minutes until wilted and tender. Taste – if to bitter add the sugar. If it has no flavor then add the Sriracha. Mustard greens vary from field to field and day to day on the spiciness level. Either way, season with salt and pepper.

Serve the greens over the top of the fried fish.

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Turkey Wings

If you are like me a turkey is a big prize. I have shot roughly triple the number of mule deer than turkeys in my life. So I like to make the most of the meat when I get it.

Frequently recipes for wild birds are all about the breast meat. Sure, that’s it the bulk of the score but other bits can inspire interesting dishes – think wings, drumsticks, liver and heart.

Unfortunately, with most wild birds, the wings often get trimmed off at the shoulder and tossed. This is a shame, especially if you can collect a few. They make an impressive party snack, like pterodactyl wings with BBQ sauce. Trukey Drumsticks

Sticky Turkey Wings

Sticky Sauce

½ cup green onions

¼ cup honey

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons black bean paste

2 Tablespoons siracha

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

Combine all of the above ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve.

Wings

2 each turkey wings, cut at the elbow joint

Sticky Sauce

2 cups water, or more

Toss the wings in the sauce and add them to a crock pot. Pour on remaining sauce. Add enough water to almost cover the wings. In my crock pot this is about 2 cups, yours might be different. Turn crock onto “low” and cover. Let cook for about 6-8 hours. I did mine overnight getting up to check on them at about 3am.

Depending on your crock pot your water level will need adjusted. Also, the black bean sauce will make the reduced sauce look burned. It is not, usually.

When the wings are fall off the bone tender turn off the heat, let cool for an hour and then refrigerate overnight if you can. This extra time allows the flavors to more fully develop in the wings.

Re-heat tightly covered in the microwave make sure to use the sauce that is left in the pan. Garnish with green onions and enjoy!

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Rabbit with Mustard Sauce

 

Delish

Delish

Each year when I see the turkey “Grand Slams” on TV, I pine for the experience, but I am a small game hunter to the bone. Being an optimist I figured I could create my own slam, right? On that note I figured that since I hunted rabbits a lot I had a good starting point. So this year I set out to get a Rabbit Grand Slam, I was going to hunt all four legal rabbit/hare species in Idaho – black-tailed jackrabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits, Cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares. I managed ¾, not bad for a first attempt!To be clear, rabbits are not hares and hares are not rabbits but all belong to the Leporidae family. Hare meat, like the black tailed Jackrabbit and the white-tailed jackrabbit, is darker and much more flavorful than the chicken-y cotton tail rabbit meat. Snowshoes are hares as well, but often are less red and closer to the rabbit than hare.

Normally the meat is ranked, at least in my family, 1. cottontail rabbit, 2. snowshoe hare, 3. white-tailed jackrabbit, 3. black-tailed jackrabbit. Mind you this is not scientific but in terms of edibility it kind of makes sense.

Cottontails due the least amount of running, eat green veggies, and are a white meat species. They are almost bound to taste better. Snowshoes eat softer grasses and also tend to run very little, making the meat all the more tender. White-tailed and black-tailed jacks are a near tie on eating; I think my family enjoys white-tailed jacks more simply because of the novelty. Both black and white tend to eat sage brush and hard barks, not a culinary friendly diet.

Each of these species has its own habitat making an attempt at a grand slam all the more fun. Snowshoes are located in northern pine forests and often lurk in the darkest and thickest brush possible. I actually shot mine this year because it looked like snow had fallen inside a stump, but the cover was too thick for snow to reach that location. He stood out well on the brown undercover, his pure white body a beacon to me. On snow I would have never seen him.

Black-tailed jackrabbits are more the classic sagebrush dwellers. With just a little cover, a little water and plenty of open spaces jackrabbits can thrive. I often hunt them on the BLM private property boundaries near fields. They like the extra food and the fence lines often provide a good shooting lane.

White-tailed jackrabbits are a lot more elusive often being forced to high altitude ranges, by the more aggressive black-tailed jackrabbits, with sage brush. Most often I only see them in the headlights of my truck on my way mule deer hunting. These hares can get quite large and their dirty white coat in the winter had me convinced that I had discovered an isolated population of snowshoe hares one year. I was wrong.

Cottontails are my nostalgia rabbit. I’ve hunted them since I can remember, mostly at the brahma bull ranch I grew up next to. We were not allowed guns on the ranch when I was kids so we had to use wrist rockets and our bows. They lived under farm equipment, in the blackberry patches, the trash pile and in the old ditch slag. It was quite a feat to come home with a rabbit that you killed with a rock and rubber band, I’ll never forget it. I did not shoot a cottontail rabbit this past fall, much to my dismay.

This fall I actively hunted rabbits, making special trips in search for each. I found it an inexpensive way to add a little game to my hunting, add some tension and uncertainty. For a bonus I would routinely run into quail, chukar, huns and grouse. It was terrible and SUCH a burden to have to hunt those while after my rabbits. Next year I will be challenging myself to a Rabbit Grand Slam again, if for nothing else than to see some cool country and eat some amazing animals.

Recipe –

If you decide to do the Rabbit Grand Slam in your area your will certainly need a recipe or two. It never hurts to have a classic recipe at the ready. The classics are classic for a reason – they are typically awesome. Caesar Salad, Fettuccini Alfredo, Kentucky BBQ Ribs, Stairway to Heaven – all classics and all are wonderful. In the culinary world some wild game dishes have “classic” status associated with them. One clear example is Lapin a la Moutarde – or Rabbit with Mustard sauce.

The quick and easy of the recipe is to simmer rabbit until tender in white wine, then add cream, mustard and herbs. The combination is heavenly. But, as hunters, we are not often blessed with the most tender rabbit right out of a fancy French market. More often than not, at least for me, I don’t even shoot rabbits. Most often I shoot hares, a completely different species. To use a hare for a classic rabbit dish is close to heresy BUT we can do this, together.

First things first you must brine a hare for this type of cooking. Unless you stick a jackrabbit in a crock pot for 4-6 hours you are not going to get moist and tender meat. That said you can brine hare meat and fool everyone in 2 hours. Brining artificially overhydrates meat thus making it moist when cooked/overcooked.

Second thing – you must debone the hare leg. In the classic rabbit dish the thigh bone is left in. if this is done with a hare, it takes longer to cook. So, debone the leg, stuff it with thyme and mustard and tie it closed. It works great, see the pictures attached.

The Brine –

A brine is a salty water mix that adds flavor and moisture to meat. For hares, specifically my frequent query the black tailed jackrabbit, I brine for at least 24 hours.

1 quart hot water (4 cups)

1/3 cup salt

¼ cup brown sugar

1 clove garlic, smashes

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

10 pepper corns

Stir all ingredients into the hot water. Make sure the water is as hot as your faucet can produce, or maybe even boil the water.

Let brine cool to room temp. Add cut up rabbit to brine and place all in the refrigerator, making sure to cover all the meat with brine. Let set for 24 hours.

See here for directions on how to properly cut up a rabbit/hare.

Deboning the hare leg

2 ea hare back legs

1 sprig thyme

1 tablespoon mustard

Butchers twine

The big back legs of a wild hare are daunting. They are a working muscle and are NOT tender cuts of meat. So, what does a hunter do with them?

After removing them from the body flip them so that the inside of the thigh is facing up. You will notice a line that follows the leg bone. Starting at the ball joint cut along this line until you reach the “knee” joint. Then work the tip of the knife under the leg bone working it free of the thigh.

When the done is removed from inside the thigh it will still be connected to the knee joint. At this point I use blunt force and twist the bone until I hear a crack of cartilage, then I will cut the connective ligaments and tendons and pull off the inside thigh bone.

Spread open the leg meat and place one sprig of thyme in each leg. Then spread half the mustard in each leg. Tie each leg closed.

Legs are now ready for the recipe.

Rabbit with Mustard Sauce

1 hare or rabbit cut up and brined

Salt and pepper

½ cup AP flour

2 tablespoons Butter or Olive Oil

½ small red onion, small diced

1 cup white wine (something good, drink the remainder during dinner)

Water

½ cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 ea thyme sprigs (1.5 teaspoon dried)

Pat the brined rabbit dry with paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper. Roll the cuts in the flour and reserve on a dry plate.

In a medium sauté pan with a lid heat ½ the butter or oil. When hot, but not yet browning, add two or three of the rabbit or hare sections to brown. Cook on each side 2-3 minutes until a golden crust has formed, flip. When browned on both sides remove back to plate. Add remaining oil and brown the remaining rabbit sections.

When all the rabbit is brown add the onion to the pan. Let cook for 3 minutes then add all the rabbit/hare sections back to the pan and pour in the cup of white wine. Lower heat to a simmer and cover pan with a tight fitting lid. Let simmer for one hour, check the moisture level every 10 minutes or so and add more water if needed. After one hour check meat to see if it is fall off the bone tender. If the rabbit or hare is more than a year old, it will probably take more time.

Continue to add water and check tenderness until the meat is sufficiently tender. This should take no more than two hours.

When the meat is tender, remove it to a clean dry plate. Turn heat up to medium high and boil the remaining wine mix. Add the cream, mustard and thyme. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce the mixture to a gravy consistency. This should only take 3-4 minutes. Taste the sauce, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

When the sauce tastes good add the rabbit legs back to the pan, turn off the heat and cover with the lid. Let sit for 3 minutes. Remove legs to a platter and pour sauce over the top, garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

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Peaches and Cream Grouse

For some reason my neighbors thought it would be a good idea to let me borrow one of their 90cc dirt bikes one archery season when I was in high school. They also thought it would be a good idea to let me stay in their “cabin” near Stanley Idaho. I must have had someone fooled but I took advantage of the situation.

Me and the 1960’s era dirt bike with my bow strapped to the front found more goat trails and nearly inaccessible areas than my legs ever would have. The problem, I was a young hunter, was all the noise I was making. The concept that wild animals did not wait around to see what the loud noise coming down the trail was didn’t occur to me. After all, the grouse still hung around.Wrong Decade, Wrong State, but still a cool bird

And man would I see a lot of those birds. Families of 5-6 running then fluttering up into a pine tree at eye level. I had never shot one so I just left them alone. Back at the cabin that night I looked up these seemingly slow birds in the upland regulations. I could shoot two and the season had opened the same day as my archery tag. Sweet.

The next morning I found the birds fifty yards from were they had been the night before. They seemed way to calm as I approached them, arrow on the nock.

The first one that I shot was with a blunt. Bad idea. The treed grouse was only about 20 feet away when I gave it hell out of my 55# compound. The blunt went clear through the breast of the bird and both came crumbling out of the tree. I tried saving as much of the bird as I could but the breast meat was essentially ruined.

The next grouse I shot was with a broad head, out of a tree again. I am fairly sure that an archeologist will find an arrow is stuck in a tree in the SawtoothNational Forest that has my name on it. The bird, luckily, came sliding off the shaft of the arrow and tumbled to the ground. Yet again most of the breast meat was ruined.

Limited out on grouse I went back to thinking a deer would be standing in the road just around the next corner, to no avail.

Back at the cabin I boiled up the remainder of the meat and had a nice snack. I vowed that I would figure out a non-wasteful manner of harvesting these birds with my bow. That…or just come back up with the dog and shotgun.

Tips for grouse hunting

With a bow I have found that a good judo point works great on grounded and treed grouse. I carry a judo point on my bow during archery season that I mark a special color, easier to identify. I would hate to have a judo point on the knock when sneaking on a buck.

Good six shot is normally more than enough for a grouse. But sometimes they flush fast after some pressure. At that point I switch to a size four “long shot” on my 16 gauge. These seem to give me an extra 10 yards or so of range and that comes in handy putting birds down.

Turkey season is a great time to do some grouse “scouting”. In the spring the mating call of a grouse is a distinctive low tuned thumping noise. The males pick a location, often a fallen log, and make that there home base. They hang near this log all year round. If you hear the thumping in the spring remember the location, or better yet mark it as a waypoint on your GPS. The bird should be within a few hundred yards of where you heard him in the spring.

Young grouse are just flat stupid; they are called “fool hens” for a reason. These birds make awesome “practice” for young bow hunters. I would carry my bow behind my father all season just for a shot on a young grouse. In grouse prone areas I have even made self bows and arrows and hunted the birds for more sport. Nothing says “mountain man” like coming out of the woods with a grouse and a self made bow.

Flocks of Sage Hen tend to frequent the same areas year after year. They stay in “stands” and when you know a flocks location keep it a secret. I have hunted the same bowl in OwyheeCounty for 4 years in a row. Limiting out by 8am most days.

Know your different types of grouse. Some areas have sharp-tail and sage hen, but only sharp-tail is open season. Shooting the first chicken that takes off can lead to some tense moments if the wrong type of bird is on the ground.

Know the coverage that holds birds. In tree lined areas I tend to hunt the ridgelines with the buck brush. In heavy cover I tend to hunt the logging roads. Your area is different so take notes from year to year about what type of area holds birds and what does not.

Tips for cooking Grouse –

A grouse, aside from a sage hen, is just about the closest wild-game animal to a chicken that I can think of. As such, I treat the bird as if it was a chicken. First, I will decapitate and then pluck the bird. Then I will disembowel, saving the heart and liver for a fireside snack. A big grouse will then surprisingly resemble a skinny legged chicken.

Since the meat on a grouse is white it will need to be cooked until it is well done or 165 degrees. This will kill just about any bug or parasite that the fool hen might have.

When cooking a grouse, just like a chicken, the recipes for the breast are always the easy ones to come up with. Chicken Parmesan, chicken alfredo, chicken piccatta are all great classic ways to eat the bird. The one problem with those recipes – what the heck do you do with the rest of the grouse.

One cool thing that I like to do is separate the “tenderloin” off of the breast meat and then use it as stuffing for the thigh meat. First I breast the bird out just like I would normally. On the bottom side of the bird will be a little finger of meat that is no longer attached to the breast. This is the “tender” or the “strip” that has accompanied countless kids meals for the past 100 years. Remove the tender and set it aside.

Then, I take the legs and separate them out at the thigh/knee joint. With the tip of a sharp knife I will then remove the equivalent of the femur bone from the thigh meat. Folding the tender onto itself I then will place the meat back where the femur had come from. Using the skin and a thin slice of Prosciutto (cured Italian pork leg) I then wrap the whole package, placing it seam side down to allow the natural moisture to form a seal.

These little thigh/tender bundles are great for grilling. Bacon will also work as a substitute for the Prosciutto but it will often over power the flavor of the grouse.

Peaches and Cream Grouse Bundles, Serves 2

4 ea Prosciutto grouse bundles (see above)

1 ea almost ripe peach

1 shallot, fine diced

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and pepper

Mint sprigs

Heat grill to medium high. Bring a small sauce pot of water to a boil, just big enough to hold the peach. Cut an X on the bottom of the peach and, with a pair of tongs, submerge it into the boiling water and count to 20. Carefully remove peach and run under cold tap water for one minute. The skin should come right off. Core the peach and slice thinly.

Grill the grouse bundles until the juices start to run clear, about 3 minutes on each side.

Heat butter in a medium sized sauté pan on medium high. When butter is melted and clear add the shallots and sauté them until just tuning brown. Add the peaches and the honey to the pan. Let cook for a few moments until the peaches begin to brown.

Add the cream and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the cream gets thicker. Taste the sauce and then season with salt and pepper as needed.

You can serve the grouse bundles whole or sliced, both presentations look good. Serve with mashed potatoes. Dip the bundles in the peaches and cream sauce and enjoy a classic!

Categories: Birds, Not Waterfowl, Blog, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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