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Hunting & Fishing Stories
How I get the game I cook.
Most hunters, as well as those who raise livestock for meat, deal with this paradox: We love what we kill. In this modern age, this is a difficult thing to explain to those who live outside our world. A recent experience with some jackrabbits makes me want to at least try.
I don’t normally get excited about rockfish. They are easy to catch, and are often small. But recently in Alaska, I caught a gigantic yelloweye rockfish. I was giddy, and knew exactly what to do with it: Grilled redfish, or in this case “orange fish,” on the half shell.
Over the past few years I’ve seen the ranks of new hunters and anglers entering these pursuits in search of honest food blossom to the point where they make up a substantial part of the hook and bullet community. Only there’s one thing: I don’t see them joining groups like Pheasants Forever or Trout Unlimited. That needs to change.
Salmon are much more than just a fish. To many Indian cultures, they are a lifegiver, a source of mystical power and force. Like most Americans, I didn’t believe such stories. But after one of the weirdest fishing trips I’ve ever been on, I’m starting to come around to the Indians’ way of thinking.
A great many of you reading this are new to hunting and fishing. My advice is always to work at first with experienced friends – or guides. But there is an etiquette to working with a hunting and fishing guide you need to learn. This should get you started.
Diver ducks have a reputation as smelly, fishy tasting birds. Sometimes that’s true. But as I found out last week, even a clam-eating, saltwater duck can be magnificent at the table. Believe me, I am as shocked to write this as you are to hear it.
I’ve seen a lot of hunters “breast out” a lot of birds this hunting season, leaving the legs and wings for the coyotes – or even just tossing them in the trash. It pains me to see this. It’s my hope, in my own small way, to convince those hunters who do that to change their minds.
I tend to be a home body when it comes to hunting ducks. California’s duck hunting is just so good, I rarely see a reason to leave. But when I got an invite to hunt the Great Salt Lake I had to take it — and it did not disappoint.
Something about squirrel hunting touches me deeply. Moreso than anything else, hunting squirrels in the Eastern forests takes me back to childhood, to the woods that were my home when as a boy. I miss those days of exploration, but they all came flooding back recently in one epic day in Ohio.
Sometimes a hunt is more than a hunt. Sometimes it is a window into the dark reaches of this world, and the next. I came away from my Wyoming antelope hunt with a vision of courage — not by me or by any of my companions, but of the animals we pursued.