Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hunchback of Dice Lane

Creepy! But I shouldn't be afraid, right?

I'm really not. But Dottie's lime-sized post-injection lump is a tad gross. It's the first time I've had a dog with an allergic reaction from a normal battery of shots. It's actually gone down since I snapped this photo last night, and a call to the vet confirmed my armchair research that it's generally harmless, if not ugly. For what it's worth, Dot doesn't seem to notice.

Anyone else have a dog that's experienced this kind of reaction?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hunting Buddies

As the season slowly, yet inexorably draws near, I find myself looking forward to so many things. Endless roads leading to spots both favorite and unexplored, and the small towns that punctuate the countryside. Shouldering a gun and making an impossible shot - or not. And witnessing fine dog work and the incomparable feeling that I get when my focus and predatorial instinct become one with the animal locked on point at my feet.

But without hunting buddies, the experience just wouldn't be as fulfilling. Part of what has always drawn me to upland hunting is the social experience -- it's not a solitary sport, unlike most other outdoor pursuits that require stillness (not my forte) while freezing one's ass off (also not my forte). 

Whether it's the Patton-like strategy sessions before assaulting a field, or the debates over dog breeds or shotgun shell payloads, or the tendencies of the fairer sex, or the inside jokes, or the merciless teasing, or the slap-happy humor in a small-town bar or around a campfire -- they are are all a part of the experience for me.  I suspect most uplanders are drawn to the sport for similar reasons. 

There's a strange dynamic at play, too -- almost socialistic -- among upland hunting companions. Dogs, trucks, guns, ammo, trailers, training, food, whiskey -- even fleabag motel rooms are shared for the common good. And unlike the current experiment that's taking place in Washington, this model of "shared sacrifice" seems to work pretty well in the fields and forests. I guess that's probably because you and you alone can choose your hunting buddies.

These fraternal bonds are borne of shared passion, hard work, and a common experience. And given time, the friendships go far beyond the field. The photo of Jon and Wes posing proudly behind a limit of roosters was one of the first times we had hunted together, five years ago. Since then, I've stood with Jon at his wedding and Wes has literally given me the shirt off his back when I split my chin open (long story).

Dan and Terry were with me the day I had to put down my first-ever pointer, and they helped me through it like no one else ever could. Through open-heart surgeries, job changes, and only God knows what else, we've been there for one another.

I've been blessed with a great group of friends I've met in countless ways, but none are as close as the ones that I call my hunting buddies.

And when all is said and done, that's why I cannot wait for September to get here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Closing Out Kill It, Catch It, Cultivate It Week

Lest you think I'm a quitter, the Kill It, Catch It, Cultivate It Week went swimmingly... I just got worn out from documenting things (any blogger gets this).

Anyhow, from one Saturday through the next Sunday, we succeeded.  I ate a ton of venison salami sandwiches for lunch, some homegrown canteloupe for breakfast, and a ton of tasty stuff for dinner.  I failed a couple times -- a work lunch necessitated some Chinese food, and a visit to see the Kansas City T-Bones meant hot dogs from God knows where.

Here are a few of the dishes we had... the photographer (me) got lazy as we moved on.

First was homemade pasta (above) with melted brie, 'maters, basil, and garlic.  A staple of summer, I pine for this.  And like me, my bro, and my dad, I made this with my kids.  It's a tradition... one I hope they pass on to their kiddoes.  We have a pasta machine, but I tend to like it cut wide and rustica with a simple pizza cutter.

We also had corned venison, thanks to Hank Shaw's absolutely terrific corned venison recipe.  If y'all have a tough old roast of a forgotten critter, this is the recipe you need to do.  With homegrown fried okra.  The corn is local, but not not mine.  We grew some, but it tasted like paste on a stalk.

There was Mexican night of course, with jalapeno cheddar grilled sausage in homemade tortillas.  We made some frijoles, which were not from 'round these parts, but damn tasty nonetheless.  And they WERE from Lubbock, Mrs. Scampwalker's hometown, so it still seemed appropriate.  Avacado?  Yeah, ya busted me.

The piece de resistance was Hungarian partridge, Andalusian style.  My love of Spanish food is well documented, and this mixture of roasted onions, sweet raisins, and tart vinegar was spot-on.  Paired with saffron rice and a tomato and olive salad, I almost felt like I was back in Iberia.

So I'm calling it a success.  Was it tough?  Not really.  That's the way the Scampwalkers roll -- we don't typically eat shit from a box, bag, or can.  Was it pure?  Not entirely.  Until Kansas is hospitable to olives, avacadoes, and (decent) red wine, then I'm still going to seek foodstuffs elsewhere.  Was I completely satisfied?  Yes and no.  Loved the bounty and satisfaction of what I worked to eat.  But I'll never get over a craving for a good marbled feedlot-raised beefsteak, and I don't intend to build a gristmill for my own flour.  And Mrs. S. says a whiskey still ain't happening.

But it beats hamburger helper and Bud Light anyday, Clark.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Proof In Concept: GoPro HD Camera on Dog

I've seen others do this, and now that the weather's cooled down a bit, I was able to do some of my own field testing recently.  Here's a movie of a GoPro HD Hero in a waterproof housing mounted on Vegas.  I used the neoprene harness from an old Garmin DC 20 dog tracker -- works pretty slick. 

As you'll see, it's a little Blair Witch Project-ish, but I'm really excited about the possibilities as a dog picks up scent, slows down, and goes on point.  I think the viewing angle is wide enough that I'm going to get some pretty sweet covey rises, and maybe some retrieves, too.  Combined with myself wearing one, we could have some pretty fun videos this fall.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

KCCE Week, Day 3: Trout a la Papa

Day Three of Kill It, Catch It, Cultivate It, Eat It Week featured the fruits of our most recent trip.  Last week, we met Mrs. Scampwalker's dad and his wife in South Fork, Colorado, along with the cousins.  It was a great time, and part of the fun included some trout fishing in mountain lakes.  The action wasn't furious -- it was pretty warm and we surmised the trout were deep -- but it was still productive.

We wound up with a decent sized school of rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout, and the recipe we used came straight from my father in law, known as Papa by the kids.  Here's Trout a la Papa:

Splay out cleaned trout onto an oiled rack of the Big Chief smoker, and let it smoke (I use apple wood chips) for one pan (about 45 minutes or so).  While they're smoking, melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a large, ovenproof pan.  Saute a clove or two of garlic until soft, add enough white wine to cover the bottom of the pan, and juice from half a lemon.  When the trout are done smoking, remove the skin and discard.  Gently place the trout in the pan and roast in a 325 degree oven for 15 or 20 minutes.  Serve whole and spoon wine and butter sauce over the top.

The trout were accompanied by the Homesick Texan's phenomenal Tex-Mex squash casserole -- Jack loathes squash, and even he likes this.  A couple of homegrown tomatoes with feta cheese and balsamic vinegar rounded out the meal.

For breakfast, it was canteloupe from the garden, and leftover grilled pizza, and a Missouri peach for a mid-afternoon snack.

So far, so good!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kill It, Catch It, Cultivate It, Eat It Week: Day 2

Tuesday featured that American culinary classic, the BLT.  Ours was made with home-cured, applewood-smoked bacon (the pork provided by the local Bichelmeyer Meats), homegrown 'maters, and freshly-baked bread.

Breakfast was a bowl of homegrown canteloupe and lunch brought a venison salami sandwich and a homemade dill pickle.

**note: no bird dogs were harmed during the making of this sandwich.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It's Kill It, Catch It, Cultivate It, Eat It Week... Day 1

We're going to try something different here at Casa Scampwalker this week.  We love to hunt, fish, garden, and eat the bounty.  This week, we're going to try to do it exclusively.  Here are the three simple rules:
  1. Eat food that we've shot, caught, or grown -- three meals a day for a week.
  2. If using food/ingredients that do not fall under rule #1, eat foods produced locally/regionally.
  3. If using food/ingredients that do not fall under rules #1 or #2, they should be as close to their raw, unprocessed state as possible.
Why do such a thing?  We're not on some health kick -- we've always tried to stay away from unprocessed, pre-produced foods.  That's not only because we think it's a healthier way to live, but also because we really enjoy cooking.  We're certainly not making some statement against Big Farm agriculture or anything -- we realize that's a necessary part of the American food chain (not to mention the economy here in the Midwest).  We're just sort of curious if it can be done.  And plus, I've got to make some room in the deep freeze for some new critters!

Tonight's menu (decidedly and uncharacteristically vegetarian):

  • Grilled pizzas with fresh mozzarella and homegrown garden vegetables (sauteed eggplant, carmelized onion, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil.
  • Garden fresh gazpacho, using Jose Andres' spectacular recipe.
  • For dessert, the beautiful Mrs. S. baked a bing cherry pie.  Not local, but from fresh cherries and a homemade crust. 

Pretty terriffic, if I do say so myself.

Folks, until you get to read about what I shoot, you get to learn about what I cook.  Such is life in August in the Midwest. 

That is all.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Road Photo Friday: Video Edition

What happens after a week of chasing Montana huns and you find yourself back at the motel, tired and slap happy? 

You try to chug a 24-ounce Budweiser, of course.