Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mountain Trout, Goose Berries, Elder Berries, and Pine Needle Tea

“To many a city man there comes a time when the great town wearies him. He hates its sights and smells and clangor. Every duty is a task and every caller is a bore. There come visions of green fields and far-rolling hills, of tall forests and cool, swift-flowing streams. He yearns for the thrill of the chase, for the keen-eyed silent stalking; or, rod in hand, he would seek that mysterious pool where the father of all trout lurks for his lure.”-Horace Kephart, 1917 : Camping and Woodcraft

Sometimes we need to get away from the pace of the city, far from jobs, shops, and luxuries. So it was that I found myself back in the woods, armed with my homemade maple longbow in search of blacktail deer.

Unfortunately I soon realized I was unable to concentrate on the hunt. Sometimes life overwhelms you to the point where you simply cannot escape a problem in your path. You cannot overlook it any longer. That was this past weekend for me.

As I contemplated deeply on the world around me, I hung up my bow and went fishing. After a few minutes casting a trusty Rooster Tail lure, I landed two nice trout.

A short search of the surrounding forest yielded numerous elderberries and perfectly ripe delicious gooseberries (in the family of currents but easily three times the size).

As the fish sizzled away on my old grill I picked young pine tips and brewed a small pot of pine needle tea…loaded with vitamin C and delicious as well!

The meal was fantastic! Just what the doctor ordered.

When I am in a calmer and more grounded headspace I will return to the high country in search of big game.

In the meantime remember to value those closest to you, to thyne own self be true, do unto others as they would do to you, and listen to Johnny Cash when you’re feeling blue!

Keep the old ways alive!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Into the Woods: Six Weeks of Bushcraft

As a Ph.D student in archaeology, I had the honor of teaching archaeological field methods to a group of twenty undergraduates for the last six weeks in the mountains. I taught them excavation, survey, artifact analysis, mapping, and you guessed it...after hours, there was plenty of time for the old ways!

After work we took part in activities ranging from bow carving to harvesting wild blackberries and making a nice Dutch oven cobbler.

I was lucky enough to befriend a couple of archery deer hunters. Once successful they were happy to show the students how to butcher the buck they got. After I helped them with the process they offered us the skin, ribs, heart, a leg and even the loins. We were extremely grateful!

The meat was well appreciated! I now have a recipe/cooking method that makes venison ribs come out so tender you simply can't stop eating them!

Some of the students were really interested in seeing if we could replicate the stone scrapers and flake tools we had been finding and try to use them in traditional hide tanning. I showed them my methods for making a frame, lacing the hide, softening, and smoking it, and they set to work with perseverance and great success!

One of my favorite times was when we got out some old cans, wound them up with fishing line and brought some lures along for a little hobo fishing.
We found massive schools of very aggressive giant pike minnow and fished with great success!

I'm not sure what happened to the photos of the fish cakes we made, but I can tell you they were a big hit!
However, nothing beat the tasty fry bread our wonderful Native American Monitor Deb made us.

Those are definitely smiles of total contentment!
With the skills Ryan had cultivated with his knife over the last six weeks he carved and erected a sign in honor of the ditch we'd come to refer to as Shane's Folly (where Shane's car and several others bottomed out and rolled away with flat tires).
It was six weeks with lots of laughs and plenty of adventure for those who love bear country. I will never forget this time and I look forward to all of the interesting research these students generate from the artifacts we identified, mapped, collected, and are currently analyzing.
Keep the old ways alive!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Abalone and Rockfish Hand Rolls

I got out for a little freediving with my good buddy Alex the other day.
We got some nice fish and had a lot of fun.

At one point I watched a massive bull sea lion dive past me and a giant sunfish (Mola mola) swim by me on the bottom.

Later in the week we cooked up a nice abalone and rockfish sushi dinner.

Keep the old ways alive!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rabbit Pot Pie

My good buddy, and avid fellow forager/bush-crafter, Nicholas came to visit last week. I had just found a nice new bass spot and was hoping he and I could check it out.
We had plans to hunt and fish all day, crash in the woods, and get up early to hunt some more.
The first part of the plan went well.
We hunted in the morning for rabbit and feral goat (both of which gave us the slip), and had a nice day out on the aluminum monster (my canoe).
The blackberries were abundant as were their thorns! Watch out!

Nicholas and I caught a few nice fish (not one a legal keeper so we tossed them back).

Abalone took pleasure in chasing some of the bigger bass once they were hooked!

Like I mentioned, we had planned to crash out in the woods and cook a nice cottontail curry from the rabbit I got the other day...
but the mosquitoes were killer! Those useless insects suck! (get it?)
So we were forced to pack up camp, after having already moved our operation a mile away from the first mosquito haven.
When we returned home it was nice to not be a pin cushion any longer and we slept soundly for the next few hours.
The following morning we were "up and at 'em" again hunting even earlier with hopes of acquiring a rabbit or two.
Sure enough, we were successful!

We ended up with two cottontails in the bag!
When we got home we slow cooked the rabbits and made a family favorite...rabbit pot pie!

This was hands down the best pot pie I have ever had! Unlike my last squab recipe, this one is a keeper!

Well, my girl and I have friends coming over for the abalone and fish I caught freediving last weekend with my buddy Alex, so I guess we need to get cooking!

Keep the old ways alive!