This years hunting season has been kind of a bust. I had high hopes of a productive year and had even planned my vacation time accordingly to maximize my time in the field. Unfortunately Mr. Murphy reared his head and most of my opportunities were lost. I think I spent a total of 10 days out hunting from September until now and my success has reflected that. I haven't been able to get a deer yet and that probably won't change because the number of days left in the season are running out and I don't see many days off in my future. I was able to get a couple of days of duck hunting in and they were pretty slim days as well as evidenced by my freezer full of coots that I felt compelled to shoot. I got a few squirrels and one grouse but that has been it so far. I do have until the end of February to add a few more squirrels and maybe a rabbit or two but this year is going to go down as one of the least productive hunting seasons I have ever had.
Or has it been, I may not have been out as much as I would have liked and I may not have gotten a deer or as many ducks as I would have liked but my freezer is still full. One of the most amazing things has happened this year. A network of fellow hunters and friends have filled my freezer for me. Early in the season I got a call from a friend who needed help butchering a moose as a result of my help I was rewarded with my first tastes of moose. I may not have a bunch of ducks in the freezer but my good friend down in Wabasha has been saving me all the gizzards from the ducks he and his family have shot and I will end up with almost a 100 duck gizzards to play around with. That might not sound very appealing to most but trust me when I say, by the time I am done with them everybody will be saving duck gizzards.
I may not have shot a deer this year but I still have 70 pounds of venison and antelope that people have given me from their successful hunts. Not to mention the beaver and muskrats that magically appeared after asking a few friends for some help. There is also a faint rumor that there might be some Elk in my future if everything works out right. So when I look back on this hunting season I am not going to think about how unsuccessful I was but rather how lucky I am to have the type of friends who truly understand the fellowship of hunting and that it isn't just about getting out and shooting something but rather getting out and spending time with people who truly love the outdoors. Thank You very much boys and girl, Eric, Ben, Rick, Andy, Tim, Jeff, Drew, Kevin, Matt, Mike, Jeremy, James, Scott and Audrey my life is richer and my freezer fuller because of you.
Now, back to that moose, I was fortunate enough to come out of that night of butchering with one of the tenderloins of the moose. I debated for a while as to what I was going to do with it. I had thoughts of a beautiful moose wellington but decided it would last longer if I dry cured it and made a Moose Bresaola, using the recipe from Michael Ruhlman's Salumi I made what might be the best bresaola I have ever had. The moose is sweet and salty and tender to the point where it melts in your mouth. I had never eaten moose prior to that night when we butchered the moose and I am kind of sorry I did. Moose has quickly become my new favorite form of venison and I am going to have to figure out how to shoot one now. Lucky for me I've got friends who will help.