The Start of Something Wonderful

It has been almost six weeks since my last blog post and I should feel bad about that and I guess in a small way, I do.  On the other hand I have had a great six weeks.  It all started with a trip to Leech lake for a week of fishing and sitting around sipping wine with my grandmother.  We were able to get out almost everyday and fish and Gram wanted to catch some sunfish and we found them and did pretty well.  We even got a few northerns and 1 walleye, all and all it was a great trip and reminded me of all the great times I had growing up and spending time outdoors hunting and fishing with people I love.  I almost can't wait for next year to come so I can do it all over again.  Shortly after I returned from the lake I was offered a new job at the Minneapolis VA and have been transitioning to my new role there.  Coupled with all of the hunting seasons opening I have been pretty busy.  I made it out squirrel hunting a couple of times and got down to Wabasha for the duck opener with my good friend Eric passe.  I came home with 9 ducks and 30 bluegills and sunfish, so that was a productive weekend.  I have also spent some time in my stand bow hunting for deer.  I haven't seen any deer as of yet just a couple of wild turkeys and a big f'ing raccoon.  So I have had a great month, today just added to my great month.  I got to take my very good friend Andy Pederson and his daughter Audrey out for Audreys first hunt.  

At 7AM this morning Andy and Audrey showed up and we all headed out for a day of squirrel hunting. Audrey was very excited and was all dressed up for the occasion with brand new blaze orange and a great pair of boots.  Andy and her had worked with her 22 and were all sighted in and ready to go shoot some squirrels.  I have been hunting a piece of Wildlife Management Area just southwest of the Lakeville area and had some success there last week.  So we headed back to the same spot I had been and the three of us walked in and set up to shoot some squirrels.  

Andy and Audrey lining up her first shot

We sat for about 30 minutes waiting to see some movement and didn't see much first thing in the morning.  At our second set up we saw a few red squirrels but didn't see any of the big grey squirrels we were after.  After sitting in our second spot for 15  or 20 more minutes we started to move again and were surprised by a squirrel on the ground about 10 feet away.  We chased a few squirrels for a while after that and saw a lot more but anyone who has hunted squirrels knows that they are not as easy to shoot as one would imagine.  Especially when you are trying to line up a shot for a first time hunter and want to give them the best chance of bagging there first squirrel.  We finally gave up chasing them and set up in a nice open space and sat for about 5 minutes. We had an opportunity present itself and Audrey was able to bag her first squirrel.

The proud huntress displaying her bounty

We had spent a little over 3 hours in the woods and we were successful.  I have never had to track a downed squirrel but today we had to.  After falling out of the tree and moving across the forest floor we finally found it inside a hollow log.  Audrey now had her first squirrel and was ready to fry it up and eat it.    We all headed back to my place and I showed Audrey how to skin and clean a squirrel.   I packed it in ice and sent it home with Andy and Audrey along with a copy of Hank Shaw's new book, Hunt Gather Cook, which has a recipe for buttermilk fried squirrel.  

Andy quartered the squirrel and soaked it in buttermilk with Italian herbs and seasonings and fried it up in a little oil and bacon fat.  

After dredging it in flour and frying it the squirrel had made the transformation from small fury animal to golden brown tastiness.  One squirrel wasn't going to feed everyone in the house but it was enough for everyone to get a taste.  As I told Audrey today, if you have never eaten it before maybe it is a good idea to just have one and that way you can find out if you like it.  If you do then you can always head back out and get some more.  Or maybe I was just making myself feel better for only getting one squirrel. 

I spoke with Andy that night and Audrey liked her squirrel and has expressed some interest in moving up to deer hunting.  She did a really good job today and just might be ready for deer.   One thing is for certain though, if the 3 year liked it, it had to be pretty good.  Thank Andy and Audrey for the great day.