March 2015
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Keeping it Safe

 
  Rolley Len and Cason Kirk learn about wearing orange and how to hold their guns.

Rolley Len and Cason started going hunting with Jason early on just like he did with his dad. Hunting safety is one of those things Jason had ingrained in him, and he is constantly teaching the kids new things about how to enjoy the woods in a safe way. On one of our last trips to the camp, he told them if they ever get stuck or lost in the woods they needed to know how to stay warm and safe. He showed them how to find highly flammable kindling and how to make fire without a match.

Jason goes to great lengths to explain how to be safe around wild animals, ponds, fire and guns. Rolley Len and Cason may not remember everything they are told, but a lot of it will sink in. It may seem early to start, but, if anything ever happens, maybe they will be prepared rather than scared.

A person can survive outside in the woods or swamp at least overnight if they know how. Not that there are many people who would jump at the chance to live like a "survivor" if given the option. But Jason definitely wants the kids to be able to survive through being lost or stranded if they had to do it. We both want them to know the trails and landscape as well as he does.

Years ago, Jason and I were riding a four wheeler out in the bottoms of the hunting camp. Being a creative writing teacher who loves mysteries, I said, "What if you were out here in the swamp and someone came walking up seemingly out of nowhere?" Jason said, "You wouldn’t." We continued to discuss different scenarios: an escaped prisoner hiding out, a survivalist trying to live off the grid? Jason said they would be found and probably sooner than I would think.

Families who hunt the same land for generations know the property better than some people know their own house. They can tell by the stars and tree line which direction to go to head to their truck. They know where animals have root scraped and which path leads to the best spot. Years of observing subtle changes in the landscape create an instinctive familiarity with details. Signs that the woods or swamp were being inhabited by humans would definitely be noticed.

Hunters usually don’t run into strangers looking for trouble. After all, they are armed and usually are out of sight on hunting land owned by a person or private business and, sometimes, behind a locked gate. When we go to the camp, we don’t expect to see anyone we don’t know. Which is why the news we heard was very unexpected.

Word spread quickly: A robbery on 10, a business, no, maybe not a business. The rumors were that hunters had been robbed by heavily armed men in an ambush. How could this happen? Why would it happen?

The rumors may turn out to be false, but it got me thinking about the possible dangers. Lots of hunters don’t take money or anything else of monetary value besides their gun. But then, we live closer to where Jason hunts, so he wouldn’t need cash or credit cards to get gas or supplies on the way like some hunters. And if you are travelling from outside the area, you would likely have more money or plastic in your wallet than your hunting license.

Children and adults can be trained for fire and gun safety, but an ambush-style robbery is highly unusual and not something you can predict or prevent. It is still hard to imagine why a group of robbers would target hunters who are most likely just on their way to find food for their family. I hope that it isn’t the case, because, as I write, two suspects are in custody, but two are still being sought.

All of us in the area hope they are found quickly and brought to justice. I am optimistic that this will not be a trend; that it is a one-time ill-conceived plan. I pray those of you who rely on hunting as a major food source can continue to hunt and bring home your next meal without worry or fear. Some general safety tips for hunters include:

- Harness or restrain yourself while in a treestand.

- Always identify your target.

- Always point your gun in a safe direction.

- Always assume the gun is loaded.

- Wear your hunters’ orange.

- Regularly inspect your treestand to make sure it is secure.

- Never aim at a flat surface or water.

More hunting safety tips can be found at http://www.outdooralabama.com/safe-hunting-tips.

This is a very interesting recipe I found that reminded me of my mother’s sauteed mushrooms. If you don’t have a lot of groceries on hand, this can be a great way to get your protein with a lot of flavor.

Eggs and Mushrooms

½ pound mushrooms

1½ cups water

1 Tablespoon Butter

4 Tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper, to taste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

1 cup milk

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

2 Tablespoons dried bread crumbs

Wash mushrooms. Drain, peel and remove stems. Cook stems and peelings in water for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into a cup and set aside. Slice mushrooms and fry slowly in butter until tender. Mix flour, salt, pepper and cayenne together. Add milk slowly to make a smooth paste. Add the cup of mushroom stock and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick. Add mushrooms. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Place a layer of eggs in the dish, then a layer of mushroom mixture. Keep layering until all ingredients are used. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes or until crumbs brown.

Roast Wild Duck

Dress your duck. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff with dressing or sliced onion and apples. Tie legs and wings together close to the body. Rub bird with butter. Place strips of bacon all across the breast. Cook at 350° for 18 minutes per pound, basting often. Serve with currant jelly or make gravy from the bacon and duck drippings.

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.