I’m going to be honest. My hunting background consists of going rabbit hunting with my husband about 10 years ago. It didn’t go well since I didn’t have a license. My husband Tim handed me his gun to hold while he did something with our beagle and wouldn’t you know it, a Ranger showed up just at that time. We were lucky he didn’t take Tim’s shotgun ,which he was in his right to do and he didn’t give either of us a ticket, just a warning.
Since working at Fowl Foolers, a lot in my life has changed and I now find myself with time to pursue the hunting aspect of our business.
So, I took the Hunter Safety Class.
First, you have to sign up on line. In Ohio, they give you a variety of times and places that you can go to. It just depends on how far you want to travel. I chose to stay close to Erie County which is where I live, so I had to wait approximately two months for classes to be lined up. Each county has different venues to use and people to teach the classes.
To be prepared, I downloaded the book and had the questions already answered after each chapter. I am glad I did that. I arrived at class not quite knowing what to expect. They give you a Hunting Education Manual, an Ohio Hunting & Trapping Regulations book and an Ohio Wildlife Identification Pocket Guide.
The class consisted of quite a few minors with their parents. Looking around you could see the excitement in them about going hunting. I was also happy to see a handful of girls present. The class was conducted by two very personable Department of Natural Resources Rangers. They started at Chapter 1, gave everyone time after each chapter to answer the questions and then discussed the questions. The class started at 8:00 am on a Saturday morning and was to go until 5:00 pm. There are 9 chapters in the book so the quicker we did a chapter the more time we had for questions.
A lot of information is packed into that 8 hour day. The day was split with lunch in the middle. They served us hot dogs and chips which was provided by the Huron Conservation Club. The hospitality was top notch.
I learned a lot about guns, rules and where and when you can hunt. I did not know that you couldn’t cross private land when chasing deer for instance. If you shoot one and don’t kill it immediately and it wanders off and dies on someone else’s property, it belongs to them. Waterfowling is a bit different. There are marshes, fields and open water to hunt over. Lots of choices.
The culmination of the class was a 100 question test. I passed 90 out of 100. Maybe because I rushed. I also found out that the card the Rangers give you when you pass the test also has to be with you at all times if you are a new hunter and your hunting license gives you away. Always carry that card with you. If they ask you for it and you don’t have it, you have a certain amount of time to produce it or the Department of Natural Resources fines you.
The one thing the class does not go over is the equipment that you will need to pursue waterfowl. For that, I relied on our Sales & Marketing Manager David Fletcher to give me a list of equipment. I already have a 20 ga shotgun and for that matter a 12 ga shotgun. The rest of the list is as follows.
I already have a few hunting trips planned for this season. One is with Port Clinton's very own Kyle Weber in November. I am going to rely on his expertise to show me how and what to do. I am also planning to go to Maryland with David Fletcher and his boys to show me how to hunt the sea ducks. I am also starting to plan a few other ones. I will be sure to let everyone know how I did during my first year of hunting.
As the father of 5 boys, all of which are avid hunters with the exception of my youngest (who is only 5 years old at this time), we harvest a lot of ducks and geese throughout the season. I’ve always been adamant about teaching them that "we eat what we kill". If we aren’t going to eat it, you need to have a really good reason for killing it besides it’s “fun to do”. Your opinion may vary but thats how it works here in my home.
As waterfowl hunters, we enjoy the lean meat of the ducks and geese we harvest. However, the key to successfully cooking the meat is to understand that duck and waterfowl are not the same as cooking poultry! It might taste like chicken but it certainly doesn’t cook up like chicken.
Wild duck is best eaten rare to medium. Similar to red meat, duck juices run red, not clear, like poultry. The meat itself is a deep garnet red. As with any wild game, make a point not to overcook it and to eliminate as much of the natural fat as possible and replace it with domestic oil or fat products, such as butter or olive oil. Fat, as you might know, is an insulator for waterfowl, and a lubricant. If there is too much fat, it will prevent the skin from crisping.
Keep in mind that diving ducks, such as bluebill, ringnecks, red-heads, buffleheads, goldeneyes, ruddy ducks, oldsquaw or eiders may need to be brined in order to soften any possible fishy taste. Here are 8 mouthwatering waterfowl recipes to use the next time you have a plethora of duck meat.
Duck a l’Orange
Grilled Duck Poppers
This recipe can be added to a crock pot and heated on low for 5 hours or prepared in a Dutch oven.
2. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add half of cubed duck breast and cook until well browned on all sides, reducing heat if oil begins to smoke or fond begins to burn. Transfer browned meat to large plate. Repeat with remaining duck meat and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, leaving second batch of meat in pot after browning.
3. Reduce heat to medium and return first batch of beef to pot. Add onion and carrots to Dutch oven and stir to combine. Cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, until onion is softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic/tomato mixture and broth, and cook, stirring gently until combined.
4. Slowly add wine, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any additional browned bits. Increase heat to high and allow wine to simmer until thickened and slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in celery root, potatoes, onions, herbs and mushrooms. Bring to simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Whole Roasted Duck
This recipe cannot be simpler!
This is a delicious addition to add on top of soups, salads or warm dishes
This dish comes from an old method of preserving meat by seasoning it and slowly cooking it in its own fat. The cooked meat was then packed into a crock and covered with its cooking fat which acted as a seal and preservative. This method produces a particularly tender meat.
2. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the duck. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2-3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the duck in the fat. (The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.)
Wild Duck Burgundy
Recipe adapted from Ducks.org
For more delicious ways to prepare wild game and water-fowl, click here.
Dinner is Served!!! (Ring that dinner-bell!)
5 Reasons Why We are Addicted to Waterfowl Hunting
We wake up hours before the sun even thinks about coming up. We see a coldfront coming through, or an overcast day with cold winds from the north making the water choppy enough most people would not want to go out during the summer months. BUT WE DO! We have an addiction that most people don't understand. We go out in "dangerous" and miserable weather conditions, we spend thousands of dollars per year on equipment, leases, and travel. As one of my deer hunting friends once said, "You do all that for so little meat on the table." It's more than just meat on the table! It's about the 5 things listed below and honestly, I could have written about 5 more in addition to the 5 below. I'm sure you all have a few of your own that's not listed here so feel free to share some of the reasons you're addicted.
1. Sudden excitement and flow of emotions
Many of us waterfowlers are also big game hunters and we have all had the experience of sitting in a tree stand from dusk to dawn and not seeing the quality of game we want to harvest. It gets frustrating and often a little boring. As waterfowlers, we almost always see a potential harvest taking wing to the sky. They may not always light up into our spread but we get to see them in the distance. However, the excitement of watching them lock up, wings whistling and coast into the hole we so carefully engineered for them to land, is an absolute pure adrenaline rush!
2. The Diverse Opportunity
When you go deer hunting, you’re deer hunting. You either look for a shooter buck to tag or a nice healthy doe to put meat in the freezer. As waterfowlers, we get to see more than just a duck. We get to see and potentially harvest all types of ducks. I love setting up a diver spread and watching bluebills, redheads, canvasbacks, buffleheads, and ruddy ducks all coming to the same spread during one hunt. It’s exciting to see the different species coming over to check out your long lines. Waterfowl hunting is the only hunting I can think of that gives you such a diverse opportunity to see and harvest so many different species while on one hunt.
3. Time with Family and Friends
We all love going to hunting camp with our friends and family and if its big game you’re after, well, outside of eating, resting, or enjoying an adult beverage back at your camp or lodge, you’re flying solo. You sit in your stand or ground blind by yourself. Not when you’re waterfowl hunting! You get to sit in a pit or blind with your family and friends. You get to joke around, tease, make fun of, and talk about anything you can imagine while sitting in the pit or blind.
4. All the cool Gear (Like Fowl Foolers decoys!)
Look, there’s no doubt, we as waterfowl hunters are what my wife tends to call me while prepping my gear, “OCD and anal retentive”. In writing this blog, it forced me to look up anal-retentive to see if I could argue against her point. According to Wikipedia, “anal retentive is used to describe a person who pays so much attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others…” Yup! That sounds about right! We are crazy about the gear we use to harvest our fowl…from our calls, to our decoys, to our guns…it all matters! But prepping for the season is just as fun and exciting as the hunting! I love coming home from work and seeing a package on the porch with my most recent on-line purchase!
5. The Dogs
As a new dog owner, waterfowling has taken on a whole new meaning for me personally. I have always loved watching a well trained dog work their way through decoys on the water to make a retrieve. And now as a dog owner, that unspoken bond that we have developed in our short 8 months that we have been together is hard to understand unless you have a working a dog. I am looking forward to our hunts together this season as we will have lots of “firsts” for him as a retriever. However, I will leave you with this last thought on retrievers. If your dog isn’t quite ready or not properly trained, leave that dog home! Nobody likes to hunt with a dog that doesn’t listen, misbehaves, or tends to get in the way, making hard hunts even harder.
Let's hear what keeps you addicted to Waterfowl Hunting!
Thanks for reading!
We get asked all the time about cleaning our decoys so we put together this short video sharing with you how we clean our decoys. For more information about cleaning your decoys, the soap used in the video, or the Texas Rig on the decoy, please contact email@example.com for more information.
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