Thursday, January 12, 2012

When Hunting Doesn't Go As Planned

Next weekend is the end of dog hunting at Wolf Creek so we're trying to make each hunt count. The Hunter took a friend from Auburn, Alabama on Saturday and got a spike buck. He had to fight a black and tan hound named Oscar for it, but brought home the hindquarters and backstraps. I can see a little Zatarain's breading and an cast iron skillet in my future.

My dad and I went with him on Sunday. The forecast was for rain in the afternoon, but somebody forgot to tell the clouds they weren't supposed to arrive until after lunch. 

Neither The Hunter nor I had any rain gear, but, as usual, Daddy was prepared. Folded up in the pocket of his jacket was a poncho he got from some kind of US Steel promotion, almost fifty years ago! About the time they let the dogs loose it started to rain. 

I had my video camera with me and shot this little montage of my thoughts on the morning. Unfortunately, that's all I shot...


Dog hunters use walkie-talkie radios to let everybody know when the dogs are let loose and which way they're headed. That's helpful if you can't hear the dogs. The only problem is: you have to know where you are. There are spots at this club called The Refrigerator, Ax Road and Double Buck. If you don't know that a refrigerator was dumped at a certain place thirty years ago or where Sammy killed two bucks with one shot, you are just outta luck. Of course, I usually don't have a clue where I'm standing, but it is entertaining to listen to them talk sometimes.

"I heard a shot over by The Lake. Who's over there?"
"I think it's John."
"What'd 'e get?
"A tree."

Even though the hunt was shortened by rain, it was so much fun to be with my dad. He's the one who taught me to "roll with the punches" while I was growing up, and we certainly had to do that on Sunday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hunt 'Im Up!

When Fear Cheoil morphed into The Hunter this year, he joined a new club much closer to the house. Wolf Creek Hunting Club has three tracts and a little over 3400 acres.  They also hunt deer with dogs on the weekends. I've never had that kind of a hunting experience and it's been many years since he has. It's much more social and you don't have to sit in a tree stand and freeze for hours at a time. I went once before the holiday craziness started and then again this past Saturday.

One thing I did to make hunting a little more comfortable: I went shopping at Bass Pro Shop in Leeds, Alabama, and bought some hunting gear that is actually made for women. I've always just worn whatever The Hunter wasn't using or has, um, outgrown. Anyway, I got a pair of camo fleece pants, gloves and cap. The pants are not at all slimming, but they fit better than The Hunter's old camo overalls and they kept me warm.

 My new female friendly camo gear.

One of the best aspects of this club is that they don't start until about seven am. That seems very civilized to me. While I am a morning person, between the hours of three and six am, I'm really, really cranky. It was nice that I didn't have to make my way to a tree stand and climb into it without making a sound, in the pitch blackness of the predawn hours. 

All the hunters load into the back of pickup trucks and get dropped off at 100 yard intervals along the prearranged club road. Then, they load the dogs up, take them to a couple of places close-by and turn them loose. The dogs find deer and drive them toward the hunters. At least that's the idea, anyway. The drivers and dog handlers coordinate by two way radio and the hunters can listen in. If somebody sees a deer running they tell everybody which way it's headed. Kind of like a deer hunting play by play. I could also hear the dogs baying and barking through the woods. Sometimes the dogs don't jump deer, they run rabbits. I find it fascinating that the dog's owners can tell which dog is following what. 

 A Beagle mix and a Black and Tan are ready to run a deer, 
or maybe a rabbit, or maybe just run.

There are Beagles, Black and Tan Hounds, some Walker Hounds and a Blue Tick or two, plus several dogs of uncertain mixture. The one thing that unites them all, though, is hunting. They bark and whine and howl to be let out and run. We did two runs that morning then broke for lunch. When we got back they were planning another run for the afternoon. 

As you can imagine, hunting is still a man's world kind of place. I know to just kind of hang back and watch what's going on. Sooner or later they'll get used to me. As a matter of fact, one of them nicknamed me "Double Barrel" because I use The Hunter's vintage double barreled shotgun, instead of a pump like everybody else. 

I was standing in a patch of sunlight trying to warm up a little while they planned the afternoon run, when the only other woman hunter came up and introduced herself as Evelyn. She's from Pennsylvania but has been in Alabama since 1977. She is an avid hunter and even has a trailer at the camp. We didn't get to talk long because they started loading up for the afternoon run, but it was nice of her to reach out to me. 

 Me and Evelyn. The white trailer in the background is hers.

They will only be running the dogs until the middle of January, then it's stand/stalk hunting only until the end of January. I hope my nickname sticks until next season.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Karen and Robin Get The Boot

One of the good things about  being a school bus driver is that you get two weeks off at Christmas. The week before is spent putting up decorations, shopping, and planning the family get together. Combined, all those activities take up all the available time and air in the room. However, the week after, I pay myself back. One of my favorite things to do is go to lunch with my friend, Robin. We usually try somewhere neither one of us has been. 
The Boot at Preserve Village.

On Thursday we tried a new place with the unlikely name of The Boot, which comes from this quote:
"This Boot was a lone house of public entertainment... several people drinking there, and great merriment going on."
-- Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge
It's a small, neighborhood restaurant, describing itself as "fast casual". You go to a counter to order but they bring it to the table when it's ready. They have sandwiches, burgers, salads and shrimp. Most of the food is locally grown and they serve crafted beer.

When we got there on Thursday, they were working on a large order and asked if we would wait for a few minutes while they filled it. We got soft drinks  and sat at the table in front of the cozy fire place at one end of the dining area. The owner, Mike McCowan stopped by the table and chatted for a few minutes while we waited.
Very cozy.

We had an appetizer of NOLA shrimp, which is barbecued shrimp over grits. It has a sweet/spicy sauce. It's very yummy. 
 Shrimp NOLA.
Robin ordered a Pecanwood bacon cheeseburger on ciabatta roll. I had a Smokey Pimento Cheeseburger on ciabatta roll. They came with a choice of fries and one side. The fries are a combination of white and sweet potato fries with home made chips. I got the fresh fruit with walnuts and granola. The burger was juicy and cooked medium.
Pecanwood Cheeseburger.
 Smokey Pimento Cheeseburger.

We enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. I would like to take Fear Cheoil back for dinner one evening and try some of the craft beers. They have happy hour from 4-6 on Tuesday thru Saturday. There are specials in the evening, some of them are announced on their Facebook page and you can find the daily menu and other information at The Boot at Preserve Village.

These days, chain restaurants and franchises seem to be the most common dining options around. It is very refreshing to find a place that isn't looking to be the next big thing, but is more interested in serving fresh, local food. That describes The Boot at Preserve Village.