Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Blog Rodeo 10/17/09

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Blog Rodeo: 10/10/09

Wow, yet another Saturday has arrived, and it is time for another Rodeo! How time flies when you are having fun.

Once again, I've been roaming the hinterlands of the hunting and outdoorsmen's internet and as usual, I've picked out posts that I especially enjoyed this past week from all of blogs I follow, and some that I found. There have really been some great ones this week.

Remember if you bump into a post you especially like, drop me a note and I'll include it in the Rodeo. You can even feel free to copy this whole post and run it on your own blog; it spreads the word, and it's always nice to give a little link love to your fellow bloggers!

My bud Rick Kratzke over atWhitetail Woods has put several really informative posts together in the last couple of weeks. This one, Intriquing Aspect about Whitetail Deer Lungs is a must read. Knowledge of an animal's anatomy is probably the most important skill you can have next to accuracy.

One of the things that is usually guaranteed is that when a man posts a recipe, it was something that was relatively easy to do. Wild Ed throws out a good ol' Texas Style Bread Puddin' recipe that I am going to try out myself. From Ed himself: "The neat thing is you can put whatever you like into it and make it your favorite way. In deer camps I have used bread, biscuits, rolls, fried pies, doughnuts, honey buns, cinnamon rolls and muffins to make bread pudding." You can't beat that!

T Michael, my good friend from Native Hunt out in California, has posted a really fantastic post about tracking, his daughter, and buffalo poop! You owe it to yourself to take a look at it, and maybe mull it over as I have. "At the suggestion of any creature subsisting off of another animal's feces, my little girl scrunched up her face and loudly expostulated, “Eeew’ you kidding!Tracking and the Art of Zen is just great and well worth the time to read.

I've been following this fellows blog for sometime now. I get most of it being that Portugese is similar to Spanish, but I really go there to see the pictures. João Alexandre Voss de Oliveira is a blacksmith and he makes some impressive and useful knives. Rustic Knife, in the Style of Nessmuk, and Engraved is a neat looking skinner. Check out some of his older posts while you're there.

And good ol' Hubert Hubert over the pond at Rabbit Stew, has put together some wonderful advice based on his experiences airgunning for rabbits along the hedgerows and fencelines of his neighborhood. In How to Hunt Rabbits with an Airgun, Hubert Hubert puts together at least a couple, three dozen tips and techniques that you can use on just about anything you hunt. Check it out!

Well it has been a busy week, and I just haven't had the time to get too many things done around the blog.

Keep your eyes on it though, interesting things are on there way!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Best Fall Foliage and Share the Experience

Press Release National Parks Foundation
Published on 10/16/2009

The 2009 Most Photogenic National Park
Olympus Gives Tips on Taking Stunning Photos
as Share the Experience Photo Contest Continues

The National Park Foundation has released the 2009 list of the most photogenic parks for fall foliage. The announcement is made in partnership with Olympus, the sponsor of the Share the Experience photo contest, which is seeking this year's best photo of the 391 national parks. The grand prize winning photo will be featured on next year's Federal Recreation Lands Pass and will receive an Olympus E-3 Digital Camera.

The 2009 list of the most photogenic parks for fall foliage with expected time frames for peak colors:

  1. Acadia National Park, ME Peak colors are expected now through October 15th.
  2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH Peak colors expected the third and fourth weeks of October.
  3. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA
  4. Peak colors are expected the weekend of October 17th.
  5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN Peak colors are expected during the last two weeks of October.
  6. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN Peak colors are expected this weekend and for the next ten days.
  7. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, MN Leaves are already turning; the peak is expected in the next week.
  8. Mount Rainier National Park, WA...Peak colors are expected for the next ten days.
  9. New River Gorge National River, WV...Peak colors are expected during the third week of October, around the weekend of the 17th.
  10. Saratoga National Historic Park, NY Peak colors are expected this weekend and for the next week.
  11. Valley Forge National Historical Park, PA...Peak colors are expected during the last two weeks of October.

To help amateur photographers make the most of the opportunities, Olympus offered the following tips to park-goers:

  • Sun hiding behind the clouds? Don't be disappointed. Colors can often appear more vibrant in an overcast day. This type of even lighting is also great for displaying details in the shadows.
  • Consider different perspectives for each photo. Look up toward the and down toward your feet. You'll be amazed by the number of interesting subjects available beyond eyelevel.
  • Look for the small details. The landscape vistas will be beautifulwith fall colors but close-up photos of small objects such as a single leaf or cluster of fall berries can also make for a striking photo.
  • Think about backlighting your subjects on a sunny day. Backlighting is when you intentionally place the main light source behind your subject. Pictures of colorful leaves can be very striking when photographed this way. Also, don't let the sun shine directly into your lens.
  • Bring a lens cleaning cloth. When capturing images outside, dust and moisture in the air can build up on the lens' glass surface. You'll want to keep it clean so that the light can pass through evenly.

Amateur photographers are invited to submit up to three photos to the Share the Experience contest through December 31, 2009. In addition, at the end of the submission period the public will be invited to vote for their favorite photo. Enter by visiting or pick up a brochure and entry form while visiting a Federal Recreation Land this year. Great prizes include: Olympus digital cameras, trips to a federal recreation area, Federal Recreation Lands Passes and more!

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America's national parks and federal recreation lands. Sponsored by Olympus and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.

The National Park Foundation is an independent charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1967 to strengthen the connection between the American people and their 391 national parks. As the official national non-profit partner of America’s National Parks, the Foundation raises private funds, makes strategic grants, creates innovative partnerships and increases public awareness about the need and opportunity for park philanthropy. In its 2008 fiscal year, the National Park Foundation distributed grants and program support of $27.3M.

ABOUT OLYMPUS IMAGING AMERICA INC. Olympus Imaging America Inc. is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering award-winning products for consumer and professional markets. Olympus Imaging America Inc. works collaboratively with its customers and its ultimate parent company, Olympus Corporation, to develop breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality that enhances people’s lives every day.

Contact Information

Mark Shields, National Park Foundation

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Mexican Fiesta: Part II

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

The Mexican Fiesta: Part II

I am going to digress for a few moments to discuss the method of preparation that I have observed used, and some other stuff.

It is a fairly common practice in all cultures that eat pork to withhold food for a day before the hog is to be slaughtered. The following day, usually early in the morning, a pan of food is used to lure the hog to the designated spot, whereupon it was shot in the head and immediately hung up and bled out.

This is my preferred method also. But I have noticed that both Cuban and Mexican slaughtering methods are a bit different. They tend to prefer the stab to the heart method, preferably with a sharp butcher's knife. Unfortunately this, more often than not, results in either someone catching a butchers knife in the leg or in a seriously wounded animal which is stressed. It is my opinion, and in the opinion of many far more knowledgeable than I, this degrades the quality of the meat due to the stress and the adrenaline hormone flowing through the tissue. Peter H. Capstick has remarked that spine shot cape buffalo which die immediately, taste much better than those that are shot any other way. I don't have any scientific evidence to prove this with hogs , but there is quite a bit of empirical evidence (dinner table) to suggest that this is the case.

Be that as it may, once the animal is down, the real work begins. Putting it up on the dressing table can be a real chore once the hogs start to get past 300lbs and a heavy duty block and rope or cable is sometimes necessary. A good hot fire needs to be lit earlier and a cauldron of water set to simmer. The cauldron of scalding hot water is then set near the work area. Using ladles, the water is poured over a section of the hog, and the hide scraped clean of all hair, and I mean all of it, right down to the feet. Holding a large butchers knife at a right angle to the hide, you scrape and pull the hair right out of the follicle. If it is too difficult or doesn't pull out, ladle some more water on it. Every couple of minutes the boys bring a hunk of cast iron, (mostly old disc brakes) that has been setting in the fire, on a long hook fashioned out of rebar and drop it into the cauldron. The water stays at scalding temp throughout the operation in this way.

The cauldrons I have seen range in design from the exquisite pure copper kettles polished with salt and lemon juice, holding 70 gallons and more, to rough serviceable cast iron ones. You can make one from a beer keg that has had its top sawn off, the loop handles are already there. If not you have to bolt or weld round handles to it. Made of heavy gauge stainless steel they seem to take the heat well and clean easily with a scouring pad and elbow grease. the problem is one of capacity, kegs are 30 gallons (I think) and are rather narrow, the width of a 50 gallon drum being preferable.

Gutting the hog by standard methods, great care is taken not to damage any of the entrails or organs. A half barrel of brine awaits all the viscera except the lungs and bladder, which are disposed of. While the guys work on the carcass, the women prepare the entrails. In short, the intestines are turned inside out and scrubbed clean. Likewise the stomach. The heart, kidneys and liver are rinsed in brine then put in clean ice and brine to chill. The skull is carefully split and the brain removed, it too goes into an ice and brine solution.

The now hairless hide is removed, care being taken to leave an even, inch thick layer of fat attached to it. The hide is placed fat side up a slatted surface in the shade and out of the sun. A sprinkling of finely ground black pepper is dusted on it to discourage flies from landing and setting up household.

Back at the carcass the lard is trimmed off and thrown in the cauldron which is now back at the fire pit. The fire pit is nothing more than a hole dug out of the soil with two parallel pipes crossing over it to hold the cauldron. Fancy is good too. Mine was a raised, brick lined fire pit, with a sloped feeding hole for the wood. A wooden deck surrounded it, and the cover was a slotted manhole cover I bought at a flea market. I finally put a wood fence around it to keep children from inadvertently burning themselves; at the fiestas I've been to there are always a couple of dozen of the urchins running around and I always worry.

As the sizzling lard renders, the water is driven off. By the way, this is the quintessential pot of boiling oil. Be careful. During this time the hog is dismembered, the cuts kept in large pieces. Season in any way you like. Down here in sunny Florida, the use of citrus marinades is very common. Reserve any parts that you may wish to prepare differently, but the custom is to cook the whole pig as it is supposed to be a communal affair.

After rendering the lard, a second container is prepared in order to filter the lard. A large towel is held by two individuals while two more lift the cauldron with a stout stick through the handles. Another fellow tilts the cauldron and gently pours the lard through the cloth which acts as a filter and removes any foreign objects. The cauldron is cleaned and the now filtered lard is put back in it. Back onto the re-stoked fire it goes and is brought back up to temperature.

The first pieces that go in are the meats, be sure to cook them until they are done. You will learn by trial and error how long you must cook it for, start out with smaller pieces and work your way up to the large ones. I have never been responsible for the cooking, I mostly watch and indulge, so I can't advise as to the specific times. But I may spend some time researching the matter next time I'm invited to a fiesta.

Then the viscera and feet are cooked the same way. Once again the lard is filtered and the cauldron cleaned quickly. The cleaned intestines are cut into three to six inch sections and tossed into the heated lard. Once they are cooked, which in this case doesn't take long, they are sliced into thin ribbons and eaten with tortillas and lemon or lime and salt. To be honest I don't remember how the liver and kidneys were done. They might actually be done inside, I have never noticed...

Now comes my favorite part, the hide. The hide is cooked, not once, but twice. First cooking makes what is called "salcochado" which means sautéed. Then after the second cooking they are pork rinds, like the ones in the bags, but fresh and tasty. The hide is cut into six to ten inch squares, and placed individually into the clean, hot lard in the cauldron. They are cooked until the fat has almost completely rendered and the hide becomes translucent. I warn you these are addictive and will raise your cholesterol beyond any machines ability to measure. You have been warned! Pulled burning hot from the oil, they are put on a clean absorbent towel, covered and pressed. The oil is still hot enough to burn the hide off your hand so use enough towel. Immediately it is transferred to a cutting board where it is cut in half and then cut into strips. A little lemon or lime juice, a sprinkle of salt and you have the most delectable treat known to mankind. After everyone has clogged their arteries, the hide is once again put into the cauldron in order to cook it into rinds.

And finally the brains which require the most preparation and taste scrumptious. The men do not do this. I guess it takes a woman's delicate touch to cook this. The brain is sliced into thin slivers, which are seasoned with salt and lemon, wrapped in tortillas, and skewered with a toothpick. After they are all made, and the lard filtered and reheated, the little roll ups are put in to cook. Again, I'm not sure of the time, but I will find out. When they are done the tortilla is crisp, and the brain slices have a decidedly different taste to them, sort of like egg but not quite. I like them too.

Well, let's get back to the fiesta.

Father Ramon had finished his benediction and everyone headed towards the serving tables. I stayed back waiting until everyone had been served. I don't like to be made the center of attention, I prefer to do it myself. And if I headed to the tables I would be made to be served first and I would then have to endure thank you after thank you from each of the guests, and my food would get cold anyway. Putting my glass down, I busied myself with the fire, throwing in a few more quarters of oak. Pushing at a misplaced piece of wood with a rebar poker, I felt a firm hand squeeze my shoulder. I turned my head, and I saw it was Father Ramon.

I immediately flashed back to a misspent youth in New York City where I attended St. Bartholomew's. Run by Franciscan Friars, whom I believe wholeheartedly are the storm troopers of His Holiness the Pope, and their sidekicks the full habit wearing Nuns, (Which Order they were part of I was never able to ascertain it was a "State Secret" I think.), St Barts was to Catholic schools what Riker's Island is to prisons. Discipline was maintained with an iron fist sheathed in a velvet glove, and justice was swift, efficient and merciless. (No fooling around in those days, and we didn't have school shootings, disturbances or attention deficit disorder either.) It was all I could do not to run, screaming "It wasn't me! It wasn't me!" But realizing that this wasn't Brother Thomas I relaxed, smiled and slowly rose to my feet.

"Father Ramon," I said, "que tal, como esta usted?" It never hurts to be polite and formal with the clergy. A smiling Padre responded, "Well my son , well." He's only a couple of years older than me, so I find it odd being called son. "This is a wonderful thing that you do. It is good for everyone." He paused, and I braced for what I knew was coming. "Tell me Alberto, why haven't I seen you at church?” Well that's an easy answer and it's real simple: I don’t go! “When was the last time you went to confession?" 1974. And I was almost caught by Sister "Knuckle Buster T" Theresa with Patty the 8th grade redheaded Irish bombshell. So you can imagine my aversion to confessionals. Avoiding the whole confessional thing I told him I would try to make it tomorrow. He wasn't fooled by me, not one bit. But he let it slide.


I've thought of inviting him to join me on a hunt. I am almost certain that he would. I know he enjoys a good wine and he has no problem with hunting. I'll have to give it some more thought though.

We chatted about the kids, briefly touched on the war in Afghanistan, and he asked me if I could help an elderly parishioner with a small matter. I agreed and he motioned to the serving table, which by now had thinned considerably. He's sharper than I thought. I excused myself and started to turn. He grabbed my arm in an iron grip, not roughly, but with the purpose of one accustomed to authority. "Manana, (Tommorrow)" he said, looking me straight in the eye. "OK Padre, tomorrow 9:30 sharp." I smiled and figured there were worse ways to spend a Sunday morning, like maybe a British penal colony. I hadn't counted on the conga group in my head, but that wouldn't be for another fourteen hours or so.

My plate was ready by the time I had walked the twenty steps to the table. As it was I was thanked by a half dozen people for providing the main course. After as many "You're welcomes" I managed to get back to my tottering seat and my drink, which had obviously suffered my inattention for quite a while.

The band had started to play again, having taken a break. This was the first serving in what would prove to be many. The pork was cooked to perfection, the rice was seasoned with spices, and the "Pico de Gallo", had a bite to it. I put down my plate and topped off my drink. I was in figurative heaven. Father Ramon not withstanding.

The rest of the evening was punctuated by conversations and congratulations. One of the younger couples decided to announce their impending nuptials. After that the libations poured twice as freely. As the Patron I was required to make the obligatory toasts, and boy, did I have to make them. It seemed that at every turn a request came for another toast.

It was late in the evening when my wife came to get me, I was satiated and had single handedly insured Bacardi's January profit margins.

Handing my keys to her I thought, "I doubt that there has been a more memorable fiesta!"

Hope you all enjoyed!

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mexican Fiesta: Part I

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Here is another early TROC favorite. I find myself a little short on time, things have taken on a life of their own, and wrestling the tail of a tornado is always a heck of an adventure!

Mexican Fiesta
Part I

Fellows, I don't exactly remember everything that transpired Saturday night. And by Sunday morning it felt like a conga group had taken residence in my head and were using my hollow skull as a timpani. But, fiestas are like that. Some of it is still hazy, but I emphatically and categorically deny making absolutely any untoward advances at Miguel's horse.

Damned thing is too ugly...

By the time my lovely wife came to rescue me, (more for her sake than mine; she has steadfastly maintained that she wants me alive rather than the life insurance bounty that she steadily increases every year), I was in danger of drowning in Puerto Rico's finest: Bacardi Anejo. 151 proof of the Caribbean's best medicine. A tumbler glass in one hand, plate of roasted pork, tortillas, rice and beans, precariously balanced on one knee, I held court in the center of an admiring crowd, punctuating every sentence with the free hand. Hey Honey! How much am I worth now?

The morning's hunt had been a rousing success, the she hog I had brought to my friends' home had been enthusiastically received, the multitude of happy children capering about while the adults admired the animal. A little fellow named Jesus tugged at my gun belt. I tussled his jet black hair and scooped him up in my left arm so he could better see the sow’s snout and ivory. As I leaned towards the hog, grunting in his ear, and snorting in his neck, he let out a squeal of delight and I gently let him back down to run off with the other children. There was the promise of another Fiesta looming large, and the excitement was contagious; Don Alberto was here and there was sure to be a lot of fun. Already the commotion had attracted the neighbors who were now making their way up the driveway.

Chilled from a low crawl stalk through wet grass, during the early morning's hunt, I was forced to imbibe Bacardi's aforementioned magical elixir; for medicinal purposes of course. It works great on cuts, cactus scratches, blisters, dog bites, and anything else that ails you. Begging off after the second dose was administered and had completely seared the back of my throat to numbness, I asked a couple of the young "Muchachos" to take the sow off the horse's back. Grunting from the weight and trying to avoid the horses hooves, they managed to haul it off to the wooden dressing table. Telling them I would be back later, I remounted Chester the trusty horse, and rode home to a hot shower and dry clothes.

Before I could do anything though, I had to take care of the horse. Back at the stables, I put him in his stall, took off the bit and reins and gave him a cup of feed to occupy him while I unsaddled him. I ride a western saddle, but I've been considering an Aussie saddle. It's a cross between a McClellan saddle and a western and is designed for the horse's comfort. Which when you look at the financial cost and the emotional side of the equation of horse ownership, isn't such a bad idea. Flipping the saddle blanket over, I hung it on one of the rails to dry, and then reached for the brush and towel. I took the towel, wet it, and washed his rump where blood had seeped into his hair. Afterwards, starting at his neck I brushed him thoroughly on one side and then the other until his coat gleamed. By then I was good and warm. Grabbing a double armload of hay and tossing it into the rack, I gave Chester a pat on the withers and walked back down the winding path to the house.

On account of Alexander Graham Bell, good news travels fast; Martin and Emanuel, my boys' buddies, had already called ahead to tell them about the impending Fiesta. I didn't make it through the threshold before being accosted by two very excited young fellows and an exasperated yet ever patient and forgiving woman. "Dad!, dad, DAD!" hollered the youngest while the older did exactly the same except in a different voice. The words fiesta, party, music, dancing was all I could make out. The excited jabber was threatening to overwhelm me and the look of cornered prey must have been evident because Mom finally came to my rescue, steaming mug of hot chocolate in hand. A light kiss and a whispered "How did it go?" was all I was able to get while being guided to my chair. Jordan, the older of the two is a preteen, with all that it implies, and was already considering whether to wear his denim Arizona jeans or the black Wranglers. Something about Consuelo or Juana or Maria. Blake on the other hand was wondering if they would be serving tamales again. He seems to think that everything is a celebration and that the menu should contain whatever he likes.

I finally sorted them out, and looking up caught sight of my wife purposely looking at me. I was beginning to feel like the impala caught between the hyena and the leopard. My wife's eyebrow was up, which is the first of several physical signs that doom is near, so I immediately went into a defensive play number one. Mug on the coffee table, I put on my most innocent look and throwing on a crooked smile that was guaranteed melt the polar ice caps, or so I had been told, I said "Good hog, quite an adventure... Uh, by the way, there's going to be a party tonight and we're the guests of honor."

Silence. I could feel my smile slip a little. Cold sweat beaded my forehead. Don't sweat, I thought, don't let her see you sweat.

"I would have never guessed.", was the deadpanned response, eyebrow going up another fraction of an inch. “And have you been drinking? Already?“ Never having been called a coward, I decided that discretion is the better part of valor after all. Thinking quickly, I threw myself at her feet and told her about the harrowing escape from near death, the snake infested swamp and I even threw Idi Amin, the former cannibal dictator of Uganda, in for good measure.

I wasn't sure if I would pull this one off.

But, she finally relented, and said we could all go. The kids hurrahed and I figured I'd done it again, sly old dog that I am. You see, the problem is that she doesn't approve of, what is in her opinion, the over-inflated esteem that I am held in by my Mexican friends. She says she knows better; whatever that means. But that, as you might imagine, is yet another story.

Everyone ran to get ready. Within moments hair was slicked, boots shined, buckles polished, and hats brushed. We men were ready in a flash. As the second hand of the clock ticked, the boys got antsier. Jordan had settled on his black Wranglers, and must have combed his hair twenty times. Blake was whining about how hungry he was, even as he wolfed down another serving of synthetically buttered popcorn. I love these parties and just wanted to get there and take my seat at the cooking pit. But the wife, as all wives do I'm told, had to get prepared. The shower was still running. As the afternoon wore on the men's patience was wearing thin. Not that we’d do anything about it, mind you, we’re not fools you know. But the sighs spoke volumes.

Finally the door opened and she came out, resplendent in jeans and silk western blouse, sparkling jewels on hands and neck. Blake is still mesmerized by his mother's beauty and me, let's just say I'm as lucky as a man can be. Jordan's looking in the mirror trying to decide which is his best side.
Anyway, we loaded up and headed on over to the shin-dig, everyone looking forward to it.

When I pull up in our Ford F250, it looks that half the neighborhood has shown up. Cars were parked on the dirt road, along the drive, and in the front yard; I headed up the driveway to my usual reserved spot. No sooner had I driven up the driveway, when a mob of kids came pelting around the corner of the house, scattering chickens and puppies under their churning feet. Seeing us, they hit the brakes, their shoes kicking crumbled shell about. After a pause too short to even call momentary, they wheeled in unison and rushed the truck. Pulling the truck up into my space they swarmed it like locusts. The doors flung open, my boys bailed out and were quickly and irretrievably swallowed into the writhing mass of children. Like a swirling tornado leaving destruction and disarray in its wake, the mass boiled away into the distance.

Two of the "muchachos" swaggered up, the gold medallions of the Virgin Mary that hung around their necks reflecting light, their Stetsons pulled low over the foreheads. I had already popped my door open and was halfway out, but the Wife knew to wait for one of the boys to open the door for her. "Don Alberto, que tal?" asked Martin as he manfully stuck out his hand, his crocodile hide boots giving him an extra couple of inches of height, "My father asked to be told of your arrival." I gave him a firm shake of the hand and a squeeze on the shoulder. "Tell him on my way.", I said. He gave me a half salute and took off with purposeful strides to his father. In the meantime, Emmanuel had opened the Wife's door, held her hand and helped her down out of the jacked-up truck. Offering his arm he asked her if he could escort her to where his parents were. To see a couple of 12 year olds with better manners than most adults is a real pleasure, and a treat. With great seriousness, and yet lightly, my wife accepted and was escorted to the grand fete. Me, I was left behind to fend for myself, as usual, but at least I knew were the bar was.

Ambling over to the bar and pouring myself a long one over ice, I took a sip and let the liquid fire run down my throat until it hit my belly burning. The Fiesta was wound up by now and the revelers were happily carrying on. Mariachi music was playing and I could see some of the younger couples dancing. Martin was talking to his father and pointing back towards the truck, Guadalberto looked up from his labor and scanned the crowd. As he looked in my direction, I raised my glass, and caught his attention. A broad grin split his face, and handing the long oak wood spoon he had in his hand to Martin, came in my direction, side stepping around children and seated people. Turning back to the bar and reaching behind, I grabbed another tumbler and dropped some ice into it. I was putting it down when a work hardened and callused hand grabbed me by the bicep and spun me around. "Don Alberto!" I get that a lot when I'm there. "You must come to the fire! Everyone is there waiting, Come, come!" His hand had grabbed mine and pumped it in greeting, at the same time he was pulling me that way. I reached back, grabbed the two glasses and just managed to hook the bottle with the little finger of my free hand.

A circle of mismatched seats circled the fire pit. All of them filled by the equivalent of the village elders. A seat remained empty for me. How I rank up there with the elders is beyond me.

(Actually the reason I do is because I am educated, seemingly successful, and Castilian speaking. To their way of thinking I am the equivalent of a Spanish Don or in its English counterpart a member of the titled gentry. The other title I hear often is "Patron" which is the same in English, patron. Tonight I was "El Patron", I was the patron of the party. I supplied the main course, in this case a "marrano", very much like the land owners of yore might possibly have dropped off game or even cattle at the mission for the peasants. There is a subtle caste system at work here, and as my father has told me, it is best not to rock the boat. In this social structure, everyone knows his place, but if it is upset, nothing works right. So I play my part, and encourage the youngsters to strive at school and be the best that they can.)

Anyway, the fire was going, the seasoned live oak and hickory wood throwing up the occasional spark, my belly was warm, and the antojitos were being passed around by the pretty young ladies of the families in attendance, their dresses colorful and festive. Spearing a chunk of fried chicken breast with the proffered bamboo skewer, I squeezed a bit of lime on it, dipped it into the salt, and popped it into my watering mouth. There were triangles of warm flour and corn tortillas, crisp avocado chunks bathed in lemon juice, salsa verde and salsa roja, rounds of corn cobs with butter and salt, and assorted other goodies. Taking another sip of my drink, I watched as my friend, Guadalberto, pulled out a sizzling chunk of pork from the cauldron, and put it on a waiting wooden platter.

Anticipation was on everyone's face. The aroma wafted towards me, filling my nose with the wonderful bouquet of well prepared food. Spearing another hunk with a trident fit for the Roman coliseum, he lifted that one, spitting and popping to yet another waiting platter. The ladies had their hands full tonight. The pork was taken to a table where it was to be cut, served and distributed to everyone.

The good Padre was there, Father Ramon of "Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe" Catholic Church. Able to speak Latin and English in an equally impeccable manner, he is a strong , wiry man, seemingly fit enough to wrestle cattle, drunks or sinners with ease. He is one of those old fashioned priests that still makes house calls to tend to his scattered flock. At his signal everyone rose from their seats, the children quieted down, and one and all, (Including this godless heathen!) bowed their heads for the benediction. When he finished, everyone headed for the serving tables to be fed!

End Part I

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Hunting, Great Deer

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Photo Credits: "Buck" Bevillee
I had the opportunity to run into a couple of young Florida hunters recently. Both are very accomplished deer and turkey hunters here in Florida.

"Buck" Beville was kind enough to forward me a few pictures of some of the game he has taken.

To the left is a nine pointer that Buck took when he was a very young fellow. That's a deer anyone would be proud to take!

Below is a very nice 8 point he recently took.

A great archery Oceola Tom Turkey!

Nice Boar! Note the cutters.

As I meet more Florida Sportsmen, I'll be sharing their stories and successes with you. I might add that it was my pleasure to meet both these young men, and with good fellows like these as our next generation of hunters, we are definitely heading in the right direction.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:  Skull Mountain Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

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