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We often mark time with reoccurring special events - opening days of hunting are such events.

We look forward to these times.

This past weekend was the opening day of the quail and chukar season, and I was fortunate enough to not only participate, but also to revisit another "secret place."

I invited Jeff Miller and his son, Andrew, to one of my secret quail/chukar hunting spots; it was one of those magical and memorable events.

I've known Jeff for several years and Andrew, now 18 years old, was in one of my Hunter Safety Classes when he was 10. I wouldn't have readily recognized this young man as the boy who took the long ago class but it was obvious he had taken those lessons to heart, and has become a fine young hunter.

We set out in the dark early morning hours. There wasn't a lot of talking as we journeyed to the hunting area, but we shared coffee and together enjoyed the sunrise as we drove.

Upon reaching our destination we were greeted by the early morning calls of Gambels Quail, and any anxiety we may have had concerning the abundance of game disappeared; after all, the saying "hunting is hunting" is an old and accurate expression, and one never knows if the quarry will cooperate on any given day. They cooperated on this day, though!

It's been a good year for quail and chukar populations, due to the mild winter and timely rain.

Andrew gave us our first shooting lesson as he opened the morning with a "triple" - yes, that's three successive, almost instantaneous shots - and three quail down.

His dad also got one, as I, still in my pre-caffeine stupor, looked on. We walked the washes and canyons, with quail ever in sight or hearing. The father and son team worked in perfect unison - who says you need a dog?

Old, well-honed skills, accompanied by a pair of energetic young legs, works well too. It was great to see this positive relationship, and a reminder of parenting not often seen in these busy times.

We picked up a few more quail in the washes and then headed for the rocky hills, where chukar were heard calling as if celebrating a beautiful new day.

I was now to have a chukar shooting opportunity - first a "going away shot." followed by a swinging shot to my right; I remember thinking, "cover him, squeeze, follow through," my first ever double on fast-flying chukar. It was a good day.

Coming off the mountain we picked up another covey of quail. We then rested our legs as we enjoyed a tailgate lunch, cold drinks, and a recounting of the morning's events. There were the good shots and the missed; remembering the covey of quail that burst into the air at Jeff's feet with such surprise he was caught off guard and fumbled with the gun safety, as they thundered off.

If you missed opening day, create your own. The season continues, and it's going to be a good one. Try one of your own "secret places," or find some water and cover, take a kid shooting, and discover a new "secret place."

This was not really a story of quail and chukar though; it's about being together, sharing places and events, experience guiding youth and youth inspiring the old hands.

We were able to experience the "cycle of tradition": boys going to the field with fathers and friends; young men demonstrating learned skills, often surpassing their teachers. We recognize the pride of parents and teachers, "that this kid turned out well" - the world will be okay, in spite of what we hear. Young people need us, but we need their inspiration and reassurance even more.

The moral of this story: hunt opening days, have "secret places," go with a friend and take a kid with you. The cycle is alive and well.

What's new

Here's something for my fellow traveling wing-shooters and other fine fellows. Shotshell, Inc. has created an excellent aluminum thermos in the shape of a one-gauge shotgun shell in red, black or green, with a brass base of course.

I found it appropriate on this last hunt; it has a three-cup capacity, a one-touch stopper, and was exactly what was needed to steady my hand for that "double" on chukar.

This is a really neat item, a great conversation piece, and a welcome gift for that person that has not quite everything. You can see this and other products at www.shotshell, or give Terry or Brenda a call at 888-300-9667.

Recipe of the week

Dutch Oven Chukar with Elderberry Glaze

This recipe is one that Jeff discovered while hunting up in the Rubies, in Northern Nevada, many years back. He's agreed to share this with us and I'm looking forward to his bringing by a sample from our recent harvest.

For this recipe bring back four plump chukar, then you'll need: salt & pepper to season birds; 1 cup flour for dusting the birds; 3 tbs olive oil; 1 shallot, finely diced; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; 1 cup elderberries, crushed; 1 tbs brown sugar; 1 tsp dried rosemary; 1 cup red wine; 1 cup balsamic vinegar; 1 can beef broth; 2 tbs cold butter.

Begin by browning seasoned chukar on both sides in a well oiled Dutch oven.

Remove from the coals and add shallots, garlic, elderberries, sugar, rosemary, red wine, balsamic vinegar and beef broth.

Place a lid on the Dutch oven; cover with coals and let sit for 1 hour, then carefully lift the lid and add cold butter while stirring. Let sit for 10 minutes and enjoy with some wild rice and a nice Caesar salad.

For more info see:
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Copyright © Pahrump Valley Times, 1997 - 2004

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