It’s almost here! One of my favorite times of the year, grouse hunting! For a long time now, every year at the end of September we pack up the camper and head even further north for two weeks of camping on the lake, and stalking the woods for grouse. Of course we haul the fishing boat up with us as well, and spend time on the lake catching pan fish for fish fry.
We camp in our 21 ft camper. (We used to be hardcore tent campers, and we still tent camp occasionally.) These days we enjoy a nice elevated bed that doesn’t involve an air pump, so some time ago we bought a camper. It’s not a big fancy job with slide-outs etc. It’s a nice, simple camper that we’ve enjoyed immensely since we purchased it. Mostly that’s my doing, as my back pretty much hates me if I sleep on the ground. Also, my husband is a long time Army soldier, and he says he’s spent enough time in tents over his career without doing it on his vacation as well. I can understand that.
During grouse hunting we camp with my inlaws. (They have a large 5th wheel type camper. They say they are too old for “roughing it” anymore! Haha…I can understand that though.) They also camp with their two cats, who, just happen to hate the OCP. During grouse season we make sure to get two side by side camping sites, and face the campers towards each other. We initially did this to maximize our privacy, but the truth is, the campground is generally deserted when we’re up hunting anyway. I love this particular area as it’s quite remote, and the sites are huge. I don’t care for the campgrounds that stack the campers on top of each other like cordwood! It’s like being in town, and not camping at all. My favorite type of camping is pack in, pack out, but unfortunately with the demands of the homestead there just isn’t enough time for those type of trips much anymore.
Last year we had great success in getting both grouse, and fish. We had plenty to eat the whole time we were there. The lake we fish there is chock full of Northerns (Northern Pike) which is ok, but they are a bony fish and can be a pain to clean. Besides the Northerns, we usually end up with a fair amount of blue gill, black crappie, and the occasional perch or walleye. I prefer the blue gill myself, as the crappie can be a bit soft of flesh for my taste. The colder the water, the better they taste. I’m a little picky about fish I guess. Other than catfish, I don’t care for the softer flesh varieties. Catfish is soft, but when it’s fried, it’s awesome! Especially when it’s blackened. I even managed to convert my husband, who at one time claimed he’d never like catfish since it “tastes like mud from hanging out on the lake bottoms all the time.” It’s true that it can taste like mud, depending on the water source and time of year, but as long as you’re aware of that you can avoid the mud taste pretty easily.
As I’ve said before, grouse is my favorite meat. If you’ve never had it, you’re missing out! It’s fantastic! Usually we crockpot it with creamed mushrooms. Sometimes we coat it and fry it in the Nesco as well. Either way it’s terrific, and I look forward to it all year. Last year, as we gutted the birds we discovered they were eating mostly clover, which seems to give them an especially agreeable flavor. You are what you eat, right? Anyone who deer hunts can attest to that old adage. A deer that’s been eating mostly acorns can have that same bitter acorn flavor in its meat. Especially if you eat the neck, the neck seems to really retain the acerbic acorn flavor.
So as always, I’m really looking forward to our trip! It’s a great getaway. This year I’ll be bringing the new EcoZoom along and cooking on that as well. I’m excited to give it a try with charcoal instead of wood. I’ll take my netbook along, and if I get the chance, I’ll make some postings when I head in to the nearest town. I always go into town at least once, since during our trip the town has a local festival with tons of great food, music, and handmade items for sale. Another great time!