When my daughter was born, I promised myself I’d do what I could to get the guys out at least once a year on a bird hunt. The last couple years I had better success with bigger groups and/or multiple hunts, but this year I still could count on Colin and RP. A great time was had by all.
by rsiv with
My buddies and I have been upland hunting for a while, but I’ve never made it out Waterfowling. With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to get a nice goose or some duck for the table. I’ve been bothering my friend Rob forever to take me out, but since he moved to Tennessee, CW and I took matters into our own hands.
I can’t wait to get the rest of the group out in January when the weather finally cools down and the migration heats up. Thanks to The Crabman and Richard for taking us out.by rsiv with
by rsiv with
If you’re tired of restaurant and baby posts, you’re in luck. We finally had a guys weekend in WV for an upland hunt. Due to certain other responsibilities, our usual fall hunt didn’t work out, so I thought a nice spring hunt would be nice. I did not expect a March blizzard.
It was a little dicey getting up there. The toll road was crazy, but my 4wd had it covered.
At the woods, the driveway had about 8 inches of accumulation.
RP made us some ghetto hot dogs (bread for a bun), and we had moon pies for dessert.
Then we settled into our sleeping bags (to avoid doing laundry), and called it.
The next morning was plenty cold, so there wasn’t much melt.
I grabbed a jazz cigarette, and a filling meal at the waffle house (on the left), and we headed to the shotgun range.
I put it in four wheel low, and we headed down a back road in the wildlife management area.
The snow came up to the bumper between the wheels, and at about the time we took this photo, we lost cell service. There were some tire tracks, but we never saw a soul.
But we made it.
We measured out 40 yards, and set up the patterning board.
We tried some different ammo, and a couple chokes. I’ll post the results of our patterning later on.
After patterning, we had a little fun throwing our own clays. The new thrower I got worked out great.
After about three hours, we warmed up, packed up, and headed out.
After shooting, the truck started right up and we got out of the snow no problem.
When we got back to the cabin, Dr. Bumpy was waiting for us. The rest of the guys arrived, and we rolled out to the Long Branch Saloon for dinner.
After dinner, I had a Kirkland Light (I would not recommend it), we started a fire, and enjoyed the 8 degree temp on the screened porch.
The next morning we did a little sledding on the first hole of Stoney Lick.
Then it was time to head to Quail Hollow Farm for some upland hunting. The weather wasn’t ideal, but Steve didn’t want us to go home empty handed.
After a warming up with some clays, we geared up for the hunt.
Steve turned the dogs loose, and we were off. It was a really beautiful day. The quail have flown better when its dry, but to their credit, there were plenty we missed.
Badger and Molly were great as always, but someone was misbehaving and got the leash…
Everyone took a bird or two, and Thom had some particularly nice shots.
After the hunt, we cracked some beers, pulled out the cigars, and put in a lip or two.
The dogs snuck a few spoils of the hunt while Thom and Steve cleaned the birds.
Steve’s son came and sold us some apples, apple sauce, hot sauce, apple butter, etc. We left prepared for a feast.
Back at the cabin, we toasted to Zeiby’s and ML’s first upland hunt, and dried out.
RP and Bumpy bacon wrapped the quail, and threw them on the grill.
The feast was delicious. Thanks again to the chefs. After some midnight toddies, I had to call it. Fortunately, I woke up to some freshly made crunk food the next morning.
Then RP made us some biscuits and gravy.
Bumpy blew an alternator, so we went into Berkeley Springs to try to replace it.
After some McD’s, we stopped at sheetz for some gas. I noticed some guys in a sedan wearing button-downs tucked into chinos. I looked them up and down while gassing up the truck, and gave them the, “you boys ain’t from around here” look. They bought it, which is hilarious, since neither am I. FJ is probably mortified, but the other Wayne boys would be proud.
I came home exhausted, but with a cooler full of birds. As always, I had a great time with the guys. It had been too long. Can’t wait for next time.by rsiv with
C-Note came over this afternoon, and HB and EF went out to get us some Taco Bamba. The tacos were amazing as always, but best of all, the good Chicharrónes are back! Then RP headed out to prepare for our hunt next weekend.
It was pretty cold, and pretty slick out, but we needed to get back in the swing of things.
After the clays, we broke the guns down for a much needed deep cleaning. Rob and Jodi came by, and then we all went out for some El Tio.
Notice the FAR we used as a support for punching out some pins.
Can’t wait for the hunt.
by rsiv with
This past weekend my wife decided to have her baby shower. I got out of dodge. My dad told me that my parents had a joint shower, and something about watching Georgetown beat Kentucky during the party. I decided to be less progressive. On Friday, we took the day off for a Father-Son Dove hunt up in Remington VA. A year or so back we had a lot of success hunting this section of power line that the birds use as a flyway. We shot a round of clays, and then went over by the lines to find some dove.
We saw a few doves when we arrived, which we thought was a good sign. We were a little rusty on the clay course, but we shook it off.
Its an optical illusion.
We didn’t see a ton of dove, but there were enough to bring a few down. Everyone managed to bring one down, but RP dropped his over the fence of a power plant and into a retaining moat.
After the round of clays, a successful hunt, a little father-son bonding, cleaning a few doves, and the enjoyment of a beautiful fall evening in the great state of Virginia, we headed home. The next morning, WinnDixie made us a delicious breakfast.
We got some provisions, and headed down the long road to Richmond.
The next morning we grabbed some much needed Wawa and hit the course.
I had the opportunity to play with The Commodore.
A lot going on in the pic above, below, the official beer of Fall in ‘Merica.
After golf, we had some Plaza Time.
I had an amazing weekend with the best friends you could ask for (brothers really). Its the kind of weekend that really makes one feel lucky and blessed. I can’t wait to get together again soon.by rsiv with
My wife’s company provides a stipend for employees to enjoy a babymoon (like a honeymoon but for expectant parents). Friday morning, we put the top down and headed to West by God Virginia. It was a beautiful sunny ride down, and since the drive was about 4 hours, I almost got too much color. We chose The Greenbrier because we hadn’t been in seven years, and its America’s great resort. Its absolutely beautiful, luxurious, delicious, comforting, and full of adventure (as you’ll see below). It really is a special place.
We enjoyed the decor, got settled, and then hit the pool for a late lunch and some mountain sunshine.
For dinner, we went to Draper’s. I went with some amazing chicken and waffles and the wife had a pot pie. Everything, including the service, was excellent.
This was our first trip to The Greenbrier since they added the casino. I was a little skeptical when I heard about the addition, but it was well done and enjoyable. After my first proper julep (though The Greenbrier insists on serving their julep with a full length plastic straw – they could at least cut it to proper length), we saddled up to the craps table. We just about doubled our money and decided to celebrate with some Blanton’s and a cigar.
We’d only been at The Greenbrier for ten hours, but we’d already had a great time. We couldn’t wait for more pool time, falconry, fly fishing, food, and more fun.
Day two started with Southern Eggs Benedict with fried green tomatoes and Virginia ham.
My wife and I have talked about trying out the sport of kings for a while. Since my wife can’t shoot, ride horses, etc., due to her pregnancy, we finally had a great reason to check it out.
The scale that the hawk is perched on was one of the most interesting parts of the demonstration. Only hungry birds will hunt, so their weight has to be monitored. We also found out that a Harris’ Hawk can be trained in only about 8 weeks.
Falconry consists of the handler walking around, trying to scare up prey, while the hawk perches above and watches. Hunting with larger birds can involved separate handlers and flushers.
When the hawk makes a kill, it shields its spoils and is very possessive. Its important for the handler to quickly offer meat to the hawk in order to get possession of the kill.
We had a great time and learned a lot about falconry. My favorite was the owl. Apparently, an owl could help me with my feral cat problem at home… The falcon definitely looked the coolest. After Falconry, we relaxed at the pool until tea time. This flowah was wiltin’, so I opted for iced tea.
After tea, we changed for dinner. It was great that The Greenbrier provided a garment brush since my shoes picked up a bunch of fuzz on the trip down. This was the night of our dinner in the main dining room, so we put on our best, took some pictures, and enjoyed some libations.
I’m surprised my wife didn’t get a dress code reminder card for wearing camo:
At dinner, I opted for a julep rather than a glass of fine. Then I ordered some lamb, which unbeknownst to me, came with mint jelly. It actually paired pretty well. The live jazz was also an unexpected but welcome accompaniment.
After dinner, we lost the previous night’s winnings and then some in record time at the craps table. With the table cold and it still early, we grabbed our kindles, poured some blanton’s, and picked out a cigar. The porch below provided an excellent location to enjoy the evening. It had cooled off, and was beautiful out.
The fountain below used to be outside of a restaurant at The Greenbrier that no longer exists. My family did a 12 course tasting menu with wine pairings there once. It was the first time my future wife and mother got tipsy around each other. It reminded us of that great time we had and we were glad its still there.
Day Three started with a Dorothy Draper omelet (Virginia ham, green peppers, shiitake, American cheese). We had a leisurely morning in the hotel, and then went down to the outfitters’ for our excursion.
Another activity we’d been wanting to try, and that pregnant women can do is fly fishing. Our instructor, Demian, taught us the basics of roll casting, and then quickly got us on a picturesque stream. It was a little colder than usual, rain was coming in, and it was overcast. It wasn’t the best season for fly fishing, but the conditions weren’t bad at all. It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes before I landed a fish. I was able to keep good tension on the barbless hook by stripping the line, and after a short fight, I netted my first fish on the fly ever. Just a short while after that, my wife hooked up. Demian was over with me still, and after setting the hook, she yelled, “Fish on!!!” Demian laughed, and hustled over to give her a hand. A few hours later, we’d caught 14 fish between us. I credit Demian’s teaching abilities and skill at his passion. HB initially struggled with keeping the rod bent and tension on the line, but he was able to show her how to successfully bring in a fish (and she landed plenty). He was quick to switch out flys that were not hitting, and deftly handled any snags we caused while figuring out the cast. We really can’t thank Demian enough (though the last thing I need is another expensive hobby).
I have a friend that offered to teach me fly fishing if I taught him sporting clays. Now that I know the basics and have landed a fish, I might have to take him up on his offer. The weather had held out, so we changed for dinner and went out to our sitting spot. I’d finished the book I brought, The Paris Wife, and decided to start on A Moveable Feast (to get both sides of the story).
I thought the picture above was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new. Not unlike The Greenbrier itself.
We’d had such a pleasant dinner at Draper’s we almost went back. Instead, we decided to give Cafe Carleton a try. My wife did the prix fixe option, and I order a charcuterie plate. Both were very good, as was the wine flight: No one expects the Spanish Libation. The food was spectacular, and our waitress, Jennifer W was a lot of fun and made great recommendations. After a decadent meal we played the rest of our comp’d slots and then played a few hands of roulette. Nothing hit, but I optimistically reflected that I’d rather be lucky on the trout stream than in the casino.
We ending the night by participating in an old Greenbrier tradition. I won’t explain it, as the text in the picture below should do so better than I could.
We decided not to mess with success, and went back to Draper’s for our last breakfast at The Greenbrier. I had the Springtime omelet: jumbo lump crab, asparagus, and brie. Our waitress on our last day was not rude, but was not particularly chipper either. Everyone has off days. However, our first waiter, Adrienne came over to greet us. He has noticed that we’d been there three days in a row. He was very friendly, and at least on that day, was a beacon of cheerfulness in a sea of frowns. Adrienne truly improved the quality of our stay.
Later that morning, my wife went to the spa for a prenatal massage and I took my kindle and coffee down to the pool. An elderly lady (lets say at least 75) was swimming lap after lap, and inspired me to swim a few. I got a little winded, but lets blame that on all the booze the night before.
After a short walk, we packed up and checked out. At reception I heard a gentleman say that he had been since the 4th of July and was staying until Labor Day. I was more than a little jealous. HB and I took one last look, and headed off to our next adventure. I don’t know how soon, but I know the three of us will be back.by rsiv with
Quick catchup on the rest of the weekend – Went to the Nats for a crazy blowout against the Phillies. The pitcher got thrown out, and nobody could get the interwebs up on their phone to figure out why. I texted my boy CW, and despite being a very recent father, he immediately texted me the reason. Having the explanation made my quite popular with my fellow fans.
The I-talian woman made me a sammie.
And the biggest news of all, my sister and her boyfriend Ryan got a new dog! They rescued a German Wirehaired Pointer. Otto is already two, but he can fetch, so maybe there is hope he could retrieve birds one day. I sent my sister home with a bird dog book, and a link to Virginia’s hunter ed class.by rsiv with
I mostly read classics, or novels from very established authors. You are pretty much guaranteed a good book, and there are plenty of them out there. However, I recently got to talking to an author on Twitter, and decided to branch out. He likens himself to Hemingway (definitely in my top 10), and even has a sport fishing book. His newest novel, Red Stick One, is an adventure/thriller about love, loss, and revenge. The plot of Red Stick One, has the protagonist on the trail of the man that killed his father figure. During the action, we get a few flashbacks to ‘Nam and a love story. The main character is an avid outdoorsman, wildlife officer, veteran, and east-coaster. When I bought the book, I was hoping for a western-style feel, with a more relatable story. Thats exactly what I got. I am no cowboy, but I do consider myself an outdoorsman. Its a lot easier for me to follow along during a hunt than on patrol looking for ‘pache. Overall, I thought this was a great summer read. If I had to provide one criticism, I’d say that the dialogue during the romantic scenes was a little clunky. However, the engaging plot, quick pace, and country voice, all more than made up for it. Red Stick One reminds me of Elmore Leonard’s Appalachian-based work, which I believe to be high praise. Before heading out for the last vacation of summer, throw Red Stick One on the kindle. You won’t regret it.by rsiv with
Day 4 in Cuba started out with a buffet, and amazing cafe. After a great meal, we headed down to a conference room in the hotel. We met with a former Cuban Foreign Services Scholar, who brought the group up to date on Cuba – US relations from the colonial period to present times. I had just read Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba, which is as much a history of Cuba as the Bacardi family and company, but from a capitalist perspective, so it was interesting to notice the discrepancies between the two accounts. For instance, the speaker implied that business owners fled the country out of guilt/fear prior to the revolution, and failed to talk about the confiscation of their assets. However, when directly asked, he provided an account that was more inline with what I had read in the book. There was lots of talk about, “Terrorist groups in Florida.” He also said that Cuba was not changing from Socialism to Capitalism, but something new. He said, “Cuba has to adapt.” He thought that it would be a slow process, but Cuba has to change. A member of our group suggested that when the embargo is lifted, people will get rich, everything socially and otherwise will change. He presenter said, “we accept this challenge…we have been preparing for this.” Later he added, “Cubans need to work harder to have more.” “We are going to face new realities, and I’m optimistic.” The presenter kept talking about Cuba embracing at least some degree of capitalism, but he never once used the word capitalism unless someone else used said word in their question. I got the impression that Cuba will try to hold on to its socialist ideals for quite some time. I think that longer term, it will likely look more like Canada, or perhaps a Sweden. Controlled capitalist, but with strong social concern, for instance socialized medicine, nationalized industries, etc. That said, it may be hard to resist the fast money that American tourism will offer.
After the foreign services presentation, we got on the bus. After hearing that we had another giant of a day, our American guide introduced our Cuban guide. “She’s your guide, shes our guide, shes Ms. Cu-baaa!” Nilda told us about the day’s activities as we headed to the Muraleando neighborhood community project. The manager of this project was very genuine and very enthusiastic. His passion was contagious. He described some of their art as, “tangible poetry.” He definitely did not need a translator. The project is called El Tanque, because they petitioned the government to take an old water tank in a trash heap, and turn it into an art gallery. They cleared out a junkyard, and now they have a beautiful community center. They’ve also beautified and improved the entire neighborhood. The female singer pictured below had just won a caribbean talent show. I have her CD, so I’ll try to update this post with more details about her later. The statue is of a local character, who we got to meet. The teeth are real dentures. The bench is dedicated to an old woman who used to sit there daily, waiting on her love (it is assumed that she was referring to a potential future love).
After saying our goodbyes, we took a walking tour though Old Havana with a local architect. Both he, and his wife, were architects in Havana trying to save and restore old buildings, so it was a very enjoyable and informative walk. It was also our first chance to wander the streets, so even without the great commentary, it would have been a great time. I don’t recall the architect’s name, but I thought of him as a Javier (Bardem), perhaps you can see why.
First, notice the box of Virginia apples. I do know that they don’t grow apples on Cuba, so perhaps it was some kind of aid? I didn’t get to ask about it, as that pic was taken during our free time wandering. Next, notice the shotguns. Does your grandpa ever tell you that Obama/Clinton/etc is going to take away your guns? In Cuba, they really did. This museum displays the shotguns confiscated by the government. I saw a bunch of Browning A-5s. I was with our Cuban guide at this point, who is from Pinar Del Rio (the country), which makes her a guajira (country girl). I thought she might know about hunting. She said that it is difficult to get a permit to own a shotgun, but some Cubans do. However, most harvesting, of say boars, is done by trapping. The interwebs shows me that there is quail hunting in Cuba, but I couldn’t tell you if Cubans are allowed to do it. The architect was particularly candid about his thoughts on Cuba. He said his grandparents were for the revolution, when it was still about getting rid of Batista. When it became communist later, they regretted it, as they were a wealthy family. Eventually, his grandfather took his own life. The architect also said that he would not be able to live as well as he does without his two brothers sending clothes and money from Miami. He was a very interesting guy, and I wish we had more time with him. The picture of stone above is so you can see the coral in it. The cigar is a Romeo y Julieta #2. These were my walking around sticks while I was in Cuba, as they were 3.4 CUCs (less than $4 American), and easily found in Tubos for portability. I never had a draw or construction problem, and the flavor was great. Maybe a little one dimensional, but they were prefect for my purposes. I really just grabbed a few by chance, but ended up having one whenever I had 30-45 minutes.
We hit Cafe Del Oriente for lunch. Apparently, its the place to see and be seen, as the Castros can often be seen there, and other high level officials. The welcome cocktails and food were great, but the atmosphere and music were just incredible. It was a nice respite from the heat and the walk.
After lunch, we had a tour of Casa De Africa, with an Afro-Cuban religions specialist, and then saw a show. The actors were excellent, and as always, we were blown away by the quality of the production, and that it was just for our small group. However, some school children wandered over, as the museum is right on the street, and they joined in the dancing. The dancer in blue is the Yorùbán/Santerían orisha Yemaja. I thought she stole the show. She pulled me up to dance with her. My wife thought it was fitting as she is the patron deity of women, especially pregnant women. After Casa De Africa, we headed to a hotel for lessons in making mojitos, and dancing salsa.
I lost the mojito contest, but I had lots of rum, and maybe instead of the loser, we can say I was runner up. Then we learned Cuban style salsa, which involves a different count and a post. Or at least thats what I remember. I’m not a great dancer, but I learned the basics, and had a great time.
We drove back to the hotel along the Malecon, and with a few hours to burn, I opted for another Romeo y Julieta #2. I also tried Bucanero Malta, which at first I thought was malt liquor, but when I saw our bus driver Havi drinking it, inquired, and found out its more like sugarcane root beer. It had an interesting and very unique flavor I can’t quite describe. I thought it went well with the cigar, and was a welcome change of pace from the 14 or so rum drinks I had that day. I also threw in a bonus bathroom cigar selfie. How often does one get to enjoy a bathroom cigar?
We had dinner at Cafe Espanola. It was a good meal in a very interesting place. Afterwards, we enjoyed some jazz in the lobby, and called it a night.by rsiv with