The Old Man

An ode to Ruark.  And also our grandfathers.

The Old Man watches as the steam rises off his coffee mug, just poured from the old rusty thermos his wife gave him so long ago.

He drinks his coffee black.  No cream.  No sugar.  It’s just easier that way.

His pale, grey eyes scan the darkness for the faintest flicker of movement.  His hands caress the checked wood grain of his father’s Remington, each scar and carving familiar to his touch.

The Kid is drifting in and out of sleep at the other end of the small boat.

He drew the short straw among his brothers and cousins and Grandpa picked him up at 3:30 this morning.  He’d piled into the cab of the old truck, next to the greying Labrador, barely awake but knowing it was his turn.

They’d launched the boat by moonlight, loaded with heavy cork decoys and an outboard older than both of them, kicking them along to an unnamed oxbow just upstream.

The Old Man scratches the labs ears, causing that unmistakable thump in the bottom of the boat.  The dog whimpers his appreciation, anxious for the hunt to begin.

The sun begins to win, and nature begins to stir . . . Egrets and ibis and herons and hawks . . .

The Kid awakens, wiping the sleep out of his eyes.  He looks at the Old Man, grizzled, leathery, his face stoic as his eyes sweep the landscape . . . He wonders how many times the old man has done this . . . How many ducks has he shot, how many mornings has he set decoys . . . In a rare moment of awareness, the Kid finds himself wondering how many more times the Old Man will be able to do this . . .

The Old Man sees them from a hundred yards out . . . Even at his age and this distance, he catches the glint of green signaling an impending landing.  He taps his duck call, cementing the mallards into his trap . . .

The Kid grips his gun . . . His mouth feels dry, the wood stock cold and strange . . . He fingers the safety, nervous he’ll forget to push it when the opportunity comes . . . He reminds himself to breathe . . .

The Old Man calls the shot, the Wingmaster coming easy to his shoulder, a motion perfected by a thousand rehearsals over dozens of years . . .

The Kid rushes his gun up, unsure of what’s happening until the first recoil pounds into his shoulder . . . Aim . . . Pull . . . Pump . . .

The echoes harmonize as the ducks splash into the creek, both brought to hand shortly by that old grey lab . . .

The Old Man holds his aloft, admiring the iridescence in the now high sunshine . . . The Kid takes his duck and mimics the Old Man . . . He notices the hidden purples in the green, the brilliance on the speculum, the sharp lines and the subtle shading.  He notices the smell of the recently fired shells, the lab happily panting, the other ducks moving up and down his field of view . . . He hears the clucks, the chirps, the swirl of a fish, the sound of a distant road . . . He begins to take in the feel of his gun in his hands, the smell of the coffee, the rattle of shells in his pocket . . .

The Kid looks at the Old Man again, now with admiration . . . Maybe this is why he does it . . . Punishing himself with middle of the night wake ups and laborious decoy spreads . . . To come to this, this sort of “church” out here in the middle of nowhere . . .

The Old Man sees a small pod of birds turn their way.  The Kid has seen them too.

The Old Man smiles.

If you enjoyed this, check out our podcast, released every Tuesday . . .

#30: Excuses

Show Notes:

Have you ever spent 12 hours on the water, only to arrive home empty-handed?

(shakes head in agreement) “Neither have we”

But, just in case that DOES happen to you one day, we’ve got you locked and loaded with our best excuses for a bad day afield . . . No fish, too many fish, bad weather, bananas, lucky hats, and more!!!

Keep and Release:

Nate’s Keep item – Grilled shrimp, with this butter on it . . .

Trav’s Keep item – What would Teddy Roosevelt Do?  The new website from Back Country Hunter’s and Anglers that examines public land policy through the lens of one of our greatest conservationists . . .

Emily’s Keep Item – The Life Coach School Podcast . . .

 

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
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Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram

#29: Overrated, Underrated, and Properly Rated

Show Notes:

Are Power-poles overrated?  What about Mud motors? Mojo Decoys? Shimano reels?

Plus – Tacos?

Keep and Release:

Nate & Kaley’s Keep item – the Little Gasparilla Island Facebook Group

Trav’s Keep item – Barkeeper’s Friend

 

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
InstagramTwitterFacebookWebsite

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram

#27: Listener Questions

Show Notes:

This week, we empty the mailbag and tackle YOUR questions about anything and everything, from “How to get your kids more involved in the outdoors” to “who wins a fight: a taco or a grilled cheese” . . .

Keep and Release:

Nate’s Keep item – SladeNW Youtube Channel

Trav’s Keep items – BackCountry Hunters and Anglers

 

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
InstagramTwitterFacebookWebsite

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram

#22: The Death Match

Show Notes:

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!

Join us this week as we pick who lives and who dies in these death matches:

Bluebills or Ringnecks
Sheepshead or Flounder
Bay Boat vs Flats Boat
Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins
Leady Waders vs Leaky Boat
Breakfast after the hunt vs Beer after fishing
…and more!

We have duck hunting and Little Gasparilla Island tee’s for sale now!

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
InstagramTwitterFacebookWebsite

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram

#21: The Off-Season

Show Notes:
Duck Season is over….now what? Travis, Nathan, and Emily share their to-do lists, the next hunting season they’re excited about, and remember that whole fishing thing? We should do that, too…

Do You Even Mottled, Bro? T-SHIRTS! 

Here are the $850 Waders that Sitka debuted at the SHOT show.

Here’s the Decoy Storage Video from Gator Trax.

Here’s the Slow Cooker Chicken with Wine Sauce recipe Emily mentions:

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ cup carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (approx. 2 medium carrots)
3 cups thinly sliced red onion (approx. 1½ large)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ cup brandy (optional)
3 lbs. raw chicken breast and thighs, boneless, skinless
1 cup Burgundy wine
1½ cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
8 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 smoked ham hock (optional)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch (preferably GMO-free) + 2 Tbsp. water (combine to make a slurry)

Directions

1. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until first wisp of smoke rises.
2. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.
3. Push mushrooms to sides of pan, lower heat to medium. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
4. Deglaze pan with brandy (if desired); cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until pan is almost dry. Add contents of pan to 5-quart slow cooker.
5. Add chicken, wine, broth, thyme, salt, pepper, and ham hock (if desired) to slow cooker; cover. Cook on low for 6 hours.
6. Remove ham hock and thyme sprigs. Add cornstarch slurry; increase temperature to high, cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until thickened.

 

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
InstagramTwitterFacebookWebsite

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – InstagramTwitterFacebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram