Clayton: Keeping busy, making outdoor plans
By Luke Clayton
There’s lots to do in the outdoors, even during what many of us refer to as the “Dog Days” of summer. The striped bass bite is going strong up on Lake Texoma says my buddy Bill Carey with Striper Express and catfish guides on Tawakoni have been butting their clients on limits of tasty catfish. Crappie fishing at Fork has been red hot one day and ‘iffy’ the next, common for this time of year.
I know many folks are heading to their hunting leases to fill feeders and make repairs around their camps. There always seems to be leaky cabin roofs and wood to drag in preparation for what will soon be cooler weather and hunting season. Many of us call these late summer outings dove scouting trips but doves it seems are always ready to pack up and fly to the next zip code with the slightest rain shower, who knows where the concentrations will in a couple weeks come opening day! There are two storms brewing as I write this and one or both is sure to bring some needed rainfall.
My buddies that I guided elk and bear hunting trips with for years are making ready to head to Colorado’s high country for their annual archery elk/bear hunts. The cool mountain air will feel good but it’s hard to imagine the work involved in packing an entire camp into the mountains and outfitting/guiding six hunters per week for several weeks. It’s a young man’s game and being a fully active guide is much work and a job I am relieved to have relinquished a couple years ago. But I wish them all a safe and successful hunt. I hope to do some elk hunting on my own but my days of serving as a guide are over.
I’ve actually been sticking pretty close to home the past week, catching up on some writing and radio assignments and making plans for upcoming hunts this fall. Many of you might know my friend Kenneth Tallent from the McKinney area. Kenneth owns Double Lung Outdoors, a popular outdoor TV show that airs each week on the Pursuit Outdoor Channel.
Another great friend, Larry Weishuhn, who works with me on both radio and now “A Sportsmans Life” weekly outdoor video, will be joining Kenneth and I to hunt a ranch in some wild mountainous country of southeast Oklahoma as well as on Kenneth’s Scott Ranch southwest of San Angelo. Now is prime time to start working on that hunting calendar and make plans early. I’m planning on doing a lot more big game hunting with my .45-caliber Airforce Airguns Texan this fall. Through the years, I’ve had great success with this powerful rifle and last year, some of you might remember, took a fine whitetail buck up on the Dale River Ranch with it.
In keeping with my making plans theme for this week’s column, let me tell you about a couple of outdoor cooking project I have in the works.
A couple weeks ago a good friend took a good ‘eater’ pig on a short hunt down. He had a busy schedule and no time to take care of the prime pork so I came home with about 30 pounds of some of the tastiest protein from the wild. I’ve long been a proponent of prepping meals ahead for upcoming hunting/fishing trips. There is just too much going on at a hunting camp to spend a lot of time cooking.
So, I took the 2 hams and shoulders, gave them a good rub with olive oil and then a dusting of my favorite fajita seasoning and poked small holes and inserted lots of jalapeno and fresh garlic. Into my smoking Tex electric smoker they went, nestled in a throw away aluminum pan. Seasoned with hickory smoke overnight, slow smoking at 190 degrees the pork was fall off the bone tender the next morning.
My plan was to make enough stock of seasoned Tex Mex food to freeze in three separate containers and provide the basis of several different meals, which would include pork enchiladas, burritos and fajitas.
After cutting (not shredding) the pork into bite size pieces, I placed the meat in my big cast iron skillet and added 2 fresh Hatch Chile peppers, chopped with seeds included, one onion, one finely chopped large carrot (to add sweetness to the meat) and a bit more fresh garlic. I also salted and added the juice from one lime. After placing my Tex Mex (stock) in freezer bags, I placed in the fridge overnight to allow the seasonings to blend and then promptly froze.
Enchiladas are always a big hit when camping and making them will be as easy as layering a baking dish or Dutch Kettle with corn tortillas, placing my pre cooked and smoked pork atop the tortillas adding some good Mexican Cheese and topping with green Salsa Verde right out of a jar. I will then cover the mixture with more corn tortillas, cheese, salsa verde, chopped onion and jalapeno and bake either over the campfire coals in my cast iron kettle or in my camp oven. Will only take 15 minutes to create some of the tastiest of enchiladas.
With this same smoked meat stock, I can just as easily make quick fajitas at camp or add refried beans and have burritos. The trick is having the time consuming part done ahead of time.
I also had time this week to begin the process of curing and smoking some ham. A while back I found pork shoulder on sale for just over one dollar per pound. One can only eat so much smoked meat so I decided to turn a couple of the 9-pound roasts into ham, which is a very simple process.
I get a kit of maple flavor ham cure from Butcher Packer Supply for about $6. Mix the kit/cure with the appropriate amount of cool water and use an injector needle to inject the cure well into the inside of the meat. Place in a plastic tub and keep in fridge six days and you have cured pork that can be turned into some of the best ham you have ever tasted.
I rinse it in fresh water after six days and I will inject it with a mixture of honey and black berry jam and rub the exterior of the ham with the same mixture. About 8 hours in the smoker will turn this into some tasty, fully cooked ham.
Hopefully my idle time this week might just spark you to do a little prep work for what I am sure will be a banner fall/hunting season for us all.
Email outdoors writer Luke Clayton via his website www.catfishradio.org. Check out the weekly outdoors show Luke does with his friends Jeff Rice and Larry Weishuhn on YouTube or Pride Outdoor Network. Also, Facebook by liking “Friendlee News”.