Yes, today is highlighted by family, football, eating too much, we hope, not drinking too much (please stay safe). But believe it or not, some stores will be open today/tonight in the lead-up to Black Friday. So why not get started with some holiday shopping gift ideas for the sportsman or -woman in your life. Here’s our Scott and Tiffany Haugen with some options (plus a great recipe for your pending parties) that appears in our November issue.
By Scott Haugen
We’re a month away from the holidays. But if you can’t wait that long, use the excuse of birthdays, the weekend, hump day, Thanksgiving or anything you can think of to treat yourself or a loved one to these fine pieces of outdoor gear. I used and tested a lot of cool gear and gadgets this year, and these items impressed me the most.
I first used the Pelican 14-quart Personal Cooler on dog training sessions and big game scouting trips last summer. I was so pleased with its ability to keep things cold and frozen, I stepped up to their 70-quart Elite cooler, and I’m glad I did.
Both coolers serve specific needs while I’m hunting and camping. The Elite is one of the best-performing big coolers I’ve ever used – be it on extended hunts, weekend outings or defrosting the freezers at home. The latch and seal systems are user- friendly and I love the nonskid feet. And with their deeper recessed design, the cupholders in the Elite actually hold cups. Rugged handles, durable design built for protection and performance. Info: pelican.com.
CHÊNE GEAR WAX CANVAS TIMBER BAG
I’ve been a big fan of Chêne waders, boots and clothes for two years, so thought I’d give their new gear bag a try. While the name implies duck hunting applications, I’ve also used it on multiple dove and pigeon hunts, dog training sessions and to haul my valuable camera gear. It’s also a fgreat carryon if you’re flying.
The traditional look is classic, the straps, buckles and pouches are durable, and it stores more than you think would fit. It’s padded for protecting fragile items and is one of those all-around pieces of gear you’ll find yourself using a lot. Info: chenegear.com.
LACROSSE ALPHATERRA BOOTS
I first wore this boot to keep out grass seeds during summer dog training sessions. Then I wore it into the woods checking trail cameras. I was so impressed with its comfort and ankle support that I took it to Alaska this fall. It was going to be my camp boot, but I wore it on multiple ptarmigan hunts, where I trekked over 15 miles across the tundra throughout the week.
They’re great to wear around the house after a rain, in camp, to change into after a day of duck hunting, or just to have in the truck for when you need to keep your feet dry or protected but don’t want a knee boot. Info: lacrossefootwear.com.
MONTANA KNIFE CO. SPEEDGOAT
Light, durable with an ability to fit the needs of any serious hunter – from skinning a bear to caping elk, boning out deer, cleaning birds and fish, to cutting rope – this knife does it all. And it only weighs 1.7 ounces! It’s fast, dependable, keeps a great edge and is one of the most versatile knives I’ve ever used. Info: montanaknifecompany.com.
The LoopRope is like a bungee cord on steroids. It’s equipped with eight evenly spaced loops, 450 pounds of cord strength and comes in 3-,4-and 5-foot lengths.
The loop system allows one LoopRope to do the job of multiple bungees. I’ve used them to lash deer to ATVs, strap ducks and decoys on a packframe, secure gear to a quad and countless other jobs, including as a last-minute dog leash on a recent day. Once you get it, you’ll be amazed at the number of uses this tool has, and you’ll want more of them. Info: looprope.com.
YETI CAMINO 5O CARRYALL TOTE BAG
The backseat of my truck always has clothes strewn about. By midwinter, I struggle to find clothes I know are there, and my dirty, wet dogs trample them. Now I can store a variety of clothes in an orderly fashion, keep them clean and I know exactly where they are in the Camino 50.
On a 10-day road trip it held all of my hunting clothes to fit a range of conditions – from the mid-30s to pouring rain to 100-plus-degree temperatures. Adjustable dividers make it easy to separate all kinds of gear, plus I like how the rigid bottom and sides keep it upright. It’s way more convenient than a duffle bag, more durable and I use it all the time. Info: yeti.com.
There you have it: Several pieces of quality gear that you’ll find me using for years to come. Happy holidays and good shopping. CS
Editor’s note: Want to learn how to skin and cape an elk? Order Scott Haugen’s popular Field Dressing, Skinning & Caping Big Game DVD at scotthaugen.com. Follow Scott’s adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
Recipe of the month
MIX UP THE FLAVORS WITH YOUR UPLAND BIRD HAUL
MIX UP UPLAND BIRDS AND FLAVORS
By Tiffany Haugen
Any of California’s upland game birds can be cooked up “mixed bag” style, as they have roughly the same cooking times. Wild turkey is also a delicious option for this dish. The trick is to slice them all into small, bite- sized portions to ensure even cooking. Do not overcook these tender game birds, as they will toughen up quickly.
While some upland hunters agree that chukar are hard to beat, others claim early-season blue grouse are the best-eating upland game birds in the Golden State. Still others say quail are tops no matter when in the season they’re taken; pheasant enthusiasts argue the same.
All of California’s upland birds provide excellent eating, which is why mixing multiple species is a safe bet. Last fall my husband Scott went grouse hunting in the Cascade Range. He shot a ruffed grouse right off the bat, then happened upon some blue grouse. Then he ran across a big flock of mountain quail and finished off the morning upland slam with some valley quail.
With fresh forest birds in the kitchen, my wheels started turning, and this recipe is the result. I slow-cooked the legs and thighs in a small Crock-Pot. Here’s what I did with the breast meat:
Breast meat from four game birds (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons orange or pineapple juice 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut or coconut oil 1?2 onion, chopped 1?2 bell pepper, chopped Two chili peppers, halved (optional) Two green onions, sliced
1?2 inch fresh ginger, julienned
SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE
1?4 cup orange or pineapple juice 2 tablespoons ketchup 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water and 1?4 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, mix sweet and sour sauce ingredients until thoroughly combined. Be sure to dissolve the cornstarch in the water before adding to the sauce. Set sauce aside.
In a medium bowl, mix bird pieces with marinade until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a large skillet, sauté onions on medium-high heat until soft. Add peppers, green onions and ginger and continue sautéing for one to two minutes. Push everything in the pan to the edges and add marinated birds, with marinade, to the center of the pan in a single layer. Cook on each side for one to two minutes and then mix all ingredients together.
Add sweet and sour sauce to the skillet and continue to sauté between two and five more minutes or until sauce thickens and bird meat is cooked to desired texture. Serve over rice or noodles and garnish with more green onion, basil and sesame seeds if desired.
Editor’s note: To order signed copies of Tiffany Haugen’s popular book, Cooking Big Game, visit scotthaugen.com for this and other titles.