Not Just a Swordfish~

It’s Sunday, April 28th, 6:34am, I’m up going through my normal routine of feeding deer, chickens, dogs and watering my garden. It’s my day off…and by day off I mean playing catch up in my home office with the paperwork side of fishing. Chris calls to pass his time while he’s cruising out to his first stop. He has an 8-hour trip today. We start talking about the upcoming week and which days would be the prettiest to attempt to break away and go sword fishing. Today would mark 3 days since I pulled my Dad’s Swordfish off on the wire 10ft behind the boat. I hadn’t slept a night since and Chris is the one who had to hear all about it. Chris was quiet for a minute then blurted out, “Tonight is the night, we’re going. Seas are less than a foot.” That was all I needed to hear. I got off the phone and spent the next 6 hours throwing together all the gear in order to meet Chris at the dock as soon as he got in.

What felt like 30 minutes later, I was standing at the stern of the Backlash loading her up. First mate, Chris Hunter is there. He is spraying and scrubbing off the days meat haul. With the boat loaded, Chris Hunter ran to his house and change clothes. Chris Kirby opened the cooler I packed and asked where his rigged baits were. It then dawned on me that I had forgot them. With straight panic I told him I would run home or call Jeff the bait man, and see if he could run me some squids. With 10 minutes later I was heading to the tackle shop to pick up squids and hooks. Bait man saves the day. It’s now 4:28pm, Chris Kirby, Chris Hunter, a case of twisted-tea, a few packs of squid, a harness, and myself are headed out of the pass in search of a Swordfish. In search of redemption.

The sun had set and it wasn’t much longer, Chris is pulling them out of gear signaling it is time. Chris squared started to rig baits while I broke out the grill and started to prep our feast. I already had a good buzz from tea-time mixed with some ultras. Once we landed in Sword country it was about 9:00pm. Chris shut the big girl’s motors off and we began to drift slowly in the middle of nowhere. We let out three baits and began to wait. 20 minutes later, I’m pulling ribeyes off the grill, 50 yards off the back of the boat appears a pissed off, bill swinging Swordfish on top. I throw the plates down, it was pure chaos for about 15 long seconds before I was holding the rod. Ten minutes later Chris Kirby was leaned over the gunnel reaching down to pull this mighty-might out of the water. This girl was healthy, lit up with the bluest cobalt blue down her back and measured in at 47 inches. We snapped a few pictures of her as her eyes swiveled, looking at each of us like we were aliens. With a good luck kiss, I deposited her back into the deep. We all smiled and laughed as we ate our luke-warm steaks and discussed how the trip had already been made.

We reset our baits and finished cleaning up dinner. Chris picked up the jig rod and started searching for a Blackfin. Wasn’t long he had one on. The three of us shot the shit and drank telling stories and listening to music. I felt so relaxed and thankful to be alive. About the time the buzz had increased to a cloud, ZZZZZzzzzzZzzzZZZZZZzzzZZZzzzz. There she was. We all ran around the boat like squirrels. I harnessed up as she ran to the bottom. Chris Kirby woke the Backlash up as Chris Hunter reeled in the other lines. This would make the 15thtime I was in the harness and saddled in to reel in a sword. Every time prior this, ended with being a shark, pulling the hook, or some giant eel. While I have been on the boat multiple times as part of the crew, I had yet to ever reel in a sea monster I could call mine. I concentrated on the reel and watched my rod tip position to make sure I didn’t screw this up. Little while later we got our first glimpse of her. She came up on top and was trying her best to escape the lasso she had around her. She made another short run and then came back up and straight down off the starboard side. She was comfy there and refused to come up any further for a harpoon shot. She raised up and made a big run straight under the boat. Chris Hunter unclipped the rod, followed her and yelled “HARD TO PORT”. Chris Kirby blew some diesel smoke and flipped the Backlash around to save it. She would then take off for her final run. With the line straight down and taking drag off the stern, I was hooked back in and waited for her to stop. When she did, I could almost feel how tired she was. (So was I) I started to ease her up and gain back the line lost. 10 minutes later Chris Hunter said, “ Oh shit, shes dead.” I looked up from the reel and saw a tail coming towards me. The fight was over. I never stopped reeling until the swivel hit the rod tip. Chris squared and myself heaved this monster over the side. We all stood in awe trying to comprehend what the hell just happened. The hook had ripped through her dorsal fin and landed in top of her head. The leader completely wrapped around her stomach and then again around her tail. With a smile so big it kind of hurt a little, I grabbed Chris Kirby and hugged him so hard I thought I broke him in half. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. He never gave up and the curse was broken. I was officially holding a broadbill that was mine. My Dad’s face crossed through my mind and a tear ran down my cheek. With some hoops, hollers, high-fives, a little photo shoot, drinks and some music cranking, we celebrated in the middle of no where, as a speck of sand in the Gulf. While the rest world was sleeping, we rounded back to the spot where the madness began, iced our trophy, and put out some more lines. Chris squared went to sleep a short while later. It was now 4:30am. I watched the moonrise and then the sun. I spent the whole night talking to God and singing Miranda Lambert songs on the back deck as I watched the lines. I thanked God for this harvest. As the sun got brighter the guys woke up. I reeled in our Sword rigs and put out lures. It was time to head back. On the way there we swung by some shrimp boats off in the distance to see if they had any friends hanging around. Sure enough we found some yellowfins wanting to play. What a way to cap it off.

I called my Dad as soon as we came into cell range to tell him what had just happened. Redemption at its absolute finest. Thank you Chris squared. Thank YOU Chris Kirby. Thank you God. My first broadbill, a trip I will tell my grandchildren about.

 

Thank you for reading,

Shelby Lynn Kirby~

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Sandhill Crane Stew

*A simple prep and forget recipe that will impress your friends and family. This concoction will light up taste buds you didn’t even know you had. A one pot, minimal mess, soul food recipe that is even better the following day. Enjoy~

 

Feeds 4-6 people~ Prep Time: 15 Mins~ Cook Time: 2.5 Hours

 

You will need:

1.5lbs Crane Meat (Approx. 4 Breast), Cubed

3 Bay Leaves

3 Tbsps. Olive Oil

3 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Large Onion, Quartered

4 Stalks of Celery, Chopped

4 Large Carrots, Chopped

2 Large Baking Potatoes, Chopped

4-5 Cups Beef Broth (Enough to Cover)

2 Tsps. Rubbed Sage

2 Tsps. Crushed Rosemary

2 Tsps. Cheyenne Pepper

2 Tsps. Chili Powder

2 Tsps. Cavenders Greek Seasoning

Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

  1. Over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven, throw in olive oil, garlic, and cubed crane. Continue tossing until meat is brown.
  2. Add Celery, Carrots, Onions, Potatoes, seasonings, and beef broth.
  3. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover.
  4. Cook for two hours on low heat.
  5. Serve with a loaf of fresh bread and a glass of homemade sweet tea!

 

 

Sandhill Crane Kabobs

*Feel free to jazz this recipe up by adding bell peppers, onions, whole garlic, mushrooms, etc. to the kabobs. Cubed up more meat and marinate if you have a larger party. This recipe is simple and will impress your guest…even the guest that don’t like wild game. Be sure to wait to tell them it’s Sandhill Crane until they are tonsil deep. Cheers!

Feeds 4-6 people~ Prep Time: 1 Hour~ Cook Time: 15 Minutes

 

You will need:

1.5lbs Crane Meat (Approx. 4 Breast), Cubed

5 Ounces Worcestershire Sauce

5 Ounces A1 Steak Sauce

2 Garlic Cloves, Minced

4 Tbsps. Italian Dressing

3 Tbsps. McCormick GrillMates Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 Gallon Ziplock Bag

4 to 6 Wood or Metal Kabobs

 

  1. Combine all ingredients except meat in gallon bag. Shake it UP.
  2. Add meat. Marinate in fridge for 1 Hour.
  3. Remove your masterpiece and set on bag on counter until room temp.
  4. Stick the marinated meat cubes on Kabobs. (Don’t forget to soak your Kabob sticks in the sink if you are using wooden ones)
  5. Grill on high heat until Medium Rare. About 10-15 Minutes.

DO NOT OVER COOK.

  1. Serve with green beans and fresh cut French fries.

 

Duck Man Teaching Duck Boy

Thanksgiving Break would be our first road trip out west of 2018. Carson would accompany us on the 20 hour drive to the middle of no where in search of the ultimate waterfowl mecca. I watched Chris prepare Carson all summer long for these exact moments to come. All those late afternoons shooting skeet off the dock would collide in an emotional moment I relive every time I see the pictures.

From day one walking in the woods with my own Dad, I found my purpose.I believe full-heartedly that God created us, gave us thumbs and put us at the top of the food chain for a reason.Hunting is release and place where I feel like I belong. Out here where there is more waterfowl, whitetails and cows than humans allow you to witness and appreciate the world for exactly how God created it. The great outdoors is a place where traditions and beliefs can be passed down in the realist, purest fashion.

It’s November 15th and we had just rolled into parts unknown the afternoon prior. We gained access to a goose feed that had a little over eight hundred birds feeding in a wheat field. The feed was a mix of mostly lessers and specks. A few adult snows were milling around too. Today, we arrived a few hours prior to the time we had seen them here the yesterday. We decided to lie in whites and mix in honkers and speck full bodies around the outside edges. Carson helped carry decoy bags and set out snow socks all while cracking jokes and making us laugh. Once set up, we laid awaiting the first flight to make their appearance. About 45 minutes later, a single Canada lesser circled in from behind us. The goose landed to the left side of the spread. Carson’s side. With a single shot from his .410 pump, Carson sat up from the middle of snow socks and smoked his first goose. This would be his first waterfowl he had taken solo. Immediately, after he shot he yelled “I got it!”.  The excitement in his tone was as real as it gets. Chris told him to go get him. Nine-year-old, Carson ran over and picked up his prize. His smile was as contagious and my heart was beyond full. Proud is a complete understatement.

November 16th, it’s late and we have been scouting all day. We finally stumbled on a group of ducks going down in what we thought was a cut milo field. We parked the truck at the edge of the field and decided to creep over a little hill that blocked the full view of the feed. With Chris leading the way and Carson right on his boot heels we stalked up on an unexpected pond full of ducks. Chris pointed out all the waterfowl to Carson and made sure he got a front row seat at such an incredible sight. We sat and watched those ducks dip and dive as the sky turned purple. Carson sat in awe, pointing out every new group of birds that came to join the party. The following morning hunt would be one for the books.

November 17th, the sun was still asleep. The truck was put in park and it was time for the set up to begin. Myself and Carson along with 5 other guys set up a few A-frames while Chris set the spread. It didn’t take long to get ready with that amount of hands, which was something were not use to. With the blinds brushed and everyone in position it was time. Shooting time came and it wasn’t long before we had close to a limit. A single, hen pintail came soaring in the spread and stalled out at about 20 yards. Chris sounded out and told all the guys this was Carson’s duck. Chris then said to Carson, “whenever your ready.” Carson stood up over the A-frame and shot. BOOM. The pintail fell out of the sky and hit the water. The whole crowd instantaneously let out cheers and my heart was screaming with pride. Chris grabbed Carson and embarrassed him in a bear hug. Carson’s first duck! A morning and a hunt I will never forget.

Children are a reflection of you as a parent. Although they are not always on their best behavior and will test the limits whenever they can, they are the greatest responsibility you will have in your entire life. Your time is the greatest gift you can give to them. All those late afternoons, watching Chris throw clay after clay to help Carson learn to lead and aim, couldn’t have been illustrated better when seeing him shoot his first goose and duck. This was the first year Carson was able to handle his gun solo and to witness his own passion unfold was the ultimate pay off. The youth are a reflection of their surroundings. God creates our children and it is up to us to illustrate right from wrong, the golden rule, and pass on traditions. Now hunting means even more to me knowing I’m able to pass it on to future generations. It will be in Carson’s hands to do the same for his children and I am thankful to be apart of such an honorable gift.

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies~

Simply classic! Did you know Oatmeal Cream Pies go back as far as 1960?! They happen to be the first snack Little Debbie brand ever produced. This is also one of my favorites! While eating one last week, I found myself not enjoying the taste. I then began to look up recipes on how to make them from scratch. I swear I lost a whole day on Pinterest because of this, but the end result was this creation and my oh my it is delicious (if I do say so myself!) Enjoy~

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Start by creaming butter and sugars in mixer. Then mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Add eggs and vanilla to butter mixture and mix until creamy. Add dry mixture to butter mixture. Mix until doughy. Roll and flatten dough into 2×2 cookie size balls. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Let cool on pan before removing. (I found I like them a little thinner so I usually make them 1/2 or even 1/4 inch thickness.)

Cream Filling:

  • 1/2 cup soften butter
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp crisco

Mix all ingredients together until frosting is a light and creamy. After cookies cool, ice the center. Place finished cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and put in fridge for 10 minutes.

Prepare your taste buds! Enjoy~

#OneShotsTable