Anyone who paid close attention to the Texas episode of The Wild Within may have noticed the grill those cowboys used. I had to have one, so I called my buddy Ronny Boehme, who lives part-time in Virginia, to see if he could make one for me. He had an associate, Bob Brunk, of Excel Steel Works, in Harrisonburg, VA, fabricate a base for my grill. Then Ronny welded up the frame. I drove down to pick it up. Excuse my Lynndie England pose and smile, but I happened to be very excited about this grill.
Here’s my buddy Ronny Boehme. I worked for Ronny’s company, Twin Lake Installations, all through college. He taught me everything I forgot about welding and milwright work. Ronny’s also a dog breeder and trainer, and is very active with the North American Vesatile Hunting Dog Assocation. I should also mention that he’s also an all-around good guy. And that he drinks Miller Lite like it’s his job – though only in the evening.
Here I’m testing my new grill on some quail that Ronny pulled from his freezer and marinated in a blend of lemon juice and olive oil.
Here’s I’m fixing to eat those quail.
And here I am eating those quail. Above me, you’ll notice a tail fan from a ruffed grouse that Ronny killed last fall. He’s a big-time bird hunter and a good shotgunner. Two falls ago, he shamed me on a grouse hunt in New Brunswick. (And then I got in trouble for going, because my wife had bad morning sickness. That was an all around bad trip. I do not recommend grouse hunting when one’s wife is severely pregnant.)
The next leg of the journey would involve some turkey hunting, so I wanted to tinker with some shotguns before heading out. Ronny’s place in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is known locally as Beer Mountain, and shooting from the back deck is one of many luxuries that this place affords. I didn’t end up hunting with this particular shotgun, but I wanted to shoot it because it once belonged to Colonel Patton, a relative to famed World War II hero George C. Patton.
It was a six hour drive to my next stop, in South Carolina. And since driving photos are a total drag, I’ll fill the time with a photo of my boy, Jim. He’s cuter than hell.
My next stop was Batesburg, South Carolina. This is my friend David Amick, who owns Carolina Custom Rifles (www.ccrifles.com). I had him putting together a rifle for me at about the same time that Ronny was putting together my grill. That’s it right there, a 7mm Rem Mag.
I got two gobblers our first morning out, thanks to expert calling by David Amick. The first bird hung up for about 20 minutes before he came in; the second bird came in so hot and fast that I hardly had time to settle in and get my shotgun ready. Of all the thrills in hunting, and there are piles of them, calling in a turkey is one of the best. You see that turkeys head bobbing toward your through the trees and you’re not thinking about phone calls you’re supposed to return, I can promise you that. You get focused all the way, which is a good feeling to have.
Here I’m plucking one of the turkeys for the next night’s dinner. The great writer Jim Harrison once said something along the lines of, “To skin a bird is a sin against God and man.” By which he meant, pluck your damn birds, don’t skin them. The skin retains the flavor and adds some much needed fat. And it looks cool.
This photo was taken in those blissful moments after I took possession of my new 7mm and fired off a round. I’ve got a lot of hunting coming up this fall, and this rifle and I are going to get to know each other quite well.
David Amick and his partner E.C. Owens. E.C. participated in dozens and dozens of missions in Vietnam as a door gunner on a helicopter gunship. He earned several Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Purple Heart for a bullet through his leg. Spent a lot of time flying covert missions. The guy is a major badass. He refers to his wife as Baby Doll, and shared with me a story about her doing her gardening with a double-barrel shotgun leaning against a nearby tree in case of snakes. “She’s something else,” he says.
I’m checking on the turkeys, after a night in a brine and an hour or so on the grill. They turned out perfect. Anyone who doesn’t like wild turkey doesn’t know how to cook. Simple as that.