Jenny and Steve with their deer. The pickings were kind of slim around here this year but at least they will be going back with some meat. Jenny has already gotten a moose this year and they also got some cotton tail rabbits while they were here.
Jen Jen doesn't shy away from any aspect of hunting including gutting and cleaning wild game and she has learned a lot from Steve who is a borderline mountain man. They hunt, fish and trap in interior Alaska and they have a nice homestead.
It was 14 degrees below zero when they left their home and it was about 70 here when this picture was taken. I do not miss that cold myself but they like it.
Each night we would play games and the kids introduced us to a dice game called 10,000 and we had a lot of fun playing.
I cook the turkey every year and this 22 pounder came out great. I brine the bird the night before in a saltwater and stock brine with peppercorns, crystallized ginger and sage and rosemary and then cook at 475 for about 30 minutes to give it good color and then I turn it down to about 325 for a slow cook for a couple of hours. I put aromatics in the cavity like garlic, onion, apples, lemons, rosemary, sage, and a stick of Cinnamon. It comes out juicy inside and very flavorful.
Judy had to get this picture right before we carved the turkey.
We had to go to all the obligatory stops while they were here, Amish country, Bass Pro Shops, antique stores etc but we also went to Ha Ha Tonka State Park on a cold and blustery day and it had some spectacular views as you can see behind my sweet heart.
At the park is the ruins of a once beautiful mansion that was built in the early 1900s by a wealthy Kansas City magnate to resemble a castle. It burned in 1942 but you can see from the ruins that it was quite a place with a commanding view of the river hundreds of feet below.
Holly, Matt, Jenny and Judy sure enjoyed it but it was really windy and cold for us (about 40).
Also at the park is a large spring and this natural land bridge.
All too soon they had to return to Alaska but Jenny will have to come back for the final fitting of her wedding dress and we are planning on a trip to Alaska next summer and we have the wedding in Minnesota next fall so we will not have to wait so long to see everyone this time.
One of our contractors took this picture for us of the whole gang. Holly really enjoyed the visit and she just doted two of her younguns. You couldn't ask for a better mother and we have been blessed with 5 great kids who we are all still very close to even if we are scattered from coast to coast (literally). That's what happens when you raise your kids to be self confident and adventurous and we wouldn't want it any other way.
I meant to show on the last post where we have been hunting since it is so different than how we hunted in Alaska. This is a double tree stand we mostly hunted from this year (nice to cuddle with your wife in a tree stand) and it sits on a hill overlooking a creek and a small Oak wood line and beyond that is a small pasture. I shot my deer this year through the trees looking straight on the right of this picture. It was in the next pasture over and I shot it through the trees at about 180 yards down hill. Yes I am a good shot...thanks for asking.
This is looking straight out from the tree stand and you can just see the pasture through the trees. We had Wild Turkeys strutting around under us, lots of coyotes yipping in the woods and a Great Horned Owl flew right by us at one point and landed in the small oaks in the fore ground of this picture. I would rather be in the woods or outside than any desk job no matter how much it paid.
And this is a picture of Holly in the stand. We are lucky to have friends with large farms where we can hunt and enjoy nature like this in complete isolation and we have come to love the Oak forests of the Ozarks.
Sad Note: As I was updating the blog with this post we heard a screech and a crash out front of the farmhouse and I looked out the window to see debris flying in the air. When we ran outside we found a pickup had left the road at high speed and impacted a tree on Roger's place next door. As soon as I got to the cab I knew it was bad and called 911, identified myself as a First responder and called for a MEDEVAC helicopter. We had to use hydraulic cutters (jaws of life) to extract the driver who had massive trauma but he coded in the ambulance and didn't make it. The passenger was airlifted out with serious but not life threatening injuries and all I can say is please, if you are reading this use your seat belt always and drive defensively and safely.