The ruffed grouse and raccoon hunting seasons get under way today. I have to openly admit that I have never been racoon hunting in my life. The few hunters I know who are big on coon hunting really enjoy this sport. They also enjoy taking their wives and girlfriends along at the same time.
Raccoon hunting season is from Oct. 15 to Feb. 29, 2012. The daily limit is four and there is no possession limit or season bag limit.
Grouse season runs from Oct.15 to Feb. 29, 2012. The daily bag limit is four, possession limit is16, and no season bag limit. I have only taken three ruffed grouse in my life. The first one was with an inexpensive bolt-action 20-gauge shotgun and the other two with a .22 rimfire rifle.
When I got my first grouse, I did not know the first thing about how to dress it out. I had to call on a good friend or mine to show me how.
It really was not difficult at all. We scalded the body with boiling water from a tea kettle to pluck the feathers, and then cut into the peritoneal cavity to get the gut out of the bird. All of this took about ten minutes. When the bird was fully dressed out, I realized that 90 percent of the meat is on the breast.
My mother prepared another grouse by stuffing it with an apple based dressing and then baked it like you would a cornish hen. The meat had a good texture and was quite tasty.
I have said in past columns that Randolph County is not prime grouse country. After all, it is more than 85 percent forested land. The counties that are good for grouse in this state are the ones along the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers.
I have done a good bit of hunting in the McClintic Wildlife Management Area since 1961. This area is located about four miles north of Pt. Pleasant just off West Virginia State Route 62. A good friend of mine who works out of the Elkins Operations Center has often called McClintic the multiflora rose capital of the state. I cannot disagree. However, this does provide good cover for ruffed grouse and cottontail rabbit.
I remember one time when I came home from hunting in McClintic, on a warm sunshiny day, my legs, arms and torso looked like I had been worked over by a wildcat. This is what happens from tramping around in the briers and multiflora rose in that area.
Below are two good recipes for preparing ruffed grouse:
RUFFED GROUSE AND WILD RICE
16 pieces of grouse (raw)
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can mushrooms, drained
2 cans water
1 package of dry onion soup mix
1 cup of wild rice washed, soaked in hot water
1 cup of white rice
Mix all ingredients except the grouse in 9x13 inch baking pan. Lay grouse pieces on top of mixture. Salt grouse, then bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover, continue baking about 1/2 hour or until rice is cooked. Serves 6.
May be made equally well using all wild rice instead of half white rice. Perhaps a green vegetable or spiced apples would be nice.
ORANGE MARMALADE RUFFED GROUSE
Time 35 minutes
4 ruffed grouse breasts
One small jar of orange marmalade.
One half stick of butter
How to make it
Heat the olive oil in skillet just large enough to accommodate the grouse breasts.
It should be crowded in the skillet and lightly oiled. Cook slowly and bring the breasts to browned finish. They need to be completely cooked.
Add the half stick of butter and let it melt and just starts to bubble. Now smother the breasts with orange marmalade.
Increase the heat until the butter, oil and marmalade starts to bubble, thicken and congeal.
Keep everything in motion in the skillet until it's all done. Then remove it from the heat
A pleasant addition to this recipe would be to serve it over your favorite stuffing; or maybe a butternut squash puree.
A green vegetable would also be good.