Duck Hunting Workshop – Part 1

This past spring, I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s “Duck Hunting 101” workshop.  It was a day long workshop consisting of four separate stations: clay shooting, setting decoys, using a hunting dog, and duck hunting and gun safety.  I took their shorter version of the Duck Hunting workshop at their fall retreat and loved it, so I was really excited to go to this.

duck hunting 101

Our view for the day

The workshop was being held at a private hunting club—a men’s only hunting club to be exact.  But, for this one weekend out of the year, ladies took over!  The hunting lodge itself was beautiful.  I wish I could’ve gotten pictures inside of the big vaulted ceilings, wood and stone work throughout, a huge fireplace, and big leather couches to relax in.  I’d love a hunting lodge like that one day!

About 30 women attended, plus all the instructors.  The day began with breakfast.   Washington Outdoor Women sure know how to feed you well at all their workshops!  Breakfast was a huge spread of options, several home cooked.  One dish was a delicious salmon egg bake that I’d love to try and make myself.  After everyone was fed, we had a quick intro then broke off into our groups.

Clay Shooting

duck hunting 101

Clay shooting station

The ladies were separated, groups A-D, and would rotate through all the stations.  My first station was clay shooting.  I ended up in the group with women who had previous gun experience, so we shot first.  Everyone else took the gun safety workshop before getting to shoot the shotguns.

duck hunting 101

A father and son taught this workshop.  They quickly went over the basics and it was time to get shooting!  Each woman had 6 chances for their turn.  I’ve only shot clay pigeons one other time and it was during my Hunter Education field test where I hit it on my first try.  Definite beginners luck!

The shotgun range I shot my first clay pigeon at

The shotgun range I shot my first clay pigeon at

The first couple women who went missed all their shots.  To be fair, we were having some problems with the machine shooting the clay pigeons.  It wasn’t shooting when it was supposed to.  It was my turn to get up and the instructor said he thought I’d shoot one since I shot a deer last year.

I yelled pull and sure enough, he was right!  First clay pigeon shot of the day!  I’d really love to get more into trap shooting.  It’s a lot of fun and I feel like it’s something I could become pretty good at with practice.  It’s also so satisfying to see your clay target break into pieces!

duck hunting 101

The beautiful view while shooting

We had an hour at each station and boy did that hour fly by quick!  Each woman went through the station once.  A couple women were pretty new to using shotguns and they went another time so they could hopefully shoot their first target.

duck hunting 101

One of the reasons I love learning with a group of women is they’re incredibly encouraging.  Everyone cheered and was genuinely happy when a woman did finally hit her first target.  It’s an incredibly supportive environment to learn in.

Our next station in the Duck Hunting workshop was setting decoys and we were getting out on the water to learn!

To be continued…

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Whale Watching in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

humpback whale

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to have my first whale watching experience!  I was even more lucky to enjoy it with family on my uncle’s boat.  It was an incredible couple of hours seeing several orca pods and humpback whales.

killer whale

We headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a channel that runs between southern Vancouver Island, Canada and the northern Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  We had been out the day before and didn’t see anything, but heard guys at the dock later saying they saw orca pods two separate times.  We were really hoping we’d have better luck this time out.  After a few minutes of looking around, we saw the first dorsal fin come out of the water.

killer whale
It was by far one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed.  The sheer size of these whales is enough to leave you speechless!

Click below to see a ton of pictures of orcas (even a baby!) and humpback whales!

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Crab Cakes and Steak Oscar!

Crab Cakes and Steak Oscar

I’m gearing up to head out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca next weekend and I can’t wait!  It got me thinking about the last time I was out fishing in the San Juan islands and I realized I never posted my crab recipes from the delicious fresh crab I brought back that trip.

Crabbing is something I had never done before so it was really cool to be able to see it first hand.  I learned all about pulling pots, distinguishing males from females, seeing if their shells are soft, and measuring to be sure it’s legal to keep.  This guy was one of big ones they could keep (yes he’s still alive in the picture!).

country huntress

Once I was home with the crab legs, I knew I needed to find some great recipes to really show off this delicious crab meat.  But before I could get to cooking, I learned the not so fun task of getting all the crab meat out of the shells.  It took me over an hour to do all the legs, but it was so worth it when I was left with all this gorgeous fresh crab!

crab meat

Crab Cakes

Crab cakes were the first thing I wanted to make.  They’re one of my favorite appetizers to order at any seafood restaurant.  That being said, I’ve definitely had some crab cakes that left me wondering where all the crab meat was in between all the breading.  So it was important to me that I found a recipe that really showcased the meat and didn’t use a bunch of fillers.

I found this recipe on All Recipes and followed the directions to a T.  In the end, I was left with these beautiful crab cakes that everyone loved!

crab cakes

It’s full of crab meat and delicious seasonings.  You broil them in the oven to get the nice crispy outer crust.  There aren’t many fillers added, so the crab is really the star of this recipe.  If you love crab and love crab cakes, definitely give this recipe a try!

crab cake

Steak Oscar

Now, for the rest of the crab meat, I knew I really wanted to go all out for what I made.  What better than surf and turf?  And Steak Oscar was the answer!  For this recipe, I looked to Ree Drummond for inspiration and loosely based my recipe off of hers, found here.

steak oscar

Now her recipe called for shrimp to be used on top, but I swapped that out for fresh crab meat soaked in the butter sauce.  Unlike a typical bearnaise sauce used for Steak Oscar, she makes a tarragon hollandaise sauce that is so dang good you’ll want to put it on everything you cook!

For the asparagus, I coated them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roasted them in the oven.  This is actually my favorite vegetable to eat with any meat dish.  They turn out soft and crispy on the ends.  The steak was grilled in a piping hot cast iron skillet to medium rare.  It’s a little bit tricky to get the timing right for everything to be done at the same time (my sauce thickened up a bit) but the end result is so worth it.

steak oscar

This may be the nicest meal I’ve cooked so far.  It’s definitely a pricey meal to put together, but the final dish rivals anything you’ll get at a nice seafood restaurant!

I served mine with roasted tri-color baby potatoes and salad.  It was definitely a crowd pleaser!  I can’t wait to make it again, maybe next time with a nice venison steak!

steak oscar

What’s your favorite way to eat fresh crab?  Share below and let me know if you try either of these recipes!