Deer season has come to a close, and many of us are looking to make room in our freezers – perhaps by tackling that large “special occasion” cut that’s eluded cooking since last year. In my case, that cut was a hind leg from a small doe. Using Hank Shaw’s Smoked Venison Roast as inspiration, the leg was coated in salt and sugar, vacuum-sealed, and refrigerated for about 10 days before a long, slow smoke over hardwood charcoal and apple wood from local pastures.Read more
8:45 PM. The pond is the color of fresh cantaloupe, with crimson neon-edged clouds low in the western sky. The light is fading, but it’s as if the sun were captured in the water, its surface glowing like last night’s embers. The smell of fireworks hangs in the air, and a blue haze wafts lazily over the black treetops.
As it darkens, the blooming bursts of fireworks can be seen through the wooded county properties, accompanied by enthusiastic hollers. I pull on my boots, grab my 6-weight fly rod, and hoof it as fast as I can to everyone’s favorite brushy corner spot. I tie on a tiny brown dry fly, mimicking the flying insects hovering around my face, reading the water with my eyes and hands. Amidst the tall reeds and slimy rocks, I roll cast next to a stump sticking out of the water, letting the fly drift lazily in the current, and a bluegill hits it like shotgun recoil. I admire its metallic rainbow colors, fine size, and dense little tank of a body. When I release it into the brown, mucky shallows, it takes off with a splash of the tail that sprays me in the face with water – such attitude!