Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Tuesday Tangent

If there was a prize for weirdest breakfast, I think I would seriously be in the running.  Today I had a goose brat and beets.

That's brat as in bratwurst, not a sassy young goose.  Who knows how old this goose was or whether it was sassy.  It was Canadian, we do know that much.

Canada geese can be tricky to cook without turning into shoe leather, so my dad and his hunting crew combined their goose meat last year and took it to the local meats and sausage place (I guess you'd call it a butcher shop, but around here it's "So-and-So Meats" or "So-and-So Meats and Sausage.")

Wisconsin:  Where a water fountain is a bubbler and a restaurant could be a supper club.

Anyway, this goose meat was seasoned and ground into sausage, specifically bratwurst, which was grilled yesterday along with some regular bratwurst.  We had leftovers.  Are you surprised?

The goose brats were actually quite good.  In fact, I'm hoping the hunters in the family do the same thing this season.  I admit I was a little skittish about trying one, but I'm glad I did.

A couple years ago, I wrote a story for my dad's column in the local newspaper.  He asked me to write about one of my recollections of hunting when I was younger (I haven't hunted since then).  This is what I came up with:

No Goose is Good News
   by Paulette H.

The day had arrived, and I was hoping we'd get "skunked."  Oh, I was sure we'd see geese.  One could hardly gaze skyward in the fall near Horicon without seeing a V-shaped trail of honkers.  But maybe they'd be too high, too far away, and uninterested in our fiberglass decoys, stiff and silent in the corn stubble.  I could only hope.

It's not that I didn't want to go hunting with Dad.  I had been along hunting with him many times before and truly enjoyed those experiences.  I'd already seen him bring down many ducks, geese, and pheasants.  But today was different; today I was carrying a shotgun for the first time.

Having freshly graduated from the hunter safety course my father co-taught that fall, the various rules circulated in my head like a mantra.  Treat every gun as if it were loaded...Be sure of your target and beyond...  It wasn't obeying the rules I was worried about.  I had done well in target practice during class with a .22 rifle, but accuracy was unimportant to me that morning.  The freezing temperature and bitter wind were making me shiver, no doubt, but I had jitters of another sort.

I was afraid of the kick.

My sister had told me about it.  Granted, her physique was less "solid," one might say, than mine.  But a 12-year-old preteen girl doesn't necessarily rationalize such things.  Dad had taken her out the year before to shoot the shotgun, and she had come home with a stern warning.

"That gun really kicks," she winced as she massaged her shoulder.

"How hard?" I asked with grave concern.  "Show me."  I patted my inner shoulder joint where I had just invited my elder sibling to punch me.  She cocked her fist.

"Like that," she demonstrated.

"Ow!" I yelped, as I simultaneously lost my balance.

I got the point.

"Yeah, you might want to put something under your coat when it's your turn to shoot, like a pair of socks or some extra gloves," she offered as consolation.

My turn to shoot the shotgun was to come after I'd completed hunter safety the following fall.  Dad would make a point of taking me up along the railroad tracks, with blackbirds for target practice, to get the feel for the gun, as he had my sister the year before.  Only it didn't happen in exactly that order, and I somehow flew under the radar.  Maybe that was one advantage of being a middle child.

While we waited in a stand of corn on Bogda's Hill, the wind whipped the ragged leaves against my face as I adjusted the lump of extra padding under my jacket.  Dad kept a steady gaze on the early morning sky.  It seemed as if the better part of an hour went by before we heard the familiar sound—a small flock high and to the east.  Dad took his goose call from his jacket pocket and started hailing.

Meanwhile, I sent my own silent pleas skyward, hoping they'd meet the flock and deflect their route.  I imagined my winged prayers like traffic signs, along the lines of "Do Not Enter" and "Wrong Way."  Geese, unfortunately, cannot read.
The leader made a course correction that brought him almost within range, but not quite.  Dad asked if I wanted to give it a shot.  My deferral seemed reasonable.  Not one to let an opportunity pass by, even a remote one, Dad quickly raised his 12-gauge and blasted twice.

I honestly don't remember whether the goose folded or kept going.  That part is hazy.  What I do recall is being glad that I had, for the moment, successfully avoided having to take aim myself.  I offered up another silent prayer, this one of thanksgiving.

The full light of day did not translate into warmer temperatures, and the wind kept up its assault.  The geese didn't seem to be moving much either.  Eventually enough time had passed, and we packed the decoys in the burlap bag and headed home.  I remember Dad's words of encouragement that I'd have better luck next time.  I acknowledged politely and reassured him that it had been a great morning just to be able to spend some time with him out hunting.  What he didn't know was that for me, it was a dream come true.

In case you're wondering, I did eventually shoot the shotgun that fall with Dad, up along the railroad tracks, target-practice style.  I fired once, nailed the target, promptly handed the gun back to Dad and said, definitively, "There."  My brother Russ reminded me of this and said he was along and remembered it well.  Apparently, as it turned out, the fearsome kick was not that big of a deal.  My guess is that the extra padding worked!


  1. That's about as good as it gets:) My first and only time shooting a shotgun knocked me on my keister.

  2. Never shot a shotgun. Did you go hunting with your dad after that? or was that it? sounds like a good idea for the meat .. wish they'd do that with some of the Canadian geese around here

  3. Oh my goodness that is a funny story!! I'll be out hunting geese in a few days myself, with my dad and husband -- with extra padding as always. I take no chances, I can't quilt with a sore shoulder! You should mention to the menfolk that "goose pepperoni" is also excellent. We make up a lot of it each year, keep what we will eat, and share the rest out to the farmers that give us permission to hunt their fields. It keeps everyone happy!

  4. Great Post and fun too! Thanks for sharing! Hugs! Loretta


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