Kettlebottom Outdoor Pursuits Hunts Assawoman, VA
I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend up on the Eastern Shore Virginia. If you do not know where this is look at a map of the US, find the one of the largest watersheds in North America, the Chesapeake Bay, and on its eastern side you see a string of low lying land farm land and barrier islands. These barrier islands include some of the most famous in the US, Chincoteague and Assateague; those of the famous Misty the wild pony tales.
I went up there to film for Kettlebottom Outdoor Pursuits which airs on Cox Sports Network in New England. The show focuses on the familial bonds created by our time in the mountains, the marshes, and the oceans; as well as the tastiness of the bounty that we collect in these places.
The first morning dawned with a gorgeous sunrise and ducks flying everywhere. The end total was 23 ducks and 2 geese, including a limit of black ducks, a bevy of gadwall, and a full strap of teal. Friday afternoon was spent filming Johnny Mo, the singing chef, at his Restaurant- Mallards on the Wharf- in Onancock, VA. We try to focus on local specialties and Johnny Mo killed it; a perfect rockfish ceviche, killer Tilefish with polenta, and a mind blowing goose breast with local grown potatoes. The secret to the goose breasts? A 24 hour brine and a 36 hour marinade, and all that time was well worth it.
Saturday morning dawned foggy and still, but we still go some great hunting in, bringing down a limit of black ducks, a couple mallards, and some buffle heads. I had the pleasure of interviewing the boys at Ocean Cove Seafood. Ocean Cove raises some killer little necks, and was kind enough to give us a few pounds, damn good!
Due to the blue laws in VA we were unable to hunt Sunday, but it was most definitely not a lost day. I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Grayson Chesser, a master decoy carver and Virginia Heritage Artist. The pleasure of sitting with such an expert who truly enjoys his art and has a sincere desire to pass it on to the next generation renews ones faith in mankind. Watching him work his knife across a piece of pine, turning a block into the spitting image of a duck’s head was a thing of beaut; skills like that- using ones eye, and years of experience-, and the ability to enjoy them are almost lost in these current times. I was lost in a moment, fallen down the rabbit hole of time, stuck in the age where the rest of the Eastern Shore so easily exists.
There are still true watermen out there, those who survive, earn a living, and pursue happiness through their own path. Hunting ducks, trapping, pulling pots, taking blocks of woods an turning them into tools which can feed their family for years to come, and never taking grief from the bossman.
We are all looking for times like those, it may just be a moment, a sunrise, a trout striking hard on that fly you tied, or those first tracks when you hiked the mountain yourself. I found my moment this weekend watching Gabby retrieve a black duck on the marshes of Assawoman as the sun rose over my shoulder, the deer played just out of range, and a Tom turkey scratched and clicked, calling his ladies out of their roost.
Where will you find you moment?
If you find yourself down that way I highly recommend stopping in here; amazing history, intriguing people and culture.