Monday, February 27, 2012

Public Service Message

Last week my wife and I were at a meeting of the Radnor Hunt Race Committee. During the meeting, the Director of Racing provided the attached sheets which list the date and purses for each Steeplechase race meet this Spring. The Spring season runs between April and late May. Generally, Steeplechase meets are arranged as a fund raising event and the proceeds benefit a local charity.
For example, the Radnor Hunt races in May benefit the Brandywine organization that preserves open space through purchase and development restriction. This group has preserved thousands and thousands of acres in Southern Chester County as open space and of the few ways we can curb the scourge of "sprawl."
I would encourage readers to check this schedule and pick a race date. You can go to the website of the National Steeplechase Association to find websites and details for specific races including ticket and subscription prices and directions. You are sure to have an enjoyable day in the country and the tailgating and wagering is always spirited. The fact that you are contributing to a good cause is simply a bonus.

Hunter at the Range

You probably thought this post was going to feature guys blasting away at the shooting range. On the contrary, the "Range" in question is the hulking Viking 6 Burner range that dominates my kitchen.

Last evening I prepared game bird pot-pies with the assistance of my lovely Sous Chef/wife. They were delicious...redolent of Thyme and rich Pheasant meat,onions and a touch of Sherry.
The second photo is a Wild Duck gumbo I prepared using freshly shot Mallard and store bought Andouille sausage. This smokey and spicy stew was served with grilled Jalapeno/Jack cheese cornbread.
One of the truly rewarding things about hunting is transforming the prize into delicious entrees for the family and guests.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Big 3 Sell Sporting Life

Chevy ad-men tell us in 1949 that the De Luxe Sport Coupe has an array of colors like the Autumn woods. Their car also "takes to rough going like a field trial champion" and is "smooth as a bird in flight." This promotional piece showing cars afield reminds me of my Grandfather's stories about the days when you could take a drive, pull up to a farm and politely ask the Farmer's permission to chase some cockbirds in his corn fields.
Plymouth makes it clear that their 1949 Station Wagon, with real wood body panels ,easy to clean removable seats,will safely take 8 fans to the stadium and should still have room for tailgate equipment as well.If you wreck one of these you go to a body shop first..or a carpenter.
Lincoln uses a sturdy fellow in captains hat and deck shoes to convince buyers that you can drive your drop-top 1955 capri right on the dock to collect your trophy swordfish...which miraculously was taxidermied only moments after being dragged from the surf. This Lincoln was engineeered for "Americans on the move who demand the finest."

These ads from National Geographic were spied and snagged by your faithful sporting correspondent at a little antique mall in Tannersville,PA. I was killing time between Monroe County court appearances and wandered in to walk the packed isles.Whenever I see this type of pop-art depicting Madison Avenue's pandering to the sporting set, I reach for the bill fold almost immediately.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sartorial Issues

I would never seek to compete with the vaunted menswear bloggers such as ADG or Tinman or least not on the level playing field of 3-2 roll and Flusser stuff. In fact, those guys a far more than mere "mens wear bloggers" and write some damn fine prose about a wide range of topics. That's not to say I do not have a closet full of quality suits for my professional persona as well as evening wear and full dress tailcoat, vest and related paraphenalia.
It is just I don't get charged up to write about it. I enjoy reading about it immensely. What I will write about is sporting sartorial blather. To's topic: The Pennsylvania Tuxedo and what I am now calling the "duck hunter's dinner jacket."
The Pennsylvania Tuxedo is a name given to a particular heavy wool red and black check suit of clothes,jacket and pants, made by Woolrich for deer hunters. The red/black contrast was an early effort to provide both visibility to other hunters for safety and form break-up to hide from the critters one is trying to blast with hot lead. Yeah...I know..Elmer Fudd and all. Yet this outfit is high utility. Warm, water resistant hunting gear from head to toe before the arrival of Goretex. Often combined with L.L. Bean knee-highs...this was the proper rig for a Keystone State deer hunter to have in the early and mid century before blaze orange became law of the land and cabela's offered 30 pages of choices.
The dinner jacket moniker I am attaching to a Stearns PFD in Max-HD camo...a life jacket.Note the open left shoulder for movement...such as operating an outboard and the shooting pad on the right shoulder for gun mount and comfort. These guys thought out their design. At 5:00 A.M. when you are in your 14 ft camo aluminum boat motoring along in the frigid dark of a Winter morning toward an off shore duck blind loaded with 3 dozen decoys, guns, excited Labs, 2 or 3 hunters and related gear....things can go wrong. You can hit a log or get your prop fouled by the line from an eel or crab trap. The water is cold and the mud is hip deep sucking mud. In other words...danger and life threatening events can screw up an otherwise fun morning of waterfowling. Law requires having life jackets on board. What good will they do you if they are on the deck and not on your torso if the boat flips after hitting a submerged log when you are doing 15 mph at Cedar Creek? Some guys complain they cannot fit over the coat.Without a vest... if you go over...your waders will fill with water and your parka becomes a lead jacket and you sink and you drown....monumentally fucked for lack of a more emphatic term. However, with the Stearns vest depicted, the waterfowler can have the vest on and still be mobile and warm. This type fits easily over heavy warm duck hunting camo gear and provides excellent form and function. Easy to put on and it can literally save your life. We are not discussing peak lapel or shawl collar, pleated pants or flat, pique shirts and wing collars....I can certainly weigh in on those debates over a pint or a glass of Bourbon at the Bar. But there is no room for discussion when we are considering being seen by fellow rifle toting deer hunters or dying a spluttering death with lungs full of brackish marsh water on the Eastern Shore.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Automobiles of the Sportsmen and Women of a Bygone Era.

One of my hunting companions has a real thing about vintage autos. He recently sent an e-mail with some famous sports figures and their amazing old vehicles. Oh, wait, one of them is the beloved "antique" muscle car of this writer. Suffice it to say, the old adage obtains: "They don't make 'em like this anymore."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Even Asa Packer, founder of Lehigh University....gets into the Mardi Gras spirit.

The Club

Often during my rambling on this Blog I refer to the duck hunting club.On Saturday we were down at the Club doing some routine post season maintanence and cleaning. One of my guys had a new I-Phone and took some pictures that are of better quality than anything I had stored on my Blackberry or my desktop. I decided to post a few to afford readers, the few that there are, a glimpse inside our Clubhouse. The house was built in 1749 and we enjoy use of same as part of our lease of the farm...all 800 acres. As you can see, we are not roughing it either before or after hunting. We have a well appointed living room that features a big screen HD T.V. for watching sports and hunting channels. The World Series usually falls around the opening of early duck season in October and Sunday night football before Monday opening in December is also a big draw.
We also have a pool table in the foyer/billiard room. Many a heated and heavily wagered game takes place on this table amongst the members. Beers and cocktails are consumed and trick shots are attempted. It is not a fancy table...rather a bar-table I scored from a friend who handles games and pool tables for bars. He got it from a closed down saloon in Philly and let us have it for a very reasonable price and had it delivered to us.
We also have a trophy/bar/poker room but I could not scare up any decent photos of same....another post for that.
Now that waterfowl season is over the Clubhouse will be buttoned up and sparsely used until Spring when we start training the dogs and doing some fishing and crabbing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Transit to Fields

"C'mon Boss, I'm in the truck...I ready...I'm here...get the guns...let's go hunting....c'mon...hurry up."

Damn, I love this dog!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gary Carter

I hated him because he was a Met. I admired him because he was a damn fine catcher.He was a force to be dealt with both behind the Plate and when he was at the Plate in the batter's box.

I made money in 1986 when a friend bet me that Carter would be National League MVP...and not Mike Schmidt. He was wrong...I was right.

Carter has passed away at 57...too young. I hated that Met's uniform...and was not fond of him as an Expo. But he was a class act by all accounts...a ballplayer, a gentleman,a talented athlete and a team leader.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vintage Menu

For some reason I am always intrigued by old printed menus. I recall visiting the Pennsylvania Railroad museum as a kid and being fascinated by the menu in the old Pullman Dining Car. The line-up of a Club Banquet from 1890 or the fare at Delmonico's in the Roaring 20's tells us things about what people were eating and how much. The multiple courses of a Gilded age White Tie dinner varies greatly from the salad,entree,dessert one may see at a contemporary wedding. Those robber barons seemed to make a science of gluttony and ate enough at one sitting to feed a whole village in Darfur.
I came across this Lehigh University Sophomore Class banquet menu from 1916 while doing some on-line research and was transfixed as usual. The fact that oysters were served to such a large group is notable...that's a lot of shucking. Also of note is the presence of Peas in two forms in tow courses. Planked Shad is something of a Pennsylvania tradition in the days when the Shad ran the Delaware and were plentiful. This was followed by steak and then what they call "Lehigh Roast Chicken"...not sure what that means.These second year College men were packing away some serious chow...and if Lehigh tradition holds true, they were washing all this down with plentiful amounts of beer and spirits. It is also interesting that the tradition of cheese as a last course is maintained. Some restaurants still adhere to this convention...and I certainly enjoy a St. Andre with walnuts and Port after a Holiday meal.An old menu is a peek into the past on a different level and one I always enjoy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

By the Way

Happy Valentine's Day....Advice to men for this manufactured Holiday often entails complicated schemes to profess love and create a romantic atmosphere through dinner reservations, flowers,poems,candy,lingerie and all manner of contrivances.

Advice to women is far more remedial and straight forward: Show up naked and bring beer.(Courtesy of Blue Collar Comedy)
Now that is the way to a Sportsman's heart!

"Rural" Olympics in India

Evidently, hopping on a scooter and pulling on a rope lashed around the upper extremities of some poor disabled Punjabi is a sporting event in the hinterlands of the Indian Sub-Continent. Are we wagering on this or is it strictly amateur so some trinket is awarded as a prize in recognition of victory? Incidentally, how is victory measured...the longest time until your humerus bone gives up its cartilaginous hold on the radius and ulna? I will spectate and wager on almost anything...this contest...not so much.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Sport of Kings

Here is a crew that practices an esoteric form of hunting. This is a sporting hobby I find fascinating, but certainly do not have the time or resources to explore. I have my hands full right now training my new Lab so she will be ready for duck hunting next season. This sport got a bit of recognition and new participants for a brief time after "The Falcon and the Snowman" was released. However, I doubt you will see a local falconry club practicing in your neighborhood park anytime soon.

Here is an excerpt from a scholarly article on Medieval falconry:

"The second form of Medieval hunting, hawking or falconry, became the delight of the nobles. It was so much appreciated that a nobleman or his lady never appeared in public without a hawk on the wrist as a mark of dignity. It was also a mark of the rank, not everyone could afford the high cost of falcons, which were mostly imported from Sweden or Iceland. Even bishops and abbots entered the churches with their hunting birds, which they placed on the steps of the altar itself during the service."

Diner Football Quiz

There is a great piece in Vanity Fair this month about the making of one of my favorite movies: "Diner." In late Fall 1982,my wife(then girlfriend) and I saw it at the Sam Eric theatre on Chestnut street when it was released for a "sneak preview." The characters and dialogue really resonated with me. I was talking about the film for weeks. No one had heard of it and looked at me like I was nuts."Diner" then received a wider release and all my buddies saw it and held a similar high opinion.
Since then, it has become a well known film and was a launching pad for the careers of some fine actors...Stern,Rourke,Barkin, Reiser. Kevin Bacon had already had roles such as Chip in "Animal House" and Rourke was being noticed after his role in "Body Heat." The other central cast was relatively unknown and all went on to T.V. and big-screen success. Levinson went on to direct "Avalon" and "Tin Men" and "Liberty Heights" to complete his Baltimore tour de force.
The scene here is Eddie giving his fiance' a "football quiz." If Alyse does not pass....the marriage is OFF.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Safety is Essential.

I write often about shooting and the various hunting outings which take up a goodly amount of my liesure time. One of the crucial facets of any Sporting pursuit in the field is gun safety. As my buddy Charlie used to say: "The best safety feature on any gun is a careful shooter."

To wit, I offer some photos of the pre-shoot safety meeting before our Club Tower Shoot last Saturday. These shoots involve 25 guns and some fast and challenging wing shooting. It is absolutely necessary that each gun know what is expected regarding field etiquette and safety. Since I have been pressed into service as the President of the Club, I organize a mandatory pre-shoot safety meeting before every shoot. This entails reading from a pre-printed card of regulations and a short speech about safe gunning and looking out for the dogs. For instance, "low bird is NO bird" since it could endager one of our fine retrievers.

I have told guests bluntly that if they screw up and shoot my dog, the next shot they hear will be from my gun putting a barrel of # 6 high brass pellets in their ass. This drives the point home farily well. Even the most experienced guns can benefit from taking the minutes required to go over the rules and the requirements to shoot safely in this format. I am proud to say we had a safe and enjoyable shoot.

The other shot is of some of the young Sportsmen availing themselves of the post Shoot buffet which included pulled pork, ribs, red beans and rice, collared greens, kielbasa,cole slaw and cornbread. This delicious spread was demolished in short order by a crew of hungry shooters.

For the most part, the guns are put away awaiting next season....I will try and shoot some trap and skeet thru March and April but once it gets hot that's it. Bring on Steeplechase Season!


It is pretty cold here in Philadelphia. We had a dusting of snow last night and it reminded me Winter is still here and Dove season does not start until September.

The Dove hunt at our Club kicks off the Season and is a great way to say farewell to Summer and look forward to Hunting and Fall. One of the features of our Club Dove hunt is the pre-hunt lunch. We light the grill and prepare burgers and dogs and sit around eating and catching up. Many of the guys have neither seen each other nor spoken since we hung up the waders in January. The sons have grown an inch or two and a new gun is perhaps displayed or a new hunting dog introduced. The meal is pedestrian but the time spent with fellow Sportsmen is not. We do not admit it but we missed each other.

I have shown recent pre-Dove lunches where we have roasted a pig and that meal is far from average. But the focus remains seeing the guys and picking up the friendships where they were left at the end of last Season. The members are CEOs and retired cops, Doctors and Restaurant owners, Middle Management guys,lawyers and everything in between. When we put on the camo clothing and take to the field none of that matters...we are friends, hunting buddys and Sportsmen.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


The new dog has been with us since Sunday night. I have begun reinforcing her training in earnest since she has had some time to wind-down and acclimate.This morning before heading to Court I had Genna in the back yard working on retrieves and on "heel" and "stay." She loves the duck and quail dummies and speeds across the yard picking them up and bringing them "to hand."
Since Genna was a wash-out from a Field Trial/Hunt Test trainer, she already has some basic knowledge. The key is to keep her engaged. In my dog training with Archie my other hunting dog, I have found it works well if you spend only 15 or 20 minutes on actual work...then have some play time. Dogs are after all just loveable after they have been taxed physically and mentally with commands and required performance...they really love to just play. Throw a them around...just goof it up.They see that as a the reward for good behaviour. Then back inside for some treats and a slobbery trip to the water bowl.
Genna is doing well with "heel" and "stay" and she is a retrieving machine. I will take her down to the hunting Club later in March to work on water retrieves and introduce more gun-fire to the regimen.
Around the house she is very sweet and the Family is really happy about her arrival. She is crate trained so for the time being she spends the night in a nice crate on a comfy dog bed...she seems very happy in her new home. Stay duck season I hope to be posting pix of Genna like the one above.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Balls and Crampons

This is a picture of my buddy Bill ice climbing. He took a trip to Ouray,Colorado a few weeks ago to strap on various pointy pieces of gear and grab an ice ax and scramble up a sheer ice face. If the difficulty of the climb is not enough for an adrneline junkie....there is also the long cold Winter hike just to get to these ice falls. Clearly, this is not a gig for the disorganized or the trepidatious. If you screw up on one of these are toast and you get to experience first-hand what 9.8 Meters-per-second squared feels like....
I like Winter and all...and enjoy ice skating and skiing...but hugging my Rum & Tonic is as close as I need to get to ice this close to my chest. But I tip my hat to Bill and his crew.

Monday, February 6, 2012

She is Here

The new dog, Genna, joined our Clan last evening. I missed most of the Second Half of the Super Bowl because we were in the yard helping her acclimate, meet my dog Archie, burn off some energy and throwing duck dummies for her.
I despise the Giants so missing all but the last 5 minutes was see Brady fail to score on the last drive. But I love the new pup so all is well here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Cornerman

Boxing Hall of Famer and Trainer of Champs, Angelo Dundee has passed away. The cornerman for Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman, was credited with persuading Ali to get back in the fight and continue during the late rounds of "The Thrilla in Manila" and some say without Dundee's chiding, Ali may have thrown the towel.
I had a chance to meet Dundee and speak with him in the Summer of 1987. I was a lowly Summer Law Clerk at a big firm in Philly. My boss was involved in litigation stemming from the death of an up-and-coming boxer. The kid had basically run his motorcycle under a truck and Dundee's expertise was used to evaluate the kid's potential and future earnings in the ring. Dundee was gracious, polite, knowledgeable and self deprecating.
Dundee's training and counsel from the Corner was legendary and he will be missed by many.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Fans Behaving Badly

Here in Philadelphia we have had some recent bad press when Flyers fans beat up a Rangers fan outside Geno's Steaks after the Winter Classic. There was also the drunken animal who intentionally vomited on a young girl at a Phillies Game...and of course the now famous throwing of snowballs at Santa during an Eagle's game a while back. Philly fans have a pretty nasty rep.Hell, Eagle's games used to need a game time Court and on-site jail for the white trash hooligans who drank and fought and acted like animals at every home game.
Well, the new award for horrible fan behavior can be presented to the Egyptian maniacs who started a riot at a soccer game today...killing around 70 people and injuring thousands. Seems groups of rival fans felt it necessaryto storm the field, fight, throw rocks and fireworks and bottles at each other and at Players, start fires and generally foment a deadly melee.
When you see this makes staying at home watching the events on excellent big screen HD...with the excellent coverage.... even more attractive. Here in the States, we blame this stuff on the beer...I thought those Muslim fans did not drink alcohol??