Thursday, May 9, 2019

We're Outdoorsmen

I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind, if even for a moment, but pushing back our opening day weekend to avoid what was looking like a certain washout would have bucked decades of tradition. The line my uncle said over the phone that finally put any notion to bed was, “We’re outdoorsmen.” He was right. Fuck the forecast. We were going when we always go and we were going to enjoy ourselves no matter the conditions. 

It’s funny how things work out because we ended up with two days of better than expected weather before any rain fell and the following weekend was a soaker anyway (ask my buddy Chad who camped along a Natchaug River well over its banks). Our deluge eventually came on Friday night, yet by then we had camp pretty damn tight with ample pop-up tents, tarps, and cordage, as well as a signal fire going throughout.

As it tends to be, the food on this trip was a highlight. Aaron made an incredible paella for dinner on night one that included Bluefin tuna from Cape Cod and fresh clams and mussels. Uncle D rolled out venison backstraps the next night from a trophy buck he took on state land back in muzzleloader season. It was paired well with delicious morels and black trumpets that he picked last spring, dehydrated, and saved for this very moment. Both nights also featured a charcuterie and cheese board and bourbon selection (thanks Tommy) that seemed to reach a new level this year.

The trip falling on Easter weekend threw us a bit of a curveball. We cut things short by a night so we could spend the holiday with our families. That turned a weekend that is typically light on fishing even lighter, but at least the spot where we did wet a line was new water for three of the four in our group. My uncle was the only one who had fished there before and it was fitting that he caught the lone trout of the trip to remind us what a holdover looked like.

We hung around well into Saturday afternoon with a slow breakdown of camp, partly to savor the moment and partly hoping our wet gear would dry out a little. Despite the rain, one less night, and an onslaught of ticks (four surgeries were performed via hemostat), it was another awesome opening day celebration. Regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us, we’ll be going back every third weekend in April. After all, we’re outdoorsmen.

A little hardwood for the fire.
Flowers for our hosts.

Camp life.
The important food groups.

Fire-cooked paella.

Connecticut-grown venison and shrooms on cast iron.

Best breakfast sandwich I've ever had.

The core.

Uncle D showing us he's still got it.

Ready for the rain (photo credit Aaron Swanson).

It finally came in buckets.

Farewell franks. Until next year...