Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

A new beginning…

Hi, Folks!

Just a quick note to announce the re-launch of the Gazette-Mail’s Woods & Waters Blog! Tune in regularly to catch my posts on hunting-, fishing- and nature-related stories here in West Virginia and beyond!

The blog is just one of the ways we folks here at the Gazette-Mail are planning to enhance your enjoyment of our outdoors coverage. Look for my tweets on Twitter, too, and don’t be surprised if you see some outdoors video pop up from time to time on the Gazette-Mail website!

All the best,

Back from an extended leave…

Howdy, folks. It’s been quite a while since my last post. For the past nine days I’ve been on vacation. Usually while on vacation I check e-mail, monitor comments and update the blog. Not this time. I needed a complete break from everything, and I took it. Now I’m rested and raring to go. Let’s have fun!

Back in the saddle…

Sorry that my blogging has been spotty the last few days. For the past three weeks, my Gazette duties have been divided between the outdoors beat and March Madness. I’ve helped the sports staff to cover the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, the girls’ state high school tournament and the boys’ state high school tournament.

Covering three games a week took a huge chunk of the time I would have usually spent finding good topics to blog about. My annual stint as a sportswriter is now officially over, and I should be back to full-strength blog posting beginning tomorrow morning.

Thanks for hanging in there!

Comment of The Year

The other day’s post about the elderly gent who managed on two occasions to corner and capture a wild turkey has given rise to my nominee for Comment of the Year.

I monitor all the comments to my blog, and this is easily the most entertaining one I’ve had in more than four years. The commenter identified himself as “Andy.” Enjoy Andy’s comment:

I caught a small doe one time.
It was after the big snow in January ’96 and I found it in the fenced in side yard eating my rhododendrons and I thought I would teach it a lesson. I ran screaming off the porch and it took off but because of the deep snow it couldn’t jump the fence. It turned all confused and ran straight at me.
I said, “I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget” and tackled it. Just as I grabbed on she twisted her hind quarters and gave me a swift kick in the “you know what.” At that moment I also said to myself, “Maybe that’s why cougars jump on their backs.”
Luckily I had a thick coat on and no harm was done to me. Not sure if the deer learned her lesson, but I sure did.


A season’s greeting

I sure hope everyone had a joyous Christmas and a happy holiday season.

It’s nice to be back after a couple of days away. Funny thing about blogging — once you get into the rhythm of posting every day, taking a day or two off feels kind of funny.

So here we are, with the year winding down. And what a year it has been! This year, you kind folks visited the Woods & Waters blog more than 300,000 times. That’s more visits than in the first three years of the blog combined.

The number of comments grew sharply, too. That’s also a credit to you readers. It’s clear that you care passionately about outdoors-related subjects, and you’re willing to share your passion with others. I like it when readers comment; it helps us all to learn. As brilliant (cough, cough) as I try to make my posts, you improve them when you bring different points of view to them in your comments.

Thanks again for helping to make Woods & Waters a well-read blog.

Thank you!!!

Wow. Exciting things are happening at Woods & Waters Online!

This past weekend, our hit counter passed the quarter million mark for the year. A few days before that, our hit counter passed the half-million mark since I started the blog in 2008.

Readership has built slowly but steadily. From just 5,000 hits the first year, we accelerated to 60,000 in 2009, to 193,000 in 2010,  and to 253,000 (and counting) so far this year.

So take a bow, folks! You, the loyal readers, have made it happen. Your readership inspires me to work on the blog each day — to scour the Internet for items that might be of interest, and to check in several times a day to moderate comments. Thank you for making the work worthwhile.

This is what makes my job fun

I’m 100 miles out of the office this morning, checking out how a West Virginia fisheries biologist uses underwater sensors to track muskellunge movements in one of the state’s lakes — sort of the same way the U.S. Navy uses underwater sensors to track other countries’ submarines.  More on that in a future Woods & Waters post.

Meanwhile, check back here late this afternoon for today’s post. Thanks!

Returned from the wilds

As you might have been able to tell from the previous post, I’ve been in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle for a few days. My family and I cut our vacation a little short because of a medical emergency, but things have settled down a bit and I’m ready to reenter the blogosphere.

More here soon…

Road trippin’

I’m out of the office on a road trip until mid- to late afternoon today (Friday). I should have a fresh post up by 5 p.m. or so. Please check back. Thanks!

Critters taste good in St. Patrick’s Day stew

I haven’t posted much lately because of March Madness.

The past three weeks have been Basketball Tournament Time here in the Mountain State. So far I’ve covered games in the state small-college conference tournament, the girls’ state’ high-school tournament and the boys’ state high-school tournament. I do it because the Gazette’s sports staff gets stretched mighty thin in early March. The editors ask me to help out, and I do.

What does basketball have to do with critters, stew and St. Patrick’s Day? Nothing, really. But I felt you were owed an explanation. Now on to the topic at hand:

Back during the summer, I did a story on a Huntington woman’s recipe for Goose a l’Orange. To get the necessary photographs, I visited Regina, Todd and Kristin Trimboli’s house on an evening Regina had chosen to prepare the dish. During dinner (you didn’t think I’d turn down a free meal, did you?), Todd mentioned that Regina also liked to prepare Irish Stew with game meat as the chief component. He said it had become a family tradition to serve it on St. Patrick’s Day, and he and Regina invited me to stop by the following March for a sample.

That was today. I just polished off a hearty sample made with venison, rabbit and squirrel. As expected, it was delicious!

Regina gave me permission to share the recipe with you. Here it is:

Irish Stew

Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs. venison, 1 rabbit, 2 squirrels, 3 cups beef broth, 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp. ground thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 bottle Harp beer, 5 cubed potatoes, 6 carrots sliced into discs, and 3/4 of an onion diced or minced.

Instructions: Boil the rabbit and squirrel separately until tender and cut into pieces. Cut the venison into bite-sized pieces and brown in oil. Add 1 cup of beef broth to the venison, bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked rabbit and squirrel and simmer 10 more minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the bottle of beer and bring to a boil. Add the onion and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, the carrots and 1 more cup of beef broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes (vegetables should be tender, not soft). Combine 1/2 cup of beef broth with 2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour and add to the stew until the stew thickens. If the stew is too thick, more beef broth can be added.