Here’s to partners who get us outside

2016 05 Kahler Cooking At Mushroom Camp
Kahler Schuemann, of Portage, tends the fire and a gourmet lunch during a recent mushroom camp. (Photo by Tom Pink)

I’ve always been thankful for my hunting and fishing partners who have more gumption than I do and are more willing to get outside no matter the conditions. As I get older, I find that I’m not as excited about getting out in weather that is less than ideal, or trying new spots when the old ones are not producing. Enthusiastic partners help.

When I was working on a college campus, there was no shortage of younger legs willing to haul gear and let the old guy sit back and do less work. These days, I’m a lot older, as are most of my partners who are still more eager than I am; but one in particular has always impressed me with his ability to not only get outside, but to do it in style.

He holds a demanding position on a Michigan university campus that keeps him busy well over the traditional 40-hour work week. I would quietly curse his dedication when, after just putting out four dozen duck decoys, we’d pick them up because he got a call from the office requesting his presence. When we worked together, I often sought his advice as I tried to navigate the demands of my job. Outside of work, he spends a lot of time building relationships, dishing out fatherly advice, and helping anyone who needs it. He always welcomes young people along to hunt, fish and trap, and if they want to go out after he’s called it a day, he pretends that he was just getting ready to head afield. I don’t know when he sleeps.

Our excursions are fewer these days, but none the less memorable. We met up for a hunt for morels a few weeks ago, and as we were making plans, he told me he would bring some food for lunch. I told him I’d have leftover grilled chicken sandwiches for breakfast.

After hiking several hours looking for mushrooms, and long after the chicken sandwich breakfast, we returned to our trucks for lunch. Kahler Schuemann of Portage, immediately grabbed a chainsaw and cut up some dead, downed trees for fuel. Then he pulled a cooler from his truck bed and handed me a jar of canned, smoked coho salmon that he’d caught last fall. He instructed me to mix it with cream cheese while he dug a hole for a cook fire. He also opened a pack of smoked venison meat sticks that he’d made over the winter.

With the fire going, he readied a grill to warm a rack of smoked pork ribs, but not before filling a pot with oil to cook some deep-fried jalapeño poppers.

The ribs were set up on a tripod with a suspended grill that kept the meat rotating so it wouldn’t burn. The oil bubbled again, after the poppers were done, and now fresh-caught walleye was added to the heat.

It was quite the gourmet feast out in the middle of the woods, and it made me chuckle at the effort I’d made in preparing leftover chicken sandwiches. On the way home, I was so stuffed that I couldn’t stay awake and I was glad another friend was driving.

Kahler throws himself completely into whatever he’s doing, whether it’s his job, his personal life or his cooking. I’m lucky to have him as a friend, and here’s to all of those hunting and fishing partners who keep us getting outside – whether we like it or not.

Categories: Michigan – Tom Pink

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