Nov 03 2011

Outdoor Humor -- Klepper Style

Those of us who have lost outdoor friends and family to the unrelenting passage of time tend to get a little melancholy as we celebrate the fall and winter hunting and holiday season each year.

Thinking back on those days of old when one of our compadres cracked a joke or pulled off a good-hearted prank is our way to lighten our hearts and maybe even break into a smile as we relive our quality outdoor memories.

The story below is one from "Revenge of Old Boots and Bacon Grease" that relates one memorable prank while offering a good recipe for anyone with a new supply of fresh deer meat.

Enjoy the tale and the all-to-short time you have to spend with your hunting companions:

Practical jokes seem to be a natural part of the great outdoors, just like clean air, fresh water and sunshine.

One of the veterans of both the outdoors and practical jokes who I was privileged to share a little time with was the late Dan Klepper, who was the San Antonio Express-News outdoor editor for nearly 30 years.

He cheerfully engaged in a running battle with his competition at the San Antonio Light newspaper, but one incident was a real corker.

Knowing of his counterpart’s propensity for being a “been there and done that” kind of guy, Klepper used a little creative photography and darkroom techniques to produce a blurry photo of a youngster holding up an unusual fish.

The tail of the catch was from a saltwater speckled trout, the body was of a catfish and the head was from a largemouth bass.

Klepper sent the photo to his competitor with a hand-written note as if it was from the youngster that stated: “Please help me identify my catch. I think it might be a trophy, but nobody can tell me what kind of fish it is.”

Several days later, the photo appeared in the San Antonio Light with the response from the outdoor editor, who told the youngster not to be concerned about his lack of aquatic knowledge because: “I wasn’t sure what kind of fish this was myself until after I caught several of them.’’

Klepper was a little more serious when he got around to cooking game.

The following dish was one of his most popular creations.

Klepper's No Joke Meat Casserole
  • 1 pound chopped or cubed venison
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use bacon grease)
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (15 ounces) ranch-style beans
  • 2 cups shredded longhorn cheese

Heat oil over medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet and brown venison. Feel free to sprinkle the meat with Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning to kick up the flavor a notch. Stir in tomato paste. Place half of the meat mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Add a layer (about 1/2 can) of beans and top with a layer of cheese. Repeat with another layer of meat, beans and cheese. Cover dish or Dutch oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with corn chips.

Now, let's get cooking!