Compiled after more than four decades of observing and picking the brains of a plethora of top shots and creative camp chefs, the ultimate collection of wingshooting wisdom and tasty culinary delights is now available to the public.
“Bustin’ Clays & Cookin’ Game with Old Boots & Bacon Grease II” masterfully melds together the worlds of wingshooting and outdoor cooking. The unique offering is a collaboration of Old Boots, an award-winning author and the 1984 Live Flyer World Champion, and features masterful illustrations by the 2004 Texas State Artist Sam Caldwell.
“Bustin’ Clays” offers a collection of fun, easy and informative suggestions on how to handle a variety of clay targets and wild game – featuring outdoor recipes for all types of tasty dishes.
The fun tales, delightful dining delights and healthy dash of veteran wisdom are a must have for the gear bag of outdoor enthusiasts of any skill level.
“Bustin’ Clays” is the third in a series of Old Boots cookbooks and was preceded by the publication of "The Campfire Chef: Old Boots and Bacon Grease," in 2002; and "Revenge of Old Boots and Bacon Grease," that was the Texas Outdoor Writers Association book of the year in 2006.
In addition, Old Boots is the mastermind behind Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning, the best universal seasoning since salt and pepper that brings out the good taste in a variety of game, meats, fish and vegetables. A dash on the rim of a margarita glass makes a “Ralph-A-Rita” a magical beverage.
The wide variety of artistic creations and illustrations featured in “Bustin’ Clays” vividly display the talents of Caldwell, a veteran award-winning artist who is among the very select few to be honored with the title of Texas Artist of the Year.
Caldwell’s creations are both entertaining and informative, providing an artistic perspective of the great outdoors through an accomplished illustrator’s eyes.
If smacking targets with authority and enjoying the bounty of the great outdoors is a person’s goal, “Bustin’ Clays & Cookin’ Game with Old Boots & Bacon Grease II” can help get the job done.
As an example of the offerings in the book, the following is just one informative and tasty tidbit provided for the entertainment and enlightenment of our fellow outdoor enthusiasts:
All the practice time spent with an instructor and analyzing the numerous books and videos on the subject won’t help a shooter consistently break targets as much as faith.
Every time that shotgun hits your shoulder and a target is in the air, you should be confident that you will make the right move at the right time to put that charge of shot where it will do the most good.
This sage advice was driven home during a sporting clays session with my brothers at the Prairie Grove Shotgun Sports Club run by veteran shooter and instructor Ralph Gates.
The club near Columbia, Mo., offers a wonderful array of targets that can test the talents of both fledgling and experienced shooters. One of the more challenging stations is a “squirrel” target that is a clay running along the top of a tree trunk – tough and fun.
Gates likes to accompany the Winingham boys during our friendly competition and is quick to offer suggestions and advice on how to handle the variety of testy targets.
As he told us on one of our first adventures at Prairie Grove, knowing the fundamentals and using the proper form to break targets will be for naught unless the shooter has faith in his ability.
“Faith is the key. You have to have faith that you will do what you have to do in order to hit the target,’’ he said.
His demonstration of this philosophy was impressive.
After sliding a four-inch square piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle just large enough to fit on the barrel of his trusty and well-worn Model 12 pump-action shotgun, Gates took us to one of the skeet fields at his range.
“I don’t have to see the barrel to know where I will be shooting. With a properly fit shotgun, all I have to do is look at the target and rely on faith,’’ he said.
Busted clay after busted clay while shucking shells through the Model 12 clearly demonstrated his point.
While it is not advisable to put cardboard on your shotgun barrel, if the scattergun is properly fit to you and you follow the fundamentals, faith in your ability to handle the target will produce good results.
The following recipe also requires a little faith that the potato balls will cook to golden brown on the outside and remain soft and tasty in the middle.
I like to sprinkle the potato balls with a little Chef Ralph’s Super Season after they are cooked to add additional flavor.
Have a Little Faith Potato Balls
3 medium red potatoes
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses
1 teaspoon Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning
olive oil or bacon grease
Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Remove from water and refrigerate. When potatoes are cold, peel off skins and shred with a grater into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except oil or grease, and mash everything together with your hands. When well mixed, roll out about a tablespoon of the potato mixture to form a ball the size of an emu’s brain (an English walnut) and place on oiled or greased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, turning once about 20 minutes into the cooking time. Serve hot as an appetizer with your favorite dip or as a side dish for a main course.
Now, let’s get cooking!