I wandered out onto the prairie last month. It was too hot, but we’re well into fall now so the dog and I had to get out.
It was a nice walk. At least I thought so. Doll disagreed. She isn’t much for heat. And this was a brand new spot, devoid of sharptails, resulting in a disinterested, overheated pup. There was cooler weather out on the plains but it was considerably north, about 48 hours or so, from where we were hunting.
These excursions were spur of the moment, but the weather, at least on Saturday, seemed cool enough, and it was, though barely so. But Sunday was a disaster as the overcast morning fog quickly dissipated. It was in the 70s when we started hunting and more than 90 when we gave up.
The impromptu nature of the trip led to some minor planning issues. I’ve managed, finally, to assemble all my hunting gear in a couple of stackable storage containers. I keep them in the garage, so I can quickly load and go knowing I have ammo, dog boots, vests, and water bowls.
The only thing I otherwise need to remember is my shotguns. I haven’t forgotten those, yet.
I used to have a stash of snacks in my hunting box. I used to, meaning I did until the end of last season when I finished off the box of energy bars I munched on all fall. I forgot about that until I’d almost reached my destination.
In much of rural America fancy gas stations have replaced the old country store. In these new, shiny petrol and snack emporiums you can get the usual selection of junk food, some less unhealthy substitutes, and even the fixings for a sandwich if you’re not partial to the pre-made kind that come in triangle-shaped packaging.
The modern gas station even has my favorite energy bars, or at least something close, but that’s not what I usually go for. When I’m grabbing something on the go, I lean toward a modern version of a pioneer stable, hardtack.
By modern hardtack I mean pretzels. Flour, water and salt. Pretzels are on the flavorless, dry end of the snack food spectrum, but they’re relatively fat free, which makes them a healthier outlier in the realm of gas station snack foods.
I’ve never eaten hardtack and a lifetime watching old westerns and military dramas hasn’t inspired me to add this shelf staple but tasteless snack to my bucket list. The British soldiers who were pinned down at Gallipoli in modern day Turkey for nearly a year during World War I survived on rations of potted meat that mostly made them sick and brick-like hardtack that shattered their teeth.
I don’t have any plans to whip up some artisanal hardtack to keep me going during the upcoming hunting season. Store-bought pretzels accomplish the same thing — a quick boost of carbs — but don’t require a stop at the dentist.
What I might do, however, is whip up a big batch of granola. Anyone who has made their own knows how superior it is to the store-bought kind. And even if you haven’t made it, you probably still get it.
I love granola, but not as breakfast cereal since I usually eat that as a late-night snack. Good granola is calorie dense and that’s not what you need just before bed.
But that’s exactly what you need when you’re trudging off after your panting bird dog on a hot fall day that feels more like August, or for that matter on a cool fall day that feels like fall. Hunting is when you need quick, handfuls of calories to keep you going.
All that’s required is a little more planning. I have the gear boxes to prove I’m capable.
Rob Breeding is the editor of www.mthookandbullet.com.