Mud Chickens

Rails.  Marsh Hens.  Mud Chickens.  

What fun little birds.  The tide is the big factor---very high, often around a big moon in early fall---high enough that these marsh fowl don't have much of a place to hide, hopefully congregating around the floating mats of dark reeds, or maybe just off some of the higher areas of marsh or a small island with some brush and scrub live oaks.  We push the skiff through the spartina grass, trying to jump some birds.  

We strain looking for them.  Sometimes they try to sneak off, we barely see their heads as they slink away through the water, out of scatter gun range.  We have to get close to them for the birds to take flight.  Sometimes we have to almost give them some encouragement with the push pole to hop up airborne.  Sometimes they don't fly far, sometimes they try and make it to the next "hammock" over, the next higher section of marsh.  

It's lower, slower shooting than those used to duck or dove or quail hunting, but it's fun none the same, and it's a way to help shake the rust off those shotgunning skills before speedier fowl take hunting precedence.  

If it's hot, toss them in the cooler quick.  If the birds stay on ice, they're darn tasty.  Breast them out like a dove, or filet off the small breast meat.  I'll cook them like I'll cook a duck breast, on a hot-hot cast iron, simply with salt and pepper.  They won't take long as small as they are.  A slightly salty dove breast, is what I like to think.  I think, even better.  





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