Just What the Doctor Ordered

For the past Umpteen and a half years, when the first weekend in October arrived, you would have to look to the marshes of northern Crow Wing County, Minnesota to find me.  If you did find me, it would be sittin’ in a duck boat with Best Bud Ed – overlooking a spread of decoys, dressed in camo, with a Mossberg 835 loaded with 3 1/2 magnum shells on my lap, and often smokin’ a “breakfast cigar”. 

What is a breakfast cigar?  Why, it’s a cigar smoked before you eat breakfast!

This year, due to several contributing factors (for both Ed and I) we decided to forego the waterfowling portion of our weekend, and stick to hanging around the cabin, and doing some “small game” hunting (grouse & squirrel).  Given the events of the past couple of weeks, this would be a much needed break in the action for me, and a little sittin’ around the campfire was just what the (proverbial) doctor ordered. 

This year was also the first year in MANY that it was going to be just Best Bud Ed and I up at the cabin for Duck Opener.  Over the years there have been several others join us – so it was an odd (but nicely odd) sort of change this year.

I had planned to leave my house around noon, expecting to arrive at the cabin around 4pm – but due to other responsibilities that needed my immediate attention, and my departure was delayed by three hours.  The three hour delay would mean no stop at M.U.F., and no GeoCaching along the way either.

When I finally arrived at the cabin, Ed had already arrived, and set up.  He helped me get the car unpacked, and set up in the cabin.  With all the necessary tasks complete, it was time to get down to the REAL work of the evening!Milwaukee's Best Ice and LeRoux Blackberry Brandy

That may not look like all that much, but I learned that the Milwaukee's Best Ice that we were drinking was a hefty “five-nine” ABV beer as opposed to the “three-two” that I am accustomed to drinking (although the “Shiner Bock” that I have been enjoying lately boasts a  respectable “four-four”).

Two hot dogs (cooked over the fire), three Milwaukee’s Best Ices, the remainder of the bottle of Leroux Blackberry Brandy (or “Black” as we like to call it), one Te-Amo and one Ashe cigar was enough to get us good and “medicated”.  It was an evening of laughs and good time!  We sat around the fire, telling jokes, catching up, and solving the worlds problems until well after midnight.

The next morning was… well, it “started” slow – but by the time I had got myself out of bed, dressed, rid my bladder of what was left of the Milwaukee’s Best and Leroux in my system, and headed back to the fire pit – I was feeling no ill effects from the previous night’s “debauchery”.

Not only that, but we were starting to feel a little hungry.  I offered to make us breakfast, and (with little or no hesitation) Ed graciously accepted my offer.

Today’s breakfast selection was Hormel’s “Mary Kitchen” Roast Beef Hash.  Two cans to be precise.  It took a while, but I got that hash cooked up just right…  Seasoned with a little of Heinz’s best Tomato Ketchup! 

A night of drinking, and a morning of roast beef hash… Mmmmm, does it get any better?

The remainder of the day was spent walking the grouse trail, sitting around the fire, napping, and playing cribbage.

Beaver DamageEd and Jake   

Left photo:  Fresh “chew marks” on a tree caused by one of the resident beavers. 


Right photo:  Walking behind Ed, with Jake in the lead






Here is a quick video of Ed and I walking the trail with Jake in the lead…  Ed and I have always complemented each other as hunters when in the boat or walking in the field – as he is a right handed shooter and I am a left handed shooter.  We seldom interfere with each others “field of view”.  Here you see Ed (walking on the left) with his muzzle pointed left (a characteristic of right handed shooters) – and I walk on the right, with my muzzle pointed right (a characteristic of left handed shooters) – I’ve always felt safe walking with Ed in the woods because of this…




We counted between four and six grouse that we (er… Jake) flushed up, but nary a shot was volleyed at one of them – as you can see in the photos and video – there was still a good deal of foliage on the trees, obstructing our view, and our shots. 

Mmmmm!!  Beef Ribs!


As evening approached…  (No Bill, I’m not stopping here!) we decided it was time to stoke the fire to get a good bed of coals down for dinner.  Tonight’s menu was beef ribs, freshly opened can of corn, and cold beer. 

Tonight’s beer selection was back to the old “three-two”..  Michelob Golden Light…  A couple with dinner, and we were able to keep our wits about us.


Sorry Ladies, he's spoken for!



Of course, waiting for the ribs to cook gave us an excuse (as if we needed one) to enjoy yet another cigar…

And sneak what I consider to be a “highly flattering” photo of Best Bud Ed doing so!!





After dinner was consumed, and cleaned up, Ed cracked out his new custom made EJH Woodworking cribbage board.   His board is cut from a solid piece of exotic cocobolo wood.  Cocobolo is very dense, and this is quite a hefty board!  It is truly an AMAZINGLY beautiful cribbage board with deep hues of burgundy. 

This was the first time he used this board, and as much as I wanted to beat him on it, he was victorious in that inaugural game! 

EJH Woodworking Cocobolo Cribbage Board  EJH Woodworking cocobolo cribbage board

After a couple of games on his board, it was time for me to break out MY custom made EJH Woodworking cribbage board.  My board is cut from a solid piece of exotic Zebrawood, and is equally beautiful!  Like the cocobolo board, Zebrawood is also very dense, and this is another very hefty piece.

The “artist” over at EJH Woodworking is a very talented guy, and likes sending updates on the progress of your piece as he makes it. 

The progression of my board was documented HERE, and is actually used as a reference on an eHow.com page about How to Make a Homemade Cribbage Board!

The games we played on my EJH Woodworking board were not the first games we have played on it.  We can both say that we won the inaugural games on our EJH Woodworking cribbage boards!!

EJH Woodworking Zebrawood cribbage board  EJH Woodworking Zebrawood cribbage board

EJH Woodworking Folding Travel Cocobolo cribbage board



We also played a few games on a “prototype” board…  This board (also made of cocobolo) is much less burgundy colored than Ed’s.  It has more of an orange/brown hue, but it has some unique and beautiful graining.  It is a two track folding style travel board.

We pretty much played cribbage until neither of us could hold our own heads up anymore…  Sleep came easy this night.


Why did I dedicate so much of this post to cribbage and cribbage boards?  Ed and I grew up playing cribbage together.  I can not even begin to account for the HOURS and HOURS we spent playing late night cribbage.  I am posting so much about cribbage here because this weekend we played more Cribbage in these few days than we have in past few YEARS!  I would venture to say we played close to a dozen games.  It was a lot of fun, and brought back floods of fond memories for me!! 

The next morning we again crawled out of our beds, and made our way to the fire pit.  After stoking up the fire, I again offered to make breakfast…  Scrambled eggs, bacon, and cinnamon rolls.  Breakfast went down pretty easy.

Since the week before, Ed (and his family) got most of the heavy lifting (dock and boat lift) done, and a lot of the ‘seasonal” work (Felling. Three. Trees) done, there was not much work left for us. 

Seriously… if you want to see some precision tree felling, be sure to check out those videos… Particularly the first one “Felling”.  That tree came within inches of the boathouse.  Not a ounce of damage done!!  Ed’s mad tree felling skills consistently makes me think of him in THIS VIDEO..

What was left for us was to haul up the duck boat, and his canoe that were still down near the lake.  We made quick work of these things (successfully getting a canoe up on my shoulders for the first time in WAY TOO MANY years).

Me, under the canoe!Once all the chores were done, I packed up my vehicle so that we could take one more walk down the grouse trail, and then I could pack up my gun, jump in the car, and head back to civilization…

Only, this time, just as we got back to the cabin after walking the trail, Jake locked on to something…  A squirrel! 

Not wanting to go home having been “skunked”, I took the squirrel, not really considering the consequences of what that meant. 

I spent the better part of an hour cleaning that squirrel, only to come home with the equivalent of four tiny “drummies”.

I actually like squirrel, but it takes a few of ‘em to even be considered an “appetizer”.  I’d want four or six of em to make up a decent squirrel cobbler.

The drive home (down Hwy 169 along Mille Lacs) was beautiful – until traffic came to a complete standstill. 

I spent thirty minutes (with my car turned off) waiting for the State Police, County Sherriff, Local Police and various fire departments to clear a particularly nasty head on collision. 

Once I got moving again, I enjoyed the remainder of the trip through the fall colors!!

Fall colors along the road  Fall colors along the road Fall colors along the road  Fall colors along the road  Fall colors along the road  Fall colors along the road Fall colors along the road  Fall colors along the road

If anyone is interested in any of the cribbage boards seen here on this post, or any other sort of specialized cribbage board, customized display rack, or customized piece of wood furniture – please be sure to stop by EJH Woodworking’s website, or their virtual storefront for your customized woodworking needs!

Christmas is just around the corner – Keep EJH Woodworking in mind for that truly special, unique, and heirloom quality gift idea! 


  1. I'm glad you got to hang out and have fun with your friend. I loved the photos of the fall leaves. I sure do miss that sight. Thanks for making me all homesick!

  2. David,
    Aitkin County Sheriff's office keeps calling, wanting to know if we have a - here's how they put it - "rogue geocaching dispatcher?"
    and something about "parking in a marked NO PARKING zone"
    I don't know how to answer them, I keep placing them on hold, hoping they go away.


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