Louisiana’s bounty offers much

Lyle Johnson
A shrimp boat ready to pull a trawl and catch some tasty gulf shrimp.

Last weekend was a little unusual as LSU had an open date and the Saints didn’t play until Sunday night. That left a lot of spare time on my hands between Friday night and the next football game that interested me. I didn’t have a hunting or fishing trip planned, so what’s a guy to do.

My son, Wesley, had a hunting trip planned for Friday morning and I figured he’d bring home a few squirrels for the pot. I just didn’t know whose pot they would end up in, so I asked what he was going to do with any he killed. His reply was, “Are you gonna cook them?” I answered, “If you give them to me, I will.”

I knew there would be plenty of time on Saturday, so a squirrel gravy would certainly be on the menu if Wesley could bag three or four. I brought a dozen, No. 1 Lake Pontchartrain boiled crabs home for dinner on Thursday. After eating what we wanted, there were three left over in the fridge.

Then another thought popped in my head, “We have some Grand Isle shrimp in the freezer! Let’s just make it a cooking Saturday.” Wesley came home with eight squirrels and I talked him into using four of them for the gravy. It was a little ambitious but the decision was made; a squirrel gravy and a seafood gumbo was the order for what was going to be a lazy Saturday.

Co-ordination and planning would be necessary, as both dishes would be prepared at the same time. The ingredients would be first. It seems a little wrong but store bought roux and a pre-cut package of onions, celery and bell peppers for the gumbo would help with the time. Yellow onions would be chopped for the squirrel gravy.

The gravy would be cooked on the stove and the gumbo would be done in a “fry” type pot with a thermostat, so here goes. This would be a team effort as my wife, Deborah joined in the cooking party. She placed the trinity of aromatics in the fryer and started to brown them as I lightly dredged the seasoned squirrel meat in flour and browned it.

I cut onions and garlic for the gravy while she began to peel the shrimp and the three left over crabs. We added one can of chicken broth and about 2/3rd cup of roux to the gumbo. Next, the onions and garlic were browned while the crab shells, legs and shrimp peels were cooked with water for the stock to finish the gumbo.

In a little over an hour, all the ingredients were in both pots and everything was cooking. The smell in the kitchen was almost a little more than I could take but I made it to the end. Three and a half hours after the start, two of south Louisiana’s favorite dishes were ready to be eaten.

I’m sure to be a little (or a lot) prejudiced to the state I call home, but dinner at the Johnson’s would be one to remember. A delicious gravy cooked with squirrels that were killed that morning, gumbo with fresh Pontchartrain crabs, and Grand Isle shrimp along with stuffed eggs made from “yard” eggs and toasted garlic bread topped off this down home meal.  

On another front, youth hunts for deer are taking place all over the state and one local hunter had success. His name is Austin Amedee from Dutchtown and he’s seven years old. Austin and his dad Trampas Amedee hunt close by in Satsuma.

He made a clean shot with his .223 and dropped the doe in her tracks at about 40 yards. “He missed one last year, but he made his shot count this year.  I don't know who was more excited, me or him!” stated his dad. “He was with me last year when I killed a 12 point that scored about 140.  I was going to let him shoot him, but he wanted me to shoot because he knew it was a big deer and it was about 130 yards away.  These are two experiences that both of us will remember for the rest of our lives.”

There’s nothing quite like introducing a kid to the outdoors in some form. Whether it be hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, photography or any of the many ways to enjoy the “Sportsman’s Paradise”, the time you invest will return dividends unlike anything you could get on Wall Street. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you.

Austin Amedee, 7, pictured with his first deer, shot at 40 yards with a .223.