Page 89

EdItor’s NotE: Steve Holmes is president of Summit Strategies Group, an investment-consulting business based in Clayton, Missouri. Holmes – known to friends as Homey – is a passionate and experienced duck hunter and a member of Wingshoot Farms, a private hunting club in Lincoln County, Missouri. He is also good friends with some of the best chefs in the St. Louis area, including Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group, Skip Steele of Bogart’s Smokehouse, Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus. Holmes has hunted with each of these chefs at Wingshoot, and each chef has also cooked wild duck from hunting trips with Holmes. In his own words, Holmes shares his experiences duck hunting and what he loves most about hunting in Missouri.

Hunting wasn’t sometHing i was brougHt up witH. A MISSOUrI DUCk HUNTEr SHArES HOW HE FOUND HIS CALL. Essay by stEvE HoLmEs | EdItEd by CatHErINE NEvILLE

|

pHotograpHy by judd dEmaLNE

I grew up in a family with a dad who worked all the time. In 1995, I became good friends with Steve Potter [of law firm Behr, McCarter & Potter, P.C.] when our kids started played soccer together. We had the same sense of humor, and we’d sit next to each other on the soccer field. He was hunting all the time, and I would make fun of him, by joking around and saying things like, “You wake up at 2am, drive three hours and sit in 20ºF weather in a swamp! What’s a pound of chicken go for at Schnucks?” I was at a church auction in 1999, and Steve donated a duck hunt. I started bidding on it, and he said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I want to go hunting with you.” He said, “You can go hunting with me tomorrow if you want.” So somebody else bought the trip, and the next day he said, “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at noon at your office, and we’ll head out.” He had everything: the Labrador retriever, the ATV, camo and six duck calls around his neck. I borrowed one of his shotguns – I had never pulled the trigger of a gun in my life at this point. We’re in St. Charles, Missouri, so 30 minutes from my office in Clayton. It’s a work day, and I’m wearing borrowed waders and camo in a duck blind and smoking a cigar. And so he puts his shotgun, a side-by-side, in my hand. About 10 minutes into it, Steve starts hammering the duck call that’s apparently most appropriate for this particular situation. The dog, Copper, starts wagging his tail. Steve drops down, then gives me a really dirty look because I didn’t, and two mallards cup to land. I jump up and pull the trigger. It’s the first gun shot of my life… and some poor mallard’s last. The mallard drops, and Copper retrieves it (living up to the breed’s name). We high-five, and I’m a duck hunter. About 10 minutes later, two pintails come in, we repeat our now well-choreographed dance and another bird drops. Steve said, “You know, you have two shells in your gun.” I was like, “Steve, I’m 2 for 2. I’m batting 1,000 percent... for life!” After thoughts of retiring from the sport at my peak subsided and 30 minutes had passed, I said, “What’s the deal? Where are the birds?” Steve said, “Oh, you think birds show up every 10 minutes, huh? Let me ask you: If you weren’t here, where would you be?” I said, “Work.” He said, “And what are you doing now?” I answered, “Smoking a cigar, high-fiving you and admiring my harvest!” He went on, “And where’s your wife?” “Back in town.” “Where are your kids?” “Back in town.” “Homey, now are you starting to understand hunting?”

There’s an ethic to hunting. You’re killing an animal, but there’s an ethical way to do it. You want to kill as cleanly and quickly as possible. You eat the meat. This is the philosophy of the kind of guys I hang around with, and that’s how 90-plus percent of hunters are. It might seem counterintuitive, but these are the guys who love nature the most. They want to be out in it. They want to be a part of the conservation effort. The duck population in North America is the highest it’s ever been, and it’s directly attributed to conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited, which we all support. It’s been creating wetland habitat for waterfowl for almost 80 years, along with every state and the federal government. Each year the state and the feds say how long the season will be and daily limits by species. To be a hunter, you have to be knowledgeable.

Inspired Local Food Culture

o c to be r 2 016

89

October 2016 Feast Magazine  

Inspired by our love of nature, this issue of Feast is dedicated to the joys of fall in the Midwest. Crack open a cold one, find a place to...

October 2016 Feast Magazine  

Inspired by our love of nature, this issue of Feast is dedicated to the joys of fall in the Midwest. Crack open a cold one, find a place to...