John Eby: Fur flies at wild game repast in Wayne Township

Published 6:43 pm Sunday, January 23, 2011

After resolving Jan. 3 to get out of my comfort zone more in 2011 and broaden the life experiences that would give me more to write about, I couldn’t very well turn down an invite to break bread in Wayne Township.

Talk about a meat-and-greet.

Joe and Rich have been cooking up this men-only feast since the ’80s.

There were about 25 guys scattered through three rooms.

I could handle the beer-drinking part, but they lost me when they starting swapping tales of hunting and fishing exploits.

I fished some as a kid, but have never been hunting, never fired a gun.

These are guys who wear “I’d Rather Be Hunting” socks, and while I recognized an off-duty cop I might reasonably expect to have a sidearm, I was pretty surprised when all the handguns came out and they compared notes on laser sights and state-of-the-art holsters you slide in your pocket, but it stays snug and doesn’t pop out when you quick draw like the cowboy I imagined myself back when I watched Roy Rogers or The Lone Ranger with Tonto.

One pistol cost $350, yet looked like a toy.

I bring up this hardware, which also included a crossbow, only as further proof of my disoriented state because I’m sure these guys have all the proper permits, etc.

Of the few I recognized, I know some to be former Marines who served in Vietnam — the sort of guys who know their way around safe handling of firearms.

While waiting for dinner I kept my gaze on the flat screen where the Ravens were dutifully throwing away a dominating start and letting the Steelers overtake them from way behind.

That game morphed into the Packers-Falcons while my digestive tract filled with dread.

I’d seen the menu.

Barbecued squirrel.

Maybe Granny Clampett’s recipe, but I guess possum was her delicacy dish.

Kangaroo meatballs.


Dove bits wrapped in bacon.

And “mystery meat.”

I thought about saving that bacon bit to regift that morsel, but I reminded myself why I was there and tried valiantly to man up and at least try everything.

(Don’t tell my mom because she wasted a good 25 years of her life trying to make me live by that rule with the dregs of the vegetable world, from broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts to lima beans, which I proudly turned Jordan against only to run into the buzzsaw wrath of my not-amused wife, Sue.

I only tried out for “Survivor” when the show settled into middle age and no longer played up eating rats that taste like chicken.

The buffalo, which I’m told is a dry meat, was so expertly prepared it tasted like Sue’s pot roast.

Which is a good thing, let me hasten to add.

I loved the kangaroo meatballs (there’s a place in Cincinnati which sells such exotic fare) and wanted a second helping of squirrel, but it was wiped out.

Joe said it wasn’t always so delectable.

I benefited from years of trial and error which brought the texture up from shoe leather.

I haven’t willingly eaten mystery meat since the cafeteria in eighth grade at Central Middle School, and my hosts didn’t help any by recalling previous entrees of stingray and woodchuck, but what could they do to me after squirrel?

I felt impervious.

The mystery meat turned out to be rattlesnake.

And for dessert, road kill cake.

A cute little masked raccoon with black-icing tire tracks across his body.

John Eby is Daily News managing editor. E-mail him at