Catapulted into Muskrat Heaven at the National Outdoor Show

Sudden total body impact with the cement was my graceful entrance to the 68th Annual National Outdoor Show, Home of the National World Championship Muskrat Skinning Contest held in Golden Hill, Maryland.  It takes skill to roll your head under the sheriff’s car and not hit the bumper. A crowd of hunters had gathered to help me to my feet. My knee that had been through months of therapy had been targeted by the hard cement.  Amazingly enough, the fall had given the knee just the right chiropractic adjustment  and it felt better then ever. (Or the adrenalin rush from total embarrassment, time would tell.)

I knew this was my day and everything was going right! My objective was to video skinned muskrat’s and get some recipes. The Eastern Shore natives just call them “rats”. Now I have to tell you I get a kick out of telling my metropolitan friends that I eat Rats…and I do eat them and I like them!

I only had an hour to run from one end of the Golden Hill Elementary School to the the other. If I hadn’t had that fix at my entrance I couldn’t have sprinted that fast. Yes, this was my day.

I videoed cooks making Oyster Hanks and Goose Sliders but the Muskrat Cooking Contest would be a couple more hours. Too bad I would miss that. They cook up muskrat Italian, Chinese, and just about any way you can imagine. Anyway, I ran to the cafeteria where they took me behind the counter and I talked to some of the cooks and servers. People were lined up to get their muskrat dinners, oyster fritters, Maryland crab soup, fried soft crabs and of course for the squeamish there was always hot dogs and hamburgers.

I was escorted outside of the building to a small trailer where men were frying up huge oyster fritters. Slow cookers had rabbit, pheasants, quail and chuckers cooking. I saw some shrimp and fish ready to cook. Back into the kitchen I was shown how to fry soft crabs. But no where could I find skinned muskrats.

Oh how I wished my time wasn’t so limited so I could stay for the Muskrat Skinning Contest. The women can do this just as fast as the men. Back in the day, photos of women wearing dresses, hats and white gloves, skinned muskrats and raccoons for trophys.    The  Muskrat Lovely DVD by  Amy Nicholson is excellent in capturing the wonderful culture of this show with the beauty pageants and a full array of waterman and  marsh activities.    But my time was limited so I had to leave and continue my quest elsewhere.

I re-boarded the bus, easier then my exit, to take me back to the lumber yard parking lot. As I was driving off the parking lot, in my 90 year old mother-in-law’s car,  I saw all of these men waving, so I waved back and smiled as I rode over their big orange cone..OOPS!  I thought of the movie, “My Mother the Car”. I was driving like a little ol’ lady. Although lady is not a word usually used to describe me. I looked back, as I drove out of sight, to see another orange cone boarded and duck taped. This wasn’t a first for those men.

I headed for Kool Ice, no rats…Dag! I took off for Webster’s Store, they’ll be there. This store is over 100 years old and puts out a sign when the rats are in. Oh Holy Day, a trapper had just brought in a big box of rats! I interviewed the owner of the store, as he held up the rats and patted them and gave the price and how to cook them. Then he mentioned that he had sold his last raccoon this morning…OMG  I was getting so excited…Then he said BEAVER! By now I’m passing out!  Now I know about Metropolitan Beaver, like in New York City…but eating country beaver is real! They cut down trees and build dams. We have otters and beavers on the ranch.

As I left the store, he was on the phone with a customer who was looking for raccoon. This was a day Heaven had made. I got a free knee adjustment, I got new recipes and I got to video skinned muskrats and hear about raccoons and beavers for He Shoots She Cooks.

HE is not excited nor impressed! HE was demonstrating chopping out decoys at the show! HE does not eat muskrats, raccoons or beaver and doesn’t want me to serve it up!

But HE would never know…

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