|Love me some crow chili!
If you are a regular reader of the blog, you know I have been talking about eating crow for predicting the Allen Americans would not make the playoffs since the team started to turn around its season in January. The topic has made for some good-natured chirping around the locker room for many months and it culminated yesterday when I fulfilled my promise to eat crow. Here is the complete story:
– The exact origin of the idiom of “eating crow” in unknown. One version from around 1850 talks about a farmer in New York who had urban borders complain about the food he was serving and challenged him to eat a crow. Another version talks about an American soldier in the War of 1812 hunting for food who accidentally went behind enemy lines and shot a crow. Whatever the origin, eating crow has come to mean the humiliation by admitting you have been proven wrong after taking a strong position. The crow is presumably repulsive to eat the same way being proven wrong might be hard to swallow.
– Here is how I got in the crow eating business. I didn’t start the season thinking Allen would miss the playoffs, even though others did. Here is the chronology:
– This is from the blog post on October 23, 2022, and I was in full support mode. Have to admit Matt may need my eating crow recipe after these predictions:
My friend Matt Harding from Field Pass Hockey, who I have worked with the past decade, just posted his predictions for ECHL division champions, playoff teams and Kelly Cup champion. Have to say there are more than a few surprises in his predictions:
- You can’t call Matt a homer as he lives in Wichita and is a long time Thunder fan but predicts Wichita will miss the playoffs.
- He also gives coach Costello no respect as a first-year coach, predicting Allen will miss the playoffs.
- His Mountain Division champ is Rapid City, with Utah, Idaho and Kansas City making the playoffs.
- Matt’s most surprising pick is Fort Wayne to win the Kelly Cup.
In all seriousness, Matt has done a great job covering the ECHL (CHL before that) and knows more about the league than any writer I know. We will see how things turnout in April. As for my predictions, Allen will make the playoffs and Newfoundland will win the Kelly Cup.
– This is from the blog post on November 27. It is my annual Thanksgiving post based on an NHL model that says 80% of playoff teams are decided by Thanksgiving. In my defense, this model is strictly by the standings with no judgement. However, the comment at the end was my judgement and where my crow eggs were hatched.
- 1. Idaho (.844)
- 2. Kansas City (.607)
- 3. Wichita (.600)
- 4. Tulsa (.533)
This is another division where every team, but one has a record of .500+. Rapid City and Utah are lurking just behind Tulsa. Utah was the #1 team in the regular season last season and Rapid City was #2, so it is easy to see them moving into a playoff position. Allen is in last place in the division with a .393 points percentage and is the only team out of contention for a playoff spot at this point.
– By the end of December things had gone from bad to worse. The Americans had gone from a points percentage of .393 at Thanksgiving to a low point of .303 and a record of 5-12-1-0. This was my most optimistic (haha) outlook from the blog post on December 27, “It is hard to overstate the importance of the next month if the Allen Americans are going to turn around the poor start to the season. Making the playoffs is unlikely but not impossible.” I remember this day very well, using my stats to talk to Chad Costello about the uphill battle to make the playoffs and doubled down on my opinion it would not happen. Chad said to me with complete confidence, “All we have to do is win two out of every three games going forward and we will make the playoffs.” He started saying that publicly that day and for the next three months the team accomplished that goal.
– It didn’t take long before I could see the Americans could make the playoffs because Allen was playing great and the teams ahead of them in the standings were not. The idea of my prediction of Allen missing the playoffs was going to be wrong hit me by the end of January. I started using the eating crow phrase periodically in the blog as the season progressed, but it was always in my mind figuratively not literally.
– At some point the thought crossed my mind what if I could actually eat crow if Allen made the playoffs. I did some research and found you could eat crow, though it is not the best game meat, and it was possible to hunt them in Texas in February. I have hunted all variety of birds my entire life from ducks, geese, pheasants and grouse growing up in the Minnesota to quail and doves since moving to Texas. I have been dove hunting in Argentina and goose hunting as far north as Hudson Bay. In my 65 years of bird hunting, I have never hunted crow. My first step was to google Texas crow hunting and one of the first websites I found was called Texas Crow Patrol (TCP) which is a group of guys that help ranchers eradicate crows that are damaging their crops, mostly pecan crops. I sent an email to TCP to try and get some information about crow hunting and struck gold. Bob Irving, a retired CPA, called me back and I got a quick lesson about crows and crow hunting from a real expert. What was more impressive than all of his knowledge was his willingness to help. I shared my idea with Americans assistant coach, Aaron Gens, who is also an avid hunter, and he was all in with the crow hunt.
– Bob is a field rep for several companies including FOXPRO (game calls) and Mossy Oak (hunting apparel) and offered to loan us some of his equipment. After a couple of conversations, I learned his nickname is gadget Bob and he has every crow hunting gadget that exists. They include extra-long barrels to suppress sound which you can see in the photos below. Once Bob learned the details and the back story why we wanted to go crow hunting he graciously offered take us on a hunt. We spent a day in February with Bob hunting in a pecan orchard near Bonham. It was quite an education and a lot of fun even though it was the wrong time of year to hunt crows. The pecan harvest was over by February. In the fall during the pecan harvest crows can congregate by the thousands and do considerable damage to the crop.
|Gens and Janssen – The Crow Hunters.
– We managed to harvest three crows which I cleaned and put in the freezer for use if Allen made the playoffs. The Americans were in fourth place the day we went hunting but the standings were very tight between second and sixth place. The next step in the process was to figure out the best way to serve the crow. I had lots of suggestions from fans but learned from a lifetime of eating whatever I killed if you have something that is questionable in taste put it in chili and that can help hide the taste.
|Our crow hunting coach Bob Irving and Gens
– Yesterday, the day finally arrived to fulfill my promise to eat crow. I spent all morning preparing the chili. I decided to make a big batch in case others might want to partake in the crow chili. There were so many questions? I am from Minnesota, and you don’t make chili without kidney beans. I have learned from my neighbors that is a no-no in the south. I split the difference and put in half the beans I would normally use. My next problem was not enough crow meat. Problem solved by adding the top of the food chain when it comes to game meat. I took a couple of pheasants out of the freezer to add to the chili. More disguise for the crow. Then I cooked some jalapeno favored bacon (it was hot for this bland favoring Minnesota boy) but again, the bacon bits could help disguise the crow. I think you can see the plan, disguise the crow as much as possible.
– I had everything set up in the locker room by 12:30. Spent a few minutes telling everyone how happy I was to be eating crow and to be wrong about the Americans missing the playoffs. Talked about what an impressive run the team had from last place in December to the final eight in the playoffs. Then it was time to chow done and face the music. It was a lot of fun and to my surprise about half of those in the in attendance tried the Chili. Stick taps to Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Chris Meriney, Jack Combs and Bob Irving who didn’t make me eat crow alone. And of course, the hunters (me, Gens and Irving) had seconds. The feedback from everyone was all positive, the disguise seemed to work. It was mentioned more than once that there are a few Allen fans that should also be eating crow. I had about half a crockpot of crow chili left over, so if there is anyone that predicted Allen wouldn’t make the playoffs and wants to eat crow let me know.
– I want to thank equipment manager Tony Deyzner for his help in setting up the locker room in the middle of all he has to do as the players are clearing out their stalls and leaving town. Also, thanks to Elisabeth Brown for her help in taking photos and posting them to social media. Finally, I want to thank Bob Irving for sharing his expertise and giving so much of his time to this crazy idea. What started out as a random call about a crazy idea has turned into a real friendship for Aaron and me that will endure in the future. Even better, Bob has been a Dallas Stars fan for many years but had never heard of the Allen Americans. He attended a couple of Allen games with his daughter, Holly, and is now a big fan and supporter. A win-win all in the name of eating crow.
DID YOU KNOW: Some facts we learned about crows on our hunt with Bob Irving:
- A group of crows is called a murder.
- One study showed a single crow can eat or damage as much as seven pound of pecans in one year.
- Crows are very social and live in family groups of four to 15.
- Crows are some of the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom capable of making rule-based decisions and creating and using tools.