Off the Record Podcast – Eps 8 – Our First Guest, Mark Strand

Scott & Michelle welcome Mark Strand as the Off The Record’s first guest. And it just so happens Mark is the show’s editor, so it was fitting to have him as our guest. We talk wine (of course), Central Coast of California, if Scott ever gets sick of cooking, Michelle’s role as The Adequate Cook at her own house, and much, much more!

Follow Mark’s Patreon page:

Wines we were drinking: 

Michelle was drinking the 2017 Bogle Cab Sauvignon 

Scott was drinking Ravenswood 2017 Cab Sauvignon 

Mark was drinking J Lohr Vineyards 2017 Cab Sauvignon from Paso Robles 

Off The Record Podcast – Episode 8 – Transcript

Mark Strand: Go ahead, do the intro.

Scott Leysath: There you go. What do we call this? I’m sorry. Off The Record with Scott, Michelle… With The Sporting Chef and Michelle? Is that it?

Michelle Scheuermann: Put that in there, Mark. Put that shit in there.


Scott: You see? Do you see why people have notes before they start on these things?


Intro: Good day, and welcome to Off the Record. You’ll find us at the intersection of interesting ideas and great pairings. It all tastes good when these two cook it up, so let’s listen in to the Sporting Chef, Scott Leysath, and outdoor industry insider, Michelle Scheuermann, as they talk wild game, wine, and anything else that comes to mind. Time to sample and sip our way through the best part of the day as we go Off the Record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle.

Scott: This is Off the Record with The Sporting Chef, that’s me, Scott Leysath, and Michelle Scheuermann, that would be Michelle. Michelle and I have known each other for a long time. We started as business partners, and here we are as friends.

Michelle: Yeah, drinking friends.

Scott: And still business partners and wine drinkers. And Michelle, we have a guest today. Who’s that?

Michelle: Yes. This is our very first guest, and who better to help us along in this process than our very good friend, Mark Strand. Welcome, Mark.

Scott: Applause, applause.

Mark: I am so happy… I’m so happy and honored to be the first guest.

Michelle: Yes. I know, because I knew that we could get away with so much shenanigans and you’d be okay with it.

Mark: Exactly. Well, plus I get to edit it so I can… I’m gonna change all my answers after I get the files sent to me anyways.

Michelle: So who better to have as your first guest than the person who does all the editing for your podcast? So thank you, thank you, Mark, for getting this off the ground during COVID, during sheltering-in-place.

Mark: Yeah.

Michelle: And technically, Mark and I live a mile from each other, maybe two miles.

Mark: We see each other at the SHOT Show.


Michelle: Yeah. That’s the only time we have dinner and the only time we see each other, but…


Mark: Actually, that’s not true. We do hang out sometimes, and…

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: It’s a little known fact that Michelle is also an exercise class instructor…

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: At my wife’s gym here in Woodbury, so…

Michelle: Yeah, full circle.

Mark: We have a connection in the outdoors and in the fitness biz.

Michelle: Yeah. I’m such a model of fitness, aren’t I, as I’m sitting here drinking my whiskey and my wine? I would…

Mark: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, who said whiskey?

Scott: Are you double dipping? That seems to be a wine thing. What’s up with that?

Michelle: Well, we’ll get into that. But Mark, you have been in the industry for many, many years.

Mark: Since 1977 is when I started my Mark Strand Outdoors as a freelance writer and photographer and… Branched into making movies and stuff, yeah. No, it wasn’t full-time at first. It was… I started when I was in college, that’s why I’m so young still.

Michelle: Yeah, yeah. So this is your side hustle.

Mark: Yeah, other than studying, you mean? Right. [laughter]

Michelle: And girls.

Scott: Studying?

Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah… Oh yeah. Well, you gotta make time for certain things, you know?

Michelle: [laughter] And hunting. And… Well, fishing, really, right?

Mark: Yeah, fishing and hunting.

Michelle: Wasn’t fishing your first true love?

Mark: No, I would say it’s both.

Michelle: No?

Mark: I would say they’re so completely equal to each other that it’s a complete blurring of the lines; there’s no relative importance placed on either one.

Michelle: So eventually, you became the editor of Midwest Outdoors.

Mark: Yeah, let’s jump all the way forward. So that was about…

Michelle: I know. We’re just gonna jump ahead 40 years.

Scott: [laughter] That’s not really much of a career, is it, Mark?

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: [laughter] No it’s not.

Scott: In the blink of an eye, here he is.

Michelle: You did a lot of stuff, and wrote for a lot of people…

Mark: Right.

Michelle: Won some awards. You won many awards, actually.

Mark: Not a lot, but I can say that I didn’t really enter a lot of… I don’t really strive to. But I have won a few. There was the…

Michelle: Tell me about the one… The Fishing Hall of Fame, was it that one?

Mark: Oh, okay, yeah, so that’s something that I’m so happy about, because…

Michelle: See?

Mark: So many of these really good friends of mine that I’ve known since… Let’s say the late 1970s, I started interviewing professional fishermen a lot, and I got to know them and fished with them and became friends with them and…

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: And they’re all in the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame, and it was a couple years ago that I was inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame, so that… That’s a big one for me, because I still feel like I don’t belong. I knew it was a joke, for sure…

Michelle: Oh really?

Mark: When the lady called me to tell me that I had been inducted, yeah. [chuckle] I didn’t even know I was up for it or anything, so I was like, “Yeah, okay. Who are you, and who made you place this call?” But it turned out to be true, so…

Michelle: That’s pretty cool.

Scott: Alright, Mark. I… Mark, sorry, I just got off the water, I’m bass fishing, and you’re interviewing me. Talk to me.

Mark: Oh okay. Is that right? Did you really? So what lake were you fishing on?

Scott: I’ll tell you what, we caught us some big fish! They was biting out there, but I’ll tell you what, it was a little choppy, and for a while, I was worried.

Mark: But were they pretty fish?

Scott: They were pretty damn fish.


Scott: Hell yeah. We’re gonna eat ’em. Wait. Wait. Who’s gonna eat ’em, are we?

Mark: If you watch some of the TV shows, they talk about how pretty the fish is when they…

Michelle: Do they, really? I don’t think I’ve ever watched a fishing show in the…

Mark: Why would you? You just work for The Sportsman Channel. Why would you do that?

Michelle: I don’t… ’cause… Yeah. I’m just gonna drink my wine or whiskey.

Mark: That doesn’t look like wine. That looks… We’re supposed to do red wine. You’re kinda… You picked the wrong day to try to fake us out with the…

Michelle: I have it right here. Okay, so everyone, here’s the deal.

Mark: Yeah, let’s jump into that.

Michelle: We need to tell everyone the deal. So in previous podcasts, I have said… I may have made a statement saying that I don’t believe any wines under $20 to $25 are any good, except for Michael David’s.

Mark: So what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to numb your lips and your tongue down a little bit with the whiskey so that the cheap wine will taste better? Is that the plan, or…

Michelle: Maybe. But anything by Michael David is very excellent, and I don’t care the price point. So Michael David’s exempt from this grandiose statement. So you guys, of course, are upset with me for such a statement, and Scott even went so far as to post this question on his Facebook page

Mark: I remember that.

Michelle: To which he got 50 comments from people. This is a very hot debate. And there were people who were on my side, by the way.

Scott: That would be the minority.


Mark: Yeah. I didn’t see any of them, maybe that’s …

Michelle: A silent minority.

Scott: You had to look for ’em.


Michelle: Yeah. A silent minority.

Scott: So the whole thing is, and I’ve always maintained that I’ve always been looking for the best 10 dollar bottle of wine or Michael David, but there are some really good 10 dollar bottles of wine out there, and you normally don’t wanna start the evening with a 10 dollar bottle of wine. That’s a good place to finish. I’ve made some bad decisions in my time, when we’re several bottles into it, and you go, “Wow, why don’t I crack open the Silver Oak I’ve been sitting on.”

Mark: Exactly.

Michelle: Yeah.

Scott: And that’s a bad idea. So… I think what we’re about to drink today would be a really good last bottle of wine before we call it quits.

Mark: Yeah, although I went all the way up to almost 12 dollars.

Michelle: Mine’s $11.99 too. So Mark, go ahead and tell us your wine, and share with us why you bought it, it’s 12 dollars.

Mark: Yeah, so…

Michelle: Do you have some emotional attachment to it, what’s going on here?

Mark: I… Oh, yeah, deep… Because we’re gonna talk a little bit about the Central Coast of California, a place that I lived for a number of years, and… worked for newspapers out in the Paso Robles area, and so I couldn’t decide between two bottles, I ended up buying one from Paso Robles, a J. Lohr Estates, I think, is the… It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2017, and… I don’t have any tasting notes or anything for it. I have to admit that, when I lived in California, I didn’t hardly even know what wine was, nor was I even slightly interested in learning about it. There were other people at our newspaper that would go out to… When new wineries would open, and interview the vintners and the…

Michelle: You were all about the fishing guys.

Mark: I was, yeah. And then… I did a lot of news out there, so I was a news guy.

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: You know, hard-hitting stories from the library and stuff like that.

Michelle: Yeah, and Hearst Castle. Yeah, very hard.

Mark: Yes, and the Hearst Castle, for sure. So do either of you know very much about that? There’s actually a name for the company, I believe. Let me grab the bottle quick.

Michelle: Oh, your bottle of wine, you mean?

Mark: Oh yeah, I opened it up so it could breathe. So J. Lohr, Paso Robles, family owned since 1974, so… Seven Oaks is what it says. I suspect that the company known as Seven Oaks may have purchased the company.

Michelle: What’s it… So read the label to me. Tell me… Does it say anything about the grapes? Anything?

Mark: There are grapes. Yeah, it says there are grapes.

Michelle: There are grapes in here.

Mark: “Our family wine-growing and wine-making passion is rooted in our sustainably farmed vineyards, and in our winery in Paso Robles, California. The oak-studded terroir and… ” Calcareous? How do you say that?

Michelle: The soils?

Mark: “Calcareous soils coupled with warm days.” See, warm days and cool nights, that’s the whole key to the world, right, you guys?

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: “To develop intense character… ” This is just a bunch of promotional BS.

Michelle: Marketing shenanigans?

Mark: It’s not telling me anything. “Dense and soft, this wine boasts ripe flavors of blackcurrant and cherry enhanced by a bouquet of vanilla,” which I haven’t noted yet, “and spice,” I did detect some spice in it. “From one year of barrel aging, and it is an excellent companion to grilled beef lasagna or dark chocolate.”

Michelle: Lasagna.

Mark: Heaven forbid if you try milk chocolate with this. Yeah, so it doesn’t say anything about… Except that they barrel age it for a year.

Michelle: It’s made with grapes that came from somewhere.

Mark: From Sacramento, from some flat hot place that…

Scott: What? What?

Mark: [chuckle] Scott, do you know anything about this operation?

Scott: You know, I’ve had J. Lohr, and it’s been kind of a hit or miss for me over the last 20 years or so I’ve been drinking it.

Mark: Are you saying the quality of each bottle would vary?

Scott: One vintage to the next, which is kinda normal. I mean, how can you produce the exact same wine every year? Vintages change from year to year.

Michelle: White Zinfandel, they do it every year.

Scott: White Zinfandel tastes like Kool-Aid to me.


Scott: So Kool-Aid always tastes about the same too, I can’t really discriminate with that. But I’m not knocking the White Zinfandel. For people, it’s a great entry-level thing, and we’ve talked about it before.

Michelle: Talked about it.

Scott: So Mark, did you try your… Oh, you have J. Lohr, and you’ve got another one too, right?

Mark: I do, I bought a Josh Cellars Red Blend.

Michelle: I like Josh.

Mark: Yeah. And I’ve had other Josh Cellars wines in the past. So I selected that one because I didn’t know for sure. How many stories were we gonna tell, and were we gonna do a four-hour episode, or were we gonna do seven episodes? 

Michelle: I love that you thought that you needed two bottles of wine for this podcast, I really love that.

Mark: It’s kinda like the Emmylou Harris song, “cause I’m alright, ’cause it’s midnight, and I got two more bottles of wine.”

Scott: Two more bottles of wine. Yeah, that’s right.


Mark: No, my philosophy on wine is very similar to Scott’s. There was a legendary radio talk show host named Steve Cannon in the Twin Cities on WCCO AM 830 radio. Do you remember him, Michelle?

Michelle: I remember the name, yep.

Mark: So he did all these goofy characters all the time. He had these people that he would be, and one of his favorite characters was a guy named Morgan Mundane, he goes, “What do you think, Morg?” “I dunno.” And so he was talking about… There was… Remember the old… I think it was Mogen David wine. He said, “We will not serve any wine before its time.”


Scott: I threw up on that a couple times in high school, I think.

Mark: [chuckle] So you wouldn’t agree. So Morgan Mundane used to say, “I will serve any wine, anytime.”


Mark: I’m somewhere between Michelle and Morgan Mundane, I would say.

Mark: And now, so just so you can hear it, an example of Steve Cannon from his final Cannon Mess broadcast, where he does the voices of his sidekicks, Morgan Mundane, Ma Linger and BackLash LaRue.

S4: Ed Harris is a cartoonist. He sent me the greatest. Jimmy, we’ve got… We are simulcasting on 42 today, on the… Okay, so on channel 42. Get a tight shot now on this character, myself, and Ma Linger, Morgan Mundane, and BackLash LaRue. Ed Harris did this thing. I think that’s pretty good of me, don’t you, Ma?

S5: Yes, it looks just like you. Morgan, you got such a hooked nose.

S5: Morg?

S5: I’m not commenting. He made me look stupid.

S5: What do you think, Lash?

S5: Oh, I think it’s wonderful. This man has a classy hand.

S5: Thanks to Ed Harris for that caricature. I’m gonna have that framed and put into the great hall at the mansion.

Scott: And I appreciate a good bottle of wine, obviously, but again, I think the lesser wines have their place as well. I have a Ravenswood.

Michelle: Yeah.

Scott: So this is a Ravenswood. This is a 2021 Cabernet.

Mark: Wow.

Scott: They got… I don’t know how they do this, but…

Michelle: Are you serious? It says 2021.

Scott: No, I’m not. It’s a 2017.

Michelle: Oh, yeah, like… [laughter] You got me!

Scott: Oh yeah, get the hook out of your mouth. So, this says that it’s…

Mark: It’s a futuristic wine.

Michelle: I love it!

Scott: They believe in authenticity, craft and character.

Michelle: Sure.

Scott: “Experience our interpretation of Cabernet Sauvignon, a flavor-packed,” in bold, “glass full of blackberry cassis and a lick of baking spice that nearly busts out of its velvet cage with backbone and structure.” Now, it’s been my experience that… I don’t have a super discriminating palate, but when I go to Food and Wine and I read these descriptions of the wines, I’m going…

Mark: How do you get the bananas out of that?

Scott: I’m not getting any of this shit. I don’t know what it is, but Michelle, you, being the more sophisticated palate, you probably go, “Oh yes, a little bit of old leather and granite,” and you can… You’re that kind of person. So Michelle…

Michelle: I’m learning.

Scott: What are you drinking?

Michelle: Well, so mine is a Bogle Vineyard, which I understand, Scott, you have a story to tell. I picked this up in my local wine shop, literally, it’s across the street from me.

Mark: What is it?

Michelle: The Wine Stop, over by Eagle Valley, yeah.

Mark: I don’t even know that one.

Michelle: Oh for crying out… We need to go…

Scott: Well, at least we know where Michelle lives now, that’s good.

Michelle: Yeah, by Eagle Valley. It says “Winery of the Year” on the bottle. It’s a 2017 Cab as well. I think it’s funny that we didn’t tell each other that we were… But we all picked a 17 Cab. It doesn’t say anything about anything on this bottle. It says “Vinted and bottled by Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg, California.”

Scott: So Clarksburg is just south of Sacramento. It is along the Sacramento River. It is across the Sacramento River from where my restaurant was, and I used to get a lot of the Bogle people, and a lot of the wine grape growers in that area would come over to my restaurant, and…

Michelle: Full circle.

Scott: A lot of the people that used to grow tomatoes and sugar beets are now growing wine. My good friend, Tom Slater, they were… They farmed 5000 acres of everything but wine. Now everybody is growing wine. If you go to Northern California, you’re thinking, “How can these people possibly drink all this wine,” because all the cow pastures, tomatoes… All of that is all now wine grapes. You guys have seen it there, Michelle, I know you’ve seen it when you’re out there. Really, how much is too much wine, and apparently there’s no such thing.

[overlapping conversation]

Mark: Scott, is the landscape really flat around there, or do they have some terroir, a little bit of… With a little angularity to it or what?

Scott: In about 15 to 20 minutes from Folsom, where I live, north of Sacramento, you’re in Amador and El Dorado County, where there’s a Rombauer there now in Amador county. It’s foothills, it’s the base of the Sierras.

Mark: Ooh, so… Gotcha, okay.

Scott: Once you get into the Lodi…

Mark: I’m gonna pour a little more.

Michelle: Hey.

Scott: In the Lodi area where Michael David is, it’s relatively flat. Ravenswood says Acampo. This was $8.99, by the way, but it’s gonna be a little cheaper in California. They’re growing some really good grapes in the flat areas around the Lodi and all that. Lodi used to be known for big chewy, jammy Zinfandels, and now they’ve really refined it. They have everything now.

Michelle: So you like your wine? Mark, do you like your wine?

Mark: Yes, I do. It’s… I open it up a little early to let it breathe some, and…

Michelle: I have an aerator in my bottle, do you see that?

Mark: I didn’t know that’s what that was, but that’s…

Scott: I think I know where you got that.

Michelle: Yes.

Mark: I thought it was a reindeer.

Michelle: I was with Scott when I got this aerator. These are super cool aerators. They make a really cool sound when you pour the wine, ’cause they’re aerating it as you pour it.

Scott: And that was from the Helwig Winery in Amador County, California.

Michelle: Yeah. This is a Rudolph, actually. You can see the nose, ’cause I got it in December.

Scott: Oh yeah. Yeah yeah.

Mark: But that is so cool. I have an aerator upstairs too, but it’s way too far to go.

Scott: I just use a straw.

Michelle: No, I don’t like my wine…

Scott: Are you being serious now? I don’t trust you.

Michelle: Yeah. You guys, I don’t like my wine.

Scott: What?

Michelle: I don’t.

Scott: How would you describe your wine?

Michelle: Alcoholly.

Scott: So…

Mark: Is that right?

Mark: Did you open it up way before we started talking or right now?

Michelle: Way before, it’s been open for over an hour.

Mark: Is that right? So that’s…

Michelle: Plus I have an aerator on it. Yeah, I think it’s open before it’s time. I think it should have cellared a bit longer, to be honest with you. You might have had a different conversation about it, but all I taste is… I can’t even drink it, honestly. I drank a glass, and like, I can’t drink any more of this.

Mark: Do you have another one that you could taste test?

Michelle: Well, then I had my Jack Daniel’s Tennessee honey whiskey that I just poured into a glass, and I’m drinking that.

Mark: Do you have the whiskey rocks in there that you guys were talking about in the previous episode?

Michelle: I don’t. I don’t have them in here, but I have him in my freezer. Yeah, I own them…

Mark: Are you risking watering down your whiskey?

Michelle: It’s okay. I’m okay. It’s alright. Get that wine taste out of there.

Scott: As long as it gets the wine taste out of your mouth, yeah. Now, see, mine’s okay, mine is thin. For a Cab, it’s… There’s not a whole lot of legs on here, but I could easily make this my last bottle of the evening.

Michelle: Yeah.


Michelle: Okay. Scott, what would be your first bottle then?

Mark: Yeah. Do we really need the pivot a little bit here and…

Scott: You know, I’m a big fan of the Michael David Inkblot Series. They have a Tannat, Petit Verdot, I think one other one, but they’re…

Michelle: Petite Sirah?

Mark: Petit what?

Scott: I don’t know if it’s a Petite Sirah for the Inkblot.

Michelle: Petite Petite? Shit if I know.

Scott: Alright.


Mark: What’s a Petit Verdot or whatever you…

Scott: That’s Petit Verdot. It’s Petite Sirah and some Verdot shit. So here’s the thing, I’m not a wine snob, and I’m also not a wine aficionado. Michelle has gone from, and I’ve mentioned this before, she’s gone from sweet wines to good wines. And she’s not gonna look back. She is…

Mark: And she refuses to come back across the fence, huh?

Scott: Right. She won’t come back to where the real people are.

Michelle: Nope.

Mark: So Michelle, you really should have gotten a J Lohr, because this is quite smooth, it’s…

Michelle: I’ll try it.

Mark: It’s full-bodied compared to what you guys are describing. It looks denser, maybe a little…

Scott: It does look… It looks more… It looks like it has more body than what I’m drinking here.

Mark: Am I big, you might say. Yeah, yours looks like grape juice, basically.


Scott: And it’s not that far off. I mean, it’s thirteen and a half percent alcohol, so it’s not super low. But it’s about as low as I’m gonna go.

Michelle: Yeah. Mine’s fourteen and a half percent.

Scott: Maybe that would explain the alcoholly…

Michelle: Alcoholly.

Scott: Part of it. Maybe if you boil it for a minute or two.

Mark: See, I’m the least educated…

Michelle: But here’s the deal, if I’m gonna drink wine, let it be good wine. Life is too short for cheap wine. What are we doing here?

Mark: I think that… Well, Scott and I, we can do a commercial or something. Why don’t you run and go get something regardless of the price tag associated with it, and then come right back.

Michelle: Are we opening it or just showing it off?

Mark: You’re gonna drink it. So that you’re… I want…

Scott: That’s a commitment.

Mark: I want you to be happy while we’re doing this.

Michelle: Oh, shit!

Scott: I know… I know what would be a good one, that Michael David Viral that you just got. How many of those did you get?

Michelle: One. I just got one. I’m not prepared for that one yet. I’m not…

Scott: So you’re not prepared for that?

Michelle: No. I told you I need to cellar it, I need to cellar it.

Scott: Yeah, she wants to cellar it for a week. So the Michael David…

Mark: For a week?


Scott: Has a Merlot called Viral, and this is their new Merlot. And the back story on it is… You know what, we’ll get to the back story when we drink it on the next podcast.

Mark: Oh, Okay. So how much…

Michelle: Yeah. Maybe you’ll join us, Mark.

Mark: How much does that one cost?

Michelle: I have to find out.

Scott: I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s 25-ish or so.

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: That’s…

Scott: It’s in your… It’s in your price range, Michelle.

Mark: So Michelle, that’s the kind of the… That’s the floor, right.

Michelle: All of us should be happy with that.

Mark: Yeah, that’s the floor, right? That…

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: You won’t go below that. But I’m pretty serious about this. You have that look on your face, like you’re kind of sad, so I want you to go get a different bottle of wine.


Mark: And crack it open. We wanna hear the cork come out.


Michelle: Okay. But I’ve been drinking whiskey.

Mark: Like do it now. Oh, okay. Are you gonna stay with the whiskey then?

Michelle: Yeah, I’m gonna stay with the whiskey. I’m gonna stay with the whiskey.

Mark: By the way, I just wanted to give you guys…

Scott: So Mark…

Mark: Oh, go ahead, Scott.

Scott: Tell me about what’s going on out there in the outdoor world. I know this… We’re at that… When people listen to this, I don’t know, I’m not sure when they’ll listen to it, but right now we’re recording it during the pandemic, which has been a gigantic pain in the ass, to say the least. What are we missing out there? How has this affected your world?

Mark: My personal world has been greatly impacted, because we’re about a five and a half hour drive from International Falls, Minnesota, which is the border with Ontario. And since the mid-1960s, we have owned an island on Lake of the Woods, you might have heard of Lake of the Woods.

Scott: Sure.

Mark: So it stretches from Minnesota into Ontario and also into Manitoba on the west side. And since… Well, since before the ice went out in March, the border between the US and Canada has been closed to what they refer to as non-essential travel, not realizing that fishing is essential travel. And so we are unable to go up to our place in Canada. It’s such a cool place to…

Michelle: Even if you own it, you can’t go there?

Mark: That’s right. Yeah, there’s no…

Michelle: What are they doing?

Mark: We don’t like it at all and I… The needs of the few larger towns, in my opinion, are superseding the needs of the smaller towns. And all these little fishing towns, these little towns up near our cabin, Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows that have a little hardware store, a little grocery store, a little tackle shop, a bunch of resorts. And the statistics that I’ve seen indicate that about 99% of all the customers for the resorts are Americans. And about 60% of all the money that they make in these small businesses is made by the end of June each year. And the summer is essential to their survival, because these are little ghost towns in the winter up there, and so…

Michelle: That’s sad.

Mark: The travel ban has been extended to at least July 21 at this point and the word on the street is late September, is when they’re talking about opening it, at which point there’s no point in even… You might as well leave it, leave it shut till next spring if you’re gonna keep it shut till the end of September. You know, there’s a few places, for example, between Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie, let’s say, some bigger cities that are on the border with the US, that perhaps in those areas around Detroit, for example, there’d be concerns about numbers of people coming across the border, but not in the little place that we go, it would be so easy to social distance and be careful when you go into the grocery store and whatnot. So I feel really bad for the small businesses up in Northwestern Ontario where we go that… Who knows how many of them are even gonna exist at this time next year because of that. So in addition to that, to answer more of Scott’s question, there is a pretty strong suggestion that we want you to go out and go hunting and fishing. I shot a turkey with my bow this spring, for example. I showed it to Michelle and…

Michelle: Yeah. Good turkey.

Mark: All the hunting I did was within a couple hour drive off right here, and they’re basically strongly suggesting that, “Go ahead and go hunting and fishing, but please do it close to home.” And even for people who own cabins, which is what we call them here, summer homes in, let’s say, in Northern Minnesota, they don’t really want you to go to that cabin very much because they’re concerned that if you do bring coronavirus with you or if you contract it while you’re up there and get sick, that the healthcare capacity in those small towns is so limited that you could contribute to over-running it. So they basically want you to stay right in your own little area, which is kind of silly because around the Twin Cities, for example, there’s too many people for the number of fishing lakes if none of us spread out and go up north or something, so…

Michelle: Right.

Mark: Does that answer your question, Scott? I would say it has impacted it a lot.

Scott: It does. And for me, The Sporting Chef Show, I can shoot in my backyard and in my kitchen, but the Dead Meat Show requires travel. We were gonna shoot a show in Canada, that’s out Alaska. I think we can finally get in, but you’ve gotta get a positive… Or a negative COVID test 72 hours before you get on the plane. I’m going to Houston in July, and then I’m gonna ride with my camera guy from Houston to Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska to shoot shows. We’re gonna drive because flying, when… The airfare has gone from dirt cheap to the other way. I looked at a coach ticket from Sacramento to St. Louis the other day, and it was $1400, which seems like a lot. The next day it was down to $1100, and they’re just kinda going back and forth. So if you’re booking a flight, if it looks crazy, just give it a day or two… And I know you’re thinking, “Ah, it might go up again,” but it seems to go down.

Mark: It’s impacted you greatly. You’re home way more than you usually are right now, right?

Scott: I’m normally gone more than I’m home, and I’ve worked two jobs this year, and we’re halfway through the year. So I do a lot of personal appearances and consumer shows. There is a consumer show in Texas at the end of July that… The Texas Trophy Hunters Show that I’ll be at. Hopefully, I’ll see people there.

Mark: Oh, and so they’re actually gonna still hold it?

Scott: That’s what they say as of today. They said, “Oh, yeah, we’re doing it.”

Michelle: That’s Texas.

Scott: It’s Texas, right?

Michelle: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. Do you have to wear a hazmat suit or anything?

Michelle: Yeah. Are you gonna wear a mask?

Scott: I will. Absolutely. I suspect that there’ll be a lot of people there who are not wearing masks.

Michelle: Yeah. But since you’re working?

Scott: But I’m serving food, so I will be wearing a mask and changing my gloves often. And that’s another thing for people that wear the gloves, change them often. And I’m a big fan of just washing your hands over wearing the same gloves all day long.

Mark: Yeah, because the gloves get as contaminated as whatever they touch, right?

Scott: And they make you feel like you’re being safe, ’cause you’re wearing gloves, but really, washing your hands more often, to me, makes more sense.

Mark: Yeah, that’s what I would think too, so I’m glad to hear you say that.

Scott: Yeah. So Michelle, what about you? What are you doing? Just resting comfortably drinking whiskey, wine and whatever else that’s not on sale?


Michelle: Yeah. Right. That’s good. That’s good, Scott. Yes, my stomach is full because I just got done with a full… Sharing a full rack of ribs that my husband smoked on his Traeger for five hours.

Scott: Traeger? What’s that?

Michelle: What’s that? Yeah.

Scott: What’s a Traeger? I’ve heard of Camp… I’ve heard of Camp Chef. I’ve not heard of Traeger.

Michelle: Yeah, he’s deeply in love with smoking his food now so… The problem is that you need time and patience.

Mark: How long did he smoke it for?

Michelle: About five hours.

Mark: So you also have to be home a lot?

Michelle: Yeah, you have to be like present and participatory, because every… For the ribs, every 45 minutes, he had to spritz it with apple juice.

Scott: No, you don’t. No, you don’t.

Michelle: Don’t question the chef, Scott.

Scott: I put the sprinkler on it.

Mark: He is a chef.

Michelle: I’m questioning this chef. Yeah, so… But it was really good. It was the first time he’s ever done ribs. Usually, we’ve done brisket. We’ve gotten a lot of meat from Snake River Farms. If you wanna get meat from them, I highly recommend it. We’ve purchased the Wagyu brisket and paid dearly for it.

Scott: You must have noticed on your brisket, the marbling, especially… Even on a brisket, it was really crazy, right?

Michelle: Yeah, we trimmed a lot of the fat too but, yeah.

Scott: And you have to. And the brisket is right up your alley, ’cause you like meat that’s cooked a lot.

Michelle: Thank you. Thank you. Yes. And the ribs. Yes.

Scott: And it’s been my experience on those briskets, they’re really… People think that they’re a lot more technical than they are. Here’s the bottom line on brisket, you put your favorite rub on it… I’m using Hi Mountain Rib Rub, personal preference. If you got time, you can wrap it in plastic, stick it in there overnight. You put it in a 225-degree smoker, and when it gets to 150, you’re gonna hit a stall, which is… Wayne, knows about to stall, right? It just kind of sits there at around 150 and you’re going like, “What the hell?”

Michelle: Yeah.

Scott: You wrap it up in foil, you get it up to between 200-205 degrees, let it rest for half-hour, 45 minutes after you take it out of the foil, and it’s perfect. So people who are listening to this are gonna tell me, “Oh, no, it’s a lot more technical than that. You have to do that, and you have to do that.” I’m telling you, rub it, get it to 150 at 225, wrap it with foil, leave it at 225, and when that thermometer gets to between two and 205, your brisket’s done.

Michelle: I think Wayne likes 204.

Scott: Whatever.

Michelle: Yeah. And then he puts it… He wraps it with a towel and we put it in a cooler.

Mark: What? So that stops the cooking, you mean?

Michelle: Well, we put it in an Orion cooler…

Scott: It actually makes it more tender, yeah.

Michelle: Yeah, we put in an Orion cooler. So you wrap that brisket when it’s been cooking for eight hours with the towel and put it in one of those Orion coolers, she’s still cooking.

Scott: Oh, yeah.

Mark: Oh, okay. But you don’t need to shoot it with the orange juice or whatever she said she was doing? Is that right?

Scott: I don’t. Apple juice?

Michelle: That’s for ribs.

Scott: That’s for the ribs. He sprays them, right?

Michelle: Yeah, every 45 minutes, he would spritz them with apple juice, for the ribs. For the brisket, you never touch it except to wrap it.

Scott: Right.

Mark: And did you have any… Like a good bottle of wine with the ribs and the brisket?

Michelle: No, I opened up this Bogle one.

Mark: Is that right? And you didn’t… Did you try it with your dinner or not?

Michelle: Yeah, I did, I was drinking it with my ribs.

Mark: So you had already made your decision about it, or…

Michelle: I drank a full glass and then poured more, and I told Wayne, “I can’t. I can’t do this anymore.”

Scott: Now, in defense of Bogle…

Mark: Did you almost quit the show?

Michelle: Yeah.

Scott: In defense of Bogle, I want you to know that Bogle is one of the better buys out there, and you can get it… It’s a really good price. It’s always reasonably priced, it’s… You can find it anywhere in the US, it’s a family-run operation in Clarksburg, California…

Michelle: Well, I’ll… I’ll give them another shot.

Scott: Give them another shot. Their wines, I think are really solid and especially for a lower price point wine, Bogle is pretty good.

Michelle: I’ll try it again. I’m not gonna… We won’t throw in the towel. That’s my evening in a nutshell. Oh, and then I made those pop-tarts, Mark. Remember those pop-tarts I put on the fitness page? So by the way, I’m also a cook, I call myself the “Adequate Cook.”

Mark: He’s got her own show on their couple’s Facebook page.

Michelle: Yeah, it’s called The Adequate Cook. Because Wayne, at one time, I asked Wayne how his dinner was, and he said to me it was adequate, so that’s… When I told people that story on your Facebook page, Mark, they were like, “You should get a different husband.” I’m like, “No, no, no, he’s fine, he’s fine.”

Mark: No, no, no, she needs a punching bag, like… ‘Cause there’s nobody to talk about.

Scott: And I’ll tell you, you know how I know of my wife’s cooking? I’ll walk in the house, and I’ll go, “What’s burning?”

Michelle: No… Ba rum pum pum.

Scott: She’ll tell you the same story. Just yesterday, I walked in the house and I said, “What are you cooking?” ‘Cause I could smell it was… She kinda lets it get away from her.

Mark: Could have been water.

Scott: I think she does it on purpose, so she can cook less than one quarter every year.

Mark: So Scott…

Scott: Or once a quarter, sorry.

Michelle: Yeah.


Mark: Scott, do you ever get to the point where you just feel like you can’t cook anything anymore for the whole rest of your life? You’re just completely sick of making sauces.

Michelle: That’s a good question. That’s a good question.

Scott: You know, when I do the mass quantities of feeding things, like what we do… With Sportsman Channel, we have a program called Hunt Fish Feed, where we’re feeding hundreds of people at a time…

Mark: I remember, I was at one of them one time.

Scott: Right, right, right.

Michelle: Yeah, the one in St. Paul.

Scott: In St. Paul. And if I’m on the road for two weeks, banging out large quantities of food in a different kitchen every day or every other day, yeah, I come home and I go, “Let’s go out, I want somebody to serve me.” I get… I like to cook. If I’m going over to somebody’s house, I would rather help cook than to just sit around and drink. I drink less that way, and it gives me something to do, whether it’s playing ping pong or cooking or whatever, I like to do something. I’m not real good at just sitting around and drinking.

Mark: Ah. Do you feel like you’re… Do you cut the chefs at the restaurants where you go to eat, do you cut them some slack, or are you relatively hard on them? When your food comes do you take a really critical look at it and say, “That’s a little over-seared right there.”

Scott: Michelle, you’ve eaten with me many times. What would you say?

Michelle: No, never does. Just eats it.

Scott: I’m just so happy to not… To sit down and have somebody, somebody bring me food and drink, I don’t really give a shit. It can be a grilled cheese sandwich, and a beer, and I’m fine.

Michelle: And I think at a restaurant, not every dish is gonna come out perfect, so I usually give the benefit of the doubt to the chef or whoever prepared my food. Again, like with Bogle, I’ll try them again and I would probably try that restaurant again.

Scott: And a good server will also… Will notice whether you’re eating your food or not, and that person shouldn’t say, “How is everything?” When I had a restaurant, one of the things that I would never let people say is, “How is everything?” ‘Cause the answer is, “Yeah, fine.” We just… And then you’re thinking, we’re just not gonna come back.

Michelle: Right.

Scott: If you really wanna know, you say, “God, I notice you weren’t eating your steak. Is it cooked the way you wanted it, is that steak tender like you wanted it?” And you have to add… A good server will ask those questions, and then a good restaurant wants the opportunity to be able to fix it for you. So if you get an unsatisfactory meal at a restaurant, to me, let somebody know, don’t be a dick about it, but let somebody know and say, “It wasn’t what I had in mind. It wasn’t as it was described,” and if they have a problem with that, with you being honest about it, just don’t come back. But if they appreciate that and they’re willing to fix it, then give them the opportunity to make it right.

Mark: That’s a good approach. So Michelle, do you think that… It feels to me like the more money you’re spending perhaps, the more critical you might be of the food…

Michelle: Oh for sure. I think just like with wine.

Mark: Or expect it to be more perfect or something.

Michelle: Yeah, just like with wine, I think the same thing with food. If you’re gonna go and spend $100 per person, you expect that steak to be perfectly medium or whatever it is that you expected it to be. Yeah, I agree.

Mark: I have another… I have a steak cooking question for Scott too. So I like my steak medium rare is usually too rare for me, and medium is far too done for me. So what is the correct lingo? Do I say medium rare plus. Do I go into this elaborate explanation for how I want it or how would you have me order a steak if I want it between those two terms?

Scott: We’re talking about about a 10 degree difference in internal temperature. For me, medium rare is about 135, medium is gonna be closer to 145-150. So the thing is, if you want it, I’ll say rare, medium rare, knowing that it could go anywhere between rare and medium rare. If you insist on having it somewhere between medium rare and medium, that’s gonna be about 145 to 150 degree internal temperature, but…

Mark: I would have thought you… I thought you just said 145 to 150 would be medium.

Scott: Would be… Somewhere between… Medium is gonna be about 150. I would go about 145 for that between medium rare and medium. We’re not…

Mark: Okay, so not 140. Should I literally say I want 142.5 degrees?

Scott: I think they’ll spit on your food, if you do that. [chuckle]

Mark: Is that right?

Michelle: Is it okay to order by degree though?

Mark: That’s good to know.

Scott: No, you’ll look for a… There’ll be an armpit hair on your food or something like that. I don’t… I wouldn’t do that, I would just say I like it between medium rare and medium, and hope for the best.

Mark: And that’s what I do already. And it’s such a crapshoot in terms of what I see when I cut it open…

Scott: And it is, I mean, meat’s a crapshoot anyway, you can go to the store and buy a really good steak, you go back and you go, “God, that’s good, I’m gonna go get another one just like it,” and you’re going, “You know, the first one was a little better, there is marbling, there’s age, all that kind of stuff.” Michelle, you know that with your background and having cows all over the place, so it’s not an exact science, and you know the guy at Morton’s that’s putting out $50 steaks, they’re just, they’re not sticking a thermometer into it either. They know what it feels like, so feel is what we go by…

Mark: They’re doing the thing, like they always talk about where you…

Scott: With your hands?

Mark: Supposed to feel like… Yeah, you pin…

Scott: This is well done, right?

Mark: I always forget where on the hand you’re supposed to do it, so it doesn’t make any sense.

Scott: I do too. I’ve never… I just… You play with your food enough, you stick a thermometer in there, you go, “Okay, it’s 140,” and then you feel it and you go, “That’s what 140 feels like.” It’s really just a matter of experience, and it’s not always gonna be right, you wanna err on the undercooked side, so you can always throw it back on the grill, you just can’t un-cook it.

Mark: Sure. It’s just like the old saying from the carpenters that, “I cut it off three times and it’s still too short.”


Michelle: My sister is calling me.

Scott: Alright.

Mark: Do you need to get that call?

Michelle: No, I’m good. Actually, I have a question for you, Scott. Aging steaks. So I was at a little place called South Dakota this past weekend visiting my family, and my dad got ribeye aged 42 days from his local locker, from his local butcher, and they were pretty amazing. They’re pretty amazing.

Scott: Pretty tender, right?

Michelle: Yeah, so I came back here to my town, here, Minnesota, my local butcher, ’cause I picked up those ribs that we talked about previously. I also picked up a pork butt, an eight-pound pork butt, bacon, ribs and chicken wings. My weekend is planned. So, but I said to him, “Do you age your steaks?” and he’s like, “No, no, we get in trouble for that,” something with the Health Department or whatever. He goes, “There might be some in the Twin Cities area.” He goes, “You can probably find but they won’t… ” I’m like, “You won’t even do it for a special customer?” “No.”

Scott: Well, here’s the thing about aging, if you’re gonna age ribeyes or whatever, you’re gonna age, the whole hunk of meat. You’re not gonna do individual steaks.

Mark: They get too dried out if they’re already cut, you mean?

Scott: I just never aged an individual steak. I’ll have to see if that does anything. What it does do, it’s going to make it more tender, but it’s also, you’re gonna, on a 28-day aged steak, you’re gonna lose about 20% of the weight, so you’re losing a lot of the capillary blood that’s evaporating, and it’s gonna make it more tender. Our friend Tommy Gomes has a friend that did a 365-day aged hunk of meat. I think it was a prime rib.

Mark: What?

Michelle: What?

Scott: Yeah, oh yeah.

Mark: At what temperature? Where are these things being hung up by their necks or whatever?

Scott: It’s at about 38 degrees, you’ve gotta be between 33 and 40 degrees above… Between 40 and 140 is a danger zone. That’s when bad things happen and bacteria and that. So you’re gonna be below 40, above freezing and below 40, and you’re gonna… And it’s not covered, it’s dry aged so that everything can evaporate and it’s gonna make for a much more tender piece of meat. A 365 or 365-degree aged hunk of meat to me. And as Tommy, the fishmonger described it to me, he said, “Well, it was a little gamey.” And gamey doesn’t normally imply that it tasted really good, we need to change that terminology, we need to make gamey sound… “God, it was so good. It was the gamiest thing I’ve ever had.”

Michelle: We need to get the PR campaign on that.

Scott: We need to change that. Well, and for people, for those of us who hunt and fish, if you wanted to, if you’ve got a tough, say, a venison hindquarter, if you take that venison hindquarter that hasn’t been aged, you put it in your refrigerator with… Or on a rack with a pan underneath, leave it in there for two weeks in the refrigerator.

Michelle: Taking up space in your refrigerator for two weeks.

Scott: Okay, put it into a cooler, put it into a cooler with ice, with a rack so that it’s not in the water. So put it into a Grizzly cooler, ice on the bottom, rack, keep it below 40 degrees and you can age it in the cooler in your garage, you just gotta keep it between, say 33-34 degrees and 40 degrees, leave it in there for two weeks, you’ll find that you have an infinitely more tender piece of venison.

Mark: Wow.

Michelle: So you gotta have a temperature gauge or a thing that… Right?

Scott: Or just…

Mark: Leave it in your garage for two weeks.

Scott: Or you can just put it in a…

Mark: There she goes. She just took a sip of the wine.

Michelle: I ran out of my whiskey, okay?

Mark: She didn’t spit it out.


Scott: And I’ve had about a third of my bottle, I’m getting there.

Mark: Now, really quickly, I have a question about upland game birds as well because…

Michelle: Okay, we’re doing a 180 here.

Mark: No, no, yeah, right. In terms of the animals that we’re talking about, but it’s still the same theme, it’s on aging. I hear tales of people in Europe, for example, who hang the birds that they shoot, they’re tied with cords or whatever around their necks, and they hang them in a garage and they wait until the heads fall off and when the bird hits the ground, that’s when they clean them and eat them, and I don’t do that, but I do… I usually hang them by the legs, in fact, but I’ll leave them in the garage for two or three days before I clean them, and a lot of people criticize me for that, but it feels like I end up with a more relaxed piece of meat to eat. Is that reasonable, do you guys think?

Scott: Well, you know, and I thought the same thing. That’s what they do in the UK. I’ve been working with Mike Robinson, who has a show called Farming the Wild on Outdoor Channel, and he harvests a thousand 1,000 deer a year, by the way, for his restaurant and for other restaurants. You can shoot a deer and serve it in your restaurant in the UK, which is really cool, but somebody asked him the same thing about hanging by the necks, they drop on the ground. He goes that’s what his grandfather would do, but apparently the contemporary way to do it over there isn’t quite… It’s not so pronounced. It’s gonna make it more tender, but it can also make it taste a bit more pronounced in flavor and by pronounced, I mean gamey, gamey. Yes. I prefer… There are people who dry-age. John McGannon, who’s a regular on our show at, he will tell you everything you need to know about dry-aging.

Michelle: We need to bring him on.

Scott: John is an obvious guest, yeah. I like to brine. I use a Hi Mountain Game Bird & Poultry Brine. I take my birds and my bird parts, I process them immediately, I brine it overnight. It adds flavor, moisture. Same thing it does… Has the same effect that it does on your Thanksgiving turkey, and that’s the way I do it. But if you’re doing it…

Mark: I gotta get into brining, I can tell… I just, I’ve never done it in my entire life.

Michelle: You would like it. I think you guys would like it.

Scott: I don’t cook a duck or a goose without brining it first, period. It’s a whole different animal. And I’m the cooking editor for DU magazine, so I cooked a lot of duck.

Mark: A lot of waterfowl, yeah.

Scott: And in Northern California, we probably shoot more ducks than anything. Our season lasts over 100 days, and we can shoot seven mallards a day. So it’s…

Mark: Even today huh?

Scott: Oh yeah.

Mark: That’s really… That’s a high limit for this day and age.

Scott: 100 days, seven ducks a day. It’s the third weekend in October until the last weekend in January.

Mark: So if you had a perfect season, you would shoot 700 mallards.

Scott: There was a time when I had more free time, when me and two other guys would kill between 600 and 700 ducks and geese every season.

Mark: Wow, do you take any care to shoot drakes selectively or do you not care about that?

Scott: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, we want as many females to repopulate as possible.

Mark: Out there on the landscape as possible?

Scott: You bet. Michelle, what do you think? We got enough? Have we covered everything we need to cover? Mark, how do people find you? How do they find out what you do?

Mark: The favorite thing that I’m doing right now, I’ve waited my whole career to write these stories that I’ve always wanted to write it. When you think back to the old outdoor magazines and that column that they would have on the back page of the magazine by Gene Hill or Ed Zern, that kinda stuff, it’s not always comedic. But I started a Patreon page. If you’ve heard of Patreon, it’s like… The concept of patronage. So in other words, you’re like a patron to the arts, so people can become a patron of my page, and it’s just So I must have been the first Mark Strand that started a Patreon page ’cause I got that name.

Scott: All right. [chuckle]

Mark: I illustrate these stories with photographs, and I also do audio files, and I’m working on the video series. I gotta get that up. That’s my main thing that I’m doing right now.

Michelle: And I was Mark’s first patron.

Mark: Yes, she… Oh yeah, Michelle was the first one. She’s my longest standing.

Michelle: I’m his longest standing too, yeah.

Mark: Yes. I think you hold the record for commenting the most on the stories in there too. I appreciate that.

Michelle: Well, you know that… People don’t realize how much love that shows.

Scott: And Michelle, being an adequate cook, how do people find you?

Michelle: Oh, how do people find the adequate cook? [laughter] Yeah. Well, you can find me at or on Instagram @ladysportsman if you so desire to seek me out, but I’d rather they seek Mark and Scott out.

Scott: And I’ve got, and you can go to The Sportsman Channel pages and check out The Sporting Chef and Dead Meat. And Mark, thank you very much for being our guest. I think maybe you’re in and I’m out. I think we can swap this out.

Mark: I don’t think so, but I appreciate coming on. I really enjoy listening to you guys. As we said, I’m the editor of the… I edit the pieces together. I love the give and take back and forth between the two of you, and it’s really been fun for me to talk with you guys tonight, so thanks.


Michelle: Cheers.

Scott: Yeah, we’re counting on you to make us sound better than we are. Thank you very much.

Michelle: Cheers.

Scott: See you guys.

Michelle: Bye-bye.

Outro: Well, time sure flies when you’re loading up on good food, good wine, and great conversation. Find more Scott Leysath at , where you can also nab a free wild game e-book and sign up for his two times a month newsletter, track him on social media, and see how to watch The Sporting Chef airing on Sportsman Channel and Dead Meat on Sportsman Channel and MyOutdoorTV. For more Michelle, check out She runs her own marketing communications firm, handling PR, social media, and more for some of the biggest names in the outdoors. That’s it for now. We’ll see you next time when, again, we go Off The Record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle.

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