View Full Version : Symbol of the Virginia Outdoors

02-15-2003, 06:43 AM

Vic Thomas: Symbol of the Virginia outdoors
They turned the tables on Roanoke Del. Vic Thomas in Richmond Monday evening. For 21 years, Thomas has hosted an annual wild game dinner during the General Assembly. The invitation said, "If it walks, crawls, swims or flies, it may be there."
I'm not certain if that described the people who would attend this year's event or the food that they would eat. Maybe both.
The governor made an appearance and there were a bunch of senators and delegates. Someone said there were nearly 400 people. That included leaders of natural resource agencies and outdoor organizations. It was the hottest ticket of the 2003 General Assembly session.
The first wild game dinner attracted about 30 participants. It was held in a Richmond restaurant owned by Tom Evans, an outdoor activist. "We wanted the city slickers who were in the House to understand hunting and fishing," said Evans.
It has been determined that the Speaker of the House liked quail, so Ralph Palmer, of the Quail Roost Hunt Club in Victoria, provided a bunch of birds that were cooked in an iron skillet so large that it took two hands to carry it.
"That was a hit," said Evans.
Through the years, Palmer has remained one of the game providers and cooks, although Mike Campbell and Kenny Lang will tell you they do most of the kitchen chores.
Monday's dinner, in a Broad Street hotel, was spread across an immense serving line that contained -- well, everything that walks, crawls, swims or flies: black bear, venison, duck, goose, wild turkey, pheasant, striped bass, tundra swan, Hungarian partridge, quail, trout, sea scallops, prairie chicken, rabbit, caribou, wild pig and alligator. All of it was delicious; none of it tough or gamy.
"The secret is to start with good meat," said Campbell. "Cook it slow and cook it with moisture -- steam or gravy."
That's about as far as the country chefs would go in revealing their recipes.
"Anybody can mash potatoes; can't everybody do a bear pot roast," said Lang.
There was one complaint, from a lady who said that the "mountain oyster" appetizers were cut too small.
"Do you know what they are?" asked Campbell and Lang."
"Testicles," she said. "They are too small."
The 21 years haven't changed the objective of the dinner, which is to give outdoors activists and legislators a chance to mingle and share a common interest in the state's natural resources. Many in attendance control the purse strings that determine how much money goes to outdoor programs. Speeches are few and are kept short. The main rule, Thomas said, is, "eat 'til you're tired."
Traditionally, a person or organization is honored at the dinner for outstanding contributions to conservation. Roles were reversed Monday and the recognition went to a surprised Vic Thomas.
When the crowd rose to its feet for thunderous applause, there were cheers and tears. Then Thomas, who isn't exactly the kind of orator that TV crews race after for sound bites, gave perhaps his best speech ever. He thanked the participants, saying, "We have been doing a job to make things better for wildlife, conservation and clean water -- all the things that are important."
For 30 years, Thomas, 73, has been the guardian of hunters, anglers, boaters, wildlife and wild places through his behind-the-scenes political skills. He gets things accomplished. He is as much a symbol of the outdoors in Virginia as the bald eagle. Everyone who has spent a day in the woods or on the water owes him a big thank you.
Thomas shocked the crowd when he said: "This, by the way, is my last year."
The "last year for what?" was running through a lot of minds when Thomas explained that he was turning the future of the wild game dinner over to Sen. Creigh Deeds and Del. Harry Parrish.
Word is that Thomas will not run for re-election. When you ask him, he talks about the long time he has served and his desire to relax in a Craig County cabin with a trout stream gurgling nearby and the deer woods stretching in every direction. The fact that he doesn't flat out refuse to run for another term is encouraging to his supporters.
When Dot Thomas, Vic's wife of 56 years, was recognized, participants viewed one of the great strengths in Vic's life.
Someone -- was it Roanoke Del. Chip Woodrum? -- shouted to Dot: "Tell the deer story!"
Like the good wife and mother that she is, she glanced at Vic, who was waving his hands and shaking his head, she introduced her children and grandchildren.
As for the deer story, I got that from Margie Fisher, retired Roanoke Times editorial writer. It seems Woodrum tried to call Vic one day and was told by Dot that Vic was in a deer-hunting cabin in Craig County.
"Has he gotten a deer?" asked Woodrum.
That brought a hoot from Dot, who said, "The only way he's going to get a deer is if one runs into the cabin and breaks its neck on the poker table."

02-15-2003, 12:25 PM
http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-faces-toast-beers.gif Great post!!!!!

04-21-2003, 06:21 AM
I must say i would love to get a invite to that function and see the looks on some of em&#39;s faces when they see how good wild game is lol
FAW Richmond VA