The three best moments at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s annual Sportsmen’s Chili Cook-Off last night in Jerome:
3. I won a door prize.
Seriously, how could this not make my list? My prize was nifty: an oversized, insulated mug covered in pictures of American fish.
One of the quirkier door prizes was an antennae topper shaped like an elk trophy mount.
“We’ll be checking your vehicle in the parking lot as you leave to make sure that’s properly installed,” regional conservation officer Gary Hompland told the woman who won it.
2. Jerome Hansen indulged in an air-pumping victory dance.
After Kyle Alberti of Twin Falls won the People’s Choice prize for his Kitchen Sink Chili, Hansen pointed out to the crowd of about 85 people that in four years of chili feeds he’d never won that prize himself. Hansen, Fish and Game’s regional supervisor, was the night’s host and one of the cooks.
Then it was time for Hagerman chef Kirt Martin — an expert in wild-game cuisine — to announce his pick for Chef’s Choice: the Trailside Elk Chili.
There was a dramatic pause.
Then Hansen hollered: “That was me!”
His brief celebration dance had all the exuberance of unexpected victory.
1. Ken Hulse wore the awkward half-smile of a man whose friends made him be there.
At the time, the Buhl man was listening to the litany of volunteer work that earned him Fish and Game’s “Act of the Year” award, the top regional honor in the department’s new “Caught in the Act of Doing Good” recognition program.
As a volunteer, Hulse labored for hours in 2012 at the Niagara Springs Wildlife Management Area. He cleared debris from trails, repaired waterfowl nesting structures, planted food plots and nesting cover, removed Russian olives, helped with a deer trapping project and quietly did a whole lot more that needed done.
He assisted with rock chuck depredation, too.
“That was the most fun,” Hulse said.