About 9 months after I last gathered oysters, we had our third son. Risking further family expansion, I made my way down to Matagorda for my favorite food from the sea. Exuding sweet saltiness with an ice water freshness, these sensuous mollusks are filled with zinc which promotes testosterone production. Couple that little science nugget with the rigors of battling cold water and wet sea winds, razor sharp shells, muddy boot sucking bogs–and you can see getting your own oysters is a big time manly pursuit. Venture out with these ten tremendous tools and you’ll likely become a true aficionado, even connoisseur, of the oyster.
1. Chest Waders and Warm Clothes. You can get by with hip waders or rubber boots, but you’ll eventually get wet.
2. Hammer. Oysters are social creatures, and will attach themselves to each other and to dead shells. Knock off the extra shells and small oysters, tossing them back to the reef where you found them.
3. Water Proof Gloves. I’ve done it without gloves but you will pay with a thousand paper cuts and cold hands.
4. Cold Weather. If you get your oysters while its warm, they will be watery and not as tasty. Plus, you have to worry about them staying good on the ride home. Wait for a cold snap.
5. Kayak. Even if you can drive bayside, you will want to get away from the easily accessed spots to find the better oysters. Kayaks let you cruise the shallow areas dredge boats cannot.
6. Measuring Device. State laws will dictate a certain size, usually in the 3 inch range. Check bait shops or make your own out of PVC pipe slightly smaller than legal. If the oyster fits through the pipe, pitch it back.
7. Milk Crate. These sit in the water easily and keep your oysters cold and wet. Standard milk crates can hold roughly 60 oysters. Or three really great date nights.
8. Dry Clothes. When you are done, you will welcome the change in clothes.
9. Scrub brush. A strong hard bristle scrub brush will get rid of mud and barnacles at your vehicle before you start shucking.
10. Flathead Screw Driver and Oyster Shucking Knife. Here is how you shuck an oyster using a screwdriver. Do this before graduating to an oyster shucking knife and save yourself a trip to the emergency room for stitches.
Sure it’s much easier to buy your oysters, but you reduce the manly factor significantly and where’s the fun in that? Go getcha some.