Until the mid 1980’s, folks knew Cee Dub as either Butch Welch or in his official capacity as Senior Conservation Officer, C. W. Welch, with the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG). But as often happens in life, a new nickname is born for reasons unknown. In Cee Dub’s case, one of his river running buddies started the whole thing by calling him by his initials, C.W. At some point on that particular river trip his buddy’s tongue became a little thick after downing several cold beverages, and it came out as Cee Dub. (It “sthuck”!) Anyway…meet C. W. “Butch” Welch, the host of DUTCH OVEN COOKIN’ WITH CEE DUB!
Cee Dub grew up in Southeast Idaho, the second oldest child and only son of blue-collar parents, Buzz and Betty Welch. He learned at a very early age all about self-sufficiency on the small acreage his parents had just north of Chubbuck, Idaho. Besides helping in his Dad’s big vegetable garden, he fed the chickens, the pigs, the ducks and geese, bum lambs, and milked the family cow. All the kids pitched in to help put up garden produce in the summer and do the butchering in the fall. A section of their deep freeze contained the ducks, geese, pheasants, cottontail rabbits, venison, and fish that resulted from family hunting and fishing trips.
Cee Dub started exploring the outdoors by going hunting and fishing with his Dad almost as soon as he could walk. In this day and age it would seem like the trip from hell; but, for the Welch family it was a great adventure to pile everyone into their old Ford station wagon and head for Toponce Creek to spend a weekend camped alongside their favorite trout stream. They also explored Yellowstone National Park and other areas with their surplus army squad tent pitched out behind the old Ford wagon. A 12” Dutch oven, some cast iron skillets, and a two-burner gas stove made up their camp kitchen.
I’m sure it wasn’t the days he spent as a boy outdoors weeding the family garden that provided the stimulus for Cee Dub to become a game warden; but rather the weekend hunting and fishing trips that were a big part of he and Buzz’s life at the time. Buzz began teaching Cee Dub Dutch oven cooking around campfires as they traipsed around Southern Idaho. However, a humiliating cooking experience witnessed by his sisters at age thirteen provided the life long drive to become a “better cook”.
Cee Dub began a thirty-five year formal association with IDFG when he joined an Explorer Scout Post sponsored by IDFG in 1964. Cee Dub went straight from being an Explorer Scout to working as a Bio-Aide on various IDFG research projects while attending college. He attended Idaho State University and transferred to Utah State University where he graduated with a BS Degree in Game Management in 1974.
It was during the next twenty-five years that by his own admission he wore out more sleeping bags than most folks will ever own. Cee Dub refers to the four years between college graduation and being permanently hired by IDFG as a Conservation Officer as his “nomad era”. During this time he spent a summer season as a guide on a dude ranch, seasonally worked as an operator/truck driver for a large potato farm, spent three field seasons trapping grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park for the Inter-Agency Grizzly Bear Study Team, drove a long haul semi truck, and held temporary jobs on various wildlife research projects for IDFG.
Cee Dub finally unpacked his luggage and settled down in September of 1978 when he hired on permanently as an Idaho Conservation Officer. From that first fall until he left the Challis Patrol Area in June of 1987, Cee Dub spent a lot of time patrolling a big chunk of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. While in Challis he ran a white water raft patrolling down the Middle Fork of Salmon River over thirty times. During the fall big game seasons, he “jerked a pack string” on patrols into the “Frank Church” from one to three weeks at a time. Cee Dub’s reputation among his fellow game wardens as good cook soon spread within IDFG to include the regional and headquarter offices. He soon found himself on occasion detailed onto special assignments to cook for VIP’s and high level department meetings.
Cee Dub broke new ground both for IDFG and himself in June of 1987 when he became their first full time covert investigator. For the next two years, Cee Dub became immersed in the nether world of undercover wildlife investigations. All but his family and closest friends thought he’d gone crazy and traded his career as a game warden for that of a long haul truck driver. In the course of his tenure as an undercover investigator, a lot of bad guys found themselves lulled into complacency and ultimately into court by the bearded guy driving an eighteen-wheeler.
For seven years beginning in June of 1989, Cee Dub settled into the ‘Rock House’ on Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge southwest of Nampa, Idaho, to patrol parts of Canyon and Owyhee Counties. Besides being an awesome place to live, it was an awesome place to write. It was there that Cee Dub did Dutch oven catering on the side and pecked out his first book CEE DUB’S DUTCH OVEN & OTHER CAMP COOKIN’ on an old 286 computer. He completed his twenty-one year IDFG career as a designated backcountry officer in Grangeville, Idaho, in September of 1999.
Mistakenly some folks think Cee Dub began his television career after he traded his gun belt for an apron in 1999. Wrong! He actually started in August of 1991 when he did a cooking episode for INCREDIBLE IDAHO, a monthly half hour television show co-produced by IDFG and KTVB, the NBC affiliate in Boise, Idaho. The fall of 1998 he not only married his wife, Penny, but in lieu of a honeymoon, they filmed the first eight episodes of his Public Television series, DUTCH OVEN & CAMP COOKING, between backcountry horse patrols for IDFG!
After leaving IDFG in 1999, Cee Dub continued to film television shows and to write cookbooks. A total of thirty-nine television shows were produced for distribution on Public Television. Two more cookbooks were published. MORE CEE DUB’S DUTCH OVEN & OTHER CAMP COOKIN’, was released in 2000; and, CEE DUB’S ETHNIC & REGIONAL DUTCH OVEN COOKIN’, in 2002. Two more cookbooks are in the early planning stages, but no release dates are established. Cee Dub has been writing a regular column featuring Dutch oven cooking in BARBEQUE & Beverage, published in Grand Junction, Colorado, since the magazine began in May of 2002.
Cee Dub and Penny, aka PDub, continue to live and run their Internet site and publishing company from their home overlooking South Fork of Clearwater River on the Bartlett-Hopkins Ranch near Grangeville, Idaho. They spend a lot of time traveling to do cooking demonstrations, teach Dutch oven cooking, and make personal appearances in addition to creating and promoting the new television series.