Tag Archives: Game (food)

Are Deer Hunting Cartridges Arbitrary?

How many times has picking the wrong rifle cartridge ended a hunt prematurely versus being unfit to hunt due to cold or poor conditioning? Nobody has ever gone into the woods to hunt deer with a .243 only to give up after seeing a big buck because they didn’t have a .300 Win Mag. Almost ritualistically, we continue to rehash the same arguments over guns and ammo at the expense of other items that have more bearing on actual hunting.

Type of hunting cartridges.

Image: 1source.basspro.com/

My point isn’t that big game rounds aren’t different, but that most white-tailed deer hunters are unable to take advantage of their differences. The task of deer hunting west of the Mississippi doesn’t really discriminate between a .243 or a .300 Win Mag. Because of modern bullet construction and the fact that most white-tailed deer are taken under 200 yards, a deer shot in the vitals with a .243 is just as dead as a deer shot with a .300 Win Mag. Yet we keep asking ourselves the same stupid question: What is the most effective deer round? The only answer to that question is, how much recoil can you stand? Everything else is basically meaningless.

Image: www.statesymbolsusa.org

Image: www.statesymbolsusa.org/

In my early 20s, I bought a 7mm Remington Magnum because I loved the look and feel of the gun, an older Sako Finnbear. It was an aesthetic choice. All I knew about the cartridge at the time was that it was plenty capable of taking a deer. Since then I’ve killed a couple deer with it, but never at distances greater than 100 yards. Where I hunt in Pennsylvania, it’s rare that you get a shot over 100 yards unless you want it that way or you’re hunting over an agricultural field. So what is a 7mm Remington Mag? At 50 yards, a 7mm Mag produces an obscene amount of energy—around 3,000 ft-lbf. What distinguishes a 7mm Mag from a .30-30 is that the 7mm Mag has the same energy at 500 yards that a .30-30 does at 50. They are vastly different cartridges. But again, I’ve never taken a shot over 200 yards, so I might as well be shooting a .30-30 (or any other deer cartridge for that matter) because I’m nowhere near being able to make use of its downrange energy. It’s not a problem, but it goes to show how arbitrary rifle calibre selection is when you’re shooting under 200–300 yards.

Most big game cartridges offer perfectly adequate performance under real-life hunting conditions. The constant hair-splitting over the ballistics of big game cartridges is mostly hypothetical nonsense that benefits gun makers but not hunters—it simply sells guns. To me, a discussion about the merits of different Vibram boot soles is more valuable and interesting than whether the .270 or .308 is a better deer round. We’ve somehow managed to equate hunting with shooting when, in many aspects, the shot is the least important component of the hunt. Guns don’t kill animals; smart hunters do.

New Year’s Hunting Resolutions

It’s time for the annual tradition of setting up unrealistic personal goals in order to thoroughly undermine them over the course of the new year. In terms of hunting, 2015 was a pretty good year for me. I gave myself ample time, hunted hard when the time came, and was fortunate enough to get a nice buck while still hunting (a first for me) during rifle season. But there is always room for improvement. Here are my five hunting resolutions for the 2016 season.

1. Go West

Image: hqworld.net

Image: hqworld.net

My grandfather was an Idaho elk hunter who died before I took up hunting. I can trace my interest in hunting and wild game to his stories of hunting the Idaho backcountry. Having hunted exclusively in the Northeast, I’ve always dreamed of going West for a backcountry elk or mule deer hunt. So this year I’m going to buy an Idaho mule deer tag and hunt the same mountains my grandfather hunted.

2. Farewell, Wood and Blued Steel

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless [Image: loomisadventures.com]

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless [Image: loomisadventures.com]

I love my pre-Garcia Sako Finnbear, but it’s nine pounds scoped and prone to surface rust during foul weather. It shoots cloverleafs all day long and has the smoothest action I’ve ever cycled. But it’s over nine pounds. One of the lightest rifles on the market, Kimber’s 84m, weighs just over five pounds. After a day of hunting with the Finnbear, I can barely lift my arms. It’s time to move on. Tikka T3 Lite Stainless, I see you.

3. Butchering

Image: guide.sportsmansguide.com

Image: guide.sportsmansguide.com

I’ve butchered deer and sent them to the butcher. The butcher charged me $70, which is very reasonable, but I didn’t get nearly as much meat as when I butchered the deer myself. While I appreciate the convenience of dropping a deer off at the butcher when you’re tired and beat up after hunting, doing it yourself yields more meat (usually) and gives you more control over how it’s processed. Butchering is also a great way to bring friends and family together. Sharpen the knives, invite some friends over, pour some drinks, and get cracking.

4. Take a Friend Hunting

Friends that hunt together stay together [Image: hdimagelib.com]

Friends that hunt together stay together. [Image: hdimagelib.com]

In 2015, I took my roommate (who had never fired a gun before) deer hunting, and he loved it. I truly enjoyed the process of sharing my knowledge with him, and in turn, was pushed to learn even more in order to better answer his questions. Maybe he’ll never hunt again, but at least now he has an understanding of the woods that he didn’t have before. My goal for 2016 is to take another friend hunting.

5. ALTADIFOY

Image: www.easttennesseewildflowers.com

Image: www.easttennesseewildflowers.com

ALTADIFOY stands for “Act Like There Are Deer In Front Of You.” I always seem to bump deer when I don’t think there are deer ahead. As everybody who hunts knows firsthand, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. So if you act like there are deer ahead of you (pausing every couple of feet, being alert, scanning ahead of you, etc.), even when they’re not, you’ll have a much better chance at finding them when they are there. What’s to lose? If you’re out hunting you might as well be the best hunter you can be.

A Day on the Mountain

I hunt from dark to dark each day because if I climb down the mountain, I know I won’t climb back up. My feet get cold, I run out of food and water, but I tell myself it’s worth it because there are two weeks during the year when I can do this, and I can only get off work for one. I also enjoy the limitation of not being able to do anything but hunt. So I maroon myself. Two weeks ago in Maine, I put in 50 hours without seeing anything—not a single deer. I was now approaching 80 hours of hunting, and my body was feeling it. I was beginning to doubt myself as well.

As I was walked home at the end of the third day of the 2015 Pennsylvania rifle season, a Jeep stopped behind me. The driver offered to give me a ride to the bottom. We talked about what we saw that day. He was a real Pennsylvania hunter. He had his own names for all the different topographical features in the area. He also spoke with the thickest Western Pennsylvania accent I’ve ever head. My speech is a clumsy hodgepodge of all the places I’ve lived plus television influences. When he spoke, it was like listening to flute music. His name was Lewis, and I said thanks for ride.

The next day—Thursday—I decided to take my walking stick. The day before, I slipped in some mud and hit my kneecap on a tree stump. When I got home, I couldn’t bend my leg. I kept waking up in the middle of night worried that I might not being able to hunt in the morning. Then I remembered my walking stick. Walking sticks are also useful for slowing you down, which is key when you’re still hunting.

Later that day I was walking along in this manner when I heard a nearby shot. A few seconds later a small buck came running out of the brush and stopped 15 yards in front of me. I raised my rifle instinctively and peered at him through the scope. My first thought was that he was legal. I could shoot this deer if it hasn’t already been shot. But then his right leg dropped and he fell over. I watched him draw his breath through the scope. Then I walked over. His antlers were still green, meaning the deer was actively making rubs. The stringy bark of birch and maple saplings clung to his brow tines. I looked towards the shot and saw a hunter crouched behind a fallen tree. I waved him over. It was Lewis. He shot the deer open-sighted and offhand with his great grandfather’s Remington Model 14. It’s an odd and beautiful gun. The twist on the magazine tube is oddly mesmerizing. I told him congratulations and moved on.

Once I was out of sight, I sat against an oak tree and had a sandwich. I texted my friend to say the going was tough. He texted back saying, “Shoot the next buck you see.” OK.

I decided to still hunt my way over to a ridge below where there are several narrow benches that deer use when feeding and traveling. The area my course would take me through is the only part of the mountain that I haven’t spent extensive time on. The soil there is sandy and the trees, mostly birch and maple, are smaller and so tightly packed together that you sometimes have to thread your gun through them like a needle. The trees provide excellent cover and deer sign is everywhere.

By 1:30 in the afternoon, I made way through to top of the ridge. My plan now was to hunt the ridgeline until I felt it was late enough to wait out the evening above one of the benches. I bumped a group of does while waking the ridgeline and chided myself for being clumsy. Slow down.

It was then I noticed a particularly active deer trail leading down over the top and decided to go have a look. As I peered down, I saw the backend of a deer as it disappeared into some mountain laurel. I stopped and listened for movement. Something was making its way toward me from my left. The wind was in my favor, and if he kept the same direction, I’d be able to see him before long. Then i saw a flick of a tail about 80 yards below. Through my binoculars I saw a flash of white bone through the dense cover. I slowly knelt to a seated position in case I was going to have a shot. I looked through my binoculars again, and as I did, the buck walked out of the thicket. I saw three up and raised my rifle. I put the crosshair behind his shoulder and followed him until he stopped. He raised his head, and I fired.

IMG_0912

As he tumbled over, I saw the white of his belly. He kicked a few times and was gone. I lit a rare cigarette and sat against the deer to let it sink in. When I went to wipe the sweat off my brow, my hand came back full of blood. The scope had cut a nice gash on my forehead.

After the Hunt: Wild Turkey Recipes for Spring

Don’t wait until fall to devour that gobbler! These three wild turkey recipes are perfect for dining al fresco this spring. Looks like it’s time to fire up the grill.

Wild Turkey Mole

Courtesy of Jonathan Miles at Field & Stream

Wild turkey mole [Image Credit: Johnny Miller]

Image Credit: Johnny Miller

Mole originated in southern Mexico, and traditionally includes dozens of ingredients cooked over the course of many days. This recipe, adapted from Chicago chef Rick Bayless, is less demanding but still has so much of that traditional flavor. When grilling the turkey, remember not to overcook! This recipe serves 4. Leftover mole can be frozen.

Ingredients

  • 1 wild turkey breast, whole or split
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 2 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil, divided
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 2 slices white bread, torn into chunks
  • 1 chipotle chile with sauce from a can of chile con adobo
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 quart chicken stock, plus slightly more if needed
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Tear the dried ancho chiles into pieces that will lie flat in the pan. Toast the pieces on both sides until they begin to crackle, but flip or remove them once they start to smoke. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl filled with hot water and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. While the chiles are soaking, heat 1 tablespoon of lard or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deep golden brown (about 8 minutes). Remove pot from heat.
  3. Arrange the tomato halves cut side up on a sheet pan. Place the tomatoes under a broiler set to high. Roast the tomatoes until blackened and bubbling, about 5 minutes, then flip tomatoes and roast the other side for the same effect. Allow the tomatoes to cool, then peel off as much skin as you can. (Some charred bits left behind on the tomatoes are fine and will add character to your mole.)
  4. Scrape the tomatoes and any juices into a blender, then add the cooled onion and garlic to the blender. Drain the ancho chiles, discard the water, and then add chiles to the blender. Add nuts, bread, chipotle, cinnamon and about 2 cups of chicken stock to the blender, and blend until very smooth. (Note: Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all ingredients are blended. Add more stock as needed to yield a smooth, pourable puree.) Press the puree through a sieve into a bowl.
  5. Over a medium-high burner, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon lard or oil in the same pot or Dutch oven (rinsed and wiped clean). When the oil begins to smoke, add the puree and stir constantly for 5 – 7 minutes, or until the mixture has considerably darkened and thickened. Add the remaining chicken stock, wine, vinegar, and bay leaves, and reduce heat to low. Simmer this mixture, partially covered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more stock or water as needed to maintain a saucy consistency. Add salt and pepper along with a tablespoon of sugar, to taste. Keep the sauce covered while you cook the turkey.
  6. Allow the turkey to sit out covered, at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Light a medium fire on one side of a charcoal grill, leaving the other side open. (If you are using a gas grill, set the burners to medium on one side.) Rub the turkey breasts with olive oil, and generously salt and pepper them. Place the turkey on the grill, directly over the heat, and cook each side for about 5 minutes to brown it. Move the breast to the side without coals and cover the grill. The turkey is done cooking when a meat thermometer placed in the its thickest park reads 150°F. (The size of the breast and temperature of the grill will determine cooking time.) Wrap the cooked turkey breast in foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Gently reheat the mole as needed.
  7. To serve, slice the meat across the grain. Ladle the mole onto plates and nestle the turkey into the sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls

Courtesy of Something Sweet Something Salty

Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls [Image: somethingsweetsomethingsalty.wordpress.com]

Image: somethingsweetsomethingsalty.wordpress.com

These mouthwatering wild turkey rolls are so easy to make. They would make a great addition to any BBQ. Even the leftovers are delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb thick-cut peppered bacon
  • 1 can pickled, sliced jalapenos
  • 1 1½ lbs wild turkey breast

Marinade:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ingredients for marinade.
  2. Cut meat into 1½-inch cubes. Add meat to marinade in bowl. Let meat marinade for a minimum of two hours.
  3. Cut each piece of bacon in half. Into the center of a bacon slice, place one slice of jalapeno over one cube of turkey. Tightly roll bacon over turkey and hold in place with a toothpick.
  4. After cleaning the grill, heat to medium heat (around 300°F – 350°F). Place rolls on sides and cook slowly, turning every few minutes. Since bacon grease will be dripping down, keep a spray bottle handy to chase away flare-ups. When the bacon is fully cooked, the meat should also be fully cooked.
  5. Remove cooked turkey rolls from grill and let stand for five minutes before serving.

Grilled Turkey with Greek Lemon Sauce

Courtesy of Martha Daniels at Missouri Department of Conservation

This delicious wild turkey recipe reminds us of the Greek street food, souvlaki. Just make sure to make enough – everyone at the BBQ is going to want thirds.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs wild turkey, skin removed, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Directions

  1. In a medium-size bowl, stir together olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the turkey slices to this marinade. Cover and place in refrigerator to marinade for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. To make the lemon sauce, mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. When finished marinading, place the turkey on wooden skewers to help hold in moisture. Grill over medium heat until done, about 10 minutes or more.
  4. Serve skewered turkey with lemon sauce.

Summer of the Snapping Turtle

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

By Jack Kredell

One of the first things my grandfather told me when I went to visit him on the Abita River in Louisiana was that if I was bit by a snapping turtle it would not let go until it thundered. I was nine years old then, and in my imagination where the snapping turtle had taken hold with its vice-like jaws, it has yet to thunder. Many years later, after deciding with a friend to make use of the area’s abundant snapper population for turtle soup, I realized he was probably referring to Macrochelys temminckii, the Godzilla-esque alligator snapping turtle, and not the more diminutive common snapping turtle, which can be taken legally throughout the Northeast.

That summer the snappers were everywhere; we saw them splattered on roadsides, roving between water hazards on golf courses, and once, while fishing, I saw a turtle the size of a municipal trashcan lid dart out of the tea-colored depths and give chase to a hooked bluegill. That turtle, which we called King Snapper, became the turtle of our dreams, the turtle of legend against which all other turtles were measured. But we knew that King Snapper would not be caught, or if he was, it come at the price of our sanity and livelihoods, so we focused on small to medium-sized turtles (which were supposedly better for soup).

Catching snapping turtles isn’t as easy as it looks. They’re nimble swimmers and the moss that collects on their shells makes them hard to spot. Our early tactics were based on a series of Youtube videos that showed a guy waist deep in pond scum using a hiking staff to feel for submerged turtles. Armed with newly made turtle staffs, we trudged through the stream behind our houses, stopping every so often to prod the bottom for the knock of a turtle shell. We logged 15 to 20 hours of futility using this method. The closest we got was a set of turtle tracks that ran up a muddy bank. At least they were in the area.

In the meantime, our quest for turtles had become an obsession. We judged lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and wetlands on turtle potential alone. In our new snapper-inspired lexicon things were either turtley-slow, shallow, murky, foul-smelling-or not turtley-fast-moving, rocky, trout infested. If we happened on a clear and fast stream while searching for the turtle gold of stagnancy and putrefaction, we might disdainfully overturn a rock or two before leaving it for some fly tyer to explore. It was useless to us if it didn’t hold turtles. If you could drink the water after boiling it once, maybe twice, it was not interesting to us. Turtle water will kill you. Turtles thrived in human poison. To get closer meant poisoning ourselves.

Or so we thought. As summer progressed we began to refine our methods. We traded in turtle staffs for less labor-intensive jug lines that we manufactured from orange juice and milk containers. We also narrowed down our list of turtle waters to a few nearby lakes and ponds. One of the more promising locations was a shallow, seasonal overflow pond adjacent a popular trout-fishing stream. When I went to scout it I saw a 20-pound snapper furtively slip into the water from a tree stump where it was sunning itself. This was the place. When I got home I called up my turtle partner with the news and we drove over to set up a few jug lines baited with chicken gizzards before it got dark.

Though smaller, the common snapping turtle is no less fierce than its bayou-dwelling cousin. They will claw and bite you if handled improperly. We rode our bicycles over the next morning and found that something had taken the bait. The first line came in without resistance; we found nothing but a severely misshapen 2/0 hook. Whatever was capable straightening a steel hook was an absolute brute. Was it the monster I had seen the day before? When I began to draw in the other jug, which had been pulled from the bank to the middle of pond, I felt the writhing tug of a turtle, and then horror; the mono broke above the leader. Panicked, I waded in to see if I could grab the turtle. The line was caught on a limb and next to it, facing away from me, was a 15 pounder snapping turtle. I moved in and snatched it by its tail. The search was over. I pulled the snapper from the water like a mad turtle baptist.

We put our prize in an army surplus backpack made of thick canvas and started for home. The feeling of the turtle raking my back with its claws as we cycled down the highway filled me with sadness, not to mention a sense of the absurd. I felt sorry for the creature strapped to its own death, struggling to make sense of its dark canvas cell. But I also looked forward to the idea of soup, and to wearing the shell as a breastplate after the apocalypse.

Turtles must be purged before you can eat them. This is done by placing the turtle in a large plastic container and changing the water every other day for two weeks. A turtle is considered purged when you no longer have to change the water after 24 hours. It is also recommended that you bleed your turtle out by cutting off the head and hanging it upside down in the shade for a couple hours. Then comes the hard part. Turtles are resilient – if not the undead – creatures who will fight the butcher’s hand long after the head is removed (I mean for hours). Butchering turtles is not like other animals because the shell restricts your access from the top. Meat must be cut out rather than stripped away with neat linear cuts. Nevertheless, in a few hours the turtle yielded 5-7 pounds of very fresh, clean-looking meat. The soup was incredibly delicious, which we made that evening with the help of my friend’s kids. We topped it off with a little sherry and ate it with a side of sourdough. We were amazed that such a delicate and clean flavor could issue from mud and muck. In terms of flavor the meat is somewhere between alligator and beef, without being as chewy as the former nor as tender as the latter. We were very pleased.

Later that summer, I went back to the lake where King Snapper lived to fish for bluegill. When I arrived I was greeted by a vast wasteland of sun-baked mud. Evidently the state couldn’t afford the repairs needed to fix the dam so the lake was drained. I walked over the hardened flats collecting bits of derelict tackle. The thunder had spoken and the summer of the snapping turtle was over.

Springtime Cichlids

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

With the weather heating up, and summer right around the corner, now is the best time to fish for some of my favorite fish: Exotic cichlids in South Florida.

Fisherman holds a cichlid in swampy area [Image Credit: Alex Vail]

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Many of these fish were originally introduced into the canal systems throughout South Florida as far back as the 1960’s. Cichlids are primarily aquarium fish. You know, the kind you might find in your local pet store. Oscars, Mayan Cichlids, Jaguar Guapotes, etc. All these fish are loose and reproducing in the South Florida freshwater canal systems and are there thanks to irresponsible pet owners. Pet releases from home aquariums actually led to the establishment of many of these species.

The good news? They’re an absolute hoot to catch. Many of them fight as aggressively as some saltwater species and to make matters even better, they’re good to eat. And if that wasn’t good enough news, the state of Florida has waived any size or bag limits on them. You can keep as many as you catch.

Cooler full of cichlids [Image Credit: Alex Vail]

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Cichlids prefer warm waters (hence them being loose in South Florida), but even the winters down in Florida are enough to make them lay low. However, spring is here, and the water temperatures are heating up. That means that the cichlids are out in full force and ready to feed. Small diving lures, flies, and even earthworms are favorite bait for this ferocious species.

There is, however, a little bit of a time limit for these fish. Summer is closing in and that means rain for South Florida. Water levels will soon rise and most of the canals will flood into the surrounding areas. That means that the cichlids (as well as other fish) won’t be restricted to just the canals and will spread themselves out considerably. You can, of course, still catch them during the summer months, but don’t expect to find them in such high volumes during that time of year.

A ruddy-colored cichlid [Image Credit: Alex Vail]

Image Credit: Alex Vail

It’s important to note, however, that the small cichlids aren’t the only thing to target this time of the year. Their predator is, too. The smaller cichlids pose a big problem to some of our native fish species. They out compete many of Florida’s species, like Largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcrackers, etc. Realizing that the cichlids were an issue in the South Florida canal systems, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission purposefully introduced a predator of the non-native cichlids: the Butterfly Peacock bass.

Reaching sizes of up to 5lbs, these fish are just as ferocious as the small cichlids, but pack an even bigger punch. With their prey out in force this time of year, they’re actively hunting and feeding. On top of that, they’re beginning to bed as well. Anglers can catch them on live minnows, diving lures, and even flies. Since they’re spawning right now, look for them to be guarding their beds in the shallow waters lining the edges of the canals.

Butterfly Peacock Bass [Image Credit: Alex Vail]

Butterfly Peacock Bass [Image Credit: Alex Vail]

The rules and regulations for Peacock bass differ from their cichlid counterparts, though. They do have a size and bag limit set in place. The reason behind this? They were purposefully brought in to help control the cichlid problem. If they start to get over-fished, the already present issue of too many cichlids will become much more serious.

So if you find yourself in southern Florida this time of year, be sure to bring a rod. There is almost no roadway around the area that doesn’t have a canal nearby. And there is almost no canal that doesn’t have these aggressive and fun fighting fish in them. Just don’t forget the cooler!

image: www.ancient-origins.net

Should Millennials Hunt? A Response to Michael J. Parker

By Jack Kredell

Michael J. Parker’s Huffington Post article “Millennials Must Hunt” recounts the story of his life-changing first hunt and calls on Generation Y to take up hunting as a way to resist the environmentally damaging industrial food apparatus. According to Parker, the queasy refusal to personally source our food has lead us “to outsource the ‘sausage-making’ to third party leviathans, whose increasing power have left us disconnected from the wild.” Parker’s solution is for the eater to reabsorb the “emotional, environmental, and psychological burdens” through hunting. “The further we put ourselves from the source of that act,” writes Parker, “the worse the impact for everyone and everything in the chain.” The solution is for Millennials to return to a pre-industrial or ‘direct’ mode of food production through hunting, thus ending our dependence on industrial food practices.

As a city-dwelling Millennial who began hunting in college for many of the same reasons as Parker, I completely agree that we need to radically rethink our food practices. I also think that hunting might be part of the solution. However, going on a thousand dollar guided mule deer hunt in the Yellowstone wilderness because it offers “the most honest possible version” is not a viable solution to the food crisis: it’s a form of privilege. Millions of Americans already supplement their diets with fresh wild game every year, and the vast majority don’t require expensive guided hunts in the wilderness to do it. The arrogance of a first-time hunter to say what honest or real hunting should look like.

Parker’s version of nature and hunting is also deeply elitist. This is hunting as safari, a cottage industry where people spend large amounts of money flying to exotic locations for the experience of hunting wild animals in their ‘natural’ habitat. Not only does it privilege one ‘natural’ environment, Yellowstone, over others-it simply isn’t sustainable. Are we all going to fly to Montana and ride horses into the wilderness for our food? Why not don loincloths and spears to make it even more authentic?

The deeper problem with Parker’s model is that it operates under the romantic notion that the social and environmental crisis is rooted in the individual’s existential relationship to the world. Hence this truly warped and counterfactual statement about our reliance on industrial farming: “It is our fear of facing the gruesome consequences of our own choices that leads use to outsource “the sausage-making” to third par party leviathans, whose increasing power have left us disconnected from the wild.” Industrial farming is widespread because of the demand for food that, unlike a Yellowstone mule deer, people can afford. That it does so at the expense of quality and the environment is a direct result of the socio-economic inequalities brought about by capitalism. It has nothing to do with us not choosing to have an existential and authentic relationship with our food. Even paleolithic societies had a division of labor.

The problem is not the distance between people and their food, but between people and other people-the chronic income inequality that sustains and even makes necessary cheap industrial food. The irony is that the kind of hunting Parker encourages is not the least bit sustainable, and nor is it the kind of hunting that millions of Americans already take part in. If anything, Parker’s story reads like an attempt to reinsert masculinity into the food chain as a response to the intergenerational power struggle between hard conservative Baby Boomers and soft liberal Millennials.

When it comes to solving the food crisis, we need to abandon individual concepts like authenticity and start thinking in terms of collectivity. A solution that doesn’t benefit everybody is part of the problem. Parker’s call on Millennials to hunt is little more than an exercise in privilege that snobbishly ignores the millions of American hunters who already practice a more sustainable version than Parker’s. Everybody should have the right to eat good food, not just young entrepreneurs who go on thousand dollar deer hunts when the equivalent can be accomplished few miles from home for the cost of a 20 dollar hunting license.

Related articles

3 Recipes for the Wild Game in Your Freezer

In the Northeast, it’s been nothing but freezing temperatures and snow, ice, and more snow. Naught to do but hole myself up in the kitchen and finally get to all the wild game I’ve got stocked in the freezer. Since there are so many recipes for cooking wild game, here are three favorites that I’ve recently cooked up.

Indian Butter Pheasant

Courtesy of Food for Hunters

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

I love Indian food. So, when I saw this curry recipe, I knew I had to make it. Unlike other curry recipes, this one has ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Garam masala, a mixture of spices that can found in the spice aisle, adds a really nice warming element to the dish. I also liked that the curry is thickened with minced cashews instead of cornstarch. This recipe makes about four servings.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 pound skinless pheasant breasts (and legs, if you want)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

Curry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 shallow, finely chopped
  • ¼ of an onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (leftover from marinade)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup finely ground cashews
  • 4 servings of jasmine or basmati rice

Directions

  1. In a food processor or using a mortar & pestle, blend the ginger and garlic together to make a paste. Scoop out the paste and put into a small bowl. Add yogurt, peanut oil, salt, and garam masala to the ginger and garlic paste. Mix well. Reserve 2 teaspoons of this marinade mixture in a small Tupperware container and put in refrigerator. (You’ll be using this little bit for the curry sauce.) Put pheasant in a large ziplock bag and pour in the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  2. Grill or broil pheasant pieces until browned on the outside. Don’t cook all the way through! The pheasant will finish cooking in the curry sauce. Cut breasts into bite-size pieces and shred meat of the leg bones. Set meat aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallot and onion until translucent. Then stir in butter, lemon juice, the reserved garlic-ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomato puree to skillet and stir for 2 minutes. Next, stir in 1 cup of cream and ¼ of plain yogurt. Add cayenne pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in ground cashews. You may not have to use all of the ¼ cup, so just use a bit at a time, stir and decide if the sauce needs more thickening. If you’re sauce has gotten too thick, add a bit more cream or water.
  6. Add pheasant chunks to the curry sauce and heat thoroughly. I cooked mine in the sauce for about 8 minutes more. Add salt & pepper to taste to the curry sauce. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve curry over rice.

Chipotle Pheasant Quesadillas

Courtesy of The Gift Fox 

Hen pheasant on a fence post [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

I cooked more pheasant than I needed for the curry recipe above, so I had one cooked pheasant breast leftover. Pulling these quesadillas together is so easy, perfect for a weeknight meal. You should be able to find a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Latin/Spanish foods section of the grocery store. This recipe makes 1 large quesadilla or 2 small quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant breast, cooked
  • 2 – 3 chilis from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/3 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 large flour tortillas (or 4 small soft taco shells)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream and salsa, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Shred pheasant and add to heated skillet. Add chilis to skillet.
  3. With a wooden spoon, stir together chilis and pheasant so pheasant is covered in chipotle flavoring. Cook pheasant until warmed through, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to heat through on low heat, so you don’t dry out the meat.
  4. Place tortilla (or soft taco shells) on large baking sheet. Whether you are making just one large quesadilla or two smaller ones, layer the ingredients. On the bottom layer, spread out a ½ cup or so of the shredded cheese. Over that, add the black beans, followed by the chipotle pheasant. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the pheasant, and then top with the other tortilla.
  5. Put quesadillas in oven and bake for 10 minutes or so, just until the cheese melts. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Or just stand over the stove and devour.

 

Country-Fried Wild Venison Steak Sandwich

Courtesy of Harvesting Nature

Two halves of a venison sandwich [Image: harvestingnature.com/2015/02/11/country-fried-wild-venison-steak-sandwich]

Image: harvestingnature.com

Is carmelizing the onions completely necessary? Yes. This is the kind of recipe that the next day, you find yourself making again under the premise that “you just have to use of up the rest of that horseradish sauce.” If you’re concerned about the lack of veggies, top your venison with a healthy bunch of baby kale greens.

Ingredients

Carmelized Onions

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into long slivers
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Horseradish Cream Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Country-Fried Venison Steaks

  • 1 lb venison steaks
  • 2 sandwich buns or 4 pieces of Texas toast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cups flour
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • Oil, for frying
  • 8 slices of white cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. To prepare the carmelized onions, heat a wide thick-bottomed pot or pan to medium heat. Add olive oil, heat for 1 minute, and then add onions. Cook onions for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add salt and cook additional 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Once onions are carmelized, turn off heat and set aside.
  2. While onions are carmelizing, mix sour cream, horseradish, and chives together in a small bowl. Season the horseradish cream sauce with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. To make the steaks, begin heating oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  4. One by one, place steaks in a ziplock bag and with a meat mallet, pound down to approximately ¼” thickness. (After this, you may need to cut the steaks in half for ease of battering and frying.)
  5. Season steaks with salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning.
  6. On a shallow dish, mix beaten egg and milk.
  7. On another shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
  8. Dip each steak into the flour, then submerge into the egg wash, and finally dredge back into the flour.
  9. Place the battered steak into the heated oil. Flip steak once to ensure both sides are properly golden brown. Remove the steak from the oil and place on a towel.
  10. Evenly disperse the cheese amongst the steaks, and top steaks with carmelized onions.
  11. Cut buns in half (if applicable) and cover the inside and outside with butter. Toast each side of the bun/bread. Coat the inside of the buns with horseradish sauce.
  12. Place the venison and carmelized onions within the buns and enjoy!

10 Reasons to Start Hunting

White-tailed deer [Image: www.lehighvalleylive.com]

White-tailed deer [Image: www.lehighvalleylive.com]

Hunting season is around the corner. Here are ten reasons why you should consider hunting for your food this year:

1. Game animals are a natural public resource managed by state fish and wildlife agencies who in turn are funded by your tax dollars. Many of these animals live on public land. It’s the closest thing to having food on tap, only taking a deer isn’t as easy as turning on the faucet.

2. There are no checkout lines, price tags, spills on aisle 4, crying babies, etc. in the forest.

3. You inherited an old rifle but it’s sitting in the attic collecting dust. Hunting rifles haven’t changed much in the last 100 years, so assuming everything is in working order, grandpa’s gun will do the job just fine. Have a gunsmith check the gun out before firing it.

4. There is no meat as local, fresh, or free-ranging as the deer in the hills behind your house. Head for the hills.

5. Hunting is a rich sensory experience. The outcome of your hunt depends on how you interpret the sensory data presented by your environment. Hunting puts you in touch with your body in ways that modern life simply cannot.

6. When you buy a steak from the market you’re only entitled to a small portion of the animal. But if you fill a deer or elk tag, you’re entitled to the whole thing. Animal hides are beautiful and provide warmth. Antler and bone can be used for knife handles, lamps, or decoration.

7. Because you like doing things that are difficult. If you think taking an animal as quick, nimble, and alert as a deer with a modern bow or rifle is easy think again.

8. The venison roast you brought to the potluck is gone in 10 minutes. Now you feel like a boss.

9. Hunting forces you to assume the full responsibility of eating meat. To be responsible for an animal’s death is a powerful and humbling experience.

10. There’s a moment after you’ve settled into your spot or treestand when the birds forget about your presence and you literally disappear. Then the sun begins to rise. It’s sublime.

Suggested Gear List:

  • Osprey Packs Talon 44 Backpack
  • Petzl TacTikka Plus RGB Headlamp
  • Brunton Eterna Compact Binocular

Wondering where to get our suggested gear?
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