Tag Archives: grouse

A Woman Named Barb and the Greatest Hunt Ever Filmed

The two-part “MeatEater” episode “Unconventional: Alaska Sooty Grouse” is a masterpiece of outdoor television and a heck of a hunt. For those who are unfamiliar, Steven Rinella’s “MeatEater ” is a unique and thought-provoking example of a genre that is routinely neither. The first part documents Rinella’s failure to locate (and growing obsession with) a highly vocal yet elusive sooty grouse. The second installment introduces a soft-spoken local hunter by the name of Barbara Gabier who, almost magically it seems, puts Rinella onto a grouse in less than an hour.

MeatEater "Alaska Sooty Grouse" episodes.

[Image: https://plus.google.com/+MeatEaterTV/videos]

What the episode dramatizes so well is the hunter’s frustration and near-refusal to come to terms with failure. Rinella, a very accomplished hunter, threw the book at a bird that was most likely 40 feet over his head half the time. But rather than pursue the bird on his own until the very end, Rinella enlists Barb who essentially offers a change of perspective. She puts Rinella out of his own head and into hers, which happens to contain a lot grouse hunting knowledge. What follows is a kind of romance between hunters in which Rinella is brought up to speed on sooty grouse hunting, something he wasn’t capable of on his own in the time given to him.

Knowledge has its limits, and to overcome them, we often have to look beyond ourselves. If anything, hunting is a humbling experience; it’s even more so when you don’t have a buddy or mentor to show you the ropes. This is why young hunters hunt with older hunters. It’s an old lesson, but in “Unconventional: Alaska Sooty Grouse,” it unfolds like a short story in which an enigma is presented and then resolved in a sideways or unexpected fashion.

What Happened to the Ruffed Grouse?

Image: fineartamerica.com

Image: fineartamerica.com/

By Jack Kredell

I was strolling through the Dick’s Sporting Good parking lot after buying a box of eight-shot when the question popped into my head: Why aren’t there any grouse here? The question wasn’t why aren’t there grouse in Pennsylvania (there are, I presume, enough), but why aren’t there any in this parking lot right now? Lining the sidewalk were double rows of Japanese barberry, ample cover for a grouse to lay low in when not foraging the 25 perfectly groomed crab apple trees on the other side of the lot. If this isn’t ideal grouse habitat, then I don’t know what is.

That evening as I was coming home from a grouse hunt, I stopped at a friend’s farm to ask him why he thought there weren’t any grouse in town. At first he looked at me like I was crazy. Then he leaned in towards me, almost too close for comfort, and whispered, “Owls.”

“Owls?” I asked.

“And hawks,” he replied.

In a state where most people worry about the impact of coyotes and bobcats on small game, the notion that owls were behind the grouse’s decline was news to me. He then explained that the reason why grouse numbers were so high in states like Maine and Michigan was because they paid a bounty of 10 dollars per claw for large avian predators and 10 dollars per ear for quadruped predators.

“They pay per claw or per toe?”

“Per digit I believe,” said my farmer friend.

Though neither of us knew the exact number of toes an owl has, we agreed it represented a substantial monetary amount. He went on to explain that the explosion in the owl population was due to the great lemming crash of 2014, which pushed the snowy owl further south. The heavy snows of that year created a travel corridor for the snowy owl that, when combined with the weak snowfall of the following year, put Pennsylvania’s grouse in dire straits because it didn’t have any fresh powder to burrow into and avoid detection by the snowy owl (in addition to other predators). I was left wondering how anything could survive this vicious junta of predators.

But that wasn’t all. Lurking behind the snowy owls and red-tailed hawks were the Feds. The carnage went unchecked because federal restrictions made it impossible for us hunters to control the owl and raptor populations that were decimating our small game.

So the answer is that there are no grouse in the Dick’s Sporting Goods parking lot because of snowy owls.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org/

Tasty Wild Game Recipes for Fall

As the fall weather makes its chilly descent and hunting season (finally) starts back up, we find ourselves craving some of our favorite wild game recipes. There’s nothing quite like knowing you were involved in the entire process of catching, dressing, and finally cooking your own meal—the joy behind it is, at times, unexplainable. Plus there are no long lines out in the woods. Here are some recipes that we tend to lean toward once fall rears its head. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite among our list!

Grouse Northwoods

Courtesy of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Cooked grouse.

Image: http://honest-food.net/

Ingredients  

  • 1.5 cups wild rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 grouse skinned breasts
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-2 pounds fresh mushrooms
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fruit syrup
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar

Directions

  • Salt grouse breasts and set aside at room temperature.
  • Simmer 1 cup wild rice in the grouse (or chicken) broth until tender, 20-50 minutes. When rice is done, drain and set aside in covered bowl.
  • Grind remaining wild rice in spice grinder into a powder (larger bits, are fine). Mix with flour and dredge grouse breasts in it.
  • Heat 3 tsp. of butter in large pan and sauté grouse breasts until they are just barely done (about 4 to 5 minutes per side). Set aside.
  • Put remaining butter in pan and turn heat to high. Add mushrooms until sautéed. Sprinkle with salt and add garlic and thyme. Let mushrooms sear for 1-2 minutes until brown.
  • Add cranberries and toss to combine. Cook until they start popping, then add wild rice, vinegar, and fruit syrup. Toss to combine, and serve with the grouse.

Pan Seared Venison with Rosemary and Dried Cherries

Courtesy of Broken Arrow Ranch

Pan seared vension.

Image: http://eat.snooth.com/

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1.5 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (1lb) venison boneless loin
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup fat-free beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. black-currant jelly

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Grind 1 tsp. rosemary with coriander seeds and garlic to make a paste. Stir in 1/2 tsp. olive oil.
  • Pat venison dry and put in bowl, then rub with paste. Season well with pepper. Cover and chill 20 minutes.
  • Add remaining olive oil to hot skillet. Season venison well with salt, then brown both sides (about 6 minutes total).
  • Roast venison until instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 125 degrees (about 7 to 10 minutes). Transfer meat to plate and cover with foil.
  • Add wine and cherries to skillet and deglaze by boiling on moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits.
  • Stir together broth, water, cornstarch, and remaining rosemary in a bowl and add to skillet. Simmer, stirring until thickened for about 5 minutes. Whisk in jelly and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cut venison into 1/4 inch thick slices and serve with sauce.

Venison Tenderloin

Courtesy of Field & Stream, contributed by Terrace Brennan (chef at Picholine Restaurant and Artisanal Bistro and Wine Bar)

Venison tenderloin.

Courtesy of Travis Rathbone [Image: http://www.fieldandstream.com/]

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground star anise
  • 1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 cup and 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 venison tenderloins, 6–7 oz. each
  • 1⁄4 cup (packed) prunes, chopped in 1⁄4 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. Armagnac (optional)
  • 12 tbsp. softened unsalted butter, cut in tablespoon-size pieces
  • 2 cups peeled cheese pumpkin, cut in 1⁄4 inch dice
  • 10 minced sage leaves

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Stir together 1-1⁄2 tsp. salt, 1⁄2 tsp. pepper, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon in bowl. Whisk in 2 tbsp. of oil. Rub mixture on both sides of each venison loin.
  •  Put prunes in another bowl. If using Armagnac, pour over prunes and set aside to soak.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. oil and 2 tbsp. butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Add pumpkin and cook, tossing and stirring every few minutes until lightly caramelized on all sides (about 15 to 18 minutes). Toss in prunes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put 2 tbsp. of oil and butter in 12 inch ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add venison loins when butter starts to sizzle and foam. Sear for 1 minute.
  • Turn loins over and transfer pan to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted to the center of loin reads 120 degrees for rare. Remove pan from oven and let venison rest on clean, dry surface for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining butter and cook until it melts and turns brown (about 1 minute).
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in sage leaves. Set sage leaves aside once crispy.
  • Divide pumpkin and prunes evenly around plates. Top each portion with venison loin, drizzle of brown butter, and crisped sage.

Ducks in the Orchard

Courtesy of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Cooked duck.

Image: http://honest-food.net/

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs. duck breast
  • 1 tbsp. duck fat or butter
  • 2 firm apples
  • 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar or maple sugar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped mint
  • Hawaiian red salt or coarse sea salt

Directions

  • Salt duck breasts lightly. Let sit at room temperature for 25 minutes.
  • Squeeze lemon juice into bowl of water. Slice apples into quarter slices (about 1/4 inch thick) and put in lemon juice. Coat all sides.
  • Heat large sauté pan over high heat. Add duck fat or butter and coat the pan. Place duck breasts skin side down, turn heat to medium, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove duck breasts and tent loosely with foil.
  • Spoon off all but about 3 tbsp. of fat. Cook apples over medium-high heat. Brown apples lightly on both sides.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar over everything and swirl to combine while apples continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour cider in pan and put heat up high. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and cayenne into pan. Boil down by 2/3.
  • Slice duck breast pieces roughly the same width as apples.
  • Make rosette of alternating duck breast and apple in center of plate. Spoon small amount of reduced cider on each piece of duck and one more spoonful in center of rosette. Sprinkle with fresh mint and Hawaiian red salt.