Tag Archives: pheasant

6 Great Books for Hunters and Anglers

Summertime means vastly different things to hunters and anglers. For the angler, it means casting flies till dark or taking the boat out with the family. For the hunter, however, it’s a slow and contemplative season where one is either stuck in the past or looking a little too eagerly towards fall. It also happens to be a great time to pick up a book. Here at ParksByNature, not only do we love nature, we also love good prose. Whether it’s hunting, angling, or general nature writing that interests you, these six essential books for hunters and anglers will dazzle readers with their style, wit, and insight into the mysterious realm of nature.

1.  A Sportsman’s Sketches by Ivan Turgenev

Image: en.wikipedia.org

[Image: en.wikipedia.org]

A classic of 19th century Russian literature not always on the radar of outdoor readers, this collection of pastoral vignettes and stories contains everything from wing shooting scenes to tales of the supernatural. The book made Turgenev famous and even played a small role in abolishing Russian serfdom. In addition to the marvelous hunting and fishing scenes, the stories as a whole form a moving testament to an agrarian society on the verge of collapse and revolution.

2. The Hidden Life of Deer by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Image: amazon.com

[Image: amazon.com]

Whenever we recommend this book to serious deer hunter friends of ours, the usual response is, “You mean that tree hugger?” If a tree hugger is somebody that spends more time in the woods than shopping at outdoor stores, then count us in. Instead of telling you how deer should behave, this book records how deer actually behave. In The Hidden Life of Deer, Thomas weaves personal memoir, anthropological perspective, and a certain observational grace into a beautiful and revealing portrait of deer in the woods of New Hampshire. We’re not ashamed to say that a lot of what we know about deer hunting and behavior comes from this unique book.

3. The Founding Fish by John McPhee

Image: www.dec.ny.gov

[Image: www.dec.ny.gov]

John McPhee is master stylist who has chronicled everything from basketball to the history of the Florida orange. He also happens to be a lifelong shad fisherman. The Founding Fish is a cultural history of American shad fishing that seamlessly blends meticulous scholarship with the ease and locality of travel writing. The book follows McPhee as he travels up and down the Eastern seaboard fishing for the mercurial shad and meditating on the fish’s importance to America’s dietary past. For instance, did you know that George Washington’s Continental Army might have starved if it wasn’t for the spring shad run of 1778?

4. A Man Made of Elk by David Petersen

Image: www.3riversarchery.com

[Image: www.3riversarchery.com]

This is an unusual and obscure entry into the annals of hunting literature. One of the reasons for its slow reception is that Petersen is a dedicated traditionalist who only hunts one animal—elk—and does so with a longbow, a form of technology unchanged since the 1300s. Since longbow hunting requires getting up close and personal with the animal, Petersen has learned to act and think like an elk. This is probably the closest thing we have to a book on elk hunting written by an elk.

5. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Conservationist icon Aldo Leopold [Image: fpdcc.com]

Conservationist icon Aldo Leopold [Image: fpdcc.com]

Leopold was a rare combination of philosopher, naturalist, conservationist, and hunter. A Sand County Almanac (1949) is a collection of personal essays about the wilderness of Wisconsin in which Leopold developed the modern philosophy of land conservation or “land ethic.” The book describes that era of conservation history when it was believed that the eradication of certain predatory species would increase the overall abundance of game. Leopold, as a hunter, was one of the first to see that an ecosystem was a far more complex matter.

6. The Longest Silence by Thomas McGuane

Image: www.barharborbookshop.com

[Image: www.barharborbookshop.com]

You don’t have to be a trout fisherman to appreciate the tension and tug of McGuane’s prose. The Longest Silence is composed of 33 essays written over an equal number of years that take you everywhere from trout ponds in Michigan to fly fishing for bone fish in Florida. But the real subject of McGuane’s book is that mysterious and infinite silence between bites that every fisherman knows all too well.

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!

The Way of All Flesh

By Jack Kredell

The difference between store-bought meat and wild game is that the latter, even when it’s sitting in your freezer, is never really dead.

The pheasant bones in the stock I made are from the same pheasant that slashed my palm as I wrung its neck. The episode replays itself whenever I ladle out a bowl of soup. It’s a strange thing to be able to connect the food on your plate to the living animal whose life you took for this purpose. The pheasant persists in my memory of the hunt, and later, in the satisfaction of having had a delicious meal.

That feeling of ‘knowing’ the animal lingers long after you make the kill. By taking its life, you assume a responsibility to see the hunt all the way through-literally down to the last bite. You are both executor and inheritor of its flesh. You take on a debt to the animal that can only be repaid by eating it-or giving it away to friends.

Dead hen pheasant by rifle in field [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

But while wild game is never really dead, store-bought meat can seem like it was never really alive. I’ll catch myself behaving under this assumption when I throw out store-bought leftovers that, had it been from a pheasant or deer, I would wrap up and put back in the fridge.

The fundamentals don’t really change with store-bought meat; while you are alienated from that animal’s death and all that follows, it was nonetheless done for you because you paid. Money assumes intention. The only difference between the pheasant and the factory-farmed chicken, when I really examine it, is that I “knew” the pheasant. I caused both to die, but the pheasant left its mark on my palm.

It’s a privilege to be able to have that perspective, one that doesn’t grant you the moral authority to call somebody a hypocrite for not shooting his or her own dinner. Even that deboned chicken breast comes from a place as real as the pheasant in my soup. The mark on my hand tells me that.