This is the time of year when the wait for fall hunting season is almost unbearable so I use different strategies to get through it.
One such strategy that is a good money saver and provides some great summer suppers… and breakfasts is to make sure that I use the venison from last season before this season arrives. I cook the steaks in the traditional skillet fry method, bake them in the oven with olive oil and rosemary, grill them with garlic and “Dales” sauce, cook whole hams or roasts on my electric smoker with hickory chips, make fajitas, pepper steaks, you name and the venison steaks work well in it. Ground deer has an almost endless list of recipes, is almost 100% lean since I make sure my processor adds zero fat. It is organic, tastes great and makes me feel like I have taken care of the animal in a way that my hunting ancestors would be proud of!
My granddad, my dad, and all the adults who influenced my hunting philosophies were serious about respecting the animals you take in the wild. They were just as serious about the use of our farm animals. And I understood that since they were our possessions, that money was invested in so you wanted to use all of the feeder pig or the feeder calf or the chickens from our coop.
However, the transfer of that to wild game was a bit more difficult for us kids to understand. I might come home with only one squirrel and it would have been my preference to toss it to the dogs, who would have been glad to “take care of it”. A single small game animal such as a squirrel, small rabbit, coon or a single quail did not offer much meat and as such, we often considered and even a few times did, give them to the dogs instead of making the effort to clean and prepare them as food for the table.
But, my daddy better not catch me doing that! He would ban me from hunting for 2 weeks after he whipped my rear with a belt! I used to think he was crazy, but the more I grew, I came to understand that disrespecting the game was a terrible sin and a terrible waste. During earlier times, a single squirrel, rabbit, coon or even a quail made the difference in him and his siblings having anything to eat. He said that people did not deserve to kill any animal they were not going to eat. He told me about his great grandmother “Granny Randolph” who was half Cherokee and how she taught all the kids many of the native American ways for gathering food, herbs and medicines from the woods. One of the biggest lessons was respect for all other animals and that everything is worthy of respect, even after it is killed. We considered lots of it as old superstitions but, as we aged we learned it was something else, wisdom.
It is wise to not waste, wise to be frugal and wise to value the gifts we get from the woods and fields. After all, I figure the venison I have in my freezer probably has an aggregated cost over $100.dollars a pound so I need to eat it instead of that pitiful $8.00 a pound T-bone!
I recently cleaned out a second refrigerator we has outside in the garage, like many people have, so I could give it to a friend for his kid in college. We used it mostly for sodas and beer and summer produce. What I did not realize was that I had stuck a whole wild turkey breast in the freezer behind some wurkey wing feathers and a couple of turkey fans that I was going to preserve. I was very upset with myself since I was the one guilty of putting it there and not taking care to get it in the freezer and stored properly to prevent the freezer burn that I saw had ruined it. I love wild turkey breast and was ticked at myself for this waste of a noble bird.
Repect the game you take and use it for good meals and great nourishment for you and your family. To not respect it and not use it wisely is a real shame!