Why is Hog Hunting Hard? The Reality in Thick Woods

When I first heard of people hunting hogs by helicopter, I grimaced. It seems rather unseemly, right? After all, it’s not very sporting.

The problem with hogs are they are not simply game, like deer or duck. Wild hogs are an invasive species that damage the environment and well, hog the resources that actual game eat. Living in Texas, we have seen first-hand the extensive damage hogs beat into the landscape, along roads, in fields and on other land.

Sadly, we are now seeing their handiwork on land owned by my boyfriend’s Dad in North Georgia. These are deep, mountainous woods. Hardwoods stretching high to the sky, gripping steep glens and protecting creeks. The trees are full of squirrels and birds and shed carpets of acorns, which we tend to think are intended for deer, not the ravenous hogs.

At Thanksgiving, we returned to these woods to deer hunt. Our first outing, we quietly entered a clearing with a high perch and heard movement. We stood still and surprisingly, two hogs walked toward us, oblivious. Byron raised his rifle. As he was between me and the hogs, I kept my muzzle skyward.View from deep woods while hog hunting.

The two hogs were in a tall grass and amazingly did not see us, even at about 15 yards. At that point, Byron had a shot and dispatched one. The other took off down the mountain. We went to the large sow on the ground.

What can one sow mean to an area? A friend with a family ranch in Texas has noted that the gestation period is three months, three weeks and three days. That’s one way of thinking about it, though I have read a wild sow typically has one to two litters a year. Now, in a given area, there will be more than one sow and the population can really take off.

The first time I saw a herd in action was at Peach Point, a wildlife preserve near Freeport, Texas. The wildlife managers were hosting a public hog hunt and due to high demand, held a lottery for the hunters. Once selected, we were assigned blinds. Each parcel was small enough that they did not want people walking around with rifles shooting into the wild.

We sat in our blind within an electric transmission right of way and watched hogs from a distance of more than 300 yards. In short, we didn’t have a shot. We did get in some wonderful bird watching, in particular. a male Cardinal and two females who seemed to be vying for his attention.

Then, on the way back from lunch while driving in the truck, we saw a huge herd running across an expanse of Gulf Prairie. There were scores of them, including many piglets running alongside big mama sows and scary looking boars. My jaw was swinging in the wind. Without a legal shot under the management practices at hand for that hunt, we were left to gaze in wonderment and horror.

Flash forward back to North Georgia. Our deer hunt was now a hog hunt, for all intents and purposes. The next afternoon, I sat in a dell between a mountainside and a creek, waiting. This was directly below the clearing at the mountaintop where we saw the first two.

The woods are full of beauty.

Suddenly, I heard something that sounded like a swift, heavy rain. The sky was gray, not wet. There was no wind, although it sounded like wind. It was the sound of multitudes of hog hooves schussing through the dry leaves covering the ground.

The train of hogs was coming my way. I had been sitting in wait for a deer. Now, I stood and drew my rifle upon a shooting stick. I aimed for a space the hogs would pass en route to the creek. There was some grass between me and the space. Suddenly, my line of vision through the scope was engulfed with hogs. They rushed past in a grouping.

Rather than blast away, I vainly attempted to focus on one hog to get a clean shot. But it was gone and then another. And another.

I tried to retrain my rifle, to no avail. In short, I whiffed. I resolved I had the wrong gun for the job. Granted, blaming your equipment is the lamest excuse in the book. If I had the chance to do it again, I might not go for that perfect shot.

But, why do hunters go for the optimal shot? For starters, it is humane to cleanly take the animal. Also, if you are planning to eat the meat, you want a clean shot. Of equal importance, is safety. You don’t want to get into the habit of wantonly shooting. You want to aim and take out that particular hog, deer, bird, whichever.

I was simply overwhelmed. I had stayed true to the moral that you must be 100% certain you have a clean kill shot before pulling the trigger. I had that with my first buck. I most certainly did not have that as a dozen large, medium and small hogs raced through tall grass.

Could I have succeeded in hitting one or two? Yes, but they would not have likely dropped liked stones. The ethic being do not kill if the animal would extensively linger or run off with an injury. Have I taken another buck and a doe on other occasions where they ran? Yes, but they only moved briefly and then dropped. One buck took a lung shot and an apparent adrenaline rush. A doe bolted about 20 feet and went down.A perfect habitat.

When it came to these hogs, I was stunned by their speed. It also reminded me of duck hunting when you wait and wait and suddenly a couple dozen scream overhead. I had trouble focusing on one to take in the moment as milliseconds elapse and then the moment was gone.

I admit I was jealous of Byron’s hog in the clearing. When they came upon us, they were lumbering. One was so big, for a moment, we thought it was a bear. Once they got close, they were obviously hog. I had hoped to stalk the one that ran, but he disappeared into the thick woods. That next day, I missed my chance.

So what to do? We are planning to return in April. If I see another train of hogs, I will plan to shoot one at a time.

Texas Javelina Chili – Where’s the Beef?

I always thought chili was created to cover for not so great meat that travelers might be getting as pioneers, hustlers, cowboys and some other stereotype. And, in the original colonies, other spices including nutmeg were used to cover for possibly fading meat quality. After all, these people didn’t have fridges.

One of my favorite meals is venison chili and after recently taking two javelinas on a hunt in South Texas, my boyfriend and I have been looking forward to experimenting with recipes. He is planning to make smoked sausage. To get started, I simply made a basic tomato sauce with ground javelina, parsley and cheese. It was pretty good.Bowl of javelina chili with slice of cornbread

This afternoon, I started the chili with spices, canned tomatoes and ground javelina in the crock pot. After I defrosted the meat, I drained it in the colander and the scent of the raw meat was earthy. As if I was back on the sendero. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing. I folded it into the crock pot and let it stew for a few hours.Pot of javelina chili with skillet cornbread

A taste test indicated the chili needed more tomatoes and more water. I also added a bottle of Corona Light. Plus some more salt. Voila, it started to taste like really good chili. But it was missing something.

Now, I may lose you here, but I put beans in my chili. Yankee? Guilty as charged. I rinsed and added red kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans. Let that simmer. Or, sink in, depending on how you feel about beans in chili.

Time to bake the cornbread, which bakes in a skillet in about 30 minutes. I used the real deal cornmeal, stone ground from Nora Mill Granary, which I have raved about before. The recipe is basic: 1 cup of cornmeal, two eggs, ¼ cup of oil and 1 cup of sour cream. Bake at 400 degrees.

Adding beer to javelina chiliAfter the cornbread cooled a bit, I ladled chili into bowls, sprinkled on a blend of grated Mexican cheeses and added cornbread slices. And, the chili tasted like chili with meat that was not pronounced in flavor. The meat is good. But the meat is so lean, it doesn’t carry a strong or distinct taste. If you gave a tester a bite and asked what meat is this, I don’t think they would guess javelina.

Don’t get me wrong. This was worth the hunt and the meat is high-quality. It just tasted a lot better when I added something else to the chili: a jalapeno-poblano hot sauce. That is outstanding and brought all the flavors together.

The lesson in all this is we’re are likely to get more taste out of the javelina if we combine it with pork in sausage or just wrap a bunch of it in bacon.

–The Sage Leopard

In Search of the Unexpected: Javelina Hunting in South Texas

I’ve seen javelina on hunts in Texas and Arizona, but had not yet been on a dedicated javelina hunt. I had no idea what to expect.

I knew what the hunt would likely be like: gear up and sit quietly. Maybe stalk, quietly. What I didn’t know was what the meat would taste like if we were to harvest any. You can tell just by looking at javelina that the meat will be very, very lean.

Contrary to popular opinion, the javelina is not a wild hog. It’s in the peccary family. They are pretty wild looking. It’s the kind of animal that looks prehistoric and kinda bizarre in the way an alligator is amazing to gaze upon.

In Texas, there is no hunting limit on wild hogs because that is an invasive species. By contrast, the javelina is supposed to be here and hunting them is regulated. We were on a Texas Parks and Wildlife management hunt and each hunter was allowed to only take one javelina.

We were encouraged to take as many hogs and coyotes though. The coyotes eat the deer on this wildlife management area and the hogs are destructive to the environment. We did not see any hogs but heard a lot of coyotes.

The hunt was fielded by a drawing and Byron and I were among those picked. They also had a lot of standby hunters hoping to be drawn the first morning of a three-day hunt. I actually had the honor of drawing a select few from those names in a bucket.

Ultimately, there were about 40 hunters on a wildlife management area covering 15,000 acres. Byron estimates our compartment was more than 600 acres. To get around, we drove the truck over dirt roads and senderos (dirt paths). Some of the roads were pretty treacherous and as Byron maneuvered his big pickup over and through giant holes, he joked he sure wished he had a BMW. Seriously, we are not car people. I need a vehicle my dogs can jump into and I don’t worry about floods or mud.

The first afternoon we made our way around our compartment, finding old deer blinds to use and corning some of the roads and senderos. We used deer corn, which javelina like to eat.

The next morning, we set out before dawn. Legal shooting time is a half hour before sunrise. I climbed up into a blind I checked out the day before, above the road we corned. After dawn, I heard hoof steps, but it was a young buck. No javelinas showed.

I moved to another location for the afternoon and sat quietly. This may be my favorite part of hunting. Just sitting. Listening. Bird watching. I bring a journal and take notes about the nature around me. I may jot down notes for a novel I am working on. I breathe deep and let go of things that don’t really matter.

I just sit. It’s wonderful. It’s something I reflect on over and over when I am busy in regular life. It’s these small moments I can go back to in my mind and regain perspective. It is so quiet you notice everything.

It’s also hard to not notice the sound of a four-legged creature coming through brush. The stride sounded shorter than a deer. It was a javelina, I was sure. He emerged onto the sendero. I was shocked.

He moved along and I took deep breaths. I slowly raised my rifle. Slowly. Watching him through the scope, I waited to see if he would move into a broadside position. The moment came to pass. I saw I had a clean shot and took it. He dropped. I lowered the rifle and breathed.

This is a stunning moment to collect. You have taken a life to harvest the meat. Again, this was an unknown to me. I wanted to be fully thankful and appreciative of the harvest. My phone vibrated. My boyfriend texted to check if the report he heard was from my rifle. I affirmed. He said he would head my way.

I waited 20 minutes. We met and moved to the javelina. It was time to field dress it. I asked Byron for a moment and rested my hand on the javelina’s torso and cheek. My man said a prayer of thanksgiving. Hunters do not take hunting lightly. For starters, there are plenty of hunts where you do not get anything. That’s why it’s called hunting. Moreover, we eat the meat. I love cooking with venison. I was very nervous about javelina. When we dressed it, I could tell this was a very healthy, lean animal.

We placed it in the truckbed and brought him to the check station. I reported where exactly I took it and a wildlife manager weighed it and checked its teeth to gauge the age. Three years old. We placed it in a meat locker and went back out for a few hours.

Byron too harvested a javelina from the same area. We sat together in silence after I had spotted them and radioed Byron to rejoin me. I had been wondering if a coyote was going to show up to take what we had left of the javelina. I was somewhat surprised to see more javelina. Byron and I sat there a good while when they came along again.

When we returned to the check station, we joined other hunters who were also cleaning their meat. I asked them how they liked to cook it. Chorizo. Sausage. Another guy likes to wrap in foil with veggies and roast it over a fire. Byron took great care in icing down and re-icing the meat. He then was diligent in trimming any fat. He packed the back strap and tenderloin in kitchen shrink wrap (Food Saver). We also used a meat grinder and sealed up that meat as well.

The first thing I made was spaghetti with tomato and ground javelina sauce.

Javelina browning with parsley and spices.

To start the tomatoes, I sautéed diced garlic and onion in olive oil and added dried oregano and parsley. Once the garlic turned gold, I added a big can of plum tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then turn to low to simmer for at least a half hour. In a separate pan, I browned the javelina in olive oil with fresh parsley. Again, salt and pepper to taste. Once it was cooked, it was time to confront the unknown. I took a fork and picked up a piece. The taste? Good. Very nice. Nothing overpowering. Lean. Perfect for sauces. I think it will be great in chili too. That’s next!

The Sage Leopard

The Forest Speaks, A Tall Tale

Fishermen might tell whoppers, but hunters always tell the truth.

Last weekend my boyfriend and I went on javelina hunt on the Chap. That’s short for Chaparral Wildlife Management Area, south of Cotulla, Texas. We had driven our covered wagon there and brought our personal chef Cookie.

We set up camp with other hunters and I impressed all the guys by starting a fire by using my eyeglasses as a magnifying glass to capture the sun’s rays. Everyone started swapping tips on hunting and cooking with game. As evening settled in, one guy pulled out his phone to show us an app with electronic coyote calls.

He placed it on a piece of firewood and let ‘er rip. Sure enough, a pack of coyotes circled the fire. The big daddy coyote swooped in, snatched the phone in its mouth and confidently trotted off.

The man howled and whipped out a handgun. He shot at the coyote and the beast dropped the phone. We were impressed it wasn’t damaged except for teeth marks in the case. That was enough excitement for one night and we drifted off to sleep. I had the strangest dreams in which the trees seemed to have voices.

The scratching of an armadillo on the tent awoke me and I geared up. I reached the deer blind before dawn and climbed the ladder to await javelina. Soon enough, I heard hoof steps.

A young buck with little antlers was eating the corn I had left out the afternoon before for the javelinas. Then, I could have sworn I heard a whisper in a male voice: “Be careful.” I looked down the sendero in the opposite direction and saw a majestic old buck with a huge rack of antlers. Was it his voice that spoke? I shook my head and saw him slip into the brush, like a ghost.

That afternoon, I switched blinds. This one was a so-called tower blind, essentially comprised of two plastic molded chairs perched up on a small platform with little ladders. The seating arrangement was nestled between thick brush and abutting this area’s sendero. It wasn’t long, surprisingly enough, before a javelina emerged up the path. I took aim, but couldn’t get off a shot. I could have sworn I heard that voice again while I draw a bead on the javelina. “Be careful.”

The javelina moved forward out of view. It spooked me and I radioed my boyfriend to join me. I told him I spotted what we were looking for and went back to a crossroads of senderos to wait for his truck. We walked back and I showed him the pond where I suspected the javelina were watering.

We walked up to the tower blind and got situated. Eventually, three javelina showed up, weaving in and out of the brush and sendero like someone laying a latticework pie crust. Two emerged and started coming our way. It was laborious to watch them slowly making their way along the corn trail. Again, I could have sworn I heard something strange in the wind. Then, a fluttering and rustling as a green jay settled in a branch of a mesquite tree behind me.

The javelinas don’t have great vision and they didn’t notice us up off the ground in the chairs. Soon enough, they were walking right toward us. Then right in front of us under our boots. I could not believe it. We barely breathed. Then, they moved along passed us. Byron slowly drew his rifle up to his left shoulder and I drew in a breath.

He took aim and I saw his left finger slide onto the trigger. Suddenly, a voice screamed out. I couldn’t believe it. I recognized that voice as the same with the be careful warning. It was the green jay screaming, “Look out! Look out! Look out!”

I wrote this after a real javelina hunt for a Tall Tales Contest in my Toastmasters International club. I hope you enjoyed it!

The Sage Leopard

Duck Hunting, A Driving Rain, and a Lil’ Disappointment

On a duck hunt, a cold, driving rain can make me wonder if I’m truly a hunter. My commitment is strong enough to get me out in the dark to set up and wait, but can be called into introspective question when my hands become so frigid that they are rendered useless.

It’s sort of like doubting your commitment to Christianity when you feel you cannot forgive Osama bin Laden. You have to keep trying. And, similar to a person of faith seeking to become what they pray, a hunter must stay. Or, in my case, bail when your fingers won’t shoot.

Pond with plants and algae in a duck habitat on public land.
Duck habitat before the rains

My boyfriend must be warmer-blooded person because he stayed out in the rain by himself for another half hour, at least. By the time he returned to the truck, he looked shocked by the cold. While we were wearing appropriate clothing, including neoprene waders and Frogg Toggs, there’s nothing like a 47-degree soaking to dampen your enthusiasm. Honestly, if I’d been in a blind, I think I might have enjoyed it. (More on that later.)

Instead, after more than a couple of hours, I ended up sitting in the truck watching an Alton Brown video of his visit to the Garden & Gun office kitchen. How did this happen? The road to hell was paved with good intentions. Yesterday afternoon, we scoped out or location and found what appeared to be the perfect spot to set up a blind. We used garden stakes and camo tarp and wrap. We took of some brush and set it up in front. When we got back to our hotel, the rain began.

Duck blind set up for a hunt in Texas.
Setting up the blind the day before the hunt

In the morning, we were excited despite the rain. We got back to our spot and hoofed through muck down the dirt levee until we reached the blind. We nestled under our blind. A wind kicked up and the ducks started flying in. So exciting! So very exciting until the wind kicked up the tarp, a.k.a., poncho above our heads. The poncho began wildly and loudly flapping, and spooking the ducks. Now, we desperately yanked down our blind and split up to stand in the reeds.

I could not see. I moved back and sat on the ground behind the reeds. The rain was pelting my face. I tried to find the happy medium between shielding my face and being able to see. Maintaining any semblance of peripheral vision was a challenge. If I looked up, the rain poured over my glasses.

This is when idiomatic expressions and their etymologies come to mind. Something blew our cover? Yes, our actual blind blew its own cover. Sitting duck? The one that came closest to me had landed and sat on the water a moment — until it realized it had joined a decoys party.

When we gave up, I held the gate open for Byron to pull through with the truck and two other trucks were coming through. One tailgate was full of ducks. I felt stupid. We gathered to compare notes and the successful party harvested a total of 11. I told another hunter about our fatal error with the flapping blind. He commented that they weren’t really flying today, which was a polite way of consoling a loser. The man with the tailgate full of birds remarked, “you’re a hell of a woman to be out here.”

Rainy marsh pond during a duck hunt.
View from my seat on the edge of the pond in the rain.

I don’t normally play the woman card, but I gotta wonder if I man would be too macho to write a blog admitting he got to cold too keep hunting. It may not be a gender thing, but I am a creature who loves comfort. I’m the type who likes to get into jammies around 8 p.m., wrap up in a fleece blanket and curl up on the couch with the dogs. They love being outdoors too and know when it’s time to come in to cuddle.

As for our next hunt, tomorrow morning, we are going to get out even earlier before they start flying and hope it is raining a little less.

The Sage Leopard

A Buck Named Byron: How to Prepare for the Hunt

Every hunt is different, which is why it is so exciting. One constant is the stillness of the woods or field. This morning, I was propped up against a tree looking over a glen with about a 160-degree view of fall leaves.

A little birdie climbed a nearby tree and I tried to make out his coloring as he climbed bark in shadows. I heard squirrels tromping through leaves as they foraged for acorns. I sat there almost long enough to solve the world’s problems. Checking the time, it happened to be three minutes before the appointed time Byron and I planned to rendezvous at the fork in the trails. Arriving there, I stood awhile listening to a very light wind. I decided to walk into the clearing about 40 yards up the leaf-carpeted road.Tree-lined sandy creek in the shaded woods during autumn.

Once I entered the space, crows circled above cawing like crazy. Were they talking about me or some other being in the woods? I figured Byron would be along soon and I was ready to go. My mind had left the hunt. My rifle was slung on my left shoulder (I shoot lefty) and I held my backpack and seat in my right hand. I was standing in the road, clearing on either side, admiring the flora like a dork. I had assumed the physical stance of a commuter waiting on a train platform.

The Chocolate Buck

A sound directed my attention to the road, and down the hill I saw the swish of a tree branch moving. I heard the familiar sound of a person walking on leaves, as I was expecting Byron. I redirected my attention at the clearing and some thoughts I’ve since forgotten. My peripheral vision detected a figure and I turned to ask Byron, “Did you see anything?” Instead, it was a buck. A huge buck about 25 yards away, if even that far. His eyes were cast on what he was noshing. I was stunned. His coat was a deep lustrous dark chocolate brown. He was so big that for a millisecond, I wondered how a mule deer was in Georgia. But his face was clearly that of a white-tailed deer.

The dark color of the coat was just outstanding. I wondered how I could get a shot in this seemingly infeasible situation: he was straight on, not broadside; he could hear me breathing if I had actually breathed; I was standing straight up right in front of him; I was holding items in one hand and the rifle was not on him. I decided to try kneeling down. My knee bent slightly and he immediately raised his eyes to mine. There was a flicker of surprise and then a long stare. Eye to eye we were locked. I wondered if he would move and then in a flash, he turned tail and let out a woot. His breath was visible with his alert sound and he was gone.Autumn leaves in the woods.

The point of this story is simple. Always be prepared and keep your mind on the hunt. And always be thankful for what you get to see.

Happy Thanksgiving,

The Sage Leopard

Ginger Curry Venison Meatballs

When you think of hunting and the great outdoors, do you think of ginger curry with venison meatballs? How do these things spring from my brain?

I have had the benefit of living in Houston, Texas the last 10 years and Houston is home to a lot of Asian cuisine as well as hunters. I’ve always liked Thai curry and the sort of Indian-inspired curry you might find served with chips in an Irish pub.

curry meatballs
Curry meatballs served with cilantro

I never really went out of my way to get curry until I had the privilege of spending a month in Singapore. I quickly became obsessed with all the different Indian and Thai curries I could get my hands on. Some nights I would decide to eat light at dinner time, head to the hotel with a yogurt, sit quietly in the room and hear the voice of a green curry down the street calling out my name.

The curry was in a food stall stacked along an alley with a nice smattering of cuisines. The worst was the time I opted to order a Tiger beer from the bar a step from the curry stall only to remember that alcohol is almost prohibitively expensive in Singapore. Once the curry addiction was set, I found myself ordering it all the time at lunch back in Houston.

Then, a British expat friend came to visit and she made an Indian curry. Next, my boyfriend’s father remarked that eating a curry once a week is healthy. I started experimenting. The beauty is you can make it up as you go along and not go wrong. Still, I was truly inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe I bookmarked. The picture is mesmerizing due to the rich, deep orange color of the curry.

curry sauce
Using the immersion blender on the curry sauce

Now, here is the key distinction: I used ground venison to make my meatballs. Venison from deer I harvested last January. I have come to love venison because it tastes good, is satisfying without being filling, Because it is lean, you need to add more egg to bind the meat into balls.

The second departure from the recipe I recommend is using a food processor and most definitely not a blender to puree some of the initial ingredients, such as the scallions. (UPDATE: I just made this a second time and used an immersion blender in the cooking pot. See elaboration below.*) First thing first, review the ingredients and decide what you will use and need. The magazine recipe called for 2 pounds of ground beef. I wasn’t about to commit 2 lbs. of venison to an untested recipe and opted to try it with 1 lb. Thus, I needed to cut this recipe in half.

Meatballs:

  • Olive oil
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled (I used the full amount)
  • 1 tablespoon (just used juice of 1 lemon)
  • ½ tablespoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. of ground venison
  • 2 eggs (I always use 2 eggs per pound of ground venison)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Curry sauce:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions (I used one red, one sweet)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • another 1 inch chunk of peeled ginger
  • 3 dried chiles de arbol (oops, I used 3 instead of 1 ½)
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tablespoon Kosher salt
Adding curry spices to onion and garlic
Adding curry spices to onion and garlic

Recognize that if you halve the recipe, that always throws off things. In other words, when you adapt a recipe, you make it your own. I used the full amount of tomatoes instead of half because what am I going to do with half a small can of tomatoes. Also, I had to add water to the first step because the ingredients did not blend. Then, I had to strain that mixture to get out the extra liquid. Toward the end, after I used the outboard motor to blend the sauce (an immersion blender), I found the taste too spicy hot and added a can of lite coconut milk. The result was an outstanding tasting curry with more volume than needed for the meatballs. The excess sauce was stored separately and eaten with toasted French bread for lunch.

*UPDATE: I just made this again, this time the full recipe with 2 lbs. of ground venison and a 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes. To better bind the meat, I used half a sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers. I also swapped out scallions for sweet onion and skipped the dried peppers. I also used Meyer lemon juice (we have a tree).

Try it!

Cheers,

The Sage Leopard

Venison Steaks, the Real Organic Meat

IMG_7479
Venison steaks (top plate) accompanied by drunken mushrooms, baked potatoes, grilled veggies and tomatoes.

We don’t need a label on our meat to tell us it’s organic. We know it is because we shopped at nature’s grocery. We took this meat in the field. Deer hunting isn’t easy, but it is rewarding, especially when it results in a freezer full of organic, lean meat. Venison is delicious, not “gamey,” if properly prepared. The first time I tasted it many years ago, the particular dish did taste gamey to me. But, it is really all a matter of preparation that begins in the field. A clean shot ensures the deer is humanely dispatched and there is no adrenaline rush that would impact the meat flavor. A clean shot is when the hunter is 100% certain the shot will be immediately effective. A responsible hunter doesn’t take the shot if he or she is not absolutely sure it is a clean shot. This is why it is called hunting, not taking. Hunting is not easy and requires a lot of preparation and patience. Some people take offense about hunting and yet buy meat at the supermarket. If you are going to eat meat, why not bring a healthy alternative into the mix.

Sliced tomatoes seasoned with salt, drizzled with olive oil and dressed with green onion.
Sliced tomatoes seasoned with salt, drizzled with olive oil and dressed with green onion.

It’s gotten to the point that I really don’t care for beef because my palate acclimated to the taste of venison. I think now this is what meat is supposed to taste like and love that is hasn’t had antibiotics or steroids or whatever else might be in other meats. The preparation of our venison is a simple process. After field dressing, the meat is placed in ice chests packed full of ice. Over the next couple of days, the ice water is drained and ice replenished until the ice water is virtually clear. This ensures most blood is drained and that is why our meat does not taste gamey. What we ate tonight were venison steak medallions and they were out of this world. My boyfriend seasoned them with a spice rub and butter before grilling them. Venison must be kept moist when grilling and butter or sesame oil both work great at sealing in the moisture. IMG_7469For the rest of the meal, I sliced tomatoes, including the first one from our patio tomato plant, sautéed mushrooms, and baked potatoes. I also deglazed the mushrooms with red wine. For the potatoes, I added onion dip seasoning to sour cream. Finally, I added some leftover grilled veggies. The meal was complete with the company of my boyfriend, who taught me to hunt.

Cheers,
The Sage Leopard