Love to eat wild meat

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to use my deer tag on a small eight-point buck not too far from my house.
The beauty of living out-of-town like we do is that we pretty much can step out the door of our house and start hunting.
In a year when the deer numbers outside of town (Kenora) are way down from where they have been for the past decade, I was happy to get to use my tag.
My wife and I love to eat wild meat for the acknowledgement of the hard work to harvest the animal, the taste of the meat, and, in a day when most food seems to be so injected with “bad” stuff, we love the natural, additive-free goodness of the meat.
There seems to be more deer in the woods than I actually thought there would be this year, so I’m optimistic that if we get a couple of “nicer” winters over the next few years, they can rebound somewhat.
I did not hunt deer as much as I normally do because of this reason. The reality is most of the mature bucks with the biggest antlers are the ones that have the hardest time getting through the winter.
These animals usually are worn out from the rut period in the fall, when they literally stop eating and have one thing on their mind. And being run down when winter starts makes it tough to survive.
When we start to get out on the ice to go fishing, we’ll occasionally find wolf-killed deer on the ice. And early in the winter, these are almost always bucks. The bucks also smell a lot stronger than the does and fawns, so that may hurt their chances with the wolves, as well.
I just didn’t have the motivation to get out in the woods like I have in the past because there were not as many big bucks out there. Is that right? Probably not. I love to eat venison, but the challenge of hunting a big buck is part of the adventure of deer hunting for me.
Knowing that there would not be as many mature bucks out there, as there have been in the past, did take away some of my motivation for hitting the woods.
That being said, I was very happy I was able to get my deer and I’m glad that I did get out there.
Over the past couple of months since the hunting season has been going on, we’ve had quite a few meals of ruffed grouse–probably my favourite thing on the planet to eat.
This year was great for grouse hunting as there were a lot of these little birds in the woods. We cooked them several different ways–in stew, wrapped in bacon and cooked on the BBQ, and battered with bread crumbs and cooked in a frying pan in butter.
We dip them in honey dill sauce and they are so good!
We also had a few good duck hunts and ate duck on a few occasions. We fried some and it was okay, but make it in a stew in a crock pot and it is incredible.
With venison, we like to take a few steaks from the best cuts–the tenderloins, back loins, and some sirloins from the back quarters, then we use the rest of the animal to make pepperettes, sausage, and ground burger.
Many of the local meat shops can make great breakfast sausage, garlic sausage, jerky, and salami, as well.
We have not been fortunate to get to use our moose tags yet. But I’m spending next week north of Red Lake looking to use my bull tag, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to stock the freezer with some moose meat, which is as fine as it gets for wild meat in North America.
My wife, August, is headed to South Dakota next week to try pheasant hunting with one of her friends, so we’re really looking forward to cooking a few of those up (we hear good things!)
Look for my report on the moose hunt and the pheasant hunt in the coming weeks!