The thrill of the hunt doesn’t end with the hunt itself. Rather, the hunt is just the beginning. The thrill doesn’t stop until you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

Humans have two major instinctual personalities, hunters and gatherers. The thrill of the hunt fulfills the roles of both hunter and gatherer, first through the procurement of the wild game then through its preparation.

Eating from hand to mouth, from land to house, it is no secret that hunting and gathering is hard work. It begins with waking up before the world does so you can be on the hunt by daylight and (hopefully) bringing home a nice harvest for your trouble. Then you must be diligent and properly process the meat, cool it, butcher and preserve it. 

All this and you still have to cook it before it can fill your belly. All that hard work doesn’t go without its rewards. It doesn’t get more organic or lean than this. 

With hunting season coming to a close, now the gatherer side can get to work putting a hearty harvest to good use.

Ultimate Wild Game Rub

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup ground black pepper

¼ cup sweet paprika

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons dried thyme 

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed and minced

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. For best results, use your fingers to fully distribute the juniper oils. This makes 1 ¼ cups, enough for 8 to 10 pounds of meat. Kept away from heat and light, it will last up to six months. 

 Venison Chili

2 pounds venison

¼ pound thick-cut bacon

2 medium  yellow inions, diced

1 medium red onion diced

2 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded and diced

1 red pepper, seeded and diced

1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

¼ of 8-ounce can of chipotle chilies, seeded and chopped fine

3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon cinnamon

¼ cup honey

1 tablespoon molasses 

1 bottle of Guinness or other stout beer

½ cup of good red wine

1 can of whole plum tomatoes

1 can of crushed tomatoes

2 can of black beans

Chopped cilantro

1.       In a large pan, sauté venison until just cooked. Drain and set aside. Cook in batches if necessary to keep from crowding the pan. 

2.       In a large pot with a heavy bottom, sauté bacon over medium heat until it’s brown and has given up its fat. Remove and set aside.

3.       Sauté onions and peppers in the bacon fat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Add venison and bacon. Stir well and cook for 1 minute.

4.       Add honey, molasses, beer, wine and tomatoes. Mix well, bring to a boil, and lower heat to low. 

5.       Cook at a slow simmer, uncovered, for an hour and stir frequently. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more chili powder or chipotles if you want more heat. 

6.       Add beans and cook for another hour, continuing to stir. The chili is done when it’s thick enough for your liking. 

7.       Garnish with chopped cilantro.  

Venison potato bake

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoon sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons salt

3-4 tabs of butter

2 pounds peeled potatoes quartered into spears

1 small coarsely chopped onion (or substitute dried onion flakes) 

1-2 pounds venison (i.e. backstraps, steak, tenderloin, roast pieces coarsely cubed or sliced)

Preheat oven to 350º.

Soak venison in sauces, salts and butter in a large casserole dish. Lay potatoes in a row and onions on top of venison. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until you can stick a fork in the potatoes. 

 

Barbecued wild rabbit, groundhog or raccoon

1 large onion, cut fine

1 clove garlic, cut fine

2 green peppers, cut fine (optional)

1 can tomato juice

1 cup water

1 cup vinegar (diluted)

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (or less)

1/4 cup butter 

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard

2 or 3 rabbits, et cetera, cut up

Combine all ingredients except rabbits; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Place rabbit pieces in pan in a single layer. Pour sauce over rabbit, covering completely. Bake at 300-350º for 3 hours or until tender, turning occasionally. 

 

Charcoaled dove or pheasant

1/2 cup oil

5 tablespoons steak sauce

Marinate meat in oil and sauce mixture for 1 hour or longer; turning occasionally. Broil or charcoal dove 3 minutes on each side or pheasant halves 8 minutes on each side. This timing leave meat pink in color. Cook longer if preferred well done. Do not split small fowl. 

 

Wild duck, grouse or pheasant marinade

1 stick butter

1/2 cup wine

1/2 cup jelly (grape, currant or blackberry)

Melt butter. Add wine and jelly. Mix well. Smack fowl for 1 hour then roast. Use marinade for basting as needed. This may be done in an electric skillet or in the over at 325-350º. 

Smothered pheasant

Clean and cut pheasant in serving pieces. Roll in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. Brown slowly on both sides in 1/2 cup hot fat, tuning only once. Add 1 can (10 1/2 ounce) each of mushroom and cream of chicken soup and 2 bay leaves. Cover tightly and bake in over at 325º until tender, about 1 hour. 

 

Appalachian Mountain ole-timey wild game recipes 

Stewed rabbit

Dress rabbit and cut into serving pieces. Put 4 tablespoons butter or lard in a skillet and brown the rabbit. Remove the meat and add 1 pint boiling water to the butter; then stir in 1 tablespoon flour and mix well until you have a smooth creamy paste. Season with salt and a little grated onion. Return meat to broth and let it come to a boil; reduce heat and cook slowly until tender. Serve hot. 

 

Fried rabbit

Dress rabbit and cut into serving pieces. Put in a kettle with sufficient amount of water and boil for 5-10 minutes. Remove kettle from heat and let stand until meat is cold. Dry each piece and dip into a beaten egg, then roll in flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Fry in an equal mixture of lard and butter until pieces are nicely browned. Remove pieces of rabbit and keep hot. In the drippings remaining in the skillet, put in flour enough to make a creamy paste, pour in a cup of milk or cream and let the mixture come to a boil. When it is of desired consistency, pour over the rabbit and serve with green vegetables, fried or creamed potatoes, and coffee or milk. 

 

Baked squirrel

Clean and dress squirrel. Let stand in salt water for an hour. Place pieces of meat in a pan or skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in oven. Turn the pieces so all surfaces will brown. Good served with hot biscuits and milk gravy. 

 

 

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