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More meat, please.

In our April/May issue we celebrated the culture of eating meat. If you missed it (not likely as it was our most noticed cover in years), it was the one with the large slab of bloody, delicious backstrap. A few overly sensitive hunters were offended by the image (ironic, considering they probably walked past hundreds of pounds of authentic red, bloody meat in the grocery store to pick up the magazine), but the vast majority of readers saw it for what it was: a creative, in-your-face way of representing a lifestyle, a culture, and a tradition of which hunters should be proud. You see, meat represents the full circle of life for us gun and bow folks. It should not be a byproduct, a bonus, or something that should produce shame.

This whole issue got me thinking about how the culture of meat eating has changed significantly over the last 30 years. It seemed that during my father's generation, game meat was something to be consumed because you killed it, not because it was enjoyable. Guys liked hunting, but the meat-eating portion of the investment was seen as a responsibility instead of a goal. In hunting camp as a kid, I remember hearing, "If you lcill it, you eat it" from my father's cronies, but the statement was pronounced more as a criminal sentence than a privilege.

My earliest culinary game-eating memories were of ducks slow-cooked in a roasting pan with cream of mushroom soup. It tasted heavily of duck, which is to say heavily of liver, which is to say ... not good.

When I got to college, I started cooking game for my roomies because we were poor. Early on, I considered it a success if I was able to mask the flavor to such an extent that my roommates couldn't tell what it was. When I got better, success was making game meat "taste nearly identical to beef' Today, I consider it a success when I take the wife to a fancy downtown chophouse and she is disappointed with her $45, 28-day dry-aged beef fillet because it is isn't as rich, interesting, or tender as the elk I grilled at home. Game can be that good.

If you are not aheady consuming a midget's body weight (around 80 pounds if you were curious) of game meat a month, I implore you to do so. It's healthy and delicious, and it completes the circle of life that defines us.

To get you going down the right road, I suggest one of my favorite recipes in this issue's elk section: backstraps with Cumberland sauce. Every time I make this dinner, guests tell me I should write a cookbook That's when I let them know I'm a pure culinary plagiarist and adopted (stole) my recipe from Hank Shaw's If you haven't been there, check it out. It is one of the finest sites in existence for wild game, fish, gardening, and natural foraging. To my delight, Hank has agreed to start contributing to Petersen's HUNTING on a regular basis.

His recipes and cooking approach will make you realize most of the old wives' tales you have heard in hunting camp are complete rubbish. Bear can be delicious, antelope is almost always fantastic, and you don't boil a duck for hours with a rock and then eat the rock These myths are propagated by guys who have no business boiling water let alone cooking dinner, so they blame the game in an attempt to make up for their mediocre cooking skills. If a guy in camp is questioning a game animal, question his cooking knowledge.

So embrace the meat from start to finish. Learn to butcher game yourself, know the different cuts (and why you want them), and then start cooking. You will find completing the circle of life and experiencing the entire process brings a new level of enjoyment to the hunt. And don't be surprised when you discover some of your hunting buddies are closet game foodies as well. You will know it when your bearded, Copenhagen-spitting redneck buddy texts, "OMG, I just rendered the fat from this morning's ducks for goose leg confit ... it's 2D4!"
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Title Annotation:FROM THE EDITOR
Author:Schobg, Mike
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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