Why do so many hunters use the term “gamey” when describing you? Why do they do the same regarding your neighbor the antelope?
I’m quickly becoming an advocate for hunters to learn to eat the meat that they harvest. I love the idea of helping the hungry and giving to friends and family; however, I believe there is something special in enjoying meat from the animal you have taken by bullet or arrow. But what do you do when the meat simply isn’t enjoyable?
Avid hunters speak all the time about taking an “ethical” shot. This practice does not ensure minimal agony but hopes to limit the animals suffering. I agree with this idea. Nevertheless, this “ethical” shot ends with the animals death and that is much premature. Hunting ethics, in my opinion, go beyond the kill and extend all the way to the dinner table. What that means to me is a quick removal of the entrails and subsequent overnight hanging of the animal. So far, I’ve had great results with animals that have expired quickly and have hung overnight in a dark,cool place (preferably under 50 degrees) before being skinned and quartered the next day. If you cannot bone out the meat immediately, I recommend placing the quarters on ice. Rather than submerge quarters in water, I’ve found that a block of ice preserves the good meat and allows the blood to retreat below it without contact.
So I would like you to think about the animals that you have given the name gamey. Are these animals that have sat in the sun for hours in back of a pickup? Have they been hanging for days until you finally get sick of looking at them? Are you certain that the quarters were processed quickly and kept cool the entire time? Are you sure you are eating the animal you shot and not one killed by someone who does not care?
Finally, do not make the mistake I did for a few years and listen to others around me. I made the mistake of believing that deer was not very tasty. As a result, I only made jerky and sticks mixed with pork. While they were always fabulous in that form, I have never enjoyed game in abundance like this year. Whether it is a roast, deer stroganoff or my recipe below, my family has smiled. Remember, if we killed and packaged cattle the way we do wild game, beef would very well be much more gamey too!
This recipe is adapted for the crockpot from the Mathews Bow website at http://www.mathewsinc/experience/harvest-stew
2 tbsp butter
1-2 onions, diced
4 fresh garlic cloves
4 pieces of thinly sliced smoked bacon
3 -5½lb haunch or shoulder of venison, diced into 1 inch chunks
3 cups beef stock
1/3 cup grape jelly
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2oz corn starch
Handful of fresh thyme
- On the stove top cook on medium heat. Heat olive oil and butter in a large fry pan. Add the onions and cook until softened, but not browned.
- Add the garlic, bacon and mushrooms and cook for another minute.
- In a separate fry pan add olive oil at medium/high heat then brown the diced venison a handful at a time and add to the stew. When all the meat is browned, add the beef stock, grape jelly and salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil and stir well. Place entire contents into a crockpot and set crock pot to low for 10 hours. Make sure all the deer chunks are covered in beef stock or add more.
- Remove from the crock pot. Make a paste with the corn starch and two tablespoons of water. Add as much of the paste to the stew as is needed to thicken the sauce – add a little at a time if you are not sure how much you will need.
Transfer the stew to the stove top, and, on a low heat, cook until the gravy has thickened – this will take about five minutes.
- Serve over your favorite mashed potatoes. It will melt in your mouth.