I Aim for Wild Game: Reflecting on a years worth of wild game consumption
“Hunting and fishing for your dinner gives you a distinct sense of ownership and connection to your own food sources- as well as the responsibilities that come with that, like stewardship, conservation, and a deep respect for life and death.” – Jesse Griffiths, Afeild
This weekend Adam returned home from an impromptu duck hunt with our neighbor Cody. Having limited out on opening morning, Adam saved a drake Gadwall for me whole knowing I’d be happy to use his feathers to make gifts. (You can’t legally sell migratory bird feathers). I have a soft spot for birds and hate to see them go to waste.
This got me reflecting on the past year. If you’re coming to the Czech Out Ranch for dinner you better be prepared. Wild game is served in my home 95% of the time there’s meat involved in the meal. The other 5% is usually chicken wings. God I love chicken wings.
I think about food alot now. I guess that’s because I often stare my protein in the face. I watch it. I wait for it. I worry about it. I decide whether or not to pull the trigger and feed my family and friends this way. With the completion of our custom metal home last year, Adam & I can process our own meat now. I research recipes, I come up with my own. This past year, with the help of good friends and helpful cookbooks I learned how to make tamales, meatballs, ragus, risotto, soups, stews, sausage and more. And I’m still learning! All inspired by wild game. All tied to a memory or a story, even if gifted to us from others who wanted to share their harvests.
People always tend to ask me, how do you have time to make all that? The answer is I make time. But the answer also is it doesn’t take that much time once you’ve familiarized yourself with certain ingredients. Last December when I did my 25 days of wild game challenge I learned a lot about how to cook wild game and how easy it really can be. The third answer is that I have help. Adam does play sous chef quite often. No matter the amount of time spent on a dish, it’s worth it to honor the harvest and to share with others.
In fact, one of my favorite things about eating wild game is that it’s meant to be shared. From the story of the hunt to placing it on the table. Recently, Adam’s cousins stayed with us and I couldn’t help but smile as all 8 of us gathered around the kitchen island eating a cheesy Sika and feral hog sausage lasagna. Wild game is probably the most shared protein there is. After all, your neighbor doesn’t come over and give you a package of boneless chicken thighs from your local supermarket for a reason.
I never thought it would be the lifestyle for me and yet here I am, a passionate wildlife enthusiast. A hunter. A home cook. A guide. A TYHP Huntmaster. A woman of the land, I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to be a wild game consumer.
My thoughts as a hunter are constantly evolving. My experiences shape me, yes it’s true. Despite my compassionate approach, rest assured, there will be negative comments made by folks. Mostly those far removed from their food sources. They’ll believe their snide remarks will somehow change my protein sourcing decisions. They won’t.
But I’ll be happy to sit down with anyone over a big bowl of colorful feral hog pozole or a warm, golden plate of Blackbuck risotto.
No doubt, the 2018-19 season has a lot of lessons to teach and adventures to be shared in the future for me. Not only will I continue to make delicious home cooked meals, guide others in the field, learn more about wildlife and the place I call home, but I’ll hunt down a few memories along the way. Heading to the hill country this week to obtain a few I hope!