Hunters: Share Your Bounty

January 31, 2018 greg wagner

With Nebraska’s 2017-2018 hunting seasons having ended or being close to ending, many of you who hunt probably have a bountiful supply of wild game meat in your freezers, don’t you? I thought so. You know what? That wild game meat offers an opportunity to share some healthy protein and enlighten people about the hunting lifestyle that you thoroughly enjoy!

Your blogger poses with a daily bag limit of Canada geese he shot during the Dark Goose Hunting Season in Nebraska’s East Management Unit. The geese were given to a co-worker. Photo by Rich Berggren/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

As hunters, we get a lot from nature every season through new memories, insightful lessons, lasting friendships, doing conservation work, and of course, reaping the reward of delicious meat! Therefore, it’s fitting that we give back and honor those game animals or bird on someone else’s grill, smoker or roaster, right?

A delicious creamed, French confit Canada goose recipe prepared by a co-worker with Canada geese donated to her. Photo by Katie Stacey/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Think about how much joy hunting has brought your life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to give someone else a still-wild treasure from the great outdoors?

By giving away some of your tasty wild game meat, you will be breaking down stereotypes in the lifestyle of hunting as well.

What I continually find is that some folks are fearful of preparing, cooking and more so, eating wild game. I hear folks say they don’t know how to cook it and just don’t care for the “wild taste” of it. Comments such as: “It’s gamey tasting” or “it’s dry and tough” are all too common.

Still others do not like the idea of eating a wildlife species for which they have a particular fondness. Maybe they believe industrial meats are safer or healthier to eat than a meal processed in a hunter’s kitchen?

For some, these comments and attitudes are enough to push aside any wild game dish beyond their beloved beef, pork, chicken, turkey or Tofu. And, that’s a shame! Preparing scrumptious wild game dishes is really as simple or complex as each individual cook cares to make it. Almost any recipe can be adapted to appropriate game!

Conversely, more and more people are joining locavore movements (local food movements) and learning about sustainable practices such as acquiring and sourcing, clean, free-ranging meat; thus wild game is becoming more liked than ever.

Whole Foods’ popularity and knowing the origin of the food we consume are just two examples behind the trend toward healthier, more natural food. In response, there are now butcher shops that only sell locally raised, grass-fed, hormone-free meat. More people are coming to see the advantages of hunting for this reason because nothing is more healthy and renewable than wild game meat. Compared to their industrially raised counterparts, game birds and animals also have a relatively small environmental footprint!

Your blogger with a young hen wild turkey harvested during the recent 2017-2018 Fall/Winter Wild Turkey Hunting Season in Nebraska. Photo by Jim Druliner of Omaha, NE.

Keep in mind that we’re surrounded by people who are important to our hunting lifestyle. Landowners, family members, friends, neighboring property owners, even co-workers, the list is endless. As a hunter, use your success in the field to be kind to others and present them the gift of wild game. Go as far as preparing a dish and including the recipe with it. I love the term “Venison Diplomacy” coined by Steven Rinella, host of the popular TV show MeatEater, as a way he reaches out to non-hunters. Food is always good ice-breaker and it honors the animal to share it.

Sliced venison with au jus sauce. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Did you know that the very history of our country, the United States, was founded on sharing wild game? It was. From that first Thanksgiving feast of deer, wild turkey, waterfowl and other game meats shared with the Pilgrims, to the Manifest Destiny of the great migration west, the frontier was fed with America’s wild bounty, including bison, elk, deer, pronghorn and small game such as squirrels and rabbit, along with the varied abundance of wild birds found from the hills of Appalachia to prairies of Nebraska to the mountains of the Sierra range.

So, how often do you share your hunting season harvest with friends, family or co-workers or those who may not hunt themselves? Doing so may provide the opportunity to open a discussion about the benefits of hunting to help educate non-hunters.

The land abounds with pleasures for hunters such a goose-blind sunrise. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Sharing the fact that acquiring healthy, free-ranging, environmentally-friendly protein remains a primary reason people hunt is an excellent way to start the conversation.

Succulent, sliced wild turkey breast. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

*GAME FOOTNOTES: Please know that it is unlawful to sell or trade the meat of any game bird or game animal. Also, any person transferring game, fish, or parts thereof to another person must provide a custody tag. The tag has to remain with the game until it is consumed. The owner needs to provide certain information. You can download the custody tag form here.

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