By: Ted Nugent
“Ooohhh…. It’s gamey!”
“I tried venison once but didn’t like the gamey taste”.
In my lifetime of never-ending worldly travels, the subject of hunting and wildlife always comes up.
Everybody knows I’m a gungho lifetime hunter and they always remark that I appear pretty healthy for a 70-year-old gonzo rock-n-roll explorer.
Remaining clean and sober my entire life certainly has an awful lot to do with my overall good health, spirit and attitude, but so does my wild game diet.
I consider wild game meat to be rocketfuel for the soul.
Quite remarkably, I really don’t do anything differently at the age of 70 that I didn’t do in my 20s and 30s.
We have awakened many people to the benefits and joys of a wild game diet, and even old sage backstrappers have remarked how delicious our game dishes are.
Regular readers of Deer and Deer Hunting are fortunate to have access to constant updates and upgrades on critter handling, venison recipes and the unlimited benefits from the plethora of information in these pages written by real deal venison aficionados.
As I prepare to wrap up what can only be described as the best deer season of my life and the best deerhunting campfires of my life, I have been reminded time and time again how many deerhunters take, shall we say, less than ideal due diligence when handling the sacred flesh.
I am writing this little ditty here in the afterglow of the 2018-2019 deerseason so that we all have a good solid year to think about what I and so many other sporters believe to be the most important responsibility we have as hunters; the reverential utility, wise use conservation of these precious wildlife resources for the dinner table.
This will all sound tediously redundant to most of us hardcore backstrappers, but based on hundreds of conversations around hundreds of campfires this past season alone and many more over the years prior, sometimes people get lackadaisical when it comes to the critical steps determining quality venison.
A refresher course a year in advance will be real good for us to review all the important steps, but mostly for Step Number One; Shot placement.
Where we hit our deer can make all the difference in the world for quality venison, so now is the time to commit to serious practice throughout the year so we kill our critters quick and clean.
The quicker the kill the tastier the meat.
After the kill a quick recovery is just as critical in order to begin the thorough cleaning process.
This step too can be practiced throughout the year by spending as much time as we possibly can in the deerwoods and or outback, becoming the best woodsman we can be. Attentive field time will make us better trackers for a quicker recovery.
Then one of my favorite things in life is the celebration at the side of the beast where we gut and clean our prize, which will also make or break the quality of our tablefare.
Step Three is getting that gutted and cleaned carcass cooled off as quickly as possible, whether in a walk -in cooler, a commercial portable cooler or straight to the professional butcher where the meat can age adequately for tenderizing and flavor enhancing enzyme breakdown.
Step Four is simply making certain that if a professional butcher is hired, we know damn sure he or she has the same love affair with our hard-earned prize that we do, for if our properly handled deer is batched up with a bunch of mishandled carcasses, there is no way you will get the delicious game flavor that we deserve.
Make certain your butcher butchers your deer and returns the meat to you from your deer, or all that extra effort will be for naught.
Now for the proper appreciation for the original meaning of the word gamey.
Every world-class chef will agree whole heartedly that the ultimate meal begins with and is based on wild game.
The word gamey has always been the ultimate compliment, a defining positive.
Somewhere along the line, the disconnected from nature amongst us got a mouthful of mishandled game meat and attributed its gaminess to their unfortunate experience with bad tasting meat.
I am convinced that those who winced and found game to be distasteful actually bit into a chunk of venison that was exposed to guts, bile, urine, lingering blood or just plain irresponsible handling.
Gamey is good!
When all those proper steps are followed attentively and with sincere care, I believe pretty much any kitchen procedure or recipe will be just wonderful.
Sticking to traditional beef, pork and lamb recipes will always work good with venison, as long as cooked on the rare side, and the sky is the limit where creative chefs and kitchen wenches can get adventurous with cooking methods, seasonings, oils, herbs and spices.
I am of the humble opinion that the simpler venison is handled the better.
My favorite recipe is sacred flesh, salt, pepper, good oil and butter and hot coals.
Can’t go wrong.
We have plenty of months now to get ready for next season, and if you are like all the crazy hunters I know, every week leading up to opening day is genuine preparation time to be well spent with killin’ and grillin’ on our minds.
You may even want to pick up a copy of my wife Shemane’s and my killer cookbook, Kill it & Grill It from Regnery Publishing.
We take our hunting seriously and we take our consumption of our hard-earned sacred flesh even more so.
Aim small miss small, and kill ‘em and grill ‘em like you mean it.