Category Archives: The Field

deer hunt seasons

Do You Forage for Wild Foods?

much of the country. It’s also when a lot of hunters are in the woods hunting turkeys, so there’s a natural convergence of people and wild food happening anyway. According to this article in the Austin Chronicle, there’s also a renewed interest in urban foraging:

“Until approximately 12,000 years ago, when the first agricultural systems were developed, across every border and cultural divide, foraging was the predominant means of sustenance… The lost art is gaining momentum for a variety of modern reasons, including economic hardship, increased interest in sustainability and ecological well-being, and a desire to reconnect with nature and food.

“I think foraging fits in with any city, any town, any rural area, and any wilderness,” says Eric Knight, one of the Earth Native Wilderness School’s main teachers of edible and medicinal plant classes. “It’s part of who we are as humans.”

Admittedly, I’m not much of a forager. I’ve found a few morels in the woods, but I’m typically too busy chasing far-off gobbles to watch where I’m walking. (Not coincidentally, I’ve never found an arrowhead either so I must not spend any time looking at the ground.) I do pick chokecherries, wild plums, and crabapples in the late summer — mostly for my winemaking efforts. Other than that, most of my non-meat food comes from the market or the garden.

I’d like to change that as I’m sure there are plenty of great-tasting opportunities I’m stepping over every day. I do plan to pick some dandelions from my yard this spring — again for homemade wine, but I know everything from the yucca plants on the prairie to cattails offers sustenance. Maybe this will be the year I give it a try.

Are there any Wild Chef readers that forage for food? Any advice you can give?

Slide Show: Fishing the Kayak Classic Outtakes

Kayak Fishing Classic, put on by Jerry Collins, a retired FDNY lieutenant who owns a kayak shop on Long Island and is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Yesterday Field & Stream published the piece which documents the fun and chaos. Today I thought I’d share the rest of the story with outtakes and a larger photo edit from the event. Enjoy.

scoutingbuck deer

Wild Game Recipe: Try a Pickle Juice Brine

t these birds develop. As I’ve written about recently, marinades don’t add moisture to meat like most people think they do. However, there is a technique that all but guarantees a moister end product, whether you roast, grill or fry your turkey – brining.

As you probably know, brining is the act of soaking meat, in this case turkey breast, in a saltwater solution for a period of time, typically overnight, though as little four hours works wonders. The salt in the brine breaks down proteins in the meat known as myosin, offering more space to absorb water and reducing the amount of shrinkage during the cooking process. The result is a tender, moister end product. Typically, I make my brine with a cup each of kosher salt and sugar dissolved in a gallon of water. Sometimes I add peppercorns, garlic cloves or other flavorings.

Recently, a friend clued me in to a new way to brine wild turkey, or new to me anyway. It seems this little secret to moist, delicious wild turkey breast has been around for a while, but hunters have held it close to their vest. Well, I’m going to blow the lid off the jar and let Wild Chef readers in on it. (Most likely, you’re already in on it and I’m just slow to the punch.) In fact, you probably already have this brine in your refrigerator – pickle juice. That’s right, the liquid used to make commercial pickles makes a great brine for poultry. It’s so good, it’s reportedly used by Chick-Fil-A to brine the chicken breasts used in their famous sandwiches.

If you think about it, pickle juice makes a lot of sense as a brine. It’s typically made with water and salt, with vinegar, garlic and other flavorings added. The salt concentrate is high enough to break down the myosin in wild turkeys and create a flavorful, moist meat, whether you bread it and fry it or put it on the grill. I would suggest injecting some of the brine into the turkey to speed up the brining process, but otherwise, give pickle juice a try. That’s what I’m going to do with at least one of the breasts from this Osceola I killed with my Mossberg FLEX 20-gauge in Florida last week.

Prepare hunting camp: Making Bannock Bread at Camp

bread was a welcome meal, and an easy one to prepare hunting camp as long as some type of leavener was available. (Traditional bannock was often made without a leavening agent, but adding baking powder, buttermilk, or a sourdough starter made for a lighter, better tasting product).

Much like it was for Carson and his compatriots, bannock is still a delicious addition to a camp cook’s recipe box, especially if you make the mix ahead of time and add the water just before cooking. Bannock can be fried in a skillet, baked in a Dutch oven, cooked directly in the hot coals, or, as the video shows, slowly turned over a hot fire using a simple stick technique.

Bannock Bread Recipe

Ingredients
– 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. baking powder
– ½ tsp. salt
– ½ tsp. sugar
– 3 Tbsp. lard, bacon grease or canola oil
– 1 cup cold water

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. (This mix can be made in advance and kept in a zip-top bag or other airtight container until ready to use.)

2. Stir in the fat and slowly pour in the water, while stirring, until a firm dough forms. You may not need to use the whole cup of water.

3. Knead the dough for a minute or two, then set aside to let rise for at least 30 minutes.

4. Divide and flatten the dough into small round discs. Fry in a greased skillet set over a medium fire, turning once, until cooked through about 20 minutes.

shootinlanes

Deer Hunting Article: Cut Your Shooting Lanes Now

The following evening I sat the stand again and readied myself to fill an antlerless tag as a doe noisily walked through the slough. When she hit the spot I had trimmed, her eyes bugged out and she back-peddled. She offered no shot as she walked stiff-legged back into the cattails. Nearly 30 hours had passed since I’d handled that brush with gloved hands, yet it was more than enough to turn the doe inside out.

The memory, though bittersweet, is a good reminder to do as much trimming as I can now; not this summer, and certainly not this coming fall. If you’ve done a bit of spring scouting, I suggest you do the same, whether you’re looking to trim a shooting lane, or carve out a route to your stand.

Taking care of these details right now gives the deer a chance to get used to the changes you make in their home territory and also allows Mother Nature the chance to soften the edges of your intrusion through time. A shooting lane, trimmed judiciously in April will look like nothing more than a natural opening come September. Ditto for the well-seasoned exit route cut through the bush.

Most of the trimming you do now, provided you’re not too conservative with your saw-work, will suffice throughout the hunting season. This is good news if you’re concerned about any deer, let alone mature bucks, knowing you’re in the area. However, due to unchecked weed growth, some of the trimming you do now might need a touch-up in August. Because of this, I typically mark all of my entrance and exit trails with biodegradable flagging tape or reflective markers so I don’t waste any time looking for my earlier handiwork. Before a rain shower, I’ll don my rubber boots and take a midday stroll just to make sure that my lanes and trails haven’t grown over too much. Ideally, I’ll do very little work on these return trips, and whatever intrusive olfactory clues I’ve left behind will wash away during the predicated rain.

Little details make a big difference in the whitetail woods. Cutting trails and shooting lanes early can allow an encounter to transition from the adrenaline-pumping first sighting to getting the deer within shooting range.

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