Making the Most Out of Your Harvest
Making the most of a harvest can sound simple, but it is a complex subject and has been a journey for me over the last decade. Careful thought before, during, and after the hunt has brought me to where I am today. This list of tips from Timber2Table is an excellent example of the many factors I grew to understand as my hunting experience expanded. The author’s message is clear – many things can make a difference in bringing home quality game meat.
- Age of the animal makes a difference
- Time of the season makes a difference
- Harvesting an animal that is relaxed before the shot makes a difference
- Shot placement makes a difference
- Getting meat cooled quickly and kept clean makes a difference
- Aging 3-10 days makes a difference
- Trimming fat for best flavor makes a difference
- Use a good vacuum sealer to avoid freezer burn makes a difference
- Matching your recipe to the right cut makes a difference
I live by these suggestions and teach them to others, but this is only the beginning of making the most of a harvest. Somewhere along the way, I also became keenly aware of what sits next to my wild protein, including the starch, the veggie, and the sauce. I became much more interested in pairing my wild game with locally sourced vegetables, stepping outside the recipe box, and using fresh and local. This really started because I had a farm near me when I lived in California. Having subscribed to their weekly veggie box, it transformed my cooking overnight. Every week I was introduced to vegetables I never knew existed and was challenged to learn how to cook them. The mixing and matching of both local meat and local veggies was nothing short of magical. Then and there, I realized two things: I loved to create in the kitchen, and the platform for suggesting hunting to my foodie friends was natural. It didn’t take long to convince a locavore that wild game meat is the best option for nutrition and flavor.
If the intersection of hunting and the local sourcing of food interests you, look at three excellent articles:
- Extending the Locavore Movement to Wild Fish and Game: Questions and Implications By Keith G. Tidball,* Moira M. Tidball, and Paul Curtis https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/0/8547/files/2014/0...
- Food for Thought- Recruiting Locavores https://www.nwtf.org/hunt/article/the-locavors
- Kuipers, D. Field to Fork: What the end of hunting as we know it means for conservation--and our diet. Orion, Autumn 2020. https://www.orionmagazine.org/issue/autumn-2020/
Once I had engaged in the first two stages of harvest planning, my creative side came out. My perspective of cooking changed, and I began to see it as more of an art and a gift to give to others. The icreatedaily podcast says, “the plate or platter is the cook’s canvas for artfully presenting their masterpiece.” Leon (2014) adds more when she says, “the art of cooking is inseparable from our own personal stories, our memories, and associations.” I would suggest that this perspective of cooking can be shared by most cultures and would bring people of different backgrounds together to appreciate each other’s values by sharing in the joy of food. The locavores may be the following category of emerging hunters. This focused R3 effort might begin with hunters simply sharing a beautiful meal with friends and telling positive and honorable stories about it. Sabbath (14) writes, “your stories, your opinions, establish your character, and your character is the most authoritative source for beliefs about hunting.” My Wild Flavors Youtube series came out because of this love for cooking and retelling of adventures while bringing dinner to the table. If you’d like to see more, check out my Turkey Meatballs with Polenta or Holiday Pheasant cooking episodes.
I create daily podcast. The Art of Creative Cooking. https://www.icreatedaily.com/creative-cooking/
Leon, M. (2014). How Art, Creativity, and Cooking Are Connected in My Kitchen https://www.thekitchn.com/kitchen-diary-mercedes-in-amsterdam-208460
Pendley, M. (2020). Meat Hunter’s Rules for Shooting the Right Deer. Timber2Table. https://www.realtree.com/timber-2-table-articles/meat-hunter-s-rules-for...
Sabbeth, M. (2021). The Honorable Hunter Instructor Training Manual: How to Honorably & Persuasively Defend & Promote Hunting.
Republished from The Hunting Wire.