“I suspect you are a real connoisseur of buckshot speckled-delights,” I responded. “Sounds like a plan. How about I drive up after church?”
“Make sure and wear your jeans; no one dresses up on this ranch. Do you own cowboy boots?”
“Absolutely! I've been around ranches in my life. I'm a cowgirl from way back."
“Good. I'll take you out riding on the trails.”
“Can I bring something?”
“No, no, no. We don't need any of those chlorophyll leaves you city folks call food. You just bring yourself. I'll handle the provisions.”
Being the foodie that I am, I couldn't help but to ponder what sort of meal this bachelor beau would be cooking for a former caterer. Rich, hunteresque flavors rustled my taste buds as I reminisced about wild-game meals I had enjoyed in years past while growing up with a dad who enjoyed autumn hunts with his ranching buddies and who always kept the family's freezer well stocked with sides of beef and wild caches of pheasant, duck and deer. It had been a long time since I'd dined with a hunter. I couldn't wait.
“If this dinner tastes as good as it looks and smells, I'll be dreaming of buck-shot meats for a long time. I hope you'll share at least one recipe with me.”
“Maybe one,” he said with a wink as he raised his glass and toasted the animals for their lives.
“I don't know that I want you putting my recipes in your newspaper column or anything. These recipes have been handed down in my family for generations. In fact, we keep copies in the bank vault,” he said as he puffed out his chest with generational pride, while cautiously carving the crisp, golden roasted venison.
“So, what is your secret?” I asked.
“Kathi, one of the secrets to great tasting game is to marinate it for a couple days.”
There you have it, from the mouth of a shotgun-shooting and card-carrying outdoors man who knows how to cook what he hunts and how to hunt for what he eats.
Maybe one of the best parts of eating a wild game dinner with the hunter himself is witnessing the hunter's delight in reliving the experience of hunting that meal. You almost feel as if you are in the field at sunrise with him in the company of his good friends, faced with the challenge and about to be tested to the limit.
I learned something from this meal and from the wisdom gleaned that hunting for one's food is about so much more than what it appears to be on the surface. It's about an intimate relationship between man and his food source, and it's about putting a delicious meal on the table. It is also about carrying on an age-old tradition of human survival - perhaps even today it is still an important skill. With the cost of meat from a butcher in the double digits, hunting starts to look more and more like a desirable and affordable solution for dining on real food.
This article was originally published in the Entertaining with Kathi column in the Northeast Chronicle- a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper published on Oct 10, 2007.
Kathi Dameron is a Tallahassee, Florida based food writer and food publicist. She teaches culinary arts, entertaining and crafting classes for locals and visitors to the North Florida, Panhandle and South Georgia geographic region. Learn more about the scope of these classes
plus other services provided by Kathi Dameron & Associates at http://www.kathidameron.com/