Guns, Gear & Grub
HUNTING SEASON IS UPON US. At the beginning of the season, families are still making the decision on whether to take their kids hunting for the first time.
Much can be said about this, but perhaps the single most important topic to address is gun selection.
You don’t want to send a 10-year-old out into the field with a .300 Magnum to down their first deer. They probably will not make it past the first shot at the practice range when the blast rattles their eardrums.
A .223, .243 or similar cartridge is a much better option. With today’s higher quality ammunition, you can get a higher grade rifle than was available when I was kid.
It depends on your kid’s size and maturity level. Rifles chambered for these cartridges offer minimal recoil and will greatly reduce the chance of your kid flinching and making a bad shot.
An absolutely crucial point is that adult-sized guns usually have a pull length of 14 to15 inches, which is just too long for most kids.
Take your kid with you to the gun shop to select a rifle, and make sure it is a good fit. Let your kid ask questions and handle the rifle.
Also, whether it’s your kid’s first hunt, your spouse’s or yours, remember you can’t eat antlers.
The first deer I ever shot was a doe. I was just as excited about it as I was my biggest ever buck. I had taken the step from being someone who daydreamed about deer hunting to actually taking a deer.
Don’t bother a kid with Boone & Crockett scores and trophy hunting terminology. If you hunt in an area where doe hunting is permitted, let them take a doe.
Explain to them that taking does as well as bucks is a vital key to managing a deer herd. They will not only get some great meat, but it will help the herd.
I was so impressed with this concept after taking my first deer, I did my sixth-grade science project on deer management and doe harvest. I got an honorable mention. Celebrate even the does because chances are your kid will see them first.
Then by all means eat them!
When it comes to preparing deer from field to freezer we always reach out to our Hunting Editor Lou Marullo who is a master on that topic.
This month he submitted a few killer recipes that he has proved are super tasty and easy to fix.
Hot Italian Sausage
3 tablespoons salt
3½ tablespoons of red pepper
4 tablespoons of crushed or ground fennel seeds
Depending on your own taste, you may want to increase the amount of fennel you use. If you like your hot sausage really hot, just add some more red pepper. I like to use some garlic powder as well, with both the hot and the sweet sausage. A little goes a long way.
Once you make the seasoning, put it in a zip-lock bag and shake it up. Then, spread some of the seasoning on the meat.
Mix about a quarter of the seasoning into the meat and use some water to make it easier to mix. Add more and more of the seasoning until it is used up while mixing it very well into the meat.
Lou prefers to keep it in bulk form and just make his own patties, then freeze them in smaller packages. His brother, Frank, prefers some of his sausage in sausage casings.
This is easy to make as well. You just need an attachment to your grinder that the casings can slide on. If you decide to use casings, know that it’s easier if you soak them in water for about an hour first. Then, before you slide the casing on the attachment, force some water through the casing. This makes it much easier to slide it onto the attachment.
Now, if you want to make some breakfast sausage, I have a delicious recipe for that as well. Again, this is for every 10 pounds of meat. Again, I use about 50 percent pork with the venison. You need to grind the meat first using a medium or hamburger-sized blade on the grinder. Once it’s through the first grind, mix the seasoning in and grind it again. Keep mixing it all the time. So, for an unforgettable breakfast sausage, here is what you need.
Since this is a peak coastal fishing month here are a couple of redfish recipes.
1 5- to 6-lb. redfish, whole, cleaned
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 8-oz. bottles Zesty Italian salad dressing
1 cup white wine
2 Tbs. Worcestershire
2 sticks butter or margarine
1/2 can beer
2 Tbs. catsup
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook all ingredients except fish about 90 minutes on a low fire in a two-quart saucepan. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. Place fish in roasting pan and fill inside with ingredients. Cook on barbecue pit uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour, basting every 15 to 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
2 lb. redfish fillets
1/2 cup creamy Italian salad dressing
1/2-cup butter, melted
1-1/2-cups Potato chips, crumbled
8 slices American cheese
(Note: Do not use ridged potato chips and use only “creamy” dressing.)
Place fish in a 9×12 baking dish. Pour salad dressing and melted butter over fish. Sprinkle with potato chips and add cheese slices. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 350º oven.
Bacon-Wrapped Pheasant Breast
2 pheasant breast (skinless)
6-8 rashers of streaky bacon
2 tsp of paste (see Tips)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Wipe the breast fillets dry, then add spoonful of your chosen sauce using a silicon brush, and cover both sides evenly. Season to taste.
3. Put 3 or 4 strips of bacon on a chopping board slightly overlapping each other. Put the breast in the middle, then wrap it up in the bacon, tacking in the sides. Repeat with the other pheasant breast.
4. Heat some oil in a frying pan, add the wrapped breasts and seal them on each side for a few minutes. Transfer them to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the bacon is crispy and the pheasant has cooked through.
5. Alternatively: put the wrapped breasts in a baking dish (with the wrapped edge downwards), and cook for 20 minutes. Finish it off with the grill/brioler in the oven for 2 minutes to crisp the bacon.
6. Rest for a couple minutes before serving.
Tips: Green Pesto, chilli jam, harissa paste, sundried tomato paste, cranberry sauce, prune sauce, tapenade, roasted pepper cream would work well. Or you could just mix grainy mustard & minced garlic for the sauce; or put a large sage leaf and/or prune on the pheasant breast before wrapping it in the bacon.
• • •
OUR OWN TEXAS GORMET, Bryan Slaven has a few recipies to share, including this delicious pie, just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner planning.
Amy’s Amazing Apple Pie
THIS RECIPE WAS SHOWN TO Bryan Slaven by a sweet little lady in Hackberry, Louisiana named Amy Elmer. She was the head cook in the kitchen at Hackberry Rod and Gun Club, and was kind enough to allow Bryan and the film crew from the Academy Outdoors Television show to shoot a few episodes in her kitchen between the waves of hunters coming through for lunch and dinner.
As Bryan reports, “Boy, howdy, you should have seen the massive pots of gumbo and Etoufee they prepared. Awesome. Anyway this was a favorite pie recipe of Amy’s, and I have made it several times. It is without a doubt the best pie I have ever tasted, and it’s not that difficult to make. I hope you will enjoy it too! By the way, that Hackberry Rod and Gun Club is one fine place to take friends, family or clients when you want the absolute best in bay fishing, and world-class duck hunting!”
1 package – Pillsbury’s pie crust – 2 pieces top and bottom – set out for 20 minutes before opening to make handling easier
1 glass pie pan
2 cups pecans – chopped coarsely
2 cups – dark brown sugar
6 apples- Brae burn or any other firm and juicy variety- peeled and sliced thin
2 1/2 Tablespoons- flour
1/2 tsp. – cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place a double large sheet of foil under pie pan rack-the juices will tend to bubble out of the shell
Take the butter and line the inside of the pie pan
Place the pecans in the bottom of the pan
Now- place the brown sugar on the pecans and gently pat down
Place the first pie shell over the brown sugar and pecans and be sure to make the shell hang over the edge of the pan slightly
Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and stir together well
Sprinkle the dry mixture over the sliced apples, and stir gently to combine
Place the apples in the pan on top of the first pie shell (careful its a lot of apples and it will look really high but its OK)
Add the other pie shell and pinch the edges of the two crusts together
Cut a few slits in the top of the pie to allow the steam to escape during baking
Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes
Then – remove and carefully place a plate on the top of the pie and flip over onto the plate
Lift off the pie shell carefully scraping any pecan bits over the top of the pie
(Find more of Bryan’s wild game recipes at thetexasgourmet.com)