From Field to Table – Celebrating the Hunt!

One of the many cookbooks from Eileen Clarke, Townsend MT

So, the hunting seasons are over and you’ve had a great fall. Now you have a problem. You have a freezer full of wild meat and you’re getting hints from the family that there must be more ways to cook wild game than throwing it in a slow cooker with cream of mushroom soup.

Indeed, there are more ways, in fact, more ways than you can shake a proverbial stick at. If you’re interested in cookbooks, here are a few suggestions.

 Starting close to home, John Barsness and Eileen Clarke are a husband and wife writing team, based in Townsend, Montana. John is an authority on most anything to do with guns, rifles, shooting and hunting. Eileen is an avid hunter in her own right, but her niche is cooking wild game and writing cookbooks. Her cookbooks cover upland birds, venison, soups and stews, jerky, and sausage. Their website is

Hank Shaw is a James Beard award-winning author and chef who became hooked on wild game. He has written several cookbooks such as Duck, Duck, GooseBuck, Buck, Moose, and Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail, and more. He has a website,, and that website is full of recipes and cooking directions. He also has a Facebook page, Hunt Gather Cook, and he has followers who cook virtually anything. One person recently posted his suggestions on cooking and eating coyote, for example. Another person posted photos of mountain lion meat collected after a recent hunt. You can also get on an email list with weekly suggestions for game cooking. I recently used one of his recipes for venison Shepherd’s Pie.

Steven Rinella, also known as The Meateater, has created many TV shows featuring hunts for wild game with demonstrations of wild game cooking, and has published several cookbooks, such as The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine, or The Meateater Fish and Game Cookbook. His website,, also has recipes, videos and demonstrations.

 Another television chef is Scott Leysath, or The Sporting Chef. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t published any cookbooks, but his website,, is full of recipes for game and fish. He regularly has wildfowl recipes in Ducks Unlimited magazine and other publications.

Part of my personal collection of game cookbooks

 I enjoy cookbooks, and my wife collects cookbooks, so we have hundreds of them on our bookshelves. But if you have unusual ingredients, chances are you can do an on-line search and find recipes, and yes, that includes mountain lion.

 By the way, if someone reading this happens to have a mountain lion in the freezer, I’d be happy to take some off your hands and take a try at cooking some kitty cat.

 For most game cooking, chances are that whatever bird or critter you’re planning to cook, there’s a domestic version, and that means that recipes for chicken, beef or duck will work for pheasant, venison, or mallard duck.

 For example, one of my favorite recipes for venison is stroganoff, using a recipe for beef stroganoff I got from the online Washington Post. A favorite recipe for pheasant comes from a New York Times recipe for chicken paprikash. A dinner guest a couple years ago ate four helpings, if that’s an indication. I have another recipe for paprikash that was described as genuine Hungarian, as the first step is, “Steal a chicken.” My adaptation for pheasant was, “First, shoot a pheasant.”

 I will mention that any wild game cooking at our house is done by me. My wife’s position is simple, “You shot it; you clean it and cook it.” She made that clear in our first years together. We’d gone fishing and came home with some fish. She majored in biology in college and wasn’t squeamish about dead critters, but her stance on fish was, “I’ll dissect it, but I won’t clean it.”

Much of my culinary education happened because I was able to retire from real work before she did, so I pretty much took over the kitchen for several years. Wild game was often on the menu as I experimented.

 We survived, as did our marriage.

 Paul Vang’s new book, “Golden Years, Golden Hours,” is available at How Novel, The Second Edition, Isle of Books & Books, or online at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.