E S • F O R • W I P L D • EC G
I AM R E
B Y D E R
WWith R O B E R T R E H the first northeast winds of autumn, wild ducks bob and
weave down windswept skies, frosty mornings bring on the whitetail deer rut, and doves rocket
through cut corn fields. When the weather cools, outdoorsmen are eager to renew their connection
with nature in a ritual seen throughout America.
Each fall, getting outside to explore and enjoy the land is a cherished pastime shared by coastal
hunters. The calm and peace offered by wild places is a welcome release from often complicated
In the South, where wild game cooking approaches religious levels, outdoor chefs crank up
ovens, grills and smokers of every size. From trips afield, nature provides a bounty of birds and ani-mals,
and talented cooks are once again back in their favorite environment. Those who haven’t tried
wild foods are truly missing a unique opportunity.
Wild game is just that … wild. Game animals taken legally by fair chase are not confined by a
fence — they are truly free-range.
If handled properly in the field and in the kitchen, wild food can be remarkably delicious
… or not. To some cooks it’s a real challenge to keep wild game from tasting like a stump-jumping
billy goat so rank it could bolt right off the plate.
Venison, for instance, is plentiful in the South but venison dishes often have mixed reviews.
There’s an old saying around deer camps that goes, “Good venison is better than bad venison, but
bad venison is better than none.” Hunters who frequent deer camps may well disagree. On occa-sion,
they have all eaten venison that could best be described as shock and awe, and at times they
might have wished for a can of Vienna sausage. On the other hand, properly roasted prime venison
that has been carefully harvested and handled in the field can surpass even the best roast beef.
Duck hunting is also quite popular in coastal areas. Some say wild duck can taste just like
over-cooked liver, but a talented game cook with a fresh teal, wood duck or canvasback, mari-nated
and grilled to medium-rare over hardwood coals, can serve a bird that will beat the best
What is the secret to preparing and serving fish and game that is truly excellent and offers
a classic taste while at the same time preserving nature’s unique natural flavor? What are the
secrets that talented game cooks use to make wild food taste so good? Here are four recipes
from outdoorsmen whose families are game and fish centric, and who have been serving up
fine game dinners most of their lives and having a great time doing it.