It’s still the hottest part of the summer in the Texas Hill Country. However, there’s plenty for hunters to do in the sweltering heat. The feeders have to be filled. The overgrown roads need to be cleared. In many cases, hunting camp trailers, cabins and ranch houses need to be cleaned up and prepared for the upcoming season. This particular season, we have the additional work of righting three of our blinds and removing dozens of downed trees after a big storm that blew through a few weeks ago.
It’s my job to bring enough food and cold beverages to keep my deerslayer up and running to get the job done. I like to start with food from our fridge at home, using produce and perishables that would, um, perish if we left them at home. My favorite cooler for packing food is the Yeti 105. It’s large capacity (21.8 gallons) and tall interior (14 usable inches when closed) make it perfect for most of the chilled food that I need to take. It is tall enough to hold a gallon of milk (or juice) with room above it for the wire rack that comes with it.
I discovered that a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot or Lowe’s fits perfectly in one side of the cooler. When fitted with a kitchen trash bag, I can fill the bucket with produce, cheese, lunch meat, etc., anything that needs to be chilled but that I don’t want to become waterlogged as the ice melts. Heaviest or less delicate items like cabbage or blocks of cheese can go on the bottom. Easily bruised produce and other delicate things can rest up top.
Once the cooler is full, pack ice around milk, other beverages, and between the bucket and the walls of the cooler but not into it. The items in the cooler should stay chilled for a number of hours. Extra ice can be added as needed.
As much as I LOVE our Yeti coolers, one of the only issues that I have with them is that they are HEAVY. Even empty, they weigh quite a bit. A solution that I found for moving them around the house easily for packing is to set them on small moving dollies that we purchased from Harbor Freight. The dollies allow me to roll the coolers freely around the kitchen and out to the truck for loading. I purchased two extra ones to keep in our hunting cabin. I can use the coolers when I need them and push them conveniently out of the way when I don’t.
Fix good meals, work efficiently, get stuff done! Hunting season will be here before we know it! Embrace the Hunters’ Lifestyle!
Those of you who partake of God’s greatest gift, the coffee bean, truly understand that all of God’s wonders are made more spectacular by the smell of fresh coffee brewing. Mornings and coffee go together. Mornings at a hunting camp absolutely MUST include steaming cups, mugs, or insulated carafes of coffee.
If you can be the one who provides the goods to bleary-eyed hunters, you will surely be crowned “Caffeine Queen”, “Empress of the Life-Giving Serum” or some other appropriate moniker. Who wouldn’t want that?
No matter what the circumstances or conditions at your hunting camp or ranch, it’s always possible to have a steaming cup of joe on hand for yourself AND for the sad-eyed hunters who didn’t bring their own. Basically, all you need is a heat source, a receptacle, good water, and ground coffee.
If you have power available at your hunting ranch or camp, you can set up any standard drip coffee maker, espresso machine, or whatever floats your boat. I have to admit that I have difficulty considering an espresso machine or Keurig to be in the spirit of roughing it at the hunting camp but that’s just me.
There are times when electricity may not be readily available, though. This is where you will need to be creative. Percolator coffee is one great alternative for a larger group of coffee drinkers. A propane camp stove or even a campfire will provide enough of a heat source for a good-sized pot. Percolators come in a variety of sizes to accommodate small to larger numbers of cups. I’ve purchased several. It’s worth spending a little bit more for a better quality one. The inner workings can be quite flimsy in the cheaper ones. Percolator coffee will take a while.
A French press is another choice that works if you don’t have access to electricity. It can produce several cups of coffee using just a heat source to boil water (propane stove or camp stove, or a campfire). It works by steeping the grounds in boiled water for two or three minutes in a carafe, usually glass or plastic, and pressing a plunger down through the water, separating the brewed coffee from the grounds. I like this method because the apparatus is relatively small and easy to transport. It makes about three cups of coffee. It doesn’t take much time, just enough time to boil some water (You will need a different pot in which to boil the water) and about 2-3 minutes to actually brew the coffee. A glass carafe may be difficult to lug around because it’s fragile. Look for one made of stainless steel if it’s a concern.
Finally, I found this little guy at World Market. It collapses flat when not in use, uses a small cone paper filter, and only requires the amount of time that it takes to boil enough water for a cup of joe! It’s a nice alternative to a Keurig. It’s a great way to prepare one cup at a time if you’re the only coffee drinker in camp. I love mine and use it all the time. Deerslayer doesn’t drink coffee so it’s perfect for our outings when it’s just the two of us.
It seems funny to me that, after years of participating in the hunting camp tradition, one or two hunters will wander up, bleary-eyed, looking sad and lost, with an empty coffee cup in hand. I am always glad to fill a cup for the poor souls. I have started to keep all the accouterments on hand (sugar, raw sugar, artificial sweeteners, Half n Half in tiny little prepackaged one-serving containers that don’t need to be refrigerated, as well as powdered creamer). I always have milk as well in the cooler or fridge. I try to keep insulated cups with lids on hand that hunters can take with them out to a blind. Yeti has really good ones that keep coffee hot for several hours. Other companies have jumped on board with less expensive, perfectly good models. Glad to help.
Deer season is over. The freezers are full. Most people would think that there’s no reason to head out to the hunting lease or ranch. Au contraire, mon ami!
This is the time of year that we clean out watering troughs, trim branches that start to extend out over the roads, and just generally clean up after an active hunting season.
For me, it’s the most beautiful time to be out at the hunting camp. It’s less hectic, quieter. The chores that do need to be done can wait until after I’ve taken in a glorious sunrise with a steaming cup of coffee and the sound of birds all around.
In the Texas Hill Country, tiny flowers and leaves anticipate the first day of spring. There was a time when I didn’t see the natural beauty that has been there all along if only I’d looked more closely. Before I chose to embrace the hunting lifestyle for the sake of my beloved, I missed out on so much.
The thrill of seeing the first bluebonnets on the ranch or the first sprigs of mesquite leaves brings me more joy than any piece of jewelry or dinner at any exclusive restaurant ever could.
I’m so grateful that I can share these experiences with my family, friends, and you!
The main purpose for this blog was originally and continues to be to encourage reluctant wives and girlfriends of hunters to embrace and share the passion that their loved ones have for a lifestyle that is unlike any other. I’ve attempted to do this by chronicling my experiences, both humorous and horrific, as well as providing recipes and tips that will be useful at the hunting camp and at home.
The reason I’m bringing this up now is that I tend to get off track and, recently, I’ve wandered off completely. So I guess the first paragraph was a reaffirmation of sorts. Whenever I’m with friends and family or being introduced to someone new, it often comes up in conversation that I’m “The Deerslayer’s Wife”, that I have “this blog” that’s about wild game recipes, etc. While I love talking about it, (and once I get started, it’s hard to shut me up) I’ve become remiss in my writings. I love being “The Deerslayer’s Wife” but have fallen down in my responsibilities. I’m still passionate about sharing my experiences in an attempt to encourage others to “join the sisterhood”. I’m constantly jotting down recipes and tips that would make hunting camp just a little bit easier to conquer for someone who is new to the game.
My plan is to be a little bit more disciplined, to actually take the photos of the great wild game dishes and ingredients, write down the tips and musings, and share the beautiful surroundings that are part of the everyday life of a Deerslayer’s Wife.
Those of you who have followed me for a while have been subjected through the years to my annual Valentine’s Day rants. I’ve shared my thoughts about the price gouging, the blatant commercialization of an originally sweet idea, and general lurid skankiness that has come to be associated with February 14th.
Everyone in the Deerslayer household loathes the idea of trying to go out to eat in any restaurant on that day. Seriously, if you are a true follower of the Deerslayer’s Wife, you KNOW that you can have an exquisite meal at home for a fraction of the price. An issue that we have experienced is that we’re hard-pressed to find a restaurant that serves game meats cooked to a medium rare perfection like those that we can prepare at home. On the plus side, we really look forward to buying chocolate for half price the next day!
Deerslayers’ wives, you have the tools to prepare the most amazing meal your husband has ever had. How about a seared tenderloin with a balsamic glaze or venison Parmesan with angel hair pasta or venison and Guinness stew or marinated semi-boneless quail? How about your deerslayer’s favorite dessert? It won’t cost over $100 bucks and he will love it. Done! BTW, I’d love it if you’d share your deerslayer’s favorite dessert recipe or favorite wild game recipe with me and the group. Ladies, we’ve got to stick together here!
Deerslayers, DO THE DISHES! POUR THE WINE! PLAY SOME NICE MUSIC THAT SHE WILL LIKE! DONE! Don’t buy jewelry, stupidly expensive flowers or candy! But if your sweetie has a favorite outfit, dress up, damn it! You can thank me on the 15th…after you snatched up some discounted chocolate!
Imagine….. autumn has arrived and it’s time to head out to the hunting camp. There’s so much to do! There are feeders to fill, game cameras to check, brush to cut. With all the work to be done, often supper gets “put on the back burner”. Get it? The guys will likely just heat a can of Ranch Style Beans. Ick.
This is where The Deer Slayer’s Wife can step up with something amazing and wow everyone at camp. If your hunting camp has a power hook up, you can use a sous vide cooker. It’s truly effortless. It also frees you up to help out with other chores associated with getting ready for deer season.
You’ll need a pot at least 6 inches deep for this particular sous vide cooker. When it’s just going to be Deerslayer and me, I take the small 6″ pot. If I’m going to be preparing a larger cut of meat for more people, I use a larger pot. Ah, the freedom to choose! Then grab some frozen venison from the reserves you have in your freezer, a little olive oil, and maybe some fresh or dried herbs, and head for the hunting camp. You can use backstrap, tenderloin, football roast or other individual muscles from the hind quarter previously thought to be too tough to serve medium rare as a steak.
On the day you want to have the venison, take a break from the hunting chores and get things rolling mid-afternoon. See if the meat’s still frozen. If it is, no worries! Fill the pot with clean drinking water or distilled water within about 2-3 inches from the top of the pot. On my sous vide cooker, there is a water level indicator that lets me know how much water I need. Next, attach the cooker to the side of the pot and plug it in. Set the temperature at 131 degrees and let the water start heating up.
While the water’s heating, remove the frozen or semi-frozen meat from its bag, very liberally season it with salt, pepper, and garlic mix. Place the meat in a fresh vacuum seal bag. Add some fresh or dried herbs (maybe rosemary, thyme, oregano), some fresh garlic if you want, and a drizzle of olive oil. You may have figured out by this point that there’s no real right or wrong way to do this part. Then seal the bag and remove as much of the air as possible so the meat stays completely submerged in the water. I usually attach the plastic bag to the side of the pot with a wooden clothespin.
Now, you’re ready to place the meat in the water bath. I clip mine to the side of the pot with a clothespin. You can set the timer for about 3 hours if the meat is frozen or 1 1/2 hours if it is thawed. Once the water has reached 131 degrees, the timer will begin ticking away.
This is where the magic starts! Because the water is not boiling, you can go about your business until the meat is ready. If you aren’t back from your chores when the meat is done, no problem. The water will keep it at the perfect temperature for up to a couple of hours. After that, the texture of the meat will be affected somewhat.
Once the your venison is ready, remove it from the bag and place it on a cutting board. Pat it dry while you heat a skillet pretty hot with some butter or olive oil so you can sear your meat.
Do some research about how to use the cooker and the wealth of wild game recipes! There’s so much information about the Sous Vide method on the internet. I got my first recipe from my nephew (venison football roast) and then found other recipes for wild game online. Anova (the brand of my cooker) has LOTS of information. Conor Bofin’s One Man’s Meat has become my go-to for sous vide information, outstanding game recipes, and witty stories. His photography is a feast for the eyes, as well.
Hank Shaw’s Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook is another great resource. Hank is an inspiration with his wealth of recipes, foraging tidbits, and hunting stories. He also uses the sous vide method for many of his recipes.
Hunting season is upon us! Grab your pot full of cooking magic, do a little research, and put on your hunting camp tiara because you are gonna be the camp queen! Oh, don’t forget a bottle of wine for your highness!
I’ve never thought of myself as a trend setter. Nor have I ever been one of those people who stands in line to be the first to own the newest gadget. More of a traditionalist, I’d say. I keep my phone until is seizes up and takes its last breath. I don’t need Alexa or Siri interfering in my personal affairs. But I came across a contraption recently that has changed the way I look at wild game cookery. I think I’d stand in line for one of these.
My college-aged nephew introduced me to SOUS VIDE cooking. During a recent visit to his place, I had noticed something peculiar on the counter in his kitchen. He told me that, about 3 hours earlier, he had plopped a frozen, vacuum-sealed venison football roast into a regular pot of water with a sous-vide contraption clamped to the side of the pot. He showed me how he set the temperature and time by pressing some buttons.
(I believe incantations surely must have been chanted.) When the three hours were up, I watched, mesmerized, as he removed the meat from its hot water bath, freed it from the plastic bag, seared that puppy up for color in a smoking hot skillet and served me some of the best venison roast I have ever had (and I’ve had a lot!)
The meat was juicy, flavorful and as tender as backstrap or tenderloin. It was wonderfully medium rare from edge to edge. I reeled!
“This Changes everything!”, I stammered.
Deerslayer agreed as he sampled the roast. The ability to season raw meat, place it in a vacuum-sealed or zip-lock bag, drop it in a pot of hottish water (not boiling) and walk away blew my mind. No stove, no crock pot. This cooking method is perfect for the 107 degree summer days in south Texas. It brings the meat just to the perfect temperature for your desired doneness (obviously medium rare) and then keeps it there until you are ready for it… without overcooking it or heating up the kitchen! The only conventional stove usage is at the very end for a beautiful sear. Done.
I’m so excited about this new method of preparing venison that I want to share my experiences. I plan to experiment with other varieties of wild game as well. However, I will not be providing a review of my Anova because, as I discovered, there’s plenty of information on the internet for you to check out on your own and videos available. I’ll let you know when I find some great sous vide tips and where I find them. I hope you will follow me as I delve into these new uncharted waters. I’ll keep you posted!
In my exuberance, I posted just these pics. No text. however, some of you got it anyway. You already know the magic of of Sous Vide cooking!
Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Good riddance! Those of you who know me, know that the Deerslayer household does not acknowledge the day. You can see my thoughts on the matter here. Valentine’s Day should be called Unnecessary Excessive Spending Day.
If we DID celebrate the Hallmark Greeting Card Day, and if I hadn’t just received one for Christmas, I’d want this amazing oval cast-iron roaster. Deerslayer got this one for me and I love it.
This extra large, oval roaster is exactly what I needed to prepare venison shanks with white wine and garlic.
The extra length allows the roaster to fit over two burners on the stovetop so that larger bits, like shanks, can be browned all at once.
It’s beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. Downright sexy!
While it’s pretty hefty, weighing in at 26 lbs., my Cabela’s cast-iron roasting pan with lid will also work beautifully for preparing large quantities of “cook-all-day” meat.
I’m so lucky that Deerslayer knows me so well that he knew that some sexy new cast-iron was the perfect gift that will keep on giving for generations.
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