Gochujang Marinated Flank Steak with Ramen

Wedged into a rock outcropping above an aspen wooded valley Ryan and I glassed a decent sized herd of mule deer. The big buck was defending his territory at the end of October, his neck swollen his harem being pounced upon by an invasive hoard of smaller bucks on the periphery. He would run off one challenger after another in one-sided easily won fights. At about 300 yards this buck would have been a great wall hanger, but that was not the season Ryan and I were hunting. He had the “general season” tag that allowed him to shoot only “forky” bucks.

We had to simply watch the show and hope that a little buck would show himself. Alas, no shooter showed up and eventually the herd wandered down the drainage out of sight. Back to the truck we hiked.

Ryan, the guy with the tag, said “If that is the show for the day, hell the week, this was time well spent.”

“Yeah, not every day you get to watch the rut in action” I said.

We then proceeded to go on a series of “trusty” spots looking for deer. From one vantage point to another, from one block of buckbrush to the next, we hiked and drove. Doe after doe on the hills, not a horn in sight.

We stopped and ate a quick hot lunch of packaged ramen off of the camp stove. It slid down with a Gatorade and peanut butter and honey sandwich. Not exactly gourmet, but surly under $3, and that is the point somedays.

Eventually, about 3pm, we made a wide loop and came to the top of a long draw with a great view below. Then I dun messed up. The giant stick my foot was on cracked, then broke clean in half. The noise floating up the valley like a beacon, it was a cringe worth moment. Seconds later, still with that “oops” look on my face, I caught sight of a doe head at 100 yards. She was starring right back at me. Ryan was not amused either, but little can be done. This hunt just went from a “Spot and Stalk” to a “Spook and Shoot” in a heartbeat.

Soon a heard of deer was filing out the draw below us. One after another I watched them, tail raised, run out of the draw. “Doe” I said, watching the herd pass by. “Doe, Doe, Doe” as they began to file past us in the draw below about fifteen total. Soon the herd cut back to a leafless aspen grove following a well-used game trail. Joining the initial herd was a new group of deer, appearing from a different section of the draw. “Doe, Doe…%$%& sake – a spike, I got horns!” I proclaimed.

“On him” said Ryan.

“Cool” I replied.

“Do I shoot?” said Ryan.

“Your tag” I replied.


“I have no idea”


“A little”

“Dude, you are not helping” said Ryan.

“Well you are not shooting” I responded.

Then he did. One shot from his .285 rang out across the valley. The young buck had been quartering away from us at about 300 yards. Ryan, off a shooting stick, hit the buck just behind his left shoulder, sending the bullet through the beasts’ heart. The buck simply crumpled, never knowing another thing.

Ryan tagged the buck the started back to the truck for the pack boards. I dressed and quartered the deer – getting him into game bags quickly. Then we hauled him back in one fell swoop.


“Want any of this guy?” Ryan asked.

“Can I have the flank steaks” I said.

“Really? That’s it?” he replied.

“I have an idea…”

Gochujang Marinated Flank Steak with Ramen

Sometimes making classy junk food is just fun, done right it can be delicious. Like many college students I have eaten an inordinate amount of “ramen” in my day. At 25¢ each they are a cheap way to full an empty belly. But with just a few extra items a bowl full or salt and starch can turn into a bowl of decadence. Cue this recipe for Venison Flank Steak.

Located on the outside of the deer’s ribcage the flank steak is an often underutilized cut of meat. Most times it is peeled off of the ribs and tossed into the “grind” pile. That is a shame – marinated, quickly grilled and sliced thin the meat is delectable.

To find the flank simply look under the front quarters and on-top of the ribs. This area holds the “brisket” cut – or the breast meat off a deer. Behind that, on each side, is the flank meat. It will only ever be about 1 inch thick. It should peel off the ribs with little work – but it will be covered in fat and silver skin. Clean the flank as well as you can without losing too much meat. Slide the tip of the knife under the silver skin and slide it along the meat, discarding the silver skin. I typically loose about 30% to trim, but that is way worth it.

The next step is to marinate the flank steak – it can be for as little as 4 hours or up to 24. Really the flavor is great so do this step however you would like. Then grill the flank steak, this adds a great smokiness to the dish. I then add a poached egg, fresh vegetables and a dash of Shichimi Togarashi – giving the whole dish a kick up of flavor. For a cheap meal that is quick and easy to prepare, this one fills the stomach and tastes great too.


1 each Deer Flank Steak (about 1# of venison total, really any cut could work with this)

1 tablespoon Gochujang

1 tablespoon Honey

1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

2 tablespoons Water

1 teaspoon Shichimi Togarashi

1 each Deer Flank Steak (about 1# of venison total, really any cut could work with this)

Add everything but the flank steak to a medium sized mixing bowl. Combine with a fork until mix is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Add the flank steak and coat evenly with the marinade. Cover bowl with clear film and leave in the fridge anywhere from 4-24 hours.

Heat grill to medium-high. Take the venison directly from the refrigerator to the grill, do not pre-warm the meat at all. Cook flank steak no more than 3 minutes on each side. Remove to clean plate and let rest before slicing. Slice thin and serve on top of the Ramen bowl.

The “Ramen”

6 cups water

1 tablespoon vinegar, white

2 packages “Oriental” Ramen

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup matchstick carrots

1 cup chopped kale

4 eggs

1 mango, cored and sliced thin

In one medium sized sauce pan add 4 cups water, bring to a boil. In a separate sauté pan add two cups of water and add the vinegar – bring to a simmer. Add to the ramen (including the flavor pouches, opened), broccoli, carrots and kale to the four cups of water. Bring back to a boil and remove from heat.

Crack, gently, the four eggs into the vinegar-water and let simmer until the egg whites completely set but the yolk is still runny, about 2 minutes.

Portion into four bowls the ramen, broth and vegetable mix. Top each bowl with a poached egg, sliced mangos and sliced flank steak. Enjoy!


Buck, Buck, Moose – Interview with Hank Shaw

Sometimes it is cool to know people. I happen to know Hank, he is a good dude. That said – the man has launched an ambitious new book, backed by a Kickstarter Campaign, on cooking venison called Buck, Buck, Moose. Take a gander at the interview below – or on the Stands with the new issue of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.



Randy: Book three Hank, what is this one about?

Hank Shaw: Buck, Buck, Moose is something of a follow-up to my last book, Duck, Duck, Goose. Where the duck book covered all things waterfowl, this one, as you might imagine, covers everything you might want to know about prepping and cooking venison — in all its forms. One of the reasons we named the book as we did was to give people a sense that it wasn’t just about whitetail deer — sure, deer bucks, but also antelope bucks, and moose and elk, etc…. Also, well, we did think it was a fun title.

R: There are other Venison cookbooks on the market. What makes Buck, Buck, Moose different?

H: It is far more comprehensive, in all respects. The book covers everything from the moment you have the deer on the ground all the way to the freezer, and beyond. I go over food safety, detail general differences in the various meats by species and region, and I offer a style of butchering that can literally be done with a pen knife and a pocket saw — although I’d suggest a proper boning knife and a Sawzall if you have them.

Buck, Buck, Moose also looks at venison cookery from a nose-to-tail and a global perspective. You will see recipes for venison from all over the world. Why? Because every culture in the world has at least a historic tradition of eating deer, elk, gazelles, moose, antelopes and the like. Similarly, it is important to me to open up to home cooks new ways of cooking the animals we bring home to feed our families. I’ll never ask you to eat innards because I think you ought to out of some moral obligation. But I will ask you to try my recipes for things like hearts, livers, tongues and kidneys because they taste amazing. Give them a go and you’ll see…

R: This books was funded via Kickstarter – full disclosure I am waiting for my copy – why did you choose the self-publish rout vs the traditional publisher rout?

H: Primarily for editorial control. I was able to create exactly the book I wanted to, and include as many photos as I wanted to, with no restrictions. It is liberating. Another huge reason is because many (but not all) mainstream, big-city publishers flat out told me they had no idea how to sell this book to the people they normally market books to; remember, for the most part, people aren’t buying venison, they’re hunting it. It was an eye-opening look at a little sliver of this cultural divide we’re experiencing in this country. I don’t blame the editors for passing on the book, but it may have proved to be a blessing in disguise.

_hah9339 R: You are about to start the book tour – mind telling me what that entails? The life of a traveling author seems so glamorous after all.

H: Oh God. Yeah, it’s basically like a rock and roll tour only with no explosions, groupies, money or drugs. Long hours in planning every detail — a 55-event tour has innumerable moving parts to it — driving endless miles solo, being in and our of airports (who doesn’t love the TSA?), nights in hotels watching ESPN. You lose your voice at least twice every tour, and Nyquil becomes your best friend because you invariably get sick meeting so many people.

But those are the down sides to this sort of tour. The upsides are the events themselves. Book dinners, presentations, parties, cooking demonstrations and classes. They’re all fun in their own way, but what really keeps me going on all those days on the road are the people I meet. Long-time readers, people who’ve never heard of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, rich people, poor people, rural, urban, left, right, black, white: I see all kinds when I am out there, and seeing each night how so many people of such disparate backgrounds come together over a shared love of wild food cements why I put myself through this. Gratifying is putting it mildly.

R: What is your “date night” recipe in Buck, Buck, Moose?

H: Oh there’s many of them. There are more the 120 recipes in the book, and most could be done for a date. But if I had to choose one, I’d say either venison loin with Cumberland sauce or Steak Diane. They are both classic dishes many modern cooks snub, but they are classics for a reason. Both are fairly easy to make, and taste more fancy than they are. If I were back in my 20s, I’d memorize these two dishes: They’d be an ace in my pocket for a hot date.

R: Give me a “top three” pieces of advice for cooking venison?

H:  1. Never cook the loin, tenderloin or whole-muscle roasts from the hind leg more than             medium, and cook the shoulders, neck and shanks longer than you think you need                 to.

  1. Don’t grind everything. I like burger as much as the next guy, but unless you are shooting lots and lots of deer (some people do), for the love of all that’s holy please don’t grind the luxury cuts.
  2. Don’t forget the bones for stock! Bones and little bits of sinew and gristle make the best stocks and broths. The only caveat to this is if you live in a place where there is widespread Chronic Wasting Disease, where you might not want to keep the bones.


R: Speaking of – what exactly defines venison? A cow is not venison, but a moose is? What is the line in the sand for determining what is classified as venison? Is a wild goat venison?  

H: Venison to some means deer and only deer. But most people in the English-speaking world use “venison” to mean any deer or deer-like animal: So elk, moose, all the deer and antelope, as well as caribou, would all be venison in this sense. This is the way I use venison in the book. The French use venison to mean all wild game.

While I would not call wild goat or sheep or muskox or bison venison, you could use all of these meats as a stand-in for venison for any recipe in this book.

R: Can you tell me about your two prior books?

H: I’d mentioned my last book, Duck, Duck, Goose, which is a full-color, hardcover, comprehensive waterfowl cookbook. My first book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, is something of a primer on the wild world. Experts in each of the many fishing, foraging and hunting sections of that book may not learn too much from the techniques I describe (although most will pick up at least a few new tricks), but the real value of the book is to open up extra skills to someone who loves self-sufficiency and being outdoors. Anglers might learn more about the wild edible plants they are around when they fish the banks and beaches. Hunters might pick up new tricks on foraging. Foragers might read the hunting section and decide to finally take the plunge and begin what can be a lifelong pursuit.

R: Can you tell me more about honest-food.net?

H: Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is the core of what I do. Honest-food.net is the URL to get there, and I gave it that name initially back in 2007 because I wanted to deal with what I call honest food: Nothing industrial. Nothing overly processed, and certainly nothing that came from a lab. Honest food does not have to be wild, but that is my area of expertise. So the site, over the years, has become the largest source of wild food recipes on the internet. There are almost 1000 recipes, tips, and technique posts covering everything from wild game to fishing, clamming, foraging, mushrooms, you name it. I post every week, and often twice a week, and this is the home of most of my more thoughtful essays on this wild, edible world we live in.

R: And just what is a James Beard Award?

H: Quite simply, it is the Oscars of the food world. There are few higher honors for a chef or a food writer. I was honored to be nominated, which means top three, in 2009 and 2010, and was overjoyed to have won the award in 2013.

R: I know you and Steve Rinella are friends but in Steve’s new book he proclaims that most red meat is interchangeable with other red meat in recipes – especially in big game. How do you feel about that? Do you think a person can substitute antelope for mule deer in a recipe?

H: Sort of. There are differences, especially if you begin to stray into more esoteric red meats like beaver or jackrabbit or mountain goat. These are all red, yes, but some can be strongly flavored. Sticking to venison, there are subtle differences in texture, color and flavor, but most of the flavor differences have to do with diet, age of the animal and proper field care, not species. One important and true difference is size. You cannot sub a moose shoulder for a whitetail doe shoulder in the same recipe without major adjustments. Sure, in the end they might taste similar, but things like cooking time and the amount of additional ingredients will be vastly different.

But at its core, Steve’s right: You won’t see too many recipes in Buck, Buck, Moose that demand you use, say, antelope loin as opposed to whitetail or muley loin. You might see things like, “use a young animal,” or this one’s for a big animal like a moose, elk or big muley buck, but no species-specific recipes.

R: I hear you did one hellava dinner at the Back Country Hunters and Anglers convention last year. Care to tell us what was on the menu?

H: Ha! Yeah, I busted out a technique from the 1600s called a la ficelle, which means “on a string.” I had a bunch of antelope hind legs to cook, and I seasoned them simply with olive oil, herbs, salt and lemon, jammed a bunch of garlic cloves in the meat, and then hung them over hot coals. I twisted the twine holding them up to the point where they’d spin on their own, basting themselves and making sure they cooked evenly. They came out great.

R: Speaking of Podcasts – care to elaborate?

H: Sure. I started a podcast called Hunt Gather Talk. It is a great way to have fun and talk to interesting people about all kinds of topics that touch the wild world. I’ve done solo episodes which are something of an audible essay, a few where I answer listeners’ questions, but mostly they are conversations. It’s been a lot of work, but I am learning new skills, like audio editing, and I’ve had a great response.

R: I ran out of gas one time with you in my truck yet you still came back to Idaho to hunt with me. You either really like to hunt Idaho or are crazy?

H: Both, probably. And my ability to give you a hard time about it until we’re both old and senile was more than worth it. Hunting Idaho is still new to me, though. I’ve hunted deer there, quail, rabbits, grouse. I am hoping to get a sage hen this season, and someday draw an elk tag, or maybe even a moose. You can be sure I’ll be back to bother you every year…

R: Can you tell me some of your favorite activities in the Pacific Northwest? 

H: Geez, that’s a hard one. The PNW is a wonderland for a guy like me. Mushroom hunting, wild berries up the ying-yang, salmon, albacore, trout, sturgeon. Blue grouse hunting in the mountains, quail in the lowlands, some of the best clamming on planet Earth. You name it.

R: What is your go-to hunt at home?

H: Ducks. Northern California is one of the best places to hunt waterfowl in North America. I probably spend more time hunting ducks and geese than anything else. It is the one kind of hunting where I feel very comfortable in the role of a guide.

R: If you weren’t on the book tour what would you spend September doing in the woods? Foraging, fishing, hunting?

H: Yes. All of the above. Albacore offshore, mushrooms in the woods, grouse in the mountains, doves on Labor Day, blacktail deer hunting on the Sonoma Coast. There is always something going on…

R: What book can we look forward to next?

H: To complete the hunting trilogy, my next book will be all about small game, from upland birds to small mammals. As this was what first got me into hunting, I am really looking forward to it.

Wild Turkey Salad Time

IMG_2411Drew and I plodded on in search of his first turkey, headlamps showed the trail ahead. The land we hiked toward was public, but entirely surrounded by private property. To circumvent any trespassing violations we had to stay below the “high water mark” alongside the river. A boot width wide the trail was our rout. Over scrub, under trees and through soft dirt (that threatened to drop us into the river below) we hiked opening morning of turkey season.

As the skyline started to turn blue we could see shadows in the trees across the river. The black forms of roosted turkeys, not yet stirring, became clear in the early morning. “Watch this” I whispered, taking cover in behind some sage. I got out my trusted box call and gave a few halfhearted clucks. A gobbler sounded off across the river, then another, then another. Through our binoculars we watched four toms get puffed up and sound off, using there thick deciduous tree limbs as de-facto dancing poles.

It is this call-and-respond that hooks so many turkey hunters, me included. One cluck was all I had to let out to get the gobblers talking and strutting at some unknown hen in the distance. But between us was a river, one they have never crossed for me. We watched, hopeful that a gobbler would cross over when they left the roost. To no avail. The trees cleared and the birds were on solidly un-huntable private property.

So on we walked down the river. Eventually landing on the BLM happy hunting ground. The area is low country river bottom – sage in the surrounding hills with a few scattered areas of timber along the edge of the river. The birds roost in the timber patches night after night and feed on the fresh green hills during the day. Keeping hidden in the area was the biggest issue, a lack of thick cover meant stillness and camouflage was an imperative.

In the distance, and most importantly on our side of the river, Drew heard a faint gobble. We advanced a few hundred yards, almost to the first patch of timber. I stuck a hen decoy in the trail and started calling. Soon we heard the sound off of an eager tom. Then another. Two birds if we were lucky – one for each of us. We tucked ourselves next to a cliff, behind a wall of sagebrush and waited.

Unfortunately, it was a blind corner and the birds would not commit. They were more than willing to talk but they pulled the classic turkey “hang up” move. Luckily the terrain was in our favor. Drew and I backed out climbed up the dirt embankment onto a plateau of sage behind us. Using the terrain to our advantage and crawling a lot we circled around the backside of the birds, finding a open area in the sage to place the decoy. Again we tucked in behind some sage and called.

The response was instant. Birds – and not far off. Annoyingly, the gobblers were basically in the position we had just left. I have a hard time waiting on hung up birds, so I tend to move more than I should. My lack of patience in the turkey woods has gotten the best of me several times. Ill often find myself calling to birds that are probably standing on my last hiding place. Or the birds will bust me moving from one location to another. Basically, patience is not my virtue.

From our set up I could see the head of a tom rise over the ridgeline at about 50 yards. Bright red and walking quick he let off a gobble. Then he caught sight of my decoy and almost instantly became a puff ball of feathers. Up went his fan and out went his feathers as he did the cha-cha closer and closer to our decoy. I would calmly purr as he closed in, then he would send off a thunderous gobble.

At thirty yards I whispered to Drew “Shoot him.”

After a long pause Drew whispered back “I can’t see him.”

A quick dart of my eyes (I dare not move my head) and I caught sight of Drew in his cover. It was so thick that it formed a wall around us. I had set myself up to have a view of the decoy. In his haste to get in position Drew was behind way to much cover to get a shot off.

The bird was now closing in fast. 20 yards, stop and strut. “Shoot” I would whisper. Waiting for the bird to turn a circle I raised my gun. 10 yards I could see the bird blink now. “Shoot him!” I would mouth. My heart at this point was making so much noise I was fairly certain it was going to give away our location. Much closer and I was going to shoot. Nine yards, I started to control my breathing. Eight yards, I took the safety off my gun.

Finally the bird walked into a window in Drew’s cover, only to be standing directly behind my decoy. “I don’t want to shoot your decoy…” he said. “I don’t care!” I fired back. I watched the resolve come across Drew’s face. That steely gaze hunters get right before they pull the trigger is unmistakable. At seven yards the bird turned, giving us a rear-end view of his fan, and Drew raised his gun. Then he leaned in toward me and placed the butt of the gun in the crook of his elbow. The bird turned to face us, its feathers fell and it cocked its head looking at the both of us in the cover. Drew fired.

Back at the truck it was cold pizza and warm beer for a celebration. Our feet hurt, the inside of Drew’s elbow was turning purple from a bruise…but the turkey in the back of his truck made it all worthwhile.

turkey salads

Spring Turkey Salad Recipes

Spring is often the start of “salad” season for folks. I know my garden is light and green at that time. I’ll often find myself foraging greens or eating fresh spring flavors at the time. Below is a trio of easy spring salads that you can make with your turkey.

The first part of all three recipes is the same – cook a turkey breast and shred it. When that is done the variations are endless – Asian to Scandinavian dishes can be created. Like with most wild meats however, wild turkey is incredibly lean. That is why in all the recipes below I am adding a “fat” of some type. It can be mayonnaise or sesame oil, it does not matter, what matters is a moist and delicious salad.

Cooked Turkey Breast

1 wild turkey breast, skinless

Salt and Pepper

2 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350°. Season wild turkey breast with salt and pepper. Heat medium sized skillet on high for four minutes, add oil. Carefully add the turkey breast and sear until golden brown on one side. Flip and place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked completely through. Remove turkey breast from oven. Let turkey cool completely. When turkey is cool, use a knife and fork to “shred” the breast meat. With wild turkey the thinner the slices/ shreds the better.

Asian Style Shredded Wild Turkey Salad

1 Shredded Wild Turkey Breast (See Above)

4ea breakfast radishes, sliced into rounds

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into half moons

1 red pepper, sliced into matchsticks

1/2 red onion, sliced into matchsticks

1 stalk green onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

¼ sesame oil

¼ cup peanut butter

2 Tbsp Sriracha

In a large bowl combine the turkey, radishes, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, green onion and garlic. In a medium bowl whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, peanut butter and sriracha. Next add the “dressing” to the turkey and vegetables. Toss lightly to combine. This recipe is best if it sits for a few hours.

Turkey Curry Salad

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and zest

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons curry powder (Even better would be a red curry paste, but not necessary)

Salt and pepper

1 Shredded Wild Turkey Breast (See Above)

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

2 stalks celery, diced

½ small red onion, diced

¼ cup cashew pieces

In large mixing bowl add the mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest, curry powder, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Next add the turkey breast meat, grapes, celery, red onion and cashew pieces. Stir to combine. Serve with Pitas

Wild Turkey Waldorf Salad (Recipe inspiration from food.com)

1 Shredded Wild Turkey Breast (See Above)

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 green apple cored and chopped

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

½ cup pecans, toasted, and coarsely chopped

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper

In a large bowl add the turkey, celery, apple, grapes, and pecans. In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, blue cheese and honey. Pour the mayonnaise mix on top of the turkey and vegetables. Gently mix to incorporate. Taste and then season with salt and pepper as desired.

How to Butterfly a Roundfish 

This is a great skill to have – the Butterfly. If you can learn this technique on a trout it makes steelhead, salmon and bigger fish very easy. Below is a picture guide on how to cut up a round-fish (as opposed to the other common shape – the flat fish – think halibut and flounder for those)

First start with a round-fish – a trout, salmon, steelhead ect. Gut the fish and move it to a clean cutting surface.  At the anal fin slice along the spine toward the tail fin.

  Cut so that you expose the skin on the underside of the back of the fish. See below.   Next slide the tip of the blade under the ribs of the fish. Then slowly push the knife toward the spine, working your way up each section of the fish.   Repeat the knife under the ribs slide until the entire half of the fish is “ribbed”  Next slide the knife along the spine, you will feel resistance from pin bones at this point. You will need to simply slice through them, removing them later on bigger fish.  Repeat the process on the other side of the fish.    When both sides are completly cut the bones should come up off the back skin. Cut free the meat that is still attached, careful not to puncture the skin.   Cut off the tail.    Butterflied Trout with bones pulled up. Cut off the head at this point.   Butterflied trout with roe. Yum. Cook with this recipe.   

Double Standards and Roadkill Deer

10# of Roadkill sitting in a brine...

10# of Roadkill sitting in a brine…

I may have crossed the line with wild game. Nothing illegal, nothing immoral but still a socially questionable action. I cooked, ate and enjoyed road kill. Now this is not the first time I have done this, but is it certainly the first time I have ever eaten deer.

Let me back up a little…

I went for a run a few days back, a simple little 3 mile thing. I ran up through the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge parking lot and when I made it to the main road entrance the road starts down a hill. The run was proceeding well, and then my dog bolted ahead of me to sniff something in the burrow pit. It was two dead deer.

Normally a single dead deer along the road is road kill, open and closed. But two deer, lying next to each other, made me suspicious. I stopped my run, called Idaho Fish and Game poaching hotline and reported the dead deer.

Shortly after the IDFG officer called me and we spoke over the phone. He said it was a case of the “double tap” with a fawn following mom and both getting hit. He said since it was not a case of poaching that if I wanted either of the deer I was welcome to them. The larger doe was clearly distended – her belly was a great deal larger than it should be. The fawn looked fine.

It had been cold, 1° outside, so I figured the meat would be just edible. With a little trepidation and a printed “road kill” form from IDFG I went back and grabbed the fawn. It was about the size of my Labrador/ Ridgeback dog. Roughly 100lbs.

I tossed it up on the gambrel in the garage and skinned the hind legs. Then I when I got the stomach section funky things started to happen. The smell of gut-shot game became very prevalent. That bitter stomach acid smell, then the stomach lining under the skin started to turn green. I stopped skinning the animal. I lurched a few times – and feared I would lose my breakfast.

I reexamined the deer. Now totally thawed the front legs felt like mush. Both shoulders clearly broken and the poor things head was caved in. Classic broadside road kill. Wanting to finish what I started quickly I pulled off the backstraps and then cut the hind quarters off the carcass.

The rest of the fawn went into a large trash sack – the smell of the stomach acid turned me off the whole project. I brought the meat into the house and deboned it. I honestly could not shake the gut shot smell from my nose. Each time I smelt the meat it would seem sour to me. My nose said it was turned, my brain knew otherwise.

It was flat impossible for the meat to have gone bad by the time I had gotten to it. The doe and fawn were hit the night of Dec 31st, I found them at 9am the next day. No way had the meat gone bad. But the smell still stuck in my nose.

The only thing I could think to do was corn it. I can make leprous yak meat taste just fine with some pickling spice and salt. So I tossed the meat in brine for a solid week, basically a version of this recipe. The Insta Cure #1 turning the meat a nice pink color. (Both hide quarters and the backstraps weighed in at 10lbs!)

A week later I boiled the leg meat for a solid 3 hours. When it was done cooking it was moist, tender and full of that nice corned meat flavor. I rubbed the backstraps in black pepper and smoked them. They came out way to salty, but fixable. The boys and I enjoyed a dinner of corned venison and cabbage soup.

Now I have several pounds of meat that was free to me, at the cost of a deer’s life. I feel good about having done an honorable thing; turning sadly taken life into food for my family. But I am not free of social norms, like only some redneck from Idaho would pick up and eat roadkill. I guess if the shoe fits…