- Wild Game
Hunting & Fishing Stories
How I get the game I cook.
Last month I hunted tundra swans in Utah, and we ate our bird for Christmas dinner. When I tell people I have hunted and eaten swan I get reactions sunning the gamut from excited interest to full-on horror. Few animals carry the cultural baggage that swans do, and even I am not immune to these mixed feelings.
Geese are not ducks, nor is goose hunting like duck hunting. Geese are far tougher to fool, far tougher to kill. But when it all works, there is nothing else that thrills me more. I had such a hunt last week.
Most hunters, as well as those who raise livestock for meat, deal with this paradox: We love what we kill. In this modern age, this is a difficult thing to explain to those who live outside our world. A recent experience with some jackrabbits makes me want to at least try.
I don’t normally get excited about rockfish. They are easy to catch, and are often small. But recently in Alaska, I caught a gigantic yelloweye rockfish. I was giddy, and knew exactly what to do with it: Grilled redfish, or in this case “orange fish,” on the half shell.
Over the past few years I’ve seen the ranks of new hunters and anglers entering these pursuits in search of honest food blossom to the point where they make up a substantial part of the hook and bullet community. Only there’s one thing: I don’t see them joining groups like Pheasants Forever or Trout Unlimited. That needs to change.
Salmon are much more than just a fish. To many Indian cultures, they are a lifegiver, a source of mystical power and force. Like most Americans, I didn’t believe such stories. But after one of the weirdest fishing trips I’ve ever been on, I’m starting to come around to the Indians’ way of thinking.
A great many of you reading this are new to hunting and fishing. My advice is always to work at first with experienced friends – or guides. But there is an etiquette to working with a hunting and fishing guide you need to learn. This should get you started.
Diver ducks have a reputation as smelly, fishy tasting birds. Sometimes that’s true. But as I found out last week, even a clam-eating, saltwater duck can be magnificent at the table. Believe me, I am as shocked to write this as you are to hear it.