People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas. ~ Author Unknown
For a lot of people, January is a time of reflection. Abundant New Year’s resolutions about weight loss and financial gain can be found in most every community. While many people are concerned about eating healthier, others wonder if they will even be able to put food on the table for themselves or their family. Providing for your family’s basic needs is especially important as a parent. Deer hunting not only supplies an abundance of food but is also an opportunity to teach your children about the importance of a healthy diet based on a local sustainable resource.
Because our family relies heavily on deer meat throughout the year, we usually run out by the time bow hunting season begins in mid-October. Jason tries to get two or three does through bow season, and that meat will last at least through the beginning of January, but he continues to hunt through the season until it ends January 31. Toward the end of rifle season, Jason usually adds five more does to the freezer.
An average size doe will yield about 25 pounds of ground meat, plus Jason will cube the select cuts of meat for an additional 10 to 15 pounds of cube steak. We have our own grinder and cuber at the house, and keep an extra refrigerator to cure the meat for at least six or eight days.
Once the meat is cured, Jason packs 1½ pounds of either cube steak or ground meat into quart freezer bags. He then seals each bag with his homemade "vacuum sealer" - a sink filled with water. He drops the quart bag into the water leaving one open corner above the water line. The water pressure pushes the air out until it is all gone and then the bag is sealed. This ensures each package is airtight and just the right portion size for the four of us.
Ground deer can be used just like hamburger. Some of Rolley Len and Cason’s favorite ways to eat deer meat are in hamburgers, tacos and spaghetti. The meat is healthier than beef because it has less fat.
Besides the food that comes from hunting, the kids really enjoy going to the hunting camp and sitting in the stands. They color and play and also scout for deer. They both love to be the first to grab Daddy and point out a doe entering the green field. Sometimes they see imaginary deer or coyotes, but they have a great time. Having our children spend time with their Daddy, Paw-Paws and close family friends is important to both Jason and me.
During bow season, you have to be sure to watch your children very closely. Warmer temperatures mean snakes are not likely to be hibernating, so parents should be extra cautious. Jason encountered two rattlesnakes at the camp toward the end of October. The unusually warm temperatures in December, and even in January, suggest you should still be cautious no matter what month it is.
This January when you are making your New Year’s resolutions, remember to think about how you want to spend the next year with your family. As you think about changes you want to make for yourself and your family, consider making a resolution that will have a positive impact on your entire family. I hope you are fortunate enough to not have to worry about where your next meal will come from, but, if you are unsure, remember there is an abundance of wild game in Alabama you can hunt to fill your plate.
1 pound ground deer meat
1 large onion, diced
2 cups canned or stewed tomatoes, diced
2 cups canned red kidney beans
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper
Chili powder to taste (I use 1 teaspoon)
Brown the ground meat in a skillet and drain. In a large pot, add meat and all remaining ingredients together. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring routinely.
Deer Chow Mein
8 cups egg noodles
1 pound deer steak strips, thinly cut
2 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
4 Tablespoons soy sauce, divided
Chopped scallions to taste
Marinate the meat in 1 tablespoon soy sauce for 20-30 minutes.
Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water according to package directions, rinse with cold water and set aside.
In a wok or deep skillet, heat the oil and stir-fry the deer strips. After about 3 minutes, add onions and continue to stir-fry, adding salt, sugar and remaining soy sauce. Add noodles and stir, cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add scallions and serve.
Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.