GAME TIME: Hunter-Gatherer Mavens

By on December 22, 2015

More and more females are getting into the game.

Christy Marsteller, Lynn Sherwood and Gloria Courser aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty in the kitchen and in the  woods. (Photo: jake nichols)

Christy Marsteller, Lynn Sherwood and Gloria Courser aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty in the kitchen and in the woods. (Photo: jake nichols)

Jackson, WY – Their stalking has nothing to do with broccoli. And it’s not so much salad dressing as field dressing that offers an afternoon’s greatest challenge. In fact, you’re more likely to find women like Lynn Sherwood, Gloria Courser and Christy Marsteller decked in blaze orange than sipping orange mimosas on the back deck.

Ladies are just killin’ it these days.

The proportion of women who hunt has risen 25 percent since 2006, according to data from the Census Bureau. An estimated 11 percent of the nation’s 13.7 million hunters who hit the woods last year did so without a Y chromosome.

It’s about self-reliance and independence for a majority of huntresses. A woman’s place may still be in the kitchen, but not until she’s packed out 600 pounds of elk meat from the forest to put on the table.

“For me, it’s about knowing that I’m a part of human history,” Sherwood said. “Regardless of the economic situation or whether I need to, I know I can provide for my family in a more primitive, hunter-gatherer kind of way.”

Courser started hunting for the enjoyment but quickly learned it could provide an alternative to processed food laced with hormones and antibiotics.

“There is this study out now about the meat of an animal and the flavor being tainted by its life,” Courser said. “Just like we are affected by our own stress and anxiety, causing cancers and other health problems in our bodies, the meat of an animal carries its own stress and anxiety. With factory-grown beef you don’t know what you are getting, and you are injecting that animal’s life into your body. When I harvest big game my thoughts and prayers are for the animal. ‘I hope you had a wonderful life,’ I say. ‘I hope you had a chance to procreate and enjoy this amazing land.’ That comes back full circle and brings me joy.”

Ensuring an animal dies quickly is not only the humane thing for a hunter to do. Sherwood, a shooting instructor by day who has fired countless rounds at range targets, remembers her first hunt and the intense training that went into it.

“I have taken a shot from a mile away and hit my target. I’ve taken thousands of shots, but I still wanted to hone in, find my sweet spot, so I could make an ethical kill. It’s an immense responsibility,” Sherwood said.

Courser, too, remembers her first few hunts where it was all about getting out there and learning how to live off the land. “I didn’t start hunting for the food or to be organic or that. It was about developing a new skill set. I wanted to learn how to do everything … for myself,” Courser said. “Then I wounded a few animals at first and followed a blood trail until I couldn’t find them. That’s when the weight of it hit me. What my hasty shot meant. What came afterword was experiencing the beauty and connection to what I learned was God.”

For all three ladies, harvesting big game turned into a passion for preparing and eating food that never passed by a supermarket checkout scanner.

“For me, the food came first,” Marsteller said. Her husband Steve says she’s a phenomenal cook. “I love food — healthy food. I love the challenge of cooking food in a way that people would like it. I always thought hunting was just a guy thing. You know, a redneck sport filled with testosterone.”

Marsteller now joins her husband at hunting camp, but it’s in the kitchen where she really shines. “We’ve had people over for dinner who scarfed down three or four helpings before they ask what it is they’re eating,” Steve said. “When Christy tells them it’s antelope heart they push the plate away.”

Marsteller hated antelope the first time she had it. She enjoys meat dishes that don’t taste “gamey.” She says it’s all about a careful, intentional effort that begins before the pull of a trigger. Taking the right shot — at animals that haven’t been running with fear and filled with adrenaline, for instance — and safeguarding the quick quartering and dressing out of an animal are all important steps in making sure quality beef goes into the freezer.

After that, Marsteller says, don’t rush the thawing process. She thaws slowly and never cooks the meat until it’s at room temperature.

And the notion of the full circle, connection to the earth enrichment hunting brings to the dining room doesn’t stop at a forest-to-fork process. Courser, for one, takes pleasure in gardening and growing her own fruits, vegetables and spices. “When I think of a beet I’ve canned, for instance, it’s not so much about the actual taste of the beet but the memories that went into getting it to the table,” Courser said. “That first sunny day in April when I’m teased into thinking it’s time to plant but it was only a sucker hole. What row I planted it in. All these snapshots of memories that I don’t have from a grocery store.”

Marsteller gets eggs from her own chickens. “It’s empowering, and it’s a feeling of self-sufficiency to be part of my food,” she says. “Knowing that we can do it, we can take care of ourselves.” PJH

Goose Poppers by Lynn Sherwood

Because Everybody Wants a Little Christmas Goose

Ingredients (eye it)

Anaheim peppers

Cream cheese

Canada goose

Bacon

Garlic salt

Directions

Clean and cut Anaheim peppers to approximately 2 inces. Fill with 1 tsp cream cheese and add a slice of Canada Goose. Wrap in half of a slice of bacon and salt with garlic.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes; broil to brown and voila, low carb and fabulous.

Antelope or elk work well in this recipe, too.

Antelope Heart Carpaccio by Christy Marsteller

Ingredients

Clean-clean antelope heart (clean-clean: a clean harvest

and clean processing)

1 egg yolk (preferably farm fresh)

1 tsp dried mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 white pepper powder

Approximately 3/4 cup high quality olive oil

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

3-5 Tbsp milk

1 tsp Worcestershire

Directions

Whisk the egg yolk, dried mustard, salt and white pepper. Then slowly mix in the olive oil while whisking continuously. After the olive oil is incorporated, continue mixing in the rest of the liquid ingredients. Adjust seasoning and acidity level (i.e. more lemon juice) to desired taste. Set sauce in refrigerator while preparing antelope.
Cut the antelope heart into small pieces and then flatten between two layers of plastic wrap, using a meat mallet or small heavy cast iron skillet. Lay out each piece on a plate, trying not to overlap the pieces much.
When antelope pieces are flattened and ready, use a basting brush to cover the meat with a thin layer of prepared sauce. Then top the whole dish with a decorative light garnish of a little arugula, capers, shaved Parmesan and fresh parsley.

Note: I let the clean, sliced antelope heart age in the refrigerator for approximately eight to 10 days followed by at least two weeks in the freezer before preparing this dish.


About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

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