Tag Archives: moose

2018-20 Hunting Regs, Columbia River Policy, Wolves On WA FWC Agenda


The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on 2018-2020 hunting season proposals, Columbia River fisheries policy, and other issues during a public meeting March 15-17 in Wenatchee.


The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in the Wenatchee and Chelan rooms of the Red Lion Hotel, 1225 N. Wenatchee Ave., in Wenatchee.

The meeting begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 15, with Commission workshops that include no public input but are open to the public. Meetings scheduled Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 16, begin at 8 a.m., with a review of hunting season proposals on Friday and Columbia River fisheries policy review on Saturday.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

The hunting season setting public process began last summer with surveys and meetings to develop proposals. They include:

  • Changes to Yakima and Colockum elk hunting permit allocations.
  • Adding unmanned aircraft (drones) to the list of prohibited hunting equipment.
  • Requiring black bear hunters to complete a bear-species identification test in areas with threatened grizzly bears.
  • Prohibiting night hunting of bobcats in areas with endangered lynx.

The commission will hear final public input at the March meeting, with decisions scheduled for the April meeting.

Last month the commission directed WDFW staff to review the Columbia River policy, adopted in 2013 in collaboration with Oregon to guide management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River. The policy is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river’s main channel.


The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of gillnet permits. The commission will be briefed, take public comment, and possibly make decisions at the March meeting.

The Commission will also hear public comment on proposed amendments to hydraulic project approval (HPA) rules on Saturday.

The Commission is set to make decisions on a proposal to require use of LED fishing lights in the coastal commercial ocean pink shrimp trawl fishery and a permanent rule to clarify the limits of keeping salmon for personal use during and open commercial fishery.

The commission will also be briefed by WDFW staff on forest management in wildlife areas, 2018 federal Farm Bill reauthorization, and the department’s annual wolf report.


Just 7 Days Left To Comment On WDFW 2018-20 Hunting Reg Proposals


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on proposed recommendations for the 2018-20 hunting seasons.


Through Feb. 14, WDFW will accept comments from the public to help finalize proposed regulations for hunting seasons that begin this year. To review and comment on the proposals, visit the department’s website starting Jan. 24 at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/.

Developed after extensive public involvement, the proposed hunting season rules are based on the objectives and strategies contained in the new 2015-21 Game Management Plan, said Anis Aoude, WDFW game manager. The plan is available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01676/.

“We appreciate the input we’ve received over the past months and encourage everyone interested in the 2018-20 hunting seasons to review and comment on the proposed rules before final action is taken,” Aoude said.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, will also take public comment on the proposed recommendations at its March 16-17 meeting at the Red Lion Hotel in Wenatchee. Final commission action is scheduled to take place at the April 12-16 meeting.

Drone To Be Tested Next Week In Ongoing NE WA Moose Study


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working with University of Montana wildlife researchers to test the use of a drone this month to document the presence of moose calves in northeast Washington.


A contractor for the university will fly an “unmanned aerial system” equipped with a video camera during the week of Dec. 11-15 over radio-collared cow moose on public and private lands in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane counties. Researchers from the university’s cooperative wildlife research unit began the study in 2014 in cooperation with WDFW and other partners to learn more about moose populations, movement, reproduction, and survival.

Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife scientist, said the goal of the drone project is to document the presence of moose calves more safely, more efficiently, and less expensively than is possible with traditional wildlife surveying methods.

The craft will be flown over U.S. Forest Service lands and timberlands owned by Hancock Forest Management, Stimson Lumber Company, and Inland Empire Paper Company. All have given permission for the drone to fly over their lands.

By flying the drone over 35 collared moose cows, researchers expect to be able to document the presence of nearby calves. Harris said the only other ways to conduct such research – through close-up approaches on foot or from a helicopter – are less safe, require more time, and are more expensive than using a drone.

Harris said the drone would be flown only during daylight hours, at a maximum height of 400 feet. It will not be flown over people or buildings.


Harris said the flight schedule was chosen to avoid weekends and most major hunting seasons, which will minimize disturbance to recreationists.

The drone to be used in the test is white, slightly larger than one square foot, and looks like a four-legged helicopter with a rotor blade on each corner. It will be flown when a ground crew is within about 700 feet of a radio-collared cow moose and will record video only of wildlife and their habitat.

Harris said researchers expect the drone will be less stressful to moose than traditional ground monitoring, because moose have no overhead predation threats. If researchers conclude the moose are not substantially disturbed by the drone and calves are successfully documented, drones may be used for other wildlife research in Washington.

A 2016 update on the moose research is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01859/.

Predators May Be To Blame For Recent Moose Calf Survival Issues In Part of NE WA

Washington wildlife managers looking into how a growing suite of hungry predators are affecting deer, elk and moose populations believe a Shiras subherd in the state’s northeast corner bears watching.

WDFW reports an unusual signal seen in moose calf survival in east-central Stevens and southern Pend Oreille Counties in recent years.


It was lower in back-to-back years than in a study area just to the south and a cause for concern, biologists say.

“Calf-survival in the northern area, particularly during 2014, was low enough to elicit concern for population stability,” note authors Brock Hoenes, Sara Hansen, Richard Harris, and Jerry Nelson in the just-posted Wildlife Program 2015-2017 Ungulate Assessment.

They’re not sure why that is, except to say it’s probable some — maybe all — of the calves in question ended up as dinner and that more study will help flesh that out.

“Calf mortality occurred irregularly, with no discernible seasonal concentration,” they report. “We are unable to attribute specific causes to any of the calf deaths (the study is not designed to attribute specific causes to any of the calf deaths). That said, it is likely that at least some of the calf deaths were caused by predators.”

Among the toothsome crew roaming this country are cougars, black bears, perhaps a grizzly or two, and wolves.

According to WDFW’s latest wolf map, the Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows and Skookum Packs occur entirely or partially in the northern moose study area, and  all of which were successful breeding pairs in 2016. And in the past the Diamond wolves were here too.


By contrast, in the southern moose study area — Blanchard Hump and Mt. Spokane — there are no known packs, or at least were at the time of the biologists’ review last December.

Their 186-page report was posted late yesterday afternoon, two days before the state Fish and  Wildlife Commission will be briefed on wolves, wolf management and the future thereof by WDFW Wolf Policy Lead Donny Martorello.

It’s important because buried in the aforementioned wolf plan is a section addressing the species’ impacts on ungulates.

If “at-risk” big game herds such as woodland caribou are found to fall 25 percent below population benchmarks for two straight years or others see their harvests decline by a quarter compared to the 10-year average for two consecutive seasons, it could trigger consideration of reducing local wolf numbers if that particular recovery zone has four or more breeding pairs, regardless of statewide delisting.

As for the assessment of the rest of Washington’s moose, as well as its wapiti, deer and bighorn sheep, the report looks at each species, breaking them down by major herds or zones, details recent hunter harvest, and discusses other sources of mortality and factors that may influence population dynamics, before wrapping up with “Sub-herd Concerns” and “Management Conclusions.”

“Using the data at our disposal, none of the ungulate populations in this assessment appear to show clear signs of being limited by predation,” state Hoenes, Hansen, Harris, and Nelson in the executive summary.

That conclusion may not go over well with some Evergreen State hunters concerned about what their and others’ observations are telling them about how the animals are doing in the woods.

And it’s not to say that bucks and bulls, does and cows, calves and fawns aren’t affected in other ways by mountain lions, bruins, coyotes and wolves. They are, of course.

New research is beginning to show how wolf packs affect mule deer and whitetail behavior in North-central Washington, leading to different use of habitat than before.

The authors also acknowledge that limitations in the data sets “might preclude the ability to detect impacts of predation on a specific ungulate population.”

But the assessment is another way WDFW is attempting to show hunters it is keeping its eye on wolf impacts as numbers of the wild dogs near recovery goals and the conversation begins to turn to post-statewide delisting management.

Biologists will also take to the air and woods again soon for year two of a half-decade-long predator-prey study in the Okanogan, and Huckleberry and Selkirk Ranges.

Wardens Have ‘Multiple Leads’ On Moose Poached Near Lake Wenatchee

Word that a moose was poached, had its head chopped off and was mostly wasted in Chelan County earlier this fall enraged many on Facebook, and they shared the call for tips widely, helping game wardens searching for whomever illegally killed the locally rare big game animal.

“We are currently following up on multiple leads obtained by hunters and citizens that were in the area around the time of the poaching,” says WDFW Officer Blake Tucker today. “We have had quite a bit of help from the public, which is what is going to get this case solved.”

As a hunter, I know it’s the health of the herd that matters the most, not so much the individual animal, and that critters at the edge of their range are naturally few and far between. But this one particularly galls me.

Though there’s not a hunting season here now, one day we’ll be able to put in for a bull permit or two, yet the illegal kill north of Lake Wenatchee may have pushed that further out into the future.

This is one of two main areas of Central Washington where moose are moving to from the core of their range in the state’s northeast corner, where 178 tags were available for this year.

A WDFW map shows a number of citizen observations in the upper Wenatchee River watershed just last year.


It was here that a decade or more ago I first heard of moose in the area: One of my dad’s old coworkers, Neil B., talked about seeing one up the Chiwawa.

That was a sign, it turned out. Moose are not unlike wolves in that young ones tend to disperse in search of good habitat, and they appear to be finding it — and one another.

In 2013, reader Mike Quinn, who hunts this part of the state, began telling me about moose he’d been spotting then capturing on trail cameras.


Subsequent images from Quinn’s cams captured a couple little moose trains moving through the woods — in a 2014 photo, a cow and its bull calf followed by an adult bull, and in a 2016 shot, a cow and two calves.

The moose that was poached earlier this fall — its carcass was found about 50 yards off a logging road in the Meadow Creek area with only the head and a bit of meat taken — may or may not have been one of those animals. It’s a loss to a budding population either way.



The aforementioned WDFW map is part of a two-page synopsis of the agency’s public moose survey program for last year, which suggests a high calf:cow ratio among those colonizing the eastern slopes of the North Cascades.

According to extrapolated data from 20 observations in Okanogan County — to the north of Chelan County — one could expect 83 calves per 100 cows there.

Admittedly, the sample size is small, and state wildlife biologists, aided by aircraft and tracking snow on the ground, might come up with a different ratio.

But for what it’s worth, that figure is four times as high as citizen reports for Pend Oreille County, where moose began filtering into the state in the 1950s and where the first few tags were offered in the 1970s.

If they’re that fecund in Okanogan County, it seems probable that those in Chelan County might be doing similarly well — possibly better with one less predator currently in the portfolio.

While Alces alces is often photographed belly deep in ponds, those in this part of the state are actually benefiting from changes on dry land.

The large-scale wildfires of recent decades “have improved moose habitat,” says WDFW, and that’s included the eruption of willows and other browse across blaze-scarred landscapes.

Last month, as we pulled a mule deer buck out of an area that has seen two major fires, there on the ground were the telltale round doots of a moose. A friend found the first such pellets not far away several years ago.

While moose numbers are clearly growing, it’s unknown how many are actually in Chelan and Okanogan Counties. Ironically, biologists need more data from people who don’t actually see any to get a better idea of how many there might be.

“To obtain accurate data, we need more dedicated participants who will not only submit a report when they see a moose, but also report hours afield when they do not see any moose. For example, if you plan to deer hunt for four consecutive days, submit a report for each day you are hunting, whether you see a moose or not,” says WDFW’s moose man, Jared Oyster, in the annual survey report for 2016.

Year-over-year trends are helpful, but knowing how many bulls, cows and calves are in the area will go a long way towards setting up a limited hunt once a big enough herd has established itself.

Unfortunately, there’s now one fewer moose around Lake Wenatchee because some jackass or jackasses poached it, stealing the future from legitimate hunters.

Anyone with information on the case can contact WDFW’s regional office at (509) 662-0452 and ask for Officer Tucker.

Whomever’s guilty faces as much as $9,000 in fines and penalties and up to a year in jail.

Montana Added To WDFW’s CWD State List

Even as Washington hunters fill Facebook with pictures of their trophy Montana bucks, WDFW this morning listed the Treasure State as a chronic wasting disease state, a move that impacts what parts of big game can be brought back west.

According to a note from the agency’s Wildlife Program, the emergency rule affects free-ranging mule deer, whitetails, elk and moose.


To reduce the risk of spreading CWD, which was confirmed in a southcentral Montana muley recently, it means hunters can only bring back these items, according to WDFW:

Meat that has been deboned in the state or province where it was harvested and is imported as boned-out meat.

Skulls and antlers, antlers attached to the skull plate, or upper canine teeth (bugler, whistlers, ivories) from which all soft tissue has been removed.

Hides or capes without heads attached.

Tissue imported for use by a diagnostic or research laboratory.

Finished taxidermy mounts.

Those are the same rules that are in effect for 20 other states and two Canadian provinces, which include Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, and Albert and Saskatchewan.

Last week, an Oregon, man was cited for failure to follow import restrictions after bringing the carcass of a relative’s Montana buck — the one confirmed with CWD — to Madras.

WDFW says that it’s been testing Washington deer species for more than 20 years and has yet to detect CWD.

“We urge hunters to help us maintain our healthy deer, elk, and moose populations by complying with the restrictions outlined above. For more information regarding CWD, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/cwd/,“: the agency stated.

Tips Sought About Moose Poached, Wasted Near Lake Wenatchee


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police are investigating the poaching of an adult moose near Meadow Creek, in the Lake Wenatchee area of Chelan County. Only a small number of Moose exist near Lake Wenatchee and there is no established hunting season for them.  The carcass was found in a clearing not more than 50 yards from the road. Only the head and some portions of meat were taken leaving the rest to waste.


Officers are examining evidence recovered from the scene and reviewing security footage from roads in the vicinity.  They are asking anyone with information to call the WDFW Wenatchee District Office at 509-662-0452 and ask to speak with Officer Tucker. Those who provide information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward or bonus points for special permit hunting opportunities.


Killing a moose out of season carries a maximum penalty of $5000 and up to one year in jail, or both.  It also carries an additional criminal wildlife penalty of $4000.




Buck Bad Venison

Hunter-chef Hank Shaw’s latest book takes on bucks and bulls, from kill to freezer to pan to plate.

By Randy King

big pic 1

It was still dark when Hank Shaw and I sat down in the Idaho sagebrush. It was opening day of general rifle mule deer season and Shaw was on a mission. He was going to write a book on cooking venison and I was trying to help get him a buck. As we sat waiting for the sun to begin illuminating the hill to the east, a bull elk sounded off. Then another. It was too late for the rut, but the elk serenaded us anyway.

It felt like such an honor to be deer hunting with Shaw. The man’s a legend among the “cook what you kill” movement. His website, honest-food.net, is a James Beard Award winner – think Oscars for foodies – and I had met him a few years prior when he was promoting his first book, Hunt, Gather, Cook. I’d interviewed him for a local paper and was thrilled to find another person in the wild game chef sphere. He became a go-to source for my wild game culinary questions – a valuable one too. And he had single-handedly gotten me to look at the plants – not just the animals – around me as food. My wife made fun of me for being a “weed eater” as I examined and cooked the contents of my lawn one spring. And now this well-known and well-published author was looking to me for a deer. I did not want to disappoint.
AS SHOOTING LIGHT neared, I was feeling confident. I had hunted this general area hard in archery season and had even missed a doe near the spot we were sitting a month prior. In fact, I’d sent Shaw a map with two X s proclaiming the locations where he was likely to get his buck. We were overlooking one, playing the waiting game as the deer slowly moved uphill, away from the water and into bedding areas, as the morning began.

As the light grew so did our field of view. Two bull elk crested the horizon, antlers silhouetting on the ridgeline in the distance. We waited and glassed and waited and glassed. But nothing came; it was time to move to X number two.

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We were slowly backing out of our location and making a wide swing to a different ridgeline when Shaw caught sight of the first deer of the morning. “Flat head,” he declared in new-to-me terminology for a doe.

The deer was about 200 yards off and feeding away from us. A good sign, but not a buck. We glassed the sage and juniper country for a while longer, then Shaw caught sight of another deer.

“I think it’s a little buck,” he said. I had the better optics and gave the mule deer a gander. Sure enough, a little forked horn was feeding away from us. “Perfect shooter,” I replied.

big pic 2

Hank Shaw is a West Coast hunter-chef who is coming out with his third book, Buck, Buck Moose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Moose, Antelope and Other Antlered Things, just in time for fall seasons. (HANK SHAW)

We were hunting a management unit that limits harvest of general season bucks to no more than 2 points on one side. This created a “trophy unit” for those lucky enough to draw the tag. It also created a “meat unit” for those who do not care about such things, so this 1½-year-old buck was a great legal option.

Shaw and I slipped in behind a large juniper in the distance and began to close in on the little buck. The lone tree created just enough of a shield to get us within 70 yards or so. He was in the lead when we caught better sight of the buck’s antlers. It was not a forky but a 2×1. Shaw turned and whispered to me, “You shoot this one; I want a forked horn at least.”

I slipped in front of Shaw and took up my shooting stick, anchoring it in a sage, and bore down on the buck. I watched as his ears flicked; I could see his chest move as he breathed in and
out. Then out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of something else. I took my eye out of the scope to see another buck looking right at us. Quickly I pulled up my binoculars to check if he was legal – a perfect little 2×2! I turned to Shaw and handed him back the shooting stick.

“A forky!” I exclaimed, a little louder than I should have. Now both deer were looking at us.

Shaw took the stick back and began to pull up on the buck when it started to stot off.

“Shoot, shoot, shoot!” I exclaimed, perhaps a little too pushily.

“I don’t shoot running targets,” Shaw said, quieting me down and making me check my ethics. I would have shot; I felt a little ashamed. Both deer crisscrossed several times and then stopped under the shaded canopy of scrub brush at about 100 yards, broadside and looking at us. Shaw pulled up his .270, fired and one of the bucks dropped. I pulled up on the other buck, which looked at us for a few seconds, but could not squeeze the trigger. I was hoping to shoot my first whitetail that year and wanted to save my tag for later in the season. Plus, my main mission was now a success: Shaw had his Idaho mule deer on the ground.

Unfortunately in the chaos, he had shot the 2×1 he’d wanted to pass on. To this day, I feel guilty about pushing him into shooting. But his buck was legal and he seemed happy to have it, so no harm, no foul. What I know about little bucks is that they are delicious – this one would be no exception.

You learn a lot about a person while dragging a buck up a hill. You learn if they are tough, if they are patient and if they have grit to get a job done. Shaw does, and that was good to learn. We trudged the little buck up to a fence line, crossed and situated it in a meadow. I left to get the ATV.

We were back at camp by 9:30 a.m. and rested the remainder of the day. With meat secured, Shaw soon left for his home in California. We have since foraged, fished and hunted together a number of times, and fast forward three years and Buck, Buck Moose is about to hit the shelves. I might be riding coattails here, but I feel like I helped. Shaw needed a buck for his book and he got one. Oh, and by the way, he got it within 100 yards of one of those Xs on the map I sent him.

Shaw’s new book includes tips and photographs on “seam butchery,” a good way to disassemble large muscle masses like thighs. (HANK SHAW)

Shaw’s new book includes tips and photographs on “seam butchery,” a good way to disassemble large muscle masses like thighs. (HANK SHAW)

Randy King 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.

RK There are other venison cookbooks on the market. What makes Buck, Buck, Moose different?

HS 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.

RK This book was funded via Kickstarter – full disclosure: I am waiting for my copy – why did you choose the self-publish route versus the traditional publisher route?

HS 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.

RK 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.

HS 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 out 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.

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

HS Oh, there are many of them. There are more than 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.

RK Give me a “top three” pieces of advice for cooking venison.

HS 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. 2) 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. 3) 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 or hunt in a place where there is widespread chronic wasting disease, where you might not want to keep the bones.

RK 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?

HS 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.

RK Can you tell me about your two prior books?

HS I’d mentioned my last book, Duck, Duck, Goose, which is a fullcolor, 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.

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

HS Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is the core of what I do. Honestfood.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 1,000 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.

RK And just what is a James Beard Award?

HS 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.

RK I know you and Steve Rinella, “The MeatEater,” 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?

HS 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.

RK I hear you did one helluva dinner at the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers convention last year. Care to tell us what was on the menu?

HS Ha! Yeah, I busted out a technique from the 1600s called à 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.

RK Speaking of podcasts – and awkward transitions – care to elaborate?

HS 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.

RK 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.

HS 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.

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

HS 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.

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RK What is your go-to hunt at home?

HS 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.

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

HS 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.

RK What book can we look forward to next?

HS 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. NS