Deer that Swim Rivers + Stuffed Backstrap

Chive & Onion Stuffed Venison Back strap

Serves 2

  • 1 Venison back strap
  • 4 oz. Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
  • 2 slices thick bacon
  • Deer seasoning- I use Hi Mountain Seasonings
  • Meat mallet or hammer wrapped in foil

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. On a cutting board, butterfly and tenderize meat with a mallet (or hammer wrapped in aluminum foil works too) so it flattens thin. Place in baking dish.

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2. Season with Deer SeasoningHi Mountain Seasonings is based out of Riverton, Wyoming, our nearest neighboring town, and has some great products for jerky & sausage making.

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3. Spread 1/2 the container (4 oz.) of cream cheese down center line of steak.

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4. Roll steak up & tightly wrap one piece of bacon around each end of steak to secure. 20151015_175629

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes–check at 30 minutes. It took mine 35 minutes to get to medium rare. 20151015_185052

Last year after harvesting a bull elk I decided that the next season I would focus on deer hunting. This turned out to be a good decision, seeing as how little did I know, I would be unable to hike or ride a horse by the time hunting season came around this year due to a bad herniated disc.

Keeping in mind areas that required little walking, Joe and I set out in the truck in search of a whitetail one evening after work, to a spot where he had seen one earlier in the week. After a short five minute walk, which at this point I could handle because it was right after my third steroid injection, we came up to the top of the small hill where we planned to sit out of sight and watch the area below. Except, when we got to the top of the hill, standing below 130 yards away on the other side of the Wind River was a heavy mule deer buck.

So much for sitting and waiting. Joe & I crawled over the rocky ground about 20 yards through sage brush and cactus, me holding my gun in one hand and my coat sleeve over the other. I got to a rock where I could lay down and get a good rest, with the deer still unaware of our presence above him. I took my time and squeezed off a shot before he moved any further behind a willow bush. He took a few steps forward, and I still had a shot, which I took just in case.

I couldn’t have been happier at how it all turned out. However, really the fun part had just begun. Now we had to get this guy across the river, which is knee/thigh high on a man, swift, and about 25 yards across. The outfitter that Joe guides for lives nearby and brought his 4-wheeler, however the willows were so dense in the marshy area along the riverbed there was no getting to the river with it. Now, with daylight waning, Joe donned chest waders and made his way across the water with rope and his knives while I waited. After gutting the deer, he proceeded to cut it in half and swim each half across the river in the dark using rope tied off to a thick stick which he hung on to. It was  both comical and a little nerve-wracking to watch! Seeing the amount of force generated by the current pushing the dead weight of the animal downstream was intense. Success!

20151007_193709_LLSA few days later I cooked up the back strap, and the combination of tender venison and chive and onion cream cheese held in place by bacon was quite tasty.

 

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Classic Slow Cooker Elk Stew

elk stew

I used this recipe by BUCHKO from All Recipes as the basis from which to make this Classic Elk Stew last Sunday for a perfect wholesome weekend meal after my afternoon x-c ski. The elk meat is extremely tender and required no marinade at all! This recipe will give you leftovers for the week, too, which is very welcome on those nights when you get home from work and just want to EAT. This does take 8 hours on LOW in the slow cooker from start to finish, so it’s a good idea to thaw your roast two days before you plan to make this so you can start it cooking by late morning.

This is what I used:

  • 2 lb Elk Round Roast
  • 3 whole carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 2 potatoes (red or russet or both)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into big pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced into pieces
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire
  • 1.5 cups beef broth (I used Better Than Bouillon beef base)
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. season salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  1. Cut elk meat into 1-inch chunks and place into slow cooker.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup flour over top to cover the meat.
  3. Rinse and peel carrots and slice into rounds.
  4. Wash potatoes and cut into chunks with skins on.
  5. Rinse celery stalk and cut into pieces.
  6. Cut 1/2 yellow onion into big pieces.
  7. Place vegetables in slow cooker.
  8. Combine beef broth with minced garlic clove, Worcestershire, and seasonings. Pour over top of meat and vegetables.
  9. Top it off with a bay leaf and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  10. Remove bay leaf before serving.

I served this stew with garlic bread and it was a great combo. This stew will also make your house smell fantastic!

 

 

Mongolian Elk Stir Fry & Long Creek Elk Hunt

If you are looking for a way to spice up your same old elk steak routine like I was, this recipe is certainly worth a try, it was delicious and made me feel like I was eating at a restaurant from my own home. I used this recipe from the Real Hunters Wives site as the basis for preparing the meat in my slow cooker, and served it atop a bed of rice pilaf and stir fried veggies for a nutritious, flavorful dish!

mongolian elk

Mongolian Elk Stir Fry

Servings: 3

  • 3/4 lb elk steak (round steak worked great)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen sugar stir fry vegetables
  • 1 box rice, prepared per package– I used Mushroom Rice Pilaf (Far East brand)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Slice venison into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Place cornstarch in Ziploc bag, then put meat chunks inside and shake until coated.
  3. Combine onion, soy sauce, chicken broth, garlic, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes in slow cooker.
  4. Place meat in slow cooker so it is covered by broth mixture.
  5. Cook on LOW for 4 hours.
  6. Prepare rice, and while rice is cooking, saute stir fry vegetables in 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet for 3-5 minutes over medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve meat over a bed of rice and vegetables.

This elk steak was from my 2014 bull elk, for which I am both gracious and grateful…..

2014 Long Creek Elk Hunt

This fall Wyoming experienced a cold August and a warm September and October, marked with weeks of sunny, 60 degree weather. This impacted the typical elk migration timeline and allowed elk to remain in the high country. In mid-October Joe and I headed out on a Sunday afternoon with Yolanda and Slim to scout an area for elk that Joe had in mind, given the unusual weather.

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We rode for a little over an hour through an old cut block and old burn area until we reached an open pocket meadow on the East Fork of Long Creek. After tying up the horses, we sat and glassed, and decided we would stay until the sun dropped below the tree line to the west and then ride back. After a little while, we spotted some elk far across the valley, six or seven, that were on private land. We also spotted two buck antelope munching away several hundred yards away. It was a wild and beautiful spot and I was already pretty happy just to have been able to ride to this spot.

As the sun began to lower in the sky, I looked back across the meadow and saw that two cows and a calf had suddenly appeared out of the timber and were grazing away. Ironically Joe had stepped away to find a tree just ten seconds before, so when he returned back a few moments later, I was resting my Kimber 25-06 on a head-high tree limb and was sighted in on the cows, in case a bull stepped out. Joe ranged the elk and they were a good 500 yards away. We watched them a few more minutes as more cows and calves stepped out, eight or nine total now, and were thinking; are they really alone, no bull?! Then, all of the sudden Joe caught just a glimpse of a bull as he headed back into the trees; he had come out of the timber already in front of the cows closer to us, but due to the gently rolling terrain we had been unable to see him from where we were. So now we were on the move to get closer; all but one cow were headed back into the timber and she busted us, but we had no choice but to move. So we “squat-ran” a ways and then got down and crawled up to a stump within 350 yards. And then the last cow headed up into the trees and they disappeared. Disappointed yet excited at having come so close, we sat there and waited about five minutes to see if they would come back out, but were doubtful, since we knew that one cow had seen us. This is usually how our elk hunting has been the past five years; close, but the elk usually win!

As we stood up to walk back to the horses, Joe glanced to the north and much to our surprise, the bull and just one other cow had stepped back out from the timber and were standing along the treeline eating. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This NEVER happens! Now, we “squat-ran” again to the right, trying to close the distance as much as possible without giving ourselves away, but we now had a bit more advantage due to the lay of the land and fact there was virtually no wind. We crawled the last little bit over to a rock at the top of a small rise and I laid down flat and rested my rifle on the rock. I do best when I have a few seconds to get real comfy and solid, and thankfully I had that time. Just that morning I had printed off the ballistics chart for my new Huskemaw scope and taped it to the stock; Joe had tested the loads he built for my gun at the Range and we were able to enter the data and know exactly how many clicks to make to adjust for distance. At 370 yards, I was able to find the bull immediately in my scope. I zeroed in with laser-like focus as the bull stood broadside, and my shot rang out into the calm evening air. I was confident I hit him, as was Joe, but knowing how tough elk are, I chambered another round and shot again, as he was now standing facing the other direction. I shot a third time. Then I was out of bullets; the rest were in my saddle bags. The elk had gone into the timber now, and in the back of both our minds was the thought we might have to track this animal through dark timber at dusk in some of the most dense bear country; where bears are known to run toward gun fire and a (totally unarmed) man was killed and eaten by a grizzly not ten miles away this summer.

Joe headed back to get the horses and bring them over, and I waited and watched the spot where I last saw the bull, by a six-foot tall dead tree stump. Joe was back in a few moments, so I re-loaded my gun and walked out ahead as he followed with the ponies. I got over to the stump while Joe tied up and looked down for blood, and much to my horror, saw none. I then glanced over into the timber toward the direction the bull had gone, and out out of the pine trees saw two elk horns sticking up; he was only about 20 yards away laying down in the trees. I turned my scope way down and held my rifle up to my shoulder and shot him in the nose-area just below the eyes. Still alive. Joe now came up behind me and had me aim at a tiny patch of neck visible through the branches, so I shot him there as well. He now rolled onto his side, and as we approached, realized he was still indeed alive, head rolling up and down. A quick final shot with the .41 to the back of the head ended the suffering. They are tough.

I was instantly overcome with excitement and gratitude at having harvested the bull in such unsuspecting circumstances in such a wild and perfect spot, and grateful we would not be put in the situation of having to search the woods for the bull in the dark, or worse, not find him.

mo elk 2014

The next step was to quickly field dress him; Joe grabbed his knives off Slim, we had our rifles within arms reach, and we moved the horses as close as we could to have extra eyes keeping watch while I held legs up and open while sitting on the chest cavity and Joe gutted the elk. We discovered two of my first three shots hit the mark; the first shot was through the lungs, the second missed, and the third hit low, in the guts. By now it was dark, so donning our headlights, we worked up a good sweat as we drug the head and each half of the elk through the woods to the treeline using lead lines. Slim saved us a lot of work, as once the elk was at the edge of the treeline, Joe got on him and Slim dragged the elk halves several more yards out into the open so that when we returned the next day with pack horses they would be visible, should any bears be on them. Having done what we could for the night, Slim and Yolanda took us back out in the dark under the stars with a light snow falling. We got back to the trailer right before 9 pm, and in six hours, our “scouting trip” had turned into a successful and very memorable elk hunt.

Copy of Taz with 2014 bull

The following day, I had to work, so Joe and a friend rode back in with all four of our horses and retrieved the elk. No bears had visited during the night, and the ponies packed out the quarters for us. Taz, 30 years old, packed out the front quarters and head, the tough old bird. We do not use him very much anymore, and I was thrilled he did okay on this trip. Joe went on to harvest a calf on his cow/calf tag in December, and I have already told him that next year it is his turn to go after the bull!

Slow Cooker Mountain Man Beans with Fluffy Cornbread

I made this dish basically using this recipe for “Cowboy Beans with Beef” from the Thrifty Recipes website. However, I scaled down the recipe to make enough for dinner for two with one serving of leftovers, and subbed in ground elk for the beef. Therefore, Joe came up with the idea that they are Mountain Man Beans (elk) rather than Cowboy Beans (beef). Makes perfect sense when you think about it!

I REALLY liked this meal, and it makes a good substitute for chili. I plan to make it again in the next few weeks. Plus it uses stuff one would mostly have on hand, and is filling, inexpensive, and nutritious. I came to the realization that healthy is a subjective term, so I am going to stick with the term nutritious : ) The cornbread recipe is my go-to, it is from the back on the Quaker cornmeal can and I simply substitute plain Greek yogurt for the vegetable oil, which results in a soft and fluffy cornbread. Nutrition stats for my cornbread recipe can be found on Livestrong.

Slow Cooker Mountain Man Beans with Fluffy Cornbread

Servings- 3

Mountain Man Beans

  • 2 slices bacon, cooked & torn into pieces
  • 1/2 pound ground elk or ground elk infused with bacon
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 -15-oz cans of baked beans (I used Bush’s onion baked beans)
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, drained

Cook the bacon and chop or tear into pieces. Brown the ground elk with the onion, garlic, and spices.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

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Dump meat mixture into slow cooker. Add in the bacon, beans and corn. Give the mixture a stir and cook on LOW for six hours.

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Fluffy Cornbread

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk + 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg

Spray an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients and then add in wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 until top just begins to brown. 

Cut cornbread into nine slices. Scoop up a bowl of beans and sit down to a delicious meal.

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Wapiti Wellington (aka Elk)

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  • 3/4 lb elk roast (back strap)
  • Marinade: 1 T. worcestshire, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp. Hi Mountain Elk Seasoning, 1/2 tsp. Cajun Campfire seasoning, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg

Marinade roast in a Ziploc 3 days in refrigerator using recipe above.
Pre-heat oven to 400.
Precook bacon until it is half-way done, but still flexible enough to shape around the roast.
Meanwhile lay the puff pasty and spread flat.
Wrap bacon slices around roast and place in center of puff pastry.

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Beat an egg, and using a pastry brush (or a paper towel will work, too), spread egg wash over pastry. Using a knife, cut four 1/2-inch slits in the top to allow steam to vent.

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Spray an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray and place roast in pan.

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Cook for 30-35 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

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The combination of buttery pastry, bacon, and tender elk meat was delicious. Jade was certainly hoping I would drop a piece.

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Making Your Own: Bacon Infused Ground Elk + Camp

This fall Joe and I went (bull) elk hunting for a couple nights in the wilderness, where we set up camp and could day ride to scout and hunt for elk. While the weather patterns, and therefore the elk’s migration schedule, did not cooperate with our timing for the hunt this year, it was still so refreshing to get out into the backcountry on horses, see some elk, and spend time in camp. Joe did later fill his cow elk tag though, which was just in the nick of time, as we were down to our last two packages of burger from last year. These pictures tell the story:???????????????????????????????

Riding Slim out the first evening to go scout.

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The stove was a great deal from an estate sale!

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Kitchen

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View of steep, rocky bowl over Taz’s neck where a small herd of elk were, waaaay up at the top. Getting an elk packed out on the horses would not have been possible so we passed.

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Sunset from our evening spot.

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Morning of our final day. Last year at this time there was about a foot of snow in this spot.

After one week of hanging, it was time to butcher Joe’s cow. There are many reasons why I like processing our own meat, and I am thankful we have the space and supplies to do so at the family shop.

One thing I like about processing our own meat, in addition to the price, (manual labor is good for us all) is that it enables one to fully experience the hunting process. Once the fun adrenaline from the mountain has worn off, and before the meat is prepared and consumed, there is that important middle step of processing. Bone, trim, cut, repeat.  The rewarding, although at times monotonous job, is such an important part of making a meal from the mountain. I don’t feel like the experience of hunting is complete until one takes part in the meat processing.

It would be great for our society if more Americans could experience the processing of their meat and food, in order to really understand the sacrifice of an animal, see exactly where their food is coming from, and understand just how that piece of meat on their plate got there. When I eat the elk Joe shot this year, my mind is like a film reel, remembering the location where it was harvested, what the weather was like while gutting and loading it (awful), and my arm cranking of the meat stuffer as we packaged the burger.

Finally, processing our own meat allows for a little creativity in trying new things. When we make our ground elk burger, we usually mix in a little beef fat that we get from the local butcher with the elk meat, which makes for great tasting and still very healthy meat.

This year, Joe decided to make about 15 lbs. of “specialty” elk burger with his cow elk. While at Smith’s last week, I bought a 3 lb. package of bacon end and pieces at his request. Instead of using beef fat, the bacon its place.With a 5:1 ratio of elk meat to bacon, and after grinding the meat twice, the texture of the burgers turned out really good, and the bacon bits throughout the meat are tasty. Joe feels that a second packge of bacon could be added for those bacon-lovers out there.

Bacon Infused Ground Elk Burger:

If doing the processing yourself, you will need:

  • 15 lbs of elk meat
  • 3 lbs bacon ends and pieces (could go up to 6 lbs.)
  • Game processing bags for ground meat– 1lb. capacity
  • Clean plastic tub or gallon ziplock bags
  • Mixer & Grinder, plus a stuffer with burger attachment (LEM brand is what we use)

1. Grind 15 lbs of elk meat into burger and place into plastic tub to hold.

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2. Grind up the 3 lbs. of bacon ends and pieces.

3. Combine ground elk and ground bacon in mixer grind a second time together. Now, you can either continue on and bag your burger, or place it in the plastic container or ziplock bags and refrigerate/freeze until you are ready to bag the meat.

4. Pull out the game processing bags and tape or ties to seal them.

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5. Place meat into stuffer with burger attachment and and stuff meat into bags, tape closed, label, and freeze.

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6. Thoroughly clean all meat processing attachments and counter top.

And remember, everything tastes better with bacon ; )

Weekend with the Elk + 10 Tips for Camping in Mountains with Horses

Imagine riding into your camping spot, and along the way seeing some elk here and there, and then arriving to your location to find you are surrounded by 600 head of elk. That is precisely what happened last weekend when Joe and I and the four best friends headed to the mountains. The elk sightings began before we even hit the trail. While driving to the trail head a herd of about 15 came at a dead run over the top of a huge ridge and across the road in front of us, and finally came to a stop in the pasture on the other side. I have never seen elk with their tongues hanging out and panting like dogs, like these were. They were given a run for their lives.

Here is a glimpse of the weekend: Yolanda and Taz taking a break before crossing the Wiggins Fork. We had to step off the horses here anyway to walk down the steep hill to the river bottom.  DSC01326 Wiggins Fork- We crossed the river and rode along the opposite ridge before climbing over the top. DSC01328 Do you see the drive line? Sheepeater Indians, a branch of the Shoshone, used this as a drive line for hunting. We passed another structure further up the trail coming home. DSC01334Camp ???????????????????????????????View through my binoculars of some of the hundreds of elk across the valley from where we were camped. To the west, there was another small group and we could see one spike still with his horns from last year.??????????????????????????????? Ponies eating their cubes with elk watching from above. ??????????????????????????????? Time for human supper! We always carry this grate for cooking, it’s lightweight and portable. DSC01343 Note from Joe- Always double your paper plates if you don’t want greasy pants!  DSC01345 The herd moving in behind the tent at dusk. During the night they stampeded by us. DSC01349 Sliver of moon.  ??????????????????????????????? Waking up to Taz grazing by our heads. When I opened the front tent door, a group of about twenty elk stood 50 yards away, along with a single mule deer and our three horses. DSC01351 Boiling drinking water from the creek for the day. Last summer with the strict fire bans across our area and much of the West, I bought this jet boil for hunting season, and the day before our elk hunting trip the ban was lifted and we didn’t take it. So we tried it out on this trip, it really does boil fast. I used Folger’s coffee “tea bags” and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee too. DSC01352 Elk watching us and the horses with curiosity. ??????????????????????????????? On the way out. ??????????????????????????????? 10 Tips for Camping with Horses in the Mountains

1. Hobbles- Take hobbles for your stock and know how well they can use them. If it’s the first time you are putting them on a new horse, as we were with Slim, monitor them until you see how they do, or practice at home first. Some horses need encouragement to move forward if they are not used to wearing them. Similarly, know if your horses are skilled hobble-hoppers and will leave the country in them.  It is no fun running through the woods chasing hobbled horses, trust me. Some horses cannot handle mormon hobbles and do better in the kind that look like handcuffs and have just a chain link between them, like Strawberry. See what works for them.

2. Feed situation- Know the feed situation for the area you are going into. Prepare for how many nights you will be out and how much stock you have. Weed-free alfalfa cubes are about $10 for a 50 lb. bag from feed stores and can easily be packed in. We packed in one bag (split in half into another empty feed sack) in order to feed our four horses for one night. Give horses the option to drink before bed if they cannot access the water themselves during the night.

3. Keep at least one animal secured during the night- Even if you know your horses and their habits, keep at least one animal secured during the night if you are leaving the others out hobbled or in an electric fence corral. Secure horses on a high line, in a sturdy corral, or to a tree. Electric fence can get stampeded through and some horses can really move on hobbles. You don’t want to wake up and be left on foot to search. Strawberry cannot do mormon hobbles and we left her chain link pair at home, so she was chosen to be kept in a small corral overnight.

4. Headlights- Headlights are valuable to have as they enable you full use of your hands to check on horses at night or to go catch them in the dark.

5. Bring your glasses and sleep next to them- This is really only for those who wear contacts and are blind without them, which would be me. I always bring my pair of glasses and sleep with them next to my head. When you have to get up in the middle of the night to catch and re-tie horses or check on what that noise was, you want to be able to quickly see what you are doing. I don’t want to be blind if I have a bear in camp at night.

6. Banamine- Always pack a dose of banamine with you. Yolanda almost died four years ago on my first multi-night elk hunting trip with Joe. We were fifteen miles into the wilderness. We left from Brooks Lake, and on day two of the hunt the horses munched on some green grass during lunchtime. Two hours later, still an hour from our camping spot, Yolanda promptly stopped in the trail and laid down with me still on her. I got off in a hurry and luckily she didn’t break my rifle when she rolled on it. She coliced on that green grass and I spent the next three hours walking in circles with her while she sweat and shook and then finally took a crap. I was lucky she pulled through it and always carry a syringe of banamine. You can buy it from your local vet.

7. Bear Proof- Bear proof your camp for the safety of you and your stock. Check your saddlebags for any food or scented items and store them away with your food during the night, either hung from a tree with a lash rope or in a designated bear-proof pannier. Listen to your horses at night, they will make some noise if an intruder enters camp. If your horses are restless or making a fuss, get up and check. I sleep with a .41 and bear spray next to my head (alongside those glasses and my headlight), and Joe’s pistol between us.

8. Trash- Have a plan for packing out your trash. Especially if there is a fire ban! Bring a plastic grocery sack if it’s an overnight, or a real trash bag if longer. Also, remember to pack out aluminum foil, tin cans, and other objects that don’t fully burn. Make sure bags are heavy enough that they won’t rip in the panniers and make a mess. Also, for multi-night trips make sure to hang your trash at night, or secure it safely in a bear-proof pannier with the rest of your food.

9. Feet and Shoes- Check the condition of your horses feet in the days before heading out overnight. Make sure no shoes are missing, and check to see if any trimming is needed.

10. First Aid- Many items in a human first aid kit can also be used on horses to stop bleeding. I always carry a small survival kit and a full human first aid kit in my saddle bags. I choose not to carry additional first aid for the horses, but a homemade kit would be easy to make. I have in the past had to duct tape frozen water bottles to Yolanda’s leg overnight to prevent swelling while in camp. While working as a camp cook I carried a ziplock bag with antiseptic spray “Blue coat” and gall salve, as those were the two most common injuries that routinely occurred with those horses. Common sense and precaution will help prevent many injuries, but accidents happen. Have a plan and have some first aid gear for where you are and what you are doing.

Open-Face Elk Tenderloin with Gravy and Onions

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Marinade

  • 1 T. Worcestshire
  • 1 tsp Hi Mountain Elk Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning

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  • 3/4 lb elk tenderloin
  • 1 egg
  •  1 c flour + another 3 T flour, divided
  • ~1/2 c milk/ half and half
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced onions
  1. Marinade steaks for two days with worcestshire, Hi Mountain Elk Seasoning, and Hi Mountain Cajun Campfire seasoning.
  2. Beat an egg in a shallow container and dip steak in egg, bread in flour on a paper plate, repeat once to completely coat meat.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in frying pan and fry, flipping twice, until centers are no longer raw.
  4. Pour about 2 T of oil/meat drippings into a separate small saucepan (you can use the same pan if the bottom isn’t burnt, but I was low on oil and my pan/drippings had a burnt taste, I needed to use a fresh pan).
  5. Add in some flour (about 3 T. or so) and pour in milk (I used fat free half and half, no milk in the house tonight!). Stir with a fork until smooth on low heat.
  6. Toast slice of bread and sautee sliced onions until tender.
  7. Layer steak on toast and top with gravy and onions.

In the spirit of elk, check out this photo from Wyoming’s Wind River Country of Lander, Wyoming in the early 1900’s. Made me smile. And also laugh–one commenter had wrote “it’s all fun and games until you get an eye poked out!” Happy Holidays!

Making Your Own: Elk Summer Sausage + Antler Christmas Tree

I had never eaten summer sausage until five years ago while cooking for a packtrip, when my boss had thrown in some of his venison sausage for our guests to try. Since then I have really grown to like it, and it has become a staple snack in our house. A slice of sausage, chunk of hard cheddar cheese, or even better–salami cheese from Wisconsin thanks to friends Dave & Clare–and ritz cracker makes a great snack between meals or while out in the field.

Jalapeno Elk Summer Sausage

This year, Joe and his Dad made 55 lbs of jalapeno summer sausage with about 38 lbs of my elk using a Jalapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning kit from LEM, which is a meat processing equipment company. The kit, along with other cured seasoning, can be found on this page: http://www.lemproducts.com/product/4655/cured_seasonings.

The summer sausage was made by mixing approximately 70% elk to 30% pork. We use pork butts that we buy, trim, and grind ourselves. For 55 lbs. of sausage, we used roughly 38 lbs ground elk (70%) combined with 16 lbs of ground pork (30%). To the meat we added in the Japapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning kit, mustard seed, and an additional 2 cups of diced fresh jalapeno. The sausage is then smoked for 6 hrs. in a smoker until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees Farenheit (test the temperature using a meat thermometer, and test more than one stick). We then vacuum-sealed the sausage in 3 lb. sticks and froze them to enjoy throughout the year. Once you open one stick, refrigerate and it will stay good for about 2-3 weeks or longer. FYI- When it starts to go south, it will lose its normal smell and possibly mold. If it does not do either of these, it is probably still ok to eat, even after 2 weeks.

DSC00969-1As I write this post, I am sitting next to our Christmas tree, which I am quite proud of if I must say so myself. While we do not have room in our house for an actual pine tree, we do have room for a huge pile of shed antlers that have been collected over the years. I have no idea how many deer and elk sheds are in the pile, but it makes quite a stack in our living room corner, and when re-arranged right, they make a beautiful Christmas tree! After surviving the Jenga-like experience of re-stacking them into tree shape, I decked the tines and lit it up! Merry Christmas!

Salsa Ranch Elk Taco Salad

Serves 1-4

Taco Meat:

  • 1/4 c diced yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground elk
  • 1/2 pkg. of taco seasoning- I use this recipe

Per Salad:

  • 1.5 c. romaine salad blend
  • 2 T. salsa ranch dressing (Bolthouse Farms brand or homemade)
  • 1 T. medium-heat salsa
  • shredded cheddar, as desired
  • crushed tortilla chips, as desired
  1.  Make the taco meat: Brown onion in medium frying pan and add in ground elk meat. Simmer on medium, stirring occassionally, until meat is no longer pink.
  2. Add in taco seasoning and stir to combine. Simmer another 2 minutes.
  3. Assemble the salads: place 1.5 c romaine into a bowl and top with ground meat, salsa ranch dressing, shredded cheese, salsa, and a few crushed tortilla chips. The Bolthouse Farms brand of salsa ranch yogurt dressing is tangy and creamy, and at only 45 calories per 2 Tablespoons, you can really pour it on!.