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Blueberries – a Critical Food for Black Bear

imagesB4EBB1P8 Blueberries are an important food source throughout the black bear range.  The most commonly eaten berries in our area of northwestern Ontario are blueberries and raspberries.   Many other berries are eaten, but they have shorter seasons, are scarce, or are less preferred.

The period when blueberries  are abundant in our area is short & mainly in August-making that period critically important in the black bear’s annual cycle of events.  Efficient feeding during that time is critically important to winter survival, growth, and reproductive success.  Researchers found that bears in NW Ontario end mating activities before the critical feeding period and focus on feeding for the remainder of the summer.

Black bears are efficient berry-eaters, consuming up to 30,000 berries a day in a good year.  They gather berries quickly, using their sensitive, mobile lips and swallowing them whole.  The berries enter a two-part stomach, which grinds the pulp off the seeds.

 

imagesP1Y6BVCSThe seeds pass through the digestive tract unbroken and able to germinate, making black bears important seed dispersers.  Each summer, they spread the seeds of their favorite berries all over their home ranges.

Black Bear around Wawang Lake gain weight most rapidly during July and August when berries are abundant.  When the berries run out in September, there is little else to eat.  The bear usually seek out their dens in September or October.   The longer period of food abundance enables bears to achieve more growth and reach maturity more quickly than bear.  Bear in NW Ontario typically produce their first litters at 4 to 5 years of age.

Berries contain anti-oxidants, and the seeds of some species contain vitamin B-17, considered an anti-cancer compound by some scientists.  Although cancer occurs in captive bear, it has never been reported in wild bear.

RECIPES

blueberry pancakes wawang lake

Blueberry Pancakes

 

GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY PIE

Gluten FREE Blueberry Pie

 

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Posted by on August 20, 2017 in black bear, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Wild Mushrooms

The main edible find in our region is  lobster mushrooms, Hypomyces lactifluorum, in some pretty good quantities. On any hunt, it’s good to bring home dinner, but one doesn’t typically expect to bring home a bundle of lobsters too late into the fall.

lobster-mushrooms-wawang-lake

Typically, by the end of August and into September the brush is filled with mushrooms, edible and not. Unlike spring hunting, fall hunting in and around our area is more mushroom identifying than actually trying to find mushrooms growing. But some year the lobsters can account for a major harvest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So on your next trip out into our region whether you’re fishing or grouse hunting be sure to hike the old logging roads in search of these very delicious mushrooms.  Stay tuned for a great recipe that easy to prepare.

 

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Game on! : Taking the wild taste out of your harvest

There are 3 popular methods, the first a salt brine with spices. The second would be using whole milk and the third, a milder brine with carrots, onions and a potato, these veg draw out the fluids along with the salt in the brine’s.

bear roastUsing the acidic properties of these methods tenderizes the meat and in turn also draws out the ‘gamey’ flavor and makes the addition of other flavors much more simplistic.

 

These methods work well for wild deer, caribou, musk ox, rabbits, duck, pheasant, grouse and turkey’s. Also these meats, unlike commercial meats are very lean, so the addition of bacon, pork fat, salted pork fat or basting with butter aids it in flavor and tenderness in the end, high heat will do more harm than good, slow cooking it best to not dry out the meat, stewing or braising is the best, but some like game birds can be roasted, with deer depending on the cut, a slow stew in a crock pot or slow braise in the oven at no higher than 325 d F or 165 d C.

Happy hunting!

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Grinding Wild Game with Meatloaf Recipe

For foodies, especially those smart enough to eat within their means, there is no better everyday meat than wild-game burger, whether it is from elk, antelope, moose, or most likely, whitetail deer. No meat sold at the farmer’s market is more local, humanely raised, drug free, and genetically unmodified than that from a wild animal cleanly killed by the hunter. And if you process it yourself, you know exactly what you’re getting. No mystery meat or pink slime scares when it’s done D.I.Y. If you do decide to do the grinding at home, there are a few things to note when processing wild game into ground meat. Here are few tips to get the best from your burger.

Ground_Wild_Game

1. Buy The Best Grinder You Can Afford—and Keep it Sharp
An underpowered grinder, or one with a dull knife, won’t grind meat cleanly. If the meat coming from the grinder plate looks like it’s been extruded rather than cut, make sure the back of the plate is free from sinew and the retaining ring is on tight.

2. You Get Out What You Put In
Who knows what ground meat from the grocer contains. When you do it yourself, you control the final product. Make sure you clean your meat well and trim with a judicious, yet keen, hand. Trim sinew, yellow fat, silverskin, and all bloodshot meat before it goes into the grinder.

3. Keep Things Cold
You’ll get a much better grind with less smear if your meat, and the grinder, is cold. Put cubed meat in the freezer for at least 30 minutes until it’s firm, but not hard, to the touch. Also, throw the grinder neck, auger, blades, and plate in there as well.

4. Don’t Forget Fat
Beef has fat built right in, but wild game burger needs a boost. You can use several things to up the fat content (and flavor) depending on what the final product is going to be. Bacon trimmings (sold in boxed form often called Ends and Pieces) add a distinctive flavor to burgers and meat loaf. Beef tallow and pork butt are both available from good butchers and make great fat additives. You can control the ratio of meat to fat, but I like somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 percent. Experiment until you find what’s right for you.

5. Or, Cut The Fat
Some folks want to cut the fat altogether and that’s fine, too. Just realize that a 100-percent wild-game burger can be very dry and will fall apart when cooked. To avoid crumbly burger, consider adding some type of moisture as you form your patties (same goes for meatloaf). This can be anything from eggs to bread crumbs soaked in milk. Last summer, Wild Chef readers turned in a bunch of great ideas for better burgers.

Meat Loaf

Ingredients
– 1 lb. ground meat
– 8 oz. can tomato sauce
– 1 egg, beaten
– 16 to 20 Saltine cracker crumbs
– 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– ¼ cup ketchup

imagesUB61KB7K

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix ground meat with tomato sauce and beaten egg.

2. Crush the Saltines in a gallon-sized zip-top bag and mix in the dry oatmeal and chopped onion.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the meat-egg mixture and, using your hands, blend thoroughly.

4. Form meat mixture into a loaf pan. Liberally cover top with ketchup. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour.

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Canning Wild Game

mainMeat, poultry, and game are low acid foods and must be canned or processed in a pressure canner to assure it is safe to eat.

1. Canning frees up freezer space for other things.
2. Pressure canning can make the less tender cuts versatile.
3. Home canning meat means jars of meat on the shelf ready to go at a moment’s notice. No defrosting time. Ever tried to defrost an elk roast quickly in the microwave because you forgot to take it out earlier? Doesn’t work so well. (Ask me how I know!)
4. The best benefit? My guys love it. We are an active hunting family with 4 sons. Much of our meat is provided by the men of hunting age in our family.

Meat, poultry, and game are low acid foods and must be canned or processed in a pressure canner to assure it is safe to eat.

11 pounds pressure with a dial gauge pressure canner
15 pounds pressure with a weighted gauge pressure canner for required times.
Choose only good meat for canning, and handle it quickly and with total cleanliness, because bacteria grow rapidly in meat held at room temperature. If you have a large amount, store the part you’re not working on in the refrigerator.

canning-venison21You can:
Start with properly cleaned and chilled product.
Can fresh meat and poultry within 2 days or freeze it.
To can frozen products, thaw in the refrigerator until most ice crystals have disappeared, then handle as if they were fresh.
Trim gristle and fat off meat before canning. Fat left on meat melts and climbs on the sides of the jar during processing and may interfere with the sealing of the lid.
Salt is optional in canned meat and poultry.
Fish should be canned immediately or frozen until processed.
For large game animals (deer), follow beef processing times and methods.
For small game animals and birds, follow poultry processing times and methods.
Use canned venison or canned elk in stews, meaty soups, and even chili. You can use it to make Sloppy Joe’s and killer Enchiladas.

canning-steps-one

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Morel Mushrooms Hunting For The Beginner

Morels are America’s mushroom, more so than any other. It may be because they’re widespread, they’re easy to identify, and they come up in the spring, giving people a reason to get out and enjoy warm weather after a long winter. Or, it could be they’re popular simply because they taste so good. Morels are so prized they sell for up to $20 a pound in grocery stores in most locations. Here’s a quick guide to finding your own. Please note that although morels are easy to identify, this a hunting guide, not a field guide. If you have any doubt about a mushroom, don’t keep it.

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Found in much of the U.S. from late March through May, the morel is our favorite mushroom: plentiful, easy to identify, and delicious. It has colorful names like Molly Moocher, Miracle, Dry land Fish—or, my favorite, Hickory Chickens—but mostly, people just call them “mushrooms” and it’s understood that means “morels.”

Identifying Safe Morels
MushroomBroken2
MushroomBroken1donteat
Here are two morels in the wild. Notice the pits (in the top photo), the distinctive conical shape, and the way the bottom of the cap (the pitted part) is attached near the bottom of the stem. Avoid the half-free morel (bottom photo), which has a longer stem and a cap that attaches near the top, looking like an umbrella. These mushrooms can cause some people to have cramps or other forms of gastrointestinal distress.

Definitely Don’t Eat This
MushroomX_
Don’t eat this mushroom, which is a false morel and is mildly toxic. Notice that it lacks the cone shape of the real thing, and has wrinkles, not pits, on its cap.

Where to Look
Mushroom4
Morels live in and on the edge of forested areas. Look for ash, aspen, elm, and oak trees, around which morels often grow. Early in the spring as the ground is warming, you’ll find them on south-facing slopes in fairly open areas. As the season progresses, go deeper into the woods and onto north-facing slopes.

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Well-drained, sandy soils like this creek bottom make good hunting spots as well. You’ll find the first morels of the year when daytime highs reach the 60s and lows stay above 40 degrees.

Hunting Tactics
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Hunting morels is like bass fishing. You cover ground until you find one, then slow down and search the area carefully. Concentrate the rest of your hunt on similar areas, on the theory that you’ve found the “pattern” for the day.

Early-Season Morels
Mushroom7
The first morels of the season are small. It takes quite a few to make a meal. The acorn top and walnut husk in the hand above help show scale.

Look For Dead Trees
Mushroom8
Morels often grow around dead and dying trees. Old apple orchards make good hunting grounds. Always look around dead elm trees like this one. When a tree reaches the stage of decay where its bark is slipping off its trunk you’ll often find lots of morels around it.

Later in the Season
3
As the season progresses you find bigger, yellow morels. They taste just as good as the smaller ones, they’re easier to spot, and it doesn’t take as many to feed a hungry hunter.

Mushroom10
Soaking morels in water for a couple of hours cleans them and washes out any bugs living inside the hollow mushrooms. Some people slice them in half lengthwise for a more thorough cleaning.

Mushroom11
Here you see morels sautéing in butter. Cooking in butter brings out their rich, almost meaty flavor. If I don’t have very many, I like to scramble them into eggs with some tarragon. Batter-fried morels are also very popular.

Mushroom12

The bounty of spring, fork-ready. Serve with a breast of wild turkey or some fish fillets and it’s totally awesome!

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Wild Mushrooms

The main edible find in our region is  lobster mushrooms, Hypomyces lactifluorum, in some pretty good quantities. On any hunt, it’s good to bring home dinner, but one doesn’t typically expect to bring home a bundle of lobsters too late into the fall.

lobster-mushrooms-wawang-lake

Typically, by the end of August and into September the brush is filled with mushrooms, edible and not. Unlike spring hunting, fall hunting in and around our area is more mushroom identifying than actually trying to find mushrooms growing. But some year the lobsters can account for a major harvest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So on your next trip out into our region whether you’re fishing or grouse hunting be sure to hike the old logging roads in search of these very delicious mushrooms.  Stay tuned for a great recipe that easy to prepare.

WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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