This past Tuesday, the Mountaineer Chapter Izaak Walton League had its monthly dinner meeting. This month, the members who attended were requested to bring some form of wild game in a covered dish or a dessert.
When we got to the clubhouse, there were already several forms of venison on the serving tables. There was venison stroganoff in a creamy sauce with egg noodles, venison meatloaf with a homemade barbecue sauce and garnished with fresh West Virginia chopped ramps, and a ground venison with tomato sauce mixed into elbow macaroni topped with cheese.
There were ranch barbecue baked beans with ground venison, and an elk barbecue for sandwiches. There was squirrel fried in a light breading and a bear meatloaf with a slightly spicy sauce. Of course, there were some usual accompaniment of rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, and homemade sauerkraut. My wife Ruth made some copycat Cheddar Bay biscuits. For an appetizer, there was a venison sausage tray with crackers.
There was even ham for those who might have been a little bit squeamish, although I don't think anyone there was. With the exception of my wife, most everyone in the crowd likes to hunt and fish. The dessert table was overloaded with cheesecake, a couple of chocolate cakes, an Amish cake, pies and ice cream.
This is the first time I had ever ate bear meat. This was prepared by a well-known wildlife biologist who works at the Elkins Operations Center in the form of a meatloaf.
While there is nobody who likes good meatloaf anymore than I do, this was absolutely delicious. Just thinking about it while I am sitting here writing this week's column makes my mouth water. Ruth also tried some of the bear meatloaf and agreed that it was juicy and sweet. This is the first time she had bear meat.
After the meeting, the only thing I wanted to do was lie down. It's like what I have said before, anytime I go to something like this, I always end up making a pig out of myself.
Our members are very good gourmet cooks with wild game, and everyone enjoyed the dinner. When we got home, going to sleep was no problem except for a little bit of indigestion from overeating. Some antacid solved that problem. I think both of us will be looking forward to next year's wild game dinner.
Ruth had decided to prepare a large crockpot of venison chili, and it seemed to go over quite well. We used six pounds of ground venison, the usual assortment of orange, red and yellow sweet peppers and a poblano pepper, about half a large onion, and a good half tablespoon of minced garlic.
We let that simmer while the deer meat browned. I used chili powder, ground cumin seeds, Emeril's Essence, some ground red and cayenne pepper as well as fresh ground pepper and some salt, a couple cans of crushed tomato puree, and a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. We tossed in a couple of large cans of pinto beans and let it simmer for quite a while until it thickened and the flavors melded. Of course, chili is such a personalized thing that any way you want it to go, it will. We wanted it lightly spicy to appeal to most palates.
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During the regular meeting, the Chapter discussed this year's West Virginia Division of Natural Resources questionnaire, voted on their answers and will submit the questionnaire to the DNR.
Sportsmen and women need to keep in mind the deadline for getting in your questionnaire to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is Friday, April 5.
Questionnaires that arrive after that date will not be counted. Don't forget to sign your submitted questionnaire.