Posts Tagged ‘A Sand County Almanac’

Wild Game, It’s what’s For Dinner

Thursday, October 17th, 2013


“Hunters are increasingly motivated by meat,” that’s the headline of a report released on Wednesday by Responsive Management, an international survey research firm. According to their findings, the percentage of hunters identifying “for the meat” as the most important reason for hunting participation rose from 22 percent in 2006 up to 35 percent during this year’s study.

The report attributes the 13 percent climb to three factors; 1) the recession, 2) the locavore movement and 3) the increased participation of females in hunting. Summarizing the findings, Responsive Management concludes our country’s economic downturn has reinvigorated people’s food acquisition through hunting because of its relative affordability (they obviously haven’t accompanied me to Gander Mountain). Their research also indicates women have a slightly greater propensity to choose “for the meat” as a motivation over their male counterparts.

While I agree the economy and gender have played a role in the rise of wild game meat motivation, it’s the “locavore movement” I believe has had the most influence in this quest for game meats. As I look across “pop culture;” from television to magazines to books to restaurants.  I see prime time shows featuring Andrew Zimmern on a squirrel hunt, I see Hank Shaw’s books climbing Amazon’s best sellers list, I read about Lily Raff McCaulou leading Elle magazine on a rabbit hunt and I see restaurant menus featuring quail eggs.  Further, almost every episode of the hugely popular Duck Dynasty series ends with a family dinner around a plate of frog legs or mallard breasts. In fact, I believe this new embrace of wild meats is fostering a greater understanding of hunting across society.

While I’m certain Aldo Leopold never would have imagined Zimmern’s propensity for bug-eating, I do think Zimmern and today’s other locavore leaders can attribute their local food roots direct to Leopold’s 1949 philosophy from A Sand County Almanac:

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm.  One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” – Aldo Leopold

The obvious hope of organizations like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is today’s locavore trend will take one additional step toward Leopold’s writings – wildlife habitat conservation. Whether you favor beef or venison, chicken or pheasant, the common connector is our land. It is my belief society’s need for food and water will someday soon change our seemingly insatiable appetite to tile our uplands and drain our wetlands.  Or to put it more plainly, local food will lead to local conservation.


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Would Aldo Leopold Enjoy a Chipotle Burrito?

Monday, February 20th, 2012


Yes, Chipotle is still fast food; however, in a culture of pre-packaged meals this Chipotle television commercial (aired during the Grammy Awards telecast) does harken back to Leopold’s writing in A Sand County Almanac focused on food being linked to our land.

What do you think?  Does Chipotle get Leopold’s message or are they simply trying to sell you more burritos using a “green” marketing message?



The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Hank Shaw: Pheasant Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Hank Shaw's fantastic new book: HUNT, GATHER, COOK

Editor’s Note: Hunt, Gather, Cook author Hank Shaw has penned a portion of Pheasants Forever’s “Wild Game Cooking” special section appearing in the upcoming winter issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal.  If you’d like to become a member of Pheasants Forever and receive this issue along with a full year’s subscription, join today by following this link.


According to Wikipedia, the market for organic foods grew from nothing to a $55 billion industry by 2009.  I believe a similar trend is developing around our roots as hunters and gatherers.  From Steven Rinella’s Travel Channel show, The Wild Within, to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg declaring that he’d like to become a hunter, folks that hunt, fish and gather their food are becoming today’s pop culture trendsetters.  Suddenly, mainstream America has an interest in the origination and acquisition of the food on their tables.


One of the leaders bridging our hunting and gathering roots to mainstream America is Hank Shaw.  Shaw is most known for his popular blog: Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook.  I caught up via email with Hank  to ask him about a couple of his new endeavors; including, a fantastic new book titled Hunt, Gather, Cook.


St.Pierre: The Minnesota DNR’s Chris Niskanen, a mutual friend of ours, was the guy that introduced you to hunting when you were 32 years old.  Tell me about that experience; why were you interested, what surprised you, and what hooked you on hunting to the extent that you make your living today as a result of your ability to hunt, write about hunting and cook the fruits of your labor?

Shaw: I first became interested in hunting because, oddly, of my fishing abilities. When I’d lived on Long Island, I developed a deep knowledge of the waters there – to the point where I could almost always catch something. I knew the tides, moon phases, and seasons. I could read current breaks, knew where structure was to hold fish. And, most importantly, I had the skills to make pretty much any seafood taste great.


When I moved to Minnesota, I wanted that same ability on land. Chris took me out to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. It was a hard hunt, as it was the last week of the season and we were hunting public land, but Chris could still easily come away with his limit of pheasants each day. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but I was hooked.


What surprised me most was how engrossing hunting became. You can drink beer and shoot the breeze when you are fishing, but when you are hunting you must live completely within the moment. You become a set of ears and eyes, you start to notice smells you’d never notice before; I’ve smelled deer before I could see them. I never felt so truly alive as when I am quiet in the woods, hunting for deer, rabbits or squirrels. Even when I don’t come home with anything, I feel rejuvenated after the experience. 


St.Pierre: Both your book and your blog are subtitled “finding the forgotten feast.”  To me, that subtitle echoes of Aldo Leopold’s often referenced passage from A Sand County Almanac in which he talks about food not coming from the grocery store, but from the land.  Why is it important to you for America to rediscover this “forgotten feast?”


Shaw: Because we are one of the only cultures that does not, for the most part, eat food from our land. Very few of the foods Americans now eat are native to the 50 states. This was not always the case. Muskrat (called “marsh hare”) was sold in the finest restaurants in America a century ago. Our basic knowledge of plants and animals was far greater than it is today. Wild game and wild foods were once a normal part of the fabric of our lives. Now they are an exotic novelty.


What I hope to achieve is to rekindle people’s interest in nature’s bounty – and I am not talking about living off the grid or anything. I am talking about it becoming normal for people to own their own slice of nature within an otherwise “normal” life: Maybe they’re anglers, maybe they gather wild rice or berries or mushrooms. Maybe they hunt a deer for the freezer every year. Minnesota is one of my favorite states because so many Minnesotans already do this, so what I do is not such an alien concept for them.



St.Pierre: I consider myself to be a hunter, angler and gatherer.  I pick morel mushrooms and wild asparagus, hunt voraciously, and fish adequately, but some of the things you pursue had me thinking some of this stuff is more work than it’s worth.  The effort to make a cup of acorn coffee, for instance, seemed a painstakingly long process for the reward.  Where do you find the balance between adventure and practicality?

Shaw: Everyone has to find his own balance. I don’t really do acorn coffee so much because its flavor is only so-so, but acorn flour has such a distinctive nutty flavor I find it more than worth the effort. It is the perfect flour to use when cooking game.


But you bring up a good point, because if your calculus is always cost-benefit, or whether wild foods are cheaper than Wal-Mart, wild food will always lose. But there is a spiritual, emotional component to this that cannot be quantified. Anyone who has ever gone fishing on a camping trip, and who’s fried that fish up over an open fire that night, knows just how good that fish will taste – it’s more than the sum of its parts. There is something deeply satisfying about working for your dinner.


St.Pierre: Of all the crazy things you’ve chased, gathered, and cooked, what is: a) your favorite and b) the thing most of us would think odd that you absolutely loved?

Shaw: I dunno. There are so many awesome experiences. But I have to say ruffed grouse hunting in the far north of Minnesota is right up there. Hunting grouse in the forest touches me in a way that no other hunting does. I grew up around very old forests in New Jersey, and whenever I return to that kind of woods – no matter what state I happen to find myself in – I get the feeling I am home. I love the desert, I love the mountains, but I am most at home in the forest. And there may be no other game bird as delicious as a ruffed grouse. Maybe a woodcock, but that’s arguable.


Hank Shaw prepares a "forgotten feast"

Crazy things? Hard to say. Maybe periwinkle snails off the rocks of New England. Blue camas bulbs in the High Sierra, which you need to be sure aren’t the disturbingly named death camas bulbs. I also happen to love the freshwater drum of the St. Croix River, which most people scorn. I love that they are fatty and rich, just like their cousins the redfish of Louisiana.



St.Pierre: Since I’m a pheasant guy, I’ve gotta know your favorite pheasant meal, the sides you like to serve with your pheasant and the drink to wash it down?

Shaw: OK, this is tough one, because I eat pheasant all the time. But I do a dish where I gently poach the pheasant breast in pheasant broth, then crispy-fry the skin separately. I serve the poached breast with the crispy skin on top, with a sweet-savory corn sauce underneath. It is just awesome. Sure, it’s a little cheffy, but I like my pheasant breast gently cooked and I love, love, crispy skin.


A drink to wash it down? I think a heavy white, like a Cote du Rhone blend, a Viognier, or an unoaked Chardonnay are good. But so are dry roses from southern France or Spain, and even light reds such as a Gamay, Grenache or Pinot Noir work well, too. It depends on how you’re serving the pheasant. Same goes with beer: Everything from a Grain Belt to an expensive Chimay Belgian beer works with pheasant, depending on the preparation.



St.Pierre: My wife and I are looking forward to dining at Corner Table in Minneapolis next Monday night when you will be the guest chef for the evening.  What can folks attending your special appearances expect to taste and learn from these events?

Shaw: Our wild food book dinners are expressions of time and place. I work closely with the chefs, in this case Chef Scott Pampuch, to create a multi-course menu that can only really be done in one place and in one time – in our case, we’ll have lots of autumn Minnesota products, like walleye, pike, highbush cranberries, real Ojibwe wild rice, pheasant, venison – that sort of thing. Minnesota has such a wealth of wild foods that Scott and I are really looking forward to putting together a symphony of the North Star State’s finest foods. Even experienced eaters will taste something new here. I guarantee it.


Hank Shaw will be appearing at Corner Table in Minneapolis on Monday, October 10th at 6 pm.  Reservations for this special meal can be made by calling 612.823.0011.  Price is $65 per person.



The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.


Father’s Day for the Pheasant Hunter

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

This special Pheasants Forever membership offer is available till close of business on Friday, June 10th

In case you don’t have it marked down on your calendar already, Sunday, June 19th is Father’s Day.  For most of us, it was dad who brought us into the pheasant hunting fold.  What better way to honor pops than with a new pheasant oriented gift.  Here are a few ideas:

Special Pheasants Forever Membership Package ($35.00): Through this special offer (deadline is June 10th), you can purchase a year’s membership to Pheasants Forever for your dad.  That membership will be accompanied by a year’s subscription to the Pheasants Forever Journal; including the new 2011 Pheasant Hunting Preview issue, a PF vehicle decal and a Pheasants Forever Running Rooster T-ShirtNOTE: if your dad already has a current PF membership, this offer simply adds a full year on to his current membership’s expiration date.

Browning Polo Shirt ($42.95): You know he’d rather be bird hunting than golfing, but what’s a guy to do in July?  This 100% polyester polo is the perfect pheasant hunter’s golf shirt. 

Gamehide SST Hunting Shirt ($29.95): We’re closing out this shirt and it’s marked down 17%.  That’s a steal for this high quality and comfortable shooting shirt that will become a part of your dad’s autumn wardrobe for the next decade.



Pheasants Forever Pewter Belt Buckle ($14.95): Does your dad wear cowboy boots all summer long?  Then he probably needs a PF belt buckle to match those kicks.

Hoppe’s Shotgun Boresnake ($16.99): In my humble opinion, the boresnake is the greatest gun cleaning invention ever made.  Your dad will be able to keep his treasured scattergun in tip top shape in less than 60 seconds with the boresnake. 

Video Glasses
($149.95): Has your dad ever tried to explain the amazing shot he made on the other side of the hill?  Now he can!  I was pretty skeptical about these glasses when I first got a look at them.  However, as you can see by the quality of this video, they produce pretty darn good footage. 

Game Cleaning Table ($89.99): While Gander Mountain markets this as a fish cleaning table, it easily doubles as a bird cleaning station.  Save your dad’s aching back and sore knees while keeping all the dead game out of your mom’s kitchen.  Yeah, you should probably buy one for yourself too!

A Sand County Almanac Illustrated Edition ($29.95): Most consider Aldo Leopold to be the father of modern wildlife management.  This is his signature work and the foundation for Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission.

Lucky Hunting Hat ($16.95): Does your dad lament missed shots around the Thanksgiving dinner table?  Give the guy a hand with this bit of PF gear “guaranteed” to turn his shooting luck around!

Pheasants Forever Beer Mugs ($22.95): This set of 4 mugs is a must have for any pheasant hunter’s bar or rec room.  Just in time for holding cold beverages during the hot summer months.

Note: all orders through the Pheasants Forever MarketPlace need to be made by end of business on Friday, June 10th to guarantee delivery by Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19th.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob on FAN Outdoors radio ever Saturday morning from 6AM to 8AM (central time zone) at

Facebook Founder to become a Hunter?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

You can find Pheasants Forever on all the major social networking sites.

According to a CNN Money story today, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, has made an interesting personal commitment:

The only meat I’m eating is from animals I’ve killed myself,” says the Facebook founder and CEO.

In Zuckerberg’s Facebook account of the decision, he goes on to say:

I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house. A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from.

Amen to that!  Perhaps Zuckerberg has been studying up on the great Aldo Leopold, because his rationale sounds a lot like Aldo Leopold’s famous passage from A Sand County Almanac:

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.

Since his commitment, Zuckerberg and his girlfriend have been slaughtering their own goats, chickens and other animals for meat.  Zuckerberg goes on to say that he’s interested in going hunting. 

Well, in a world increasingly detached from the land that sustains us, it’s incredibly interesting . . . and I’d even say encouraging, that Mr. Facebook himself is interested in getting reconnected to our hunting heritage.  I, for one, would like to invite Mr. Zuckerberg on a bird hunt with me and my bird dog, Trammell, this autumn.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.