Shooting Bambi's Mom

A gourmet environmentalist shares his favorite venison recipes

The biggest doe I've seen all day is bobbing her head up and down in a patch of tall yellow grass by a barbed-wire fence. She's a good 80 yards away and doesn't seem to notice us. I've been watching her in my scope for nearly five minutes. But there are already two carcasses in the back of the truck, so I'm in no hurry.

Since I haven't shot any other deer this season, my Texas hunting license would allow me to shoot five does today. But Chef and I have already decided that one more will be enough. We do the butchering ourselves, and it's a time-consuming job.

Chapple: "The animal rights folks have got it wrong."
Chapple: "The animal rights folks have got it wrong."
Wide-eyed Bambi turned public opinion against 
©Disney Enterprises, Inc
Wide-eyed Bambi turned public opinion against hunting.

Most hunters take their deer to processors who give them little frozen packages of backstrap (fillet), a couple of roasts and some venison "hamburger." But Chef and I have our own deer-processing technique. He likes to hang his deer for a week or more to improve the flavor. I have to get back to Houston, so I can't leave the deer hanging. Instead, I'll divide the carcasses into shoulder and haunch quarters and "wet age" them for a week in a cooler iced down to 35 degrees. The difference in flavor between this aged meat and the venison turned out by a typical commercial processor is remarkable. Instead of throwing away the bones, I'll make venison demi-glace. And rather than grinding the scrap into hamburger, I'll use it to make several varieties of homemade sausage.

The big doe raises her head and turns sideways. I take my shot and down she goes. Three clean kills before noon -- not a bad day. We drive back to camp in a merry mood, eager to show off our kills. Lots of people call themselves deer hunters. But only the few, the proud, the gourmet environmentalists, will shoot Bambi's mom.

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