’TWAS THE DAY after Christmas and we lugged through the door, the gifts we didn’t want to return to the store…
Everybody gets a gift or two that results in rolling eyes and thoughts of, “What were they thinking?” The usual outcome is to smile, thank and then quietly exchange—or if you’re lucky and have an actual receipt, you might get cash.
Hunters and families of hunters often pride themselves on their wild game culinary expertise. One post-Christmas gift to consider as deer season enters its final stretch is the gift of jerky.
I’m not talking about the expensive, vacuum-sealed stuff you buy off the rack in convenience stores, I’m talking handmade, home-cooked venison, pork, bear, or bird jerky made with the cost of some seasonings and a little sweat equity.
I used to make a lot of deer jerky. It always went over well when I’d bring a bag or two to a late-season group hunt or a duck blind group. It was usually the same old tried and true recipe.
But now, with Eileen Clarke’s new “Stalking the Wild Jerky” book in my hands, the creative fire is again stoked and visions of masterpiece’s like French’s Fried Onion Burger Jerky, Mongolian Bee-Style Jerky with Attitude or maybe a Maple Goose Jerky are dancing in my post-holiday head. Then again, Brown Sugar Dijon sounds pretty good, as well.
These and more than 100 other unique wild game jerky recipes are in the spiral-bound, soft-cover, 6×9-inch, 168-page book.
The book opens with a jerky tutorial covering everything from the advantages of using sliced and ground meats in the jerky, using dry rubs, marinades and brines, how to cut and cook the meat. Especially important is the discussion related to using ovens or dehydrators and the importance of paying attention to temperature and time in preventing foodborne illness.
Clarke has written several cookbooks. This is one of my favorites. Stalking the Wild Jerky retails for $19.95. Order it, with free shipping, at riflesandrecipes.com/product/stalking-the-wild-jerky.
Clarke also covers some of the tools and equipment that make jerky preparation easier. Whenever I’ve made ground jerky, I use a Hi Mountain Seasonings jerky gun (himtnjerky.com). These cost $19.99 and are a bit like a caulking gun for ground meat you’re turning into jerky strips. You can also use it for making sausage links or meat sticks. It comes with three interchangeable nozzles: flat, round and long.
Conservation Bills Advance
Just when it appears that nothing is working in Washington except impeachment hoopla, several pieces of legislation related to conservation have advanced.
Last Thursday, Congress approved two legislative packages, including one that funds the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2020. President Trump signed the bill into law.
Included in that package was beneficial legislation championed by conservation groups. One, the “Modernizing the Pittman–Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act,” gives flexibility to state wildlife agencies to modernize the way they recruit, retain and reactivate hunters, recreational shooters and archery enthusiasts.
Another provision exempts lead ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System increased by $14 million, raising total refuge system funding to $502 million for fiscal year 2020.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s battle against invasive Asian Carp, a fish devastating parts of the Mississippi, Illinois and Tennessee River systems, gets $25 million, an increase of $14 million from last year.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund was increased $4 million, now making $46 million available for conservation for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent fish and wildlife species.
State and Tribal Wildlife Grants were funded at the $67-million level, up $3 million from last year. The Bureau of Land Management is getting $101 million for wild horse and burro management, a $21 million increase.
Chronic wasting disease is getting greater attention, with $9 million provided to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. More than half of these funds will be allocated to state agriculture and wildlife agencies to develop CWD surveillance, testing, management and response activities.
A week earlier, the House of Representatives passed a bill introduced in March by U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (R–Va.) and Marc Veasey (D–Texas). It codifies into federal law the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnership Act. This act was part of a package of natural resources bills that also included the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act of 2019.
The Habitat Conservation Partnership is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service. It began in 2006 and has established 20 individual Fish Habitat Partnerships focused on specific regions or habitat types. More than 800 successful conservation projects have been carried out nationwide. A project related to sturgeon restoration in the James River was funded in 2012.
Codifying this program will secure consistent federal funding and establish a framework to provide certainty for restoration and conservation projects.
“Healthy waterways and fish populations are absolutely critical to providing clean water and sustainable fisheries,” said Wittman, adding his legislation increases transparency, puts power back in the hands of stakeholders, and requires accountability to ensure taxpayer dollars go further to conserve fish habitat.
Lake Anna Fishing Platform
Due to safety concerns, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is closing the popular Dike III Fishing platform and its associated concrete pathway located off Moody Town Road at Lake Anna. According to DGIF, the platform has deteriorated and doesn’t meet safety standards.
The agency is preparing for its removal, with demolition expected soon in the new year. The site will remain available for shoreline fishing.