By Chris Eberhart
Lorna showed up right on time for our venison canning session. She stepped out of her vehicle with a big smile on her face. Her son Adam drove her over. Immediately we got to unloading. Along with the pressure cooker, sterilized jars, propane turkey cookers, and other tools of the canning trade she walked through the door with homemade cinnamon rolls and carrot cake. To start out we sat down at the dining room table over coffee and sweets to talk about what we intended to do. Sitting there were Lorna, my brother in law, Dan, his brother, Adam, my sister Traci, and a friend, Steve. The canning event for my brother in law and I turned into a bigger food event than we imagined when we made the date. We chatted for a minute and discussed who would do what. After a few cinnamon rolls we all jumped up to work.
Heading for the kitchen we packed venison into the jars, while Adam set up the turkey cookers in the garage. Lorna carefully coached Dan and I, and we got the lesson on packing, salting, and cooking times while working hands on. With so much help and Lorna directing the show it wasn’t twenty minutes before we found ourselves with sealed pressure cookers heading for the garage. It turns out that pressure cooking venison is far less complicated than I imagined. I guess the jiggling of the weight on top made it seem more complicated than it actually is. Lorna likes to use those cookers because they heat up faster than the stove, and if there is any issue with the pressure cooker the mess is outside of the house.
We all pulled up chairs in the garage, drank coffee and simply talked for the ninety minutes that the pressure cooking was doing its job. It was great camaraderie surrounding the event of cooking up meat. Lorna and I talked at length about important topics such as pie crust recipes, and various ways to prepare venison. The hissing jiggling pressure cookers provided background music to wonderful conversation.
The crowning moment came following the ninety minutes cooking time when we removed the jars from the pressure cookers. With peaked attention we watched and listened to the jars. When the first lid made that telltale popping sound, indicating the sealing vacuum, Dan and I did a high-five in celebration. It was like Christmas. We had been given a gift: the gift of putting up meat, and the gift of celebrating food with Dan’s mother. Eventually all but one of the jars sealed, and that one jar was promptly eaten for dinner.
So what does this have to do with whitetail hunting? In the end it is all about the food my friends. Placing extreme importance on the great venison that arises from the hunt is central to being a deer hunter, and central to acceptance of hunting by the non-hunting majority. Deer hunting is also about the relationships and experiences that we enjoy along the hunter’s path that give the experience depth. Venison literally made this country, and is the foundation of a cultural heritage based upon food. This depth and importance became very clear as we were all sitting around those fires, happy to be together making food, and living totally in the moment, with venison as a reason to celebrate. Celebrate venison!
- Chris Eberhart, BowhuntingWildFood.com
If you want more great whitetail hunting information like this, check out Chris’ latest book, Bowhunting Whitetails The Eberhart Way