By Chris Eberhart
The holiday season is upon us. If you are reading this you are probably really into hunting whitetails. But hunting whitetails is only one aspect of the entire whitetail fascination. If you love whitetails and whitetail hunting as much as I do, then you have a tremendous amount of respect for this amazing animal. The whitetail is readily available for a supreme hunting challenge across North America, you can hunt them just about anywhere. They are also readily available for anybody to hunt. You don’t have to be rich or privileged to pursue them, and you don’t need to travel in most cases. Chasing whitetails is an activity that extends through all classes of people and tends to bring people together. Historically, whitetail venison and hides helped to build this country, at least these deer provided good abundant protein for our settling forefathers. When market hunting was allowed butcher shops in our newly growing cities were full of venison. Deer hides were so important to our economy that the dollar became known as a buck. This was in reference to the price paid for a single deer hide for a very long time. You could almost say that our country was founded on the gift of the whitetail deer, at least partially anyway.
Whitetails are cunning, wild, and available. They helped to form us as a nation. And they still are a defining portion of many people’s lives, including my own. Whitetails allow us to be the hunters we were meant to be, even in the technocratic virtual world that now surrounds us, and even at the edge of our mega-cities. Hunting is a bastion of reality that we should cherish. Respecting the whitetail and its many gifts is a good way to start.
What I am talking about is the before and after parts of hunting. Hunting doesn’t stop at the kill, it goes on a few more steps after that. One way to show respect for the deer we hunt is to carefully butcher, use, and cook the deer you kill. Too many hunters don’t process their own deer, waste too much, and then take cooking way too lightly. Butchering your own deer and then making an effort to prepare and share venison to the best of your ability shows that you give these animals the respect they deserve. This holiday season show your respect to the amazing whitetail by taking the time to cook the best meal you can. Whether traditional home cooking or something new, share your venison with family and friends and let them know how important this animal is to you. When you cook well, invite non-hunting friends for a feast and celebration of venison. Isn’t the venison the primary reason we hunt? This one gesture helps the future of hunting more than years of theoretical debate ever could. Win over a person’s stomach and his mind will follow.
Below is a recipe for Pecan Crusted Tenderloin my friend, James H., sent me, that I think most people will find tasty. I have cooked this with, and without, the marinade. You can simply season venison steaks, add the pecan crust, and fry in a pan, if you prefer the faster version. Happy Holidays and Bon Appetite!
Pecan Crusted Tenderloin or Steak
- 2-4 pounds of venison, I prefer chunks of tenderloin (or half inch thick steaks)
- ¾ pound of ¼ inch pieces of chestnut or pecans
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground star anise
- ¼ tsp. black peppercorns
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 gloves of crushed garlic
- 1 sprig of thyme
After marinating the venison for 4-6 hours, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Beat 1-2 eggs in a large bowl. Dust venison with flour, dip it in the egg mixture and firmly roll and press the pecan or chestnut pieces around the meat, covering thoroughly. Cook in a preheated 425 degree oven or grill to rare or medium rare or until the nuts are a golden brown. I prefer to cook this on foil; on my grill with lots of apple woodchips generated smoke.
- Chris Eberhart, BowhuntingWildFood.com
If you want more great whitetail hunting information like this, check out Chris’ latest book, Bowhunting Whitetails The Eberhart Way