Hunting in Wisconsin is a tradition. Now that we are rolling into late fall, the leaves are floating down making a carpet of color on our paths; cool rainy days come with a few flurries in the mix; the birds are starting to flock and head for warmer places. With fall there is a long standing tradition that comes to life……that of hunting, particularly deer hunting. This is a photo of my dad in the year 1942, well before I was born, looks like he was posing with a nice buck in this picture, dad was from Rib Lake, WI. Hunting in Wisconsin is a tradition.
Although I spent many happy hours walking the logging roads up north with my dad in the fall partridge hunting, I never really had the desire to deer hunt. To be honest women deer hunting back in the late 50’s and 60’s was a rarity. My dad however, loved his 4-5 days of deer hunting with my uncles. Every Thanksgiving, they plan and prepare for a couple of weeks heading up to the big hunt. He would spend time at the kitchen table meticulously cleaning his rifle. My mom would help him dig out his hunting clothes; blaze orange pants and jacket; warm socks and boots; hats and gloves. He would air them out from their long months tucked away in the back of the closet.
Then focus turned to shopping and preparing meals ahead in the kitchen. Each of the wives prepared and packed the essentials for the hunt. There was homemade chili… a must have. There were usually homemade pickles, a favorite. You could find steaks, hot dogs, burgers, homemade beans, crackers, homemade chocolate chip cookies and of course beer and plenty of coffee and hot chocolate. Honestly, with all of food they took, they could have lasted at the cabin for several weeks.
There are other essentials that go into hunting experience and tradition in Wisconsin. Several decks of playing cards are a must as well as a stash of nickels and dimes for the many hours of sheephead, a traditional card game in Wisconsin passed down through many families. It is a card game that involves partners, schmeres, leasters, tricks and a little family betting in good fun that is definitely a part of the tradition.
Last but not least they included the fish poles, in case hunting became dreary, there was always a little lake fishing to pass the time. The bottom line was that being together as a family; sharing food and fun; getting away from jobs that often times were not full-filling but necessary to put food on the table for growing families; they could relax and share in the hunting experience and not worry about day to day life for a few days.
The hunting tradition has carried on from my father, to my son Ben, and now to his son Brennan. This is a timeless bond that brings families together. Ben not only enjoys the hunt, but also the cuisine that comes with preparing meals with the venison harvested from the hunt. When asked he told me that his favorite venison meal is venison shish-e-bobs and he shared this recipe with me so that I might share it with you.
- Cube the venison in 1″ – 1 1/2″ cubes
- Marinate the venison overnight in McCormick’s Mesquite Marinate Mix
- Prepare favorite vegetables in chunks i.e. mushrooms, zucchini, onions, peppers, and even chunks of sweet potato are great
- On skewers place marinated venison, interspersed with favorite vegetables
- Put over the grill about 6 minutes a side to cook.
- Serve with a side of rice, and you have a wonderful meal.