Wild Game and Fish Preparation Begins In The Field

Upstate Outdoors
February 23, 2018 - 4:08 pm

Phillip Gentry

Most sportsmen inevitably become at least proficient in preparing wild game and fish entrees for the simple fact that spending so much time hunting and collecting it makes you want to eat it. 

While wild game and fish recipes run the gamut from no preparation at all to extravagant marinades and cooking that require several days, there are a few common denominators that can spell the difference between a meal fit for a king and one that makes the dog sick.

Without going into great detail about recipes and methods of preparations, here are a few key tips and pointers that can help you make the most of the meal that you collected from the Great Outdoors.

Dressing the animal in the field – Whether the entrée in question, is fish, fowl, mammal or some other form of protein, getting the best flavor out of the animal starts the moment you get your hands on it. While some fish or other seafood might be transported alive, it is generally best to cool the game immediately so that the meat does not begin to spoil.

Methods for Cooling - Adding ice or moving the meat to a cold area where practical will facilitate preserving the meat and reducing spoilage.  Cooling often begins with removing the entrails which heated the animal while it was alive. Doing so will allow the meat to cool naturally and discarding the entrails from the rest of the carcass will prevent waste from getting to the meat.

In the case of some fish and fowl, also allowing the carcass to bleed out after harvest will both cool and remove potential contamination as some species have strong bloodlines that can taint the meat.

Refrigerating and Freezing – Wild game and fish has no preservatives inherent to it. This is one reason why this type of meat is desired by naturalists and health conscious consumers. 

Accordingly, fish and wild game tends not keep under refrigeration and while frozen for as long as other processed meats. When thawing frozen fish or game, allow the meat to thaw completely without the aid of water, ambient heat or heaven forbid - a microwave oven.

Cooking – The number one mistake most preparers make when cooking any kind of wild fish or game is cooking it too long and or cooking it too fast. The mistake comes in thinking the “wild” meat needs to be more thoroughly cooked to reduce chances of bacteria or other contamination. The truth is that wild game, duly tended, has a much less chance of contamination than meats processed in bulk in large plants. Cooking wild meat slowly until just done will result in better table fare. 

Methods of preparation – Grilling is probably the number one method of preparation but only if you follow the reasoning that the majority of hunters/anglers are male and most males are more comfortable with a grill than any other cooking appliance.

Again, slow and thorough are generally the best advice. Another note is that since wild game and fish tend to have lesser fat content than other meats, preserving the fat content by searing, covering in foil or other containment, or combining wild meat with other ingredients that will preserve moisture is good advice.

Ingredients – It simply does not make sense to combine wild caught or killed meats with processed or preserved ingredients. With an abundance of fresh grown and whole foods available in supermarkets, farmer’s outlets and other natural food venues, using fresh ingredients in wild game and fish recipes will allow a unique meal to be even better.

When planning an outing where wild game or fish is a likely result, make sure you have good ingredients needed on hand to prepare a fresh meal as soon as possible.

Recipes –Though wild game recipes are a matter of trial and error to find the ones you like, the internet and hundreds or cookbooks will provide years of wild game recipes that can be refined to your tastes and enjoyed time and again.


Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week, Upstate Outdoors will be broadcasting live from the Cabela’s in Greenville.


Planning for a great wild game or fish dinner begins before an outdoorsman steps foot in the kitchen. Photo courtesy Phillip Gentry.





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