As hunters, anglers, farmers and foragers, a Thanksgiving feast has a deeper meaning than those who toss a Butterball and a box of Stovetop Stuffing into the shopping cart, then head for the register. The holiday offers an opportunity to give thanks for the harvest season, and share the bounty with our friends and family.

With tales of blood, scales and dirt on our hands, we are also sharing a connection to the foods that not only sustain, but also enrich our lives. As the rebellious youth at the table discusses their plan for November 24, “Buy Nothing Day,” remind them how much of their meal didn’t come from the grocery store.

It’s interesting how a concept as simple as gathering your own food in the natural world rather than under the beam of fluorescent lights has evolved to be a subversive way of living. Using every last piece of an animal, preserving food, or making something as simple as soup stock, may not be the most popular cooking methods, but they haven’t lost their luster. In a culture of modern conveniences, these are simple acts that even your yuppie relatives can admire. The resurgence of wild foods as a boujee, bohemian culinary style has allowed for a few talented chefs to emerge from the landscape, representing an expression of that hunter/gatherer culture with mass appeal. If you plan on sharing your harvest with family and friends for the holiday, study from these gurus and step outside the box this Thanksgiving.

Hank Shaw

 

Guess what I did today… #turkeyhunting #gobblegobble #thingsthatusedtofly

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His first book “Hunt, Gather, Cook” has quickly become recognized as a staple in the world of wild foods. His website Honest-food.net highlights his Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook cuisine, giving a detailed view of his passion for this lifestyle. Shaw’s intimate connection with wild foods and their historical relevance is captured with text that would make foodies such as Michael Pollan want to pick up a rod and a rifle. His fascination with forgotten foods also expresses no fear in his will to be weird. Shaw also engages his readers in a Hunt, Gather, Cook Facebook Group as an open-source exchange of information with those who share a similar interest. His second book, “Duck, Duck, Goose,” is an alternative guide to the big bird feasts, and his most recent book, “Buck, Buck, Moose,” includes “recipes and techniques for cooking deer, elk, moose, antelope and other antlered things.” You can also look forward to the release of his book “Pheasant, Quail, and Cottontail” in the spring of 2018.

Steven Rinella

As an outdoorsman and advocate for public lands, Rinella’s NetFlix television show “Meat Eater” has fueled the appreciation for wild foods by giving a point of view from the journey that led to the meal. Rinella leads a narrative through film that few of us can put into words. He speaks to the inner-monologue that hunters and anglers experience in the wild. A true ambassador to this lifestyle, he identifies with the simplistic nature of humans as just another omnivore in the circle of life. Beyond being a face on camera, the Meat Eater website provides tips on field dressing wild game, recipes and podcasts that are an extension of the narrative on his television program.

Jeremiah Doughty

If you think you need to wrap everything in bacon to appease your relatives that complain about that “gamey” taste, Doughty will challenge you to think outside the box while you’re in the kitchen. Doughty’s website FromFieldToPlate.com will open your mind to less-traditional methods of cooking your wild game. If you want to try a recipe for Wild Turkey Mexican Pizza (top photo) this Thanksgiving, he has one. Like other wild chefs, Doughty enjoys knowing the origin of his meals, and expresses the gratitude for them in a manner that is spiritual to him. A “From Field to Plate” cookbook is in the works, and you can follow his From Field to Plate Facebook Page for updates, as well as butchering tips, recipes and an inside look into his personal hunting expeditions.

Scott Leysath

 

Cooking #venisontacos for those in need. #huntfishfeed #sportingchef #wildgamechef @sportsmanchannel #helpothers

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As a TV personality for the Sportsman Channel’s program “The Sporting Chef,” Leysath first entered television by scripting for HGTV’s “Homegrown Cooking with Paul James.” He is also the cooking editor for Ducks Unlimited magazine, and the author of the “Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook” and “The Sporting Chef’s Favorite Wild Game Recipes.” An extensive library of helpful tips for the everyday hunter and angler is available on the SportingChef.com website, including suggestions on how to package everything from your small game birds to your underwear.

Sean Sherman

Founder and CEO of the “Sioux Chef,” Sherman’s commitment to indigenous foods shares the voluntary omission from industrial farming and shines a spotlight on traditional Native American cuisine, and the meticulously labor-intensive processes of creating things such as salt and sugar from scratch that modern conveniences have afforded us to take for granted. While many non-traditional wild game chefs highlight depression-style cooking techniques, the historical relevance of Sherman’s cuisine speaks to the truths about colonization. “There’s no ‘Joy of Native American Cooking’ cookbook,” said Sherman. In an effort to give visibility to Native American cuisine, his culinary ventures have drawn the attention of National Geographic. The significance of revitalizing indigenous foods is culturally empowering, and pays homage to the ways of Native American ancestry. The Sioux Chef cookbook, “Indigenous Kitchen,” co-authored by Beth Dooley, is an exodus from the modern culinary cultures that excessively call for flour, dairy and domesticated livestock. The website Sioux-Chef.com provides a calendar of events for book signings and speaking tours. You can even book the Sioux Chef for catering options.

 

Top images courtesy of Jeremiah Doughty

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