South Dakota Cooking Class Offers a Taste of Mountain Lion

January 24, 2013

South Dakota Cooking Class Learn to Cook Mountain Lion

Cottontail rabbit chowder, bighorn sheep BBQ sandwiches, and three different dishes of mountain lion drew in students for Jeff Olson’s wild-game cooking course. Olson is a former South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks commissioner and a staunch conversationalist with a flair for cooking on the wild side. However, according the Rapid City Journal, he never got a chance to try his hand at cougar meat before last week’s class.

Faced with a lack of mountain lion recipes in conventional cook books, Olson decided to improvise. He took inspiration from what works well with antelope and went from there. Lion meat must be thoroughly cooked to kill possible parasites and has a lean texture comparable to pork. Olson prepared three distinctly different cougar dishes for his students: grilled tenderloin wrapped in bacon and sesame, a crouton, cheese and cherry stuffed backstrap, and cubed lion steak in pineapple sweet and sour sauce.

Reactions were positive, although some students didn’t know what to make of the strange meat.

“I thought it was … good,” said Steve Mueller, a student and avid hunter. “I didn’t know what to expect, so I just came into it with an open mind. It was more like a low-fat kind of pork.”

Mueller did express interest in hunting mountain lions for food. “It would be kind of interesting to have a bite with nothing on it at all, so I could discern the original taste. It was a little like those samples at Sam’s (Club). I didn’t eat enough to really judge it as a meal.”

South Dakota’s mountain lion season ends March 31. Jeff Olson will hold another cooking class at South Dakota’s Outdoor Campus West on February 7.

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Wild Pork Need Not Be Gamey

August 13, 2012

Wild Pork Need Not Be Gamey

I’ve gotten some good emails about my pig article in Slate magazine and I think I ought to address some of the points and questions that people have been raising.

First of all, wild pork does not necessarily taste ‘gamey.’ Most often it is bad or delayed butchering that causes gaminess. I have butchered wild pigs and domestic pigs and most of the meat tasted identical. There are two major differences. The wild pigs have less and leaner bacon, while the hams from the wild pigs taste much better.

If you kill a wild pig and butcher it within a few weeks of when the acorns drop from the oak trees in your area, then the hams are outstanding. All that I did was give them a a quick two day salt rub (with some bay leaves and other stuff in there as well) and then I did a hot smoke out back in a single afternoon. Not very complicated, but the flavor and appearance was very much like the famous Iberian ham.

You know what Iberian pigs and ham are? About 3,000 years ago a bunch of domestic pigs were crossed with Eurasian wild boars. These hybrids are allowed to run around freely in huge meadows and oak forests where they gorge themselves on acorns right before slaughter. The resulting meat, properly handled and cured, is hailed as among the finest pork in the world.

Does that sound familiar? This is pretty much the same situation that we have with most wild pigs in the US. Wild/domestic hybrids that get a lot of exercise and stuff themselves on acorns. The meat from most wild pigs is excellent. The sloppy DIY butchering, often delayed by hours while the corpse sits in the hot sun, not so excellent.

The next point that I would like to address is the question of whether I have ever actually killed a pig. Yes, absolutely. In fact, you can watch me on a successful pig hunt in Helenah Swedberg’s film about me (watch the trailer here).

This article orginally appeared on Jackson Landers’ blog, rule 303.

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Prairie Chicken Stir Fry Recipe

July 24, 2012

Cubed prairie chicken and some fresh garden vegetables

Depending upon what state you’re focused upon, there are approximately 60 days left on the calendar until we’re able to chase birds behind our flushers, pointers and retrievers. That’s right; this is your official two month warning. In fact, I’m excited to report my calendar is starting to fill in with September ruffed grouse hunts, as well as an early prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse hunt.

Consequently, I’ve begun to inventory what’s left in my chest freezer. A huge pet-peeve of mine is leaving meat in the freezer into a new hunting season, so I was happy to see a pair of pheasants and one meal of quail is all that stands between me and an empty freezer.

Prairie chicken begins to brown

Last week, I pulled out two Kansas prairie chickens from the freezer then headed into the garden looking for fresh ingredients. The result of my search was a very simply prepared prairie chicken stir fry. Here you go:


  • 2 whole prairie chickens (deboned and cubed)
  • 1 small zucchini sliced into small triangles
  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 2 cups of snow peas
  • 1 stalk of celery diced
  • 1 head of broccoli diced
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small green bell pepper sliced into small strips
  • 1 bottle of House of Tsang Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry sauce

Cherry tomatoes add some nice color


  1. Sauté the cubed prairie chicken in olive oil until browned.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes and simmer for approximately three minutes on medium heat
  3. Add all the green vegetables and simmer covered. (I like to make sure the vegetables are still crispy when served, so this only takes a couple of minutes.)
  4. Add bottle of House of Tsang Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry Sauce and simmer for two minutes till warm.
  5. Serve over rice.

Veggies added

After slicing and dicing the vegetables, this recipe literally took minutes to prepare. And as you’ve probably already figured, this preparation works just as well with quail, pheasant or any other fowl in your freezer. Enjoy!

Serve over rice

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Quick and Easy Elk Stroganoff Recipe

May 4, 2012

Quick and Easy Elk Stroganoff

Looking for a quick and easy solution for dinner tonight? Here’s a twist on a classic recipe for stroganoff that will spice up your dinner menu and create a meal the whole family will be talking about. Plus it’s a great way to clean out the freezer and get ready for this year’s Elk season.

Serves 6

Inactive Prep Time:  20-30 minutes

Cooking Time:  Approximately 20 minutes


  • 1 lb elk round steak
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped fine, divided
  • 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine, divided
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup red wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock or beef broth
  • 8 oz sour cream, divided
  • Additional salt, pepper and Worcestershire Sauce to taste
  • Egg noodles, cooked per package directions (top with butter after cooking and draining)


Slice elk into thin strips about 2 inches long and place in a bowl.  Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce and 1 Tbsp of the olive oil,   Stir to combine.  Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat; add remaining olive oil.  Add elk and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, turning to sear all sides.  Remove elk from heat and set aside.  (Elk will not be cooked through.)

Add onion to skillet and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, half of the thyme and half of the dill.  Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until onions are very soft and mushrooms are cooked through.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mushrooms and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add the wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the beef stock and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in half of the sour cream until well-blended.  Stir in the remaining thyme and dill.

Add the elk back to the skillet and cook until the meat is cooked to medium doneness, about 3-4 minutes.  Serve over hot buttered noodles and top with remaining sour cream at the table.

Tip:  After each addition of vegetables, add a few dashes of additional Worcestershire Sauce and a few grinds of black pepper.  Finish the dish with a very light sprinkling of salt, to taste.  I use homemade stock made with no salt.  If you’re using canned beef broth or salt, use less salt in the dish.  Be sure to taste the sauce before adding more salt.

Jessica Beaver is the Accounting Coordinator for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. An award-winning amateur chef and baker, Beaver enjoys the challenge of developing recipes for big game, fish and more that can be seamlessly integrated into a busy family’s lifestyle.

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Hi Mountain Seasonings: Perfect for Waterfowl Cooking

March 5, 2012

Hi Mountain Seasonings: Perfect for Waterfowl Cooking

It’s an age-old problem for waterfowlers. You can bring the meat to the table but how do you make it delectable so it wows your friends and family?

Waterfowl is a specialty for many chefs but they often use commercially raised birds. You, too, can be a chef that draws praise using your own harvests.

Hi Mountain Seasonings makes the job easy with its mouth-watering recipes and jerky specialty kits that will make any tough old bird melt in your mouth. A variety of recipes for ducks and geese can be found on the Hi Mountain Seasonings website at

If you’re a goose hunter, Hi Mountain Seasonings offers three seasonings kits: Wild Goose Original, Wild Goose Hickory and Wild Goose Mesquite—all three of which are specially blended to enhance the natural succulent flavors of the waterfowl to provide a tender jerky that everyone in the family will enjoy.

Duck and geese often have a reputation of being tough and too gamey, to eat but both provide a healthy and tasty meal with an amazingly table-ready appeal. Be sure to give the wild fowl a try this season.

Here is a great recipe to start with. In the tradition of the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, this recipe is a quick one that will fool some of your friends that claim they don’t like the flavor of duck. The meat is sliced very thin, so be careful when cooking. It only takes a minute or two to cook. If you like your foods spicy, splash in some hot sauce or some thinly sliced jalapeno peppers before topping with cheese. Try it with a sourdough hoagie or slider rolls. Serves four.


  • 2 cups duck skinless breast fillets
  • 1 teaspoon each Hi Mountain Cajun Cowboy and Trail Dust Seasonings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup Italian dressing
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • Italian rolls, slider rolls, etc.

Slice the duck breasts as thinly as possible. If possible, place in the freezer for an hour or so to firm up the meat before slicing. Season with Cajun Cowboy and Trail Dust Seasonings. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add onions, pepper and garlic. Cook until onions are lightly browned.

Move vegetables over to one side of the skillet and add duck breast. Cook meat until lightly brown, but do not overcook. Combine with peppers, onion and garlic. Add Italian seasonings to mixture and toss to warm.

Mound meat and vegetables into piles (according to the number and size of the roles – 4 rolls = 4 mounds). Top with cheese for each mound until cheese melts. Scoop up each portion of meat and vegetables and place in rolls.

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