While my wife Elaine and I were preparing this venison themed dinner, we thought of all the ways Quality Deer Management influenced how the entrée and dessert arrived on our table. I killed the doe, from which the venison burger came, on our 94-acre Gap Mills, West Virginia property. Several years ago, we arranged for a logger to thin a grove of white and red oaks, based on a Quality Whitetails article on how Timber Stand Improvement activities (in this case thinning) could be extremely beneficial for wildlife as the surviving oaks would, with the additional light, receive more sunlight and nutrients, expand their crowns, and produce more acorns.
Before I became a QDMA member, I never would have considered the concept of cutting some oaks to have more acorns on the ground. The result was that last October, when a near total acorn failure occurred in the Mid-Atlantic region, our thinned oak grove produced copious amounts of nuts. Indeed, four does showed up in our woodlot a few minutes after legal shooting light began. I merely selected the first doe that arrived within shooting range.
We marinated the venison burger in Allegro Original Marinade because several years ago we attended a youth hunt arranged by QDMA member Arthur Dick, who owns Willow Oaks Plantation in Eden, North Carolina, and Guy and Judy Gardner and the folks at the Cape Fear River, North Carolina Branch. One evening, Arthur served venison tenderloin that had been allowed to marinade overnight in Allegro. The resulting huzzahs caused us to ask Arthur what his secret was. Since then, we have used the marinade in any number of venison dishes.
When we make hunting lands more productive for whitetails through Quality Deer Management, venison isn’t the only wild food we can hunt, gather and enjoy. The wild blackberries for the pie came from the 38 acres that we live on in Botetourt County, Virginia. In December of 2010, we had cut about 5 acres of Virginia pines and red cedars to create a bedding area for whitetails and generate more food for wildlife. Making small clearcuts, as QDMA members well know, are excellent ways to make properties more hospitable to wildlife. One of the plant species that now thrives in the regenerating cut is blackberry. Last summer, we picked more than 10 gallons of wild berries and saw a turkey hen brooding her eggs deep inside a tangle of vines.
Here are our recipes for a delicious “hunter-gatherer” dinner: Baked venison burgers and wild blackberry pie.
Baked Venison Burgers
|1-lb. ground venison||1 Tbsp Allegro Original Marinade|
|1 egg||1/4 tsp High Mountain Seasonings garlic pepper rub|
|2 tsp yellow mustard||2 slices whole wheat bread turned into crumbs|
- Marinate the venison overnight in the Allegro and High Mountain Seasonings.
- Mix 1-pound burger with egg, yellow mustard, and whole wheat bread crumbs.
- Form into patties and place into aluminum pan.
- Bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. The burgers will be done when their internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Notes: The egg and bread crumbs help hold the patties together and also help keep them moist. We prefer to lightly sprinkle the Garlic Pepper Rub on the meat so as not to overpower the venison flavor. A minute or so before we remove the patties from the oven, we place strips of sharp cheddar cheese on the patties.
Wild Blackberry Pie
|1 prepared pie crust, top and bottom||1/2 tsp almond extract|
|1 quart wild blackberries||2-3 tsp King Arthur Flour Pie Filling Enhancer|
|1 cup sugar||1 1/2 Tbsp butter|
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place pie crust in the pie pan. In a bowl, combine berries, sugar, almond extract, and pie filling enhancer. Stir to combine and pour the mixture into the pie crust. Chop the butter into pea-sized pieces and dot them over the fruit.
- Top the berry mixture with the top pie crust. Cut several vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake further for 38 to 40 minutes until the top crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. The pie will set up better if allowed to cool at least ½ hour before serving.
Notes: Although domestic blackberries certainly make delicious pies, we prefer the tartness of the wild version. We have used tapioca as a pie thickener, but the Pie Filling Enhancer does a nice job with watery fruit.
About the Author: Bruce Ingram is a QDMA member and freelance outdoor writer from Fincastle, Virginia, and he is a regular contributor to QDMA’s Quality Whitetails magazine. Bruce and his wife Elaine write a weekly blog at Bruce Ingram Outdoors.