November 7, 2017

See 'em, Shoot 'em, Hit 'em Helps Fill Game Bag

If you are looking for a sure way to kill a couple of hours, just casually ask any veteran outdoorsman for a little advice about honing hunting and shooting skills.

The few old codgers who know everything about everything will try to dazzle you with stories about their remarkable hunting experiences; expertise with smokepoles; and lengthy details about hard-earned trophies.

These campfire tales and stories told after the firearms are put away for the day and the fire water has refreshed their memories can be quite entertaining.

However, as my older brother Harvey points out, "You can't beat the last liar" -- meaning most of the sage advice should be taken with a grain of salt.

There are times, however, when you can pick up a short and sweet tidbit that actually has merit.

I have been fortunate to be able to learn from several veterans who were gifted with more substance than show.

One of them was old Grandpa Foster – a crackerjack rifle shot in his younger life. In those days when carnival shooting galleries tested the skills of shooters using .22-caliber rifles, he would regularly take home their prizes.

Being able to shoot three perfect centers in a cloverleaf was child’s
play to a shooter who cut his teeth bagging squirrels, rabbits and such for a hungry family. The number of game animals that fell to his laser-like accuracy could not easily be counted.

His basic advice was simple and to the point: “You’ve got to see ’em to shoot ’em and you’ve got to hit ’em to get ’em.’’

Good observation abilities, backed with proper practice with a shooting tool, are the best ways to put meat on your table.

Another veteran outdoorsman who left us far to early at the age of 81 was Wes Reed, who was a San Antonio rifle range owner for many years and advocated practicing with a hunting tool until the shooter is confident the rifle would consistently put a bullet in the right place at the right time.

"If I miss, it will be my fault and not the rifle's," he said.

The following recipe pays tribute to the sage advice from veteran hunters who helped guide my outdoor career.

Sure Shot Venison Steaks

2 pounds venison round steaks
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup seasoned flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil
1 jar (26 ounces) chunky spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
sliced mozzarella cheese

Pound each steak with a meat mallet until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Place in a bowl or bag with the buttermilk and marinate for at least an hour. Mix Chef Ralph's Super Seasoning (or your own combination of salts and peppers), bread crumbs, oregano and flour in a resealable plastic bag. Dredge marinated steaks in beaten eggs, then add one at a time to flour mixture and shake to coat. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Brown steaks on both sides. Reduce heat to low and spoon spaghetti sauce over browned meat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover skillet and simmer on low heat for 25 minutes. Melt a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each steak just before serving with fresh cooked pasta.

Now, let's get cooking!