by Andrew White - Friday, March 25, 2016
Habitat for your table fare is a complex recipe in itself that requires a lot of ingredients. If you like to hunt and eat a variety of critters, you'll need a variety of habitat. The calories you provide in the field turn into the calories consumed on your plate so make sure you have enough of them to grow the game you'd like to eat.
Managing a landscape for different species of wild game creates a plethora of benefits. Better timber can mean more squirrels, higher forb diversity for summer deer browse means more insects, which means more birds, which means more food options on your plate in the form of tasty quail breasts!
As a hunter and wildlife biologist, I like to remind others that conservation and hunting are intrinsically tied to each other. Every time hunters purchase permits, guns, ammo, and hunting gear, those funds go towards state wildlife conservation efforts. Hunting not only allows me to know exactly where the meat comes from, but also allows to me to take pride in the fact that I am helping to conserve wild game and its habitat for future generations. If you enjoy consuming wild game, then the property that you hunt on is literally your meat’s feed lot, and your grocery store. By providing diverse habitat, you are not only feeding wildlife, but ensuring the targeted game stays year-round, ensuring that the food you’ve raised to hunt is available when you are ready to “purchase.” Hunters hold an intrinsic need for conservation, because it is pretty hard to find quail and pheasants in a parking lot.
Growing up, my three brothers and I were raised on the hunting notion of, “You harvest it, you eat it.” If you open my fridge freezer or deep freeze the only meat you will find is wild game that I have harvested. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fat, juicy steak just as much as the next guy, but the satisfaction from consuming something you harvested, butchered and prepared is unsurmountable. Not to mention how cost effective it is. Harvesting two deer alone holds me well into the next hunting season. Variety is the spice of life; the enticing additions of waterfowl, turkey, pheasant and quail provide ample opportunity for new recipes and flavor combinations.
Here’s a recipe my family and I like to use that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Don’t be afraid to be creative with this recipe, there are lots of ingredients you can add that will pair well with bacon and quail! If you’re in a quick pinch, slicing down either side of the keel bone and spreading some cream cheese prior to wrapping the bacon is pretty tasty as well.
Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Quail
5-8 quail breasts, cleaned
Brine (Used for smoked turkey, but works great for quail)
1 package of bacon
Clean the quail, be sure to remove all skin and feathers, rinse with water (soaking in cold water helps). Some prefer to fillet the breast meat out, but bone-in is easier to manage. Once you have cleaned the quail, let them soak while you prepare the brine. SouthPond’s brine recipe introduced me to the idea of brining. Next, drain the water from the quail, give them a final rinse and put them in the brine for 4-6 hours, the longer the better. Prepare the grill. I prefer charcoal, but a gas grill works just as well. Next, take your package of bacon and wrap each breast with one strip of bacon, securing with a toothpick. You will want to grill these on medium heat to avoid scorching the bacon. Grill for 4-5 minutes, turn once for another 4-5 minutes (timing may vary depending on grill). If the bacon is cooked, that is a good indicator that you are ready to chow down. Watch out for pellets and enjoy!
Learn more about conservation efforts from Andrew and his family on NRA All Access! Here’s a clip from the episode:
Photo Credit: Genaknox.com