By Doug Leier

Hopefully you had something like this in your scope this year

As a hunter and angler, as well as a friend of many hunters and anglers, I've dined on an array of wild game preparations, from delicacies like lemon-pepper broiled walleye, to more obscure offerings such as sandhill crane stir-fry, pickled beaver tail, and deep fried bullhead caviar.

Okay, I admit, I haven't really ever tried pickled beaver tail ... and honestly, I doubt I ever will. But other people have, and I threw that in to demonstrate the imagination progressive thinking of wild game connoisseurs who have gone beyond the tired standard of the past of drowning most everything in cream of mushroom soup.

Not that some concoctions, like beaver tail, are all that appealing to the masses, but when it comes to fish and game cooking, the beauty is in the eye - or the fork - of the beholder.

Similar to dining out, we each have our own preferences when it comes to wild game cuisine. It's at this time of year, as we continue our drive toward the close of deer hunting, that the typical guy who struggles to boil water, is magically (in their own mind, anyway) transformed into the Julia Child of venison preparation.

First off, you can't make a fillet mignon out of ground chuck. If you don't take care of the meat in the field, no amount of seasoning or any style of preparation will overcome the damage done. Take care of your kill from the field to the fork.

What to do with venision?

Beyond properly cleaning the meat, keeping it cool and processing it efficiently are important. Along with that, proper packaging and storage will ensure the meat stays fresh.

Arm-chair deer processors will fry pounds of back straps as they work their way through carcasses. When the work is done, the end result is an array of products, from breakfast sausage, deer roasts and burger, to venison brats, summer sausage and stew meat. In fact, I recall one year in college when a wrapped meat package was marked as venison bacon.

We never did fry it up as bacon, but it gives credence to the endless possibilities of fish and wild game cooking. Odds are, if you enjoy traditional food such as stir-fry, you'll be able to modify the recipe to include the bounties of nature.

A use for all

One last comment. My lineage utilized everything but the squeal, so to speak, when it came to pigs, and the same can be done with venison.

No need to contemplate what to do with the rib cage and carcass. It makes an attractive feast for birds as a natural suet cake. As the carcass thaws and the tallow is warmed you'll find an array of birds devouring the energy and nutrition-rich leftovers.

The bottom line is, if you still have a deer license that is not yet filled, don't think for a minute you can't find a use for the venison. If you don't believe me, search the internet and you never know what will appear.

Supplemental deer season

Plenty of does left for the taking yet this fall

The supplemental season is scheduled for December 17 - 31, in all units except 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. The season is open to those who purchase remaining licenses, and to hunters who have unfilled antlerless whitetail, or "any-antlerless" licenses from the regular deer gun season.

Hunters who have unfilled antlered (buck) deer licenses may not hunt in the supplemental season. As in the regular deer gun season, hunters must hunt only in the unit designated on their license

Some of these units have licenses remaining and others may be experiencing a lesser harvest due to a variety of reasons," said Randy Kreil, chief of the department's wildlife division. "We know we still might not issue all the remaining licenses and not everyone with a license will get a deer during the December season, but we needed to make an extra effort to provide additional opportunities for harvest."

The special season will also give landowners who may have experienced deer depredation problems in past winters, a chance to allow hunters to reduce deer numbers in localized areas.

The 2004 supplemental season marks only the third time in recent history that game and fish has added to the regular deer gun season. The last time was in 1996, primarily in the eastern part of the state, when a severe snowstorm during the second weekend of the season significantly limited travel and hunting activity. Prior to that, a supplemental season was held in 1986, also due to a significant snowstorm on opening weekend.