I met Hank Shaw—the mastermind and master chef behind the website Hunter-Gardner-Angler-Cook—on a diver duck hunt not long ago. The conversation turned to canvasbacks as it so often does among the diver duck addicted. At some point, I audibly pondered why the can was so highly prized in the era of market hunting. Hank came straight back with the answer.
Canvasbacks were an exceedingly popular menu item in fine restaurants up and down the Eastern Seaboard. They fetched more than $125 (in today’s dollars) for a serving of half a bird. That meant the market hunters also received a higher bounty on cans than on anything else they could shoot, net, or otherwise bring to the bag. The reason is one particular method of preparation Hank has researched, but I’m not going to tell you what that is—you’ll have to go to Hunter-Gardner-Angler-Cook and find out for yourself.
If you are committed to eating the game that you kill (as we all should be) then Hunter-Gardner-Angler-Cook needs to be a bookmarked website in your browser. I have not found any wild game cooking resource so comprehensive yet so down to earth. And besides wild game, the site includes a multitude of information and recipes for everything you gather from the woods—anywhere actually. And the level of preparations is amazing; recommendations from haute cuisine to eat it raw abound.
Remember the old Grape Nuts commercial’s with Euell Gibbons? Long before the Wendy’s catch phrase of “Where’s the Beef?” Gibbons’ line that caught fire was, “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.” Gibbons was the author of at least five books on natural foods and foraging. Hank Shaw is the modern day Euell Gibbons, but with terrific wit, sarcasm and attitude. As an award-winning writer, journalist, blogger and chef, Shaw takes foraging to a gourmet level.
The wealth and breadth of information shared on the sight is incredible. And while Shaw is all about eating natural foods (and lives in California), there’s nothing Left Coast fruits and nuts about him. This guy is a hardcore hunter and angler and recognizes eating natural is not possible … and even more so … not pleasurable … without wild game and fish as focal points of the menu.
Hunter-Gardner-Angler-Cook is long on its way to being my go-to resource for preparing the game I bag, especially ducks, geese and other stuff to which people too often turn up their noses … and Lordy … I can’t wait until the morel mushrooms start popping up during turkey season!