Article featured image

As 2014 comes to an end, we asked some friends of MeatEater to reflect back on their favorite and worst hunting moments from the past year, and to tell us about the hunts they are looking forward to in 2015.

RONNY BOEHME

Favorite and worst hunt?
Favorite hunt was a trip to Wyoming going after sage grouse and worst was a local Michigan “sure thing duck hunt”, never saw a duck in the air, let alone in range.

Favorite and worst field eats?
Favorite field eats has to be Sandhill crane tailgate grilled in the field. Worst was a severely over cooked elk steak.

B4_7vylCQAA4G8_

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
Quail legs and wild rice.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
A wooded creek bottom just west of Great Bend, Kansas. Big whitetails everywhere with matching racks.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
Diver ducks off Maryland eastern shore and dusky grouse in Colorado.

RYAN CALLAGHAN, First Lite

10419424_10152714347659079_5959415436373890595_n

Favorite and worst hunt?
This is a painful question as I am one of those people that tends to enjoy the miseries as much as the triumphs. Here are a couple of days that stood out: While running backwards through the lava rock (much larger story here), I fell hard enough to send my backpack, spotting scope, and rifle flying. Split a finger open and eventually returned to the truck covered in my own blood. This sounds like a bad day but I had a giant Idaho mule deer in the cross hairs at some point the same afternoon.

Season after season, a trip that always stands out is taking someone on their first hunt. This past year I had a couple of first time hunts, both of which were very rewarding. The first hunt was for mule deer here in Idaho and we hiked painfully steep country and came away empty handed. The second hunt was for cow elk in Montana and we definitely had our fair share of adversities, the hunt was by no means a gimme. Being part of all of the highs and lows of a “first timers” hunt is one of my favorite things.

Favorite and worst field eats?
Sometimes this just depends on the situation. A can of smoked oysters can be the best thing ever at the end of a long day or in the middle of a long day for that matter.

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
B3fMIQqCYAApDBo
Elk tongue polenta sauce is an all time favorite.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
Ventured into a spot in the Bob Marshall wilderness that we’ve looked at for a long time. Amazing grizzly bear country, horrible spot to get an elk out of. Found a high couloir in the Boulder White clouds here in Idaho that is both jaw dropping beautiful and home to some very respectable mule deer.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
BC is always on my mind, mountain goat and grizzly bear live in terrain that I just love. However if all I do is hunt archery elk and mule deer locally, I am doing just fine.Bx6Hs3MIcAAvkEK

DOUG DUREN

Favorite and worst hunt?
I don’t usually hunt any place than our family farm in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin and 2014 wasn’t any different. That’s mostly because of: 1.  Time constraints and other obligations, including taking care of the farm and my client’s properties 2. I don’t feel like I take full advantage of the opportunities I have on our property. 3. Friends come to the farm to hunt and sharing the farm with them is one of my favorite things to do.

We had a good turkey season this Spring: Steve Rinella and Jerod Fink got a big Tom as I sat on the porch of our cabin drinking coffee and listening to the calling, gobbling and for the BOOM that eventually came. Hearing those guys talking and laughing as they came up out of the valley celebrating their success brought a smile to my face just as the thought of it does now.

photo-2

The gun deer season is the hunting reward at the end of the year and our group looks forward to it like Christmas morning. Imagine our disappointment when fog on Opening morning limited visibility to about 75 yards, followed by the second day of mostly rain, and the third day changing from rain to blinding snow. My brother and a couple of our guys’ hunts ended disappointingly due to the lousy weather but my nephew, friends and I had a great second weekend. We ended up with 3 bucks and 1 doe. I killed an 8-point buck that had been wounded by a neighbor with a crossbow some weeks before and was wasting away and I also killed a nice 9-point buck.

20141128_163536_resized_3

Favorite and worst field eats?
After a busy summer I was again invited to a week of fishing and fun with the Brothers Rinella at their place on Prince of Wales Island, where we ate like kings, thanks mostly to Chef Andy Radzialowski and the bounty of Southeast Alaska. That trip certainly included the best field eats and the best trophy country of the year.

Best wild game meal you made at home?
We’ve been eating halibut, salmon, shrimp and crab from Alaska, venison and grass fed beef from our farm.  I haven’t had a bad meal from any of it and the good ones are still coming.

Hunt you’re looking forward to or would like to go to in 2015?
In 2015 I’m hoping to hunt “off the farm”  either in the southwest or Montana. And I’m looking forward to hunting the Duren Farm during the Spring and Fall with family and old and new friends.

CODY LUJAN

2014 NM Elk

Favorite and worst hunt?
A late season elk hunt in the Gila region of New Mexico capped my 2014 season. This was my favorite hunt of the year as it took place in my favorite elk country and was shared with Harold, my father and favorite hunting companion. We hunted our hearts out, enjoyed our time together in some incredible country and put a couple of elk in the freezer. Fortunately I did not have a worst hunt of the year. I hunted incredible places with great people and all of my hunts were fun and safe. You can’t ask for anything more.

Favorite and worst field eats?
Nothing beats fresh brook trout and grouse cooked over a campfire in the backcountry. My best buddy Eric took a break from elk hunting to stalk grouse and brookies during a week-long September elk hunt. We ate like kings that night. I love most freeze dried meals when I’m in the backcountry, but they really start to wear on you after a week straight.

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
Tough question. It’s a toss-up between backyard grilled elk backstraps or antelope backstraps. Lightly seasoned, cooked medium rare and served with vegetables from my garden. Far from fancy but damned tough to beat.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
Southwestern New Mexico’s Gila region. Wild, rugged and beautiful.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
Right now I’m really looking forward to an early season elk hunt in Colorado with my buddy, Brady.

PAUL NEESS, Vortex

Favorite and worst hunt?
I went on a couple really great hunts this year, so this is tough. I guess I’ve got to say the best one was helping my Alaska friend Art on his Kodiak brown bear hunt.  Wasn’t my tag, but even just being there and helping out was truly a once-in-a -lifetime experience. As for worst, I have a hard time calling any hunt a “worst” hunt, but I guess for this year it has to be taking my 13 year old daughter out whitetail deer hunting and then failing to get us close to a single deer. Not a great way for an ex-guide to impress his daughter with his hunting skills! Good thing we’ve still got a late hunt to try again…

Favorite and worst field eats?
There are many but when there’s no fresh meat, one of my favorites has always been a small wax wrapped wheel of smoked gouda cheese. Not a lightweight, but delicious along with some summer sausage or jerky and they don’t go bad during a hunt.  Runner up, peanuts in the shell – protein, calories, salt, and a little entertainment. Worst would have to be Mountain House after about the fifth day… Double bad points if you’re down to flavors you weren’t too keen on even at the beginning of the hunt.  I have to say that this year, sardines in a can came pretty darn close though (ask Art).

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
My cooking skills are just about the polar opposite of Steve R.’s, but back in January I did do some marinated medallions of mountain goat tenderloin that were actually really good. I served them at a game feed with some friends, and they were gone in minutes.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
IMG_0729
Kodiak Island. I’ve been there before fishing, but never had much chance previously to hunt or hike around. It’s a wild, beautiful place with the incredible extra flavor of those gigantic bears roaming around.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
Hope springs eternal for a sheep tag, maybe this is the year I’ll draw! I apply in many states, and would be thrilled to pull a tag in any one of them. I always have back up hunts in planning too, maybe next fall a high country hunt for WY mule deer….