Hunting is an active sport that involves plenty of walking, hill climbing, carrying gear in, and packing meat out. To be successful, hunters need to maintain peak physical fitness and that means eating properly before, during, and after the hunt. However, the very nature of the hunting lifestyle also offers unique challenges when it comes to meal preparation, as it often takes place a long way from a fully stocked residential kitchen. In this article, we provide 7 tips for better hunt camp cooking, as well as a few simple recipes you can cook up in the field with ease.
But first off, let’s look at the basic cooking supplies you’ll need for hunt camp cooking.
Basic Cooking Supplies
You can’t go camping without the right equipment! There are a couple of basic food preparation essentials that should be part of every hunter’s camp list. For starters, you want to have a box (or two) of good quality matches so that you can start a campfire or gas stove quickly. Our advice: store them in a zip lock bag to ensure they are always dry. If you can buy waterproof matches, even better. You might also want a flint stick as a back up – just in case. While it’s technically possible to cook just over an open flame, having the correct cookware definitely makes the task a lot easier. We recommend a medium size lightweight aluminum saucepan+skillet/ frying pan set up together in one package. This will allow you to prepare anything from a venison backstrap or heart, to bacon and eggs, beans on toast or even a warming cup of soup. If you’re driving in, rather than hiking, you might even want to include a medium size cast iron Dutch oven, which can cook up hearty casseroles or pot roasts. A JetBoil or Spitfire cooker is also a great, portable addition to your camping supplies and can be used for everything from making tea or coffee to heating up ready-made meals.
7 Expert Tips For Better Hunt Camp Cooking
1. Use a Vacuum Sealer
If you’re going to be in the wilderness for several days, it’s a good idea to prepare some food in advance. Vacuum-sealing your prepared meats and vegetables will keep them fresh while also taking up less space than plastic containers! Marking packages with permanent markers makes it easy to find what goes together. We use the GameSaver, which has the added benefit of having a 9V adaptor, which means you can also use it to pack up your meat for cleaner transporting back home after a successful hunt.
2. Use Adjustable-Height Grills for Open Fire Cooking
The perfect cooking surface is a matter of preference, but if you’re going to be cooking over an open fire, and have limited space, then an adjustable height grill designed specifically for the task definitely makes cooking less of a chore. There are many available on the market, from light-weight, compact versions that will slip into a pocket on your backpack to multi-level cooking stations that you could literally cook up a feast on.
3. Bring the Foil
If you’re looking to cut weight dramatically in your back pack, there’s nothing handier for cooking in a hunt camp than a humble roll of aluminium foil. You can use it to line grill grates or pans, cover pots and bowls to keep cooked food hot and bugs at bay, or even cook directly in the campfire coals in packets. A few layers of foil can also be fashioned into a very rudimentary pot for heating liquids.
4. Pack a Kit for the Camp Kitchen
If you’ve spent more than a few weekends at hunting camp, then packing and unpacking your kitchen kit before each trip can get tedious. Use a heavy-duty storage tote or lightweight plastic container to keep all your basic supplies, such as cutlery, a can opener, salt and pepper, sauce etc in one easy place. Then, all you have to do is grab your kit and throw it straight in the car ready to go.
5. Use a Dutch Oven
For all you juveniles out there, no, we’re not talking about that kind of Dutch Oven! We’re talking about the heavy, cast iron cooking implement that can feed an entire camp with a one-dish meal, and do it without much fuss. Prep for dinner in advance while everyone else is eating lunch. Then nestle over hot coals or on top of some wood chips before adding additional ingredients like vegetables to simmer until tender before serving up this delicious dish! Or, if you’re super prepared, you could even prepare all the ingredients at home, add to your Dutch Oven and then wrap some Glad Wrap or aluminium foil around it to prevent leaks while you travel.
6. Cook Safely Over Fire
When cooking over an open fire, it can be tricky to keep yourself safe from burns. A pair of thick leather welder gloves and other equipment will help you safely move around without burning your hands. It’s always a good idea to wear closed-toed shoes when trying to avoid this type of accident in the first place. After all, what good is dinner if there are no fingers left?
7. Do Camp Brunch
The best hunts are done early morning, which means you’re unlikely to get up and cook a hearty breakfast before a hunt. But that doesn’t mean you can’t savour the joys of bacon and eggs cooked over your campfire. Our suggestion: have a light breakfast before the hunt – a quick coffee or cup of hot tea and a protein bar will fuel you enough for the hunt – and then cook up an incredible late-morning feast once you return to camp. Make it easy by storing any cooked dishes in your cooler with pre-measured amounts of ingredients for simple cooking on site!
Quick and Easy Recipes
Cooking in a kitchen is an art form but cooking up a culinary delight in the bush is pure creative genius. It is so much fun to experiment with new recipes so if you’re feeling adventurous this hunting season, try one of these recipes that will make your next hunt camp cooking experience even more memorable.
Hearkening back to the 70s, rice-a-roni is a retro meal that is part pasta, part rice and 100% all flavour! Take four cups of cooked noodles or pasta, add to 6 cups of cooked rice and 2 tablespoons of stock powder. Heat through in a pan or foil pouch with a some water and you have a hearty meal that will replenish your energy stores. Add in some chopped meat and vegetables (which could be pre-cut and bagged at home in a vacuum sealer) with some mixed spices and all of a sudden your retro camp meal is now a culinary delight.
Camp-fire Rabbit Curry
There’s nothing quite like cooking up a meal of freshly hunted game meat and no easier game meat to prepare in the field than the humble bunny rabbit. If you have the luxury of bagging a few bunnies on your hunt, this campfire curry is one of the heartiest meals you’re likely to ever cook yourself out bush. Quarter up each of the bunnies and brown in the bottom of a Dutch Oven with a little butter or oil. Set aside. Crack open a jar of Panang curry paste and a can of coconut cream and heat through in the Dutch Oven (hint: always have these items on hand in your camp kit). Add the browned rabbit pieces back into the pot, put the lid on and set on the side of your campfire to cook for several hours. Serve with rice or crusty bread.
Make Your Own Creamy Soup Mix
There’s nothing more warming on a cold, winter morning than a cup of steaming hot creamy soup. Most hunters have a sachet or two of soup mix in the bottom of their bag, but did you know it’s really easy to make your own creamy soup mix. Start by blending together 6 cups of flour with 7 cups of powdered milk. Next, add 1 cup of cornflour and 1⁄2 cup onion powder; then mix in 4 tablespoons dried herbs (basil, parsley, oregano, thyme etc) along with 2 teaspoons each white pepper and marjoram for flavor. Add a little bit of salt or ground celery seed to the mixture but be careful not to over spice it as too much saltiness can make your soup taste unpleasant. This can then be used as a base mix and you can add in your other flavours. For example, you could make a creamy potato and leek soup by adding in some dried potato flakes and chopped, dried leeks. Or swap the leeks for dried bacon bits. Play around with the technique to find your favourite soup mixes.
Hopefully, this post has given you some helpful tips on how to prepare for your next hunting trip. It’s important that every hunter is prepared with the right equipment and food.
Good luck out there and happy hunting!
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