From nature to your plate, foraging for food…

 

At the weekend me and my husband Tim, Flo our dog and my sister and brother in law headed to the hills in search of a mini adventure, a bit of escape and to forage for some food to fill our freezer in time for Christmas. Equipped with our tents and sleeping bags, some grub and a stove, a gun and some bullets, we ventured out into the hills not knowing what we’d find or where we would lay our heads that night. This is one of my favourite things to do, head out into the unknown, well prepared for any adventure that may come your way. The weather was questionable but armed with waterproofs and warm clothing we were ready for anything.

 

Adventuring in nature near Wanaka
Tim and Flo ready for anything…

 

Deer are an introduced species to New Zealand and have become quite a pest over the years. There are huge deer recovery programs with mass pest control happening all over the country. Left alone the deer pose a huge threat to NZ’s native bush, destroying plants and disrupting our native bird wild life. To find out more on how deer are damaging our forests Department of Conservation will tell you some facts. Deer can be successfully farmed here in NZ with little impact. But left wild their population numbers can get out of control. People hunt deer for recreation and for food throughout NZ.

Central Otago exploring in nature
Stalking the deer

After a few hours we had found some deer. Tim stalked them carefully to get close enough to make a clean shot. He picked off one of the young stags, which would be the tastiest. Having shot the deer it was time to go and find it, gut it and get the meat we wanted to take. I find it amazing how we can eat so successfully off the land, no plastic super market trays. This meat was here for the taking and we had to work for it. I am a firm believer in knowing where your food comes from, working hard to get/grow it and being able to source it if you had to. If you are going to eat meat would you be able to kill it? It worries me that the divide between the city and the farm is growing so big that people are very disconnected with where their food comes from. I see it even in the ‘rural’ town of Wanaka, when people complain about what the farmers are up to, without knowing anything about why they do what they do. Perhaps if they came out and visited a farm, they may understand more about farming practices and the reasons behind them. Ill admit that there are bad farming practices out there, and more needs to be done to protect our land but why not help the farmers instead of pointing fingers. After all farmers are guardians of the land we live in, so why not help them. We all have to eat don’t we?

gutting the deer
Carefully gutting the deer is the first step to collecting your meat successfully.
Lifestyle in Wanaka
Carrying the meat to camp

After watching Tim gut and half the deer we carried it down to the creek where we found a nice wee spot to set up camp. Here we were able to hang the meat overnight in a bush, ready to bone out and carry home the next day.

Camping in Wanaka
Our camp spot for the night

After a good nights kip, Tim cut the meat up into muscle groups so we could share it out to carry it back up the hill and home. I wasn’t looking forward to having an extra few kilo’s to carry out the 800m vertical we had to climb the next day! But man that meat was going to taste good!

hunting deer central otago
Tim cuts the meat from the bone in muscle groups

After a two hour walk 800, straight up through tussock, we finally reached the truck and drove home for a well deserved lunch. We cooked up the back strap of venison, fresh as it comes and its never tasted so good…

Hunting deer in Central Otagom- venison on the plate
Lunch is served! Venison back strap never tasted so good after stalking, gutting, hanging, boning and carrying the meat up a steep hill for 2 hours; from the mountain to our plate

My F-Stop Gear Tilopa pack doubles up as a great meat carrier as well as camera gear! Thanks again for the support F-Stop

Winter