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danielvitalis Daniel Vitalis @danielvitalis mentions
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Parching wild rice, a necessary step before treading and winnowing it into a usable food. The heat ...
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Parching wild rice, a necessary step before treading and winnowing it into a usable food. The heat makes the chaff brittle and easier to strip from the long, dark grains. Here in Maine we work with northern wild rice (Zizania palustris), which tends to grow in stands much less dense and productive ... Parching wild rice, a necessary step before treading and winnowing it into a usable food. The heat makes the chaff brittle and easier to strip from the long, dark grains.
Here in Maine we work with northern wild rice (Zizania palustris), which tends to grow in stands much less dense and productive than those in the Great Lakes region where most of the traditional subsistence and commercial harvests take place today.
While we here — in contrast to some midwestern states — don’t have an intact traditional harvest, we have modeled many of our best-practices off of traditional methods, since these were perfected by the people-groups that created them. But of course we’ve modernized them to fit with our lifestyle and needs. That includes some of my equipment choices, like this large steel wok and mixing paddle.
For many years I bought wild rice from Minnesota. In recent years the rice I’ve bought has had a lot of sand contamination that comes from occasional (but understandable) mishandling. This plays havoc on my teeth, and fills each bite with trepidation. Because of mentors like Arthur Haines @wilderwaterscommunity, and the writings of authors like Sam Thayer, I’ve been taught meticulousness in my harvest and processing. As a result I run my wild rice operation like a brain surgery, carefully making sure that no sand or debris can get introduced into the system or find its way into our final product. It starts with a spotlessly cleaned canoe for gathering and ends with a final inspection of our finished grains — one last opportunity to spot and remove any contaminants.
Hand-finished wild rice is the most delicate and delightful grain I’ve ever eaten. If you’ve only had patty-grown or mechanically processed wild rice this might surprise you. But it cooks up soft and packs a rich punch of flavor.
All of our wild plant foods here feel important to me, but few are as important — from a caloric perspective — as wild rice. It’s a staff of life, as crucial to a modern wild diet as corn, wheat, and rice are to a domesticated one. #RatherHuntGather

Have you ever harvested or processed wild rice? Will you this year? Do you have any wild rice stories to share?
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My first successful Maine spearfishing trip! This is a cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus), a beautiful ...
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My first successful Maine spearfishing trip! This is a cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus), a beautiful inshore “non-game” species. I’m a spearing novice (you’ll notice I hit this fish pretty far back) having just learned about freediving and the world of spearfishing a couple years ago. ... My first successful Maine spearfishing trip! This is a cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus), a beautiful inshore “non-game” species.
I’m a spearing novice (you’ll notice I hit this fish pretty far back) having just learned about freediving and the world of spearfishing a couple years ago. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to dive and spearfish a bit in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and Belize. All are incredible places to get below sea level, but Maine is my home, and underwater hunting here presents exciting challenges not found in Caribbean waters. Most obviously, it’s cold here. In addition, the visibility is poor, the tides are significant, and regulations prevent us from spearing game species (hence why we’re hunting cunner). What’s more, there’s almost no spearing “scene” here to speak of.
That’s why I was lucky to connect with Dylan @BoldCoastBurns — you’ve got to check out his feed and give him a follow, this guy’s work is incredible — who has taken me out a couple times to get me oriented to the diving here.
Last night I filleted this cunner, salted heavily and let stand 10 minutes (this firms the flesh by drawing out excess water) and then dredged in cornmeal before frying in ghee (I learned this from Hank Shaw’s podcast @huntgathercook). The flesh was tender, and even a bit soft, but in a most pleasant way.
I love to angle here in Maine, fishing inshore and offshore, but neither give you a real glimpse into what is happening beneath the surface. It’s like the difference between staring up at an urban, light-polluted night sky vs being in the remote desert on a new moon and seeing the milky way. Getting below the surface gives you incredible insight into what is happening on the other side of the veil. It’s an opportunity to get better acquainted with habitat you inhabit. Whether above or below the surface, I’d #RatherHuntGather
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The fruits of Rubus allegheniensis, the common blackberry. It’s with scratched and bleeding shins ...
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The fruits of Rubus allegheniensis, the common blackberry. It’s with scratched and bleeding shins that we wrested just under ten syrupy pounds from the landscape on a still, humid afternoon this weekend. These we bagged and froze for use over the coming winter. Sam Thayer writes in his ... The fruits of Rubus allegheniensis, the common blackberry. It’s with scratched and bleeding shins that we wrested just under ten syrupy pounds from the landscape on a still, humid afternoon this weekend. These we bagged and froze for use over the coming winter.

Sam Thayer writes in his most recent book — Incredible Wild Edibles — that blackberries, along with strawberries and blueberries, are amongst the only wild foods you can harvest and eat and still be considered “normal”. The observation seems to hold true. Tell someone you are picking blackberries and you’ll likely get a smile and nod of simple understanding. Tell them you’re gathering acorns and expect the lifted eyebrow of suspicion!
Still, it’s understandable, given the simple gustatory pleasure that these fruits offer. Juicy and warmed by the sun they come ready to eat (unlike the labor-intensive acorn). As someone who gathers a fair bit of wild plant food each year, I can’t help but celebrate the lack of processing they require. Even handpicked blueberries sometimes need some de-stemming. But blackberries come off the plant with nary an inedible portion.
So it is, here in late August, that we find ourselves deep in the season of the brambles. We’ve just come to the end of the raspberry, are amidst the blackberry and dewberry, and are about to come into the time of thimbleberry. Though summer still feigns it’s strength and hot days still persist, these fruits — along with shortening days and crisper evening temperatures — reveal that autumn is fast approaching. #RatherHuntGather
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Fish oil! Ok, instead of taking supplemental fish oil, I’m supplementing with oily fish. These ...
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Fish oil! Ok, instead of taking supplemental fish oil, I’m supplementing with oily fish. These are Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus), from the family Scombridae, the mackerels, tunas, and bonitos. Disdained by many modern American eaters — the oft-repeated complaint being “they’re ... Fish oil! Ok, instead of taking supplemental fish oil, I’m supplementing with oily fish. These are Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus), from the family Scombridae, the mackerels, tunas, and bonitos. Disdained by many modern American eaters — the oft-repeated complaint being “they’re too oily” — they tend to end up as bait instead of on the dinner plate. But I want that oil, and here’s why. Each summer my freezer fills with ocean species that have lean, white fillets. While these fish are wonderful to eat, their flesh isn’t a substantial source of DHA and EPA, the long-chain Omega 3 oils that are so crucial to our wellbeing. While I eat a fair amount of small, oily mountain trout each summer, throughout the winter I sometimes feel I’m not eating enough oily fish.
I recently went on an @4fishgreenberg bender, reading his Four Fish, American Catch, and most recent The Omega Principle back to back (I highly recommend his books — in that order). The latter was a good reminder that while omega 3 is not a panacea (rather just an essential nutrient), it’s important to have a regular, high-quality dietary source. Atlantic mackerel are an excellent choice because of their high Omega 3 oil content, low toxic burden, and abundant populations (they’re listed as a species of least concern). I took my boat out yesterday with @wilderwaterscommunity to spend the afternoon jigging, and we were able to fill a cooler while spending a beautiful day on the water. My evening was filled with filleting and trimming. Heads and carcasses will become chum, and the trim will go into the dog food I make — so there’s no waste. While I brought home a lot of macks last year, I used them all in just a few meals (smoked mackerel salads), so they weren’t well spaced out through the season. This year I plan to eat them more frequently, ensuring a regular supply of their crucial oils. What about you? Where do you get your DHA/EPA? #RatherHuntGather
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Blueberry Best Practices! Last year we successfully put away around 20 kilos of frozen wild blueberries. ...
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Blueberry Best Practices! Last year we successfully put away around 20 kilos of frozen wild blueberries. We were happy with the results but the workload was far too high. I’ve been seeking ways to simplify our system. This year was equally productive but with just a fraction of the work. ... Blueberry Best Practices!

Last year we successfully put away around 20 kilos of frozen wild blueberries. We were happy with the results but the workload was far too high. I’ve been seeking ways to simplify our system. This year was equally productive but with just a fraction of the work. What took us three outings and as many days of processing last year was accomplished in one day this year!
First things first, quality blueberry rakes are essential. I buy mine from Maine’s own Hubbard Rake Company. When it comes to blueberry rakes (and ice-fishing traps) Maine knows a thing or two! It’s possible to gather several gallons an hour using rakes, a feat that’s just impossible by hand. The only downside being the leaves and other debris that end up in your bucket. Careful technique reduces this, but it's inevitable that you’ll have to sort some leaves and refuse.

One way to do this is to “float” your berries. You put the berries, leaves and all, into a container of water. The ripest fruits sink while much of the leaves, debris and unripe berries float to the surface. You then skim that away, pour off the water, and what remains only needs minimal sorting. I did this at home last year but decided to do it in the field this year. I brought several 5-gallon containers of water, a steel bushel-sized bucket, a strainer, and several of the agricultural trays you see here. We’d submerge our berries in the bucket, skim off the top with the strainer, and pour the remaining berries into the trays to drain. We left the remains there on the blueberry plain.

When we got them home we spread them out on baking sheets where we could easily pick off the remaining leaves and stems (by hand) before bagging them up 1 kilo at a time for the freezer.
Floating in the field was worth the extra effort, allowing us to gather, process, and freeze a year's worth of blues in a single day. Of course, there’s a bit more nuance to the process but only so much room in an Instagram post!

Have some berry gathering best practices you can share? I’m all ears!

#RatherHuntGather
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“By Your Side No Matter The Tide” ~ that’s what we inscribed in our rings, and worked into our vows ...
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“By Your Side No Matter The Tide” ~ that’s what we inscribed in our rings, and worked into our vows just two weeks ago. This was, by far, my all-time favorite wedding! And… what a party it was! We had it all! A truly meaningful and beautiful ceremony, great friends and family, excellent music, ... “By Your Side No Matter The Tide” ~ that’s what we inscribed in our rings, and worked into our vows just two weeks ago. This was, by far, my all-time favorite wedding! And… what a party it was! We had it all! A truly meaningful and beautiful ceremony, great friends and family, excellent music, incredible food, a brilliant fire, and lots and lots of dancing! To everyone who helped make this happen, thank you! Sincerely… thank you. It’s with tremendous excitement and inspiration that we are setting out on this journey together. I’ve been — and am being — transformed by this woman’s deep pool of feminine love. If you’ve known me or followed my work over the years you’ve no doubt been witness to this personal metamorphosis.
Avani, our love story is my favorite love story.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the “on-brand” wild food menu! Of course, I wanted to treat our guests to a hunted, fished and foraged meal! We had an incredible taco bar (courtesy of @standardgastropub), featuring a whitetail deer I’d taken last year, as well as haddock, pollock, and cusk I’d caught offshore earlier this season. We served 100 lbs of lobsters I’d earned working on my buddy's lobster boat — The Intuition — all cooked up classic New England Clambake style by my friends Mark and Matt — and we used our homemade maple syrup in a wild blueberry margarita. @wilderwaterscommunity even contributed a delicious wild grape mead to greet our guests as they arrived.
Special thanks to our friends from Canada who came to create the space and ceremony. You know who you are. Thanks to my brother, and good friends who came out to support me, and handle so many logistics, from food prep, to photos, to video. Thanks to all who made the journey, helped fund our honeymoon in Belize (it was AMAZING!), showed us support, offered your marital wisdom, or just made the whole evening sweeter. I — we — are deeply grateful!
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Delicacy! Sprouted coconut (Cocos nucifera) has a spongy texture like cotton candy and a flavor ...
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Delicacy! Sprouted coconut (Cocos nucifera) has a spongy texture like cotton candy and a flavor that might be compared to a slice of coconut cake. It’s something I’d heard about for decades, though despite plenty of experience harvesting and eating this seed, I’d never tried one. Typically ... Delicacy! Sprouted coconut (Cocos nucifera) has a spongy texture like cotton candy and a flavor that might be compared to a slice of coconut cake. It’s something I’d heard about for decades, though despite plenty of experience harvesting and eating this seed, I’d never tried one.

Typically I prefer a younger coconut, in the 7-9 month developmental stage. This is when the interior is filled with a mildly sweet, refreshing liquid, and the meat has only just begun to form on the interior walls of the shell. After 14-20 months of development, a coconut will drop to the ground, it’s exterior having turned from green (or yellow-orange in some varieties) to brown. If conditions are right it’ll sprout, sending up a shoot, the beginnings of a newly formed coconut palm.

As it does, the endosperm, that oily internal meat we eat from mature, husked “hairy” coconuts, nourishes the developing embryo, which produces the coconut haustorium. This spongy tissue mass facilitates the absorption of water and nutrients for the sprouts developing shoot and roots. Once you split the sprouted coconut open — I used a machete for this — the embryo is easily removed and can be eaten raw. We tried a few that were too funky, and a couple that were too salty, but when we got one that was just right, it was easy to see where its reputation as a food reserved for royalty came from. I'm sure with more experience my ability to discern a good one will develop.

Coconuts really feel like a gift to humanity, fruiting all year, and producing a range of foods, drinks, useful oils and fiber that have been foundational to many subsistence traditions. I’ll continue to seek young cocos for their hydrating water, but am glad to have finally sampled them at this stage too!

Big thanks to @fitness_forager for meeting @grantguiliano and I at the airport with a trunkload to get us started!

Have you tried sprouted coconuts? Got any tips or tricks for getting into young coconuts?
#RatherHuntGather
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Iguana Invasion! Florida now hosts more introduced, exotic reptiles than native ones! I’m just ...
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Iguana Invasion! Florida now hosts more introduced, exotic reptiles than native ones! I’m just back from the Keys, where I harvested around 20 green iguanas (Iguana iguana) for food. While the language of invasive species biology is strong for some folks, it’s clear that the Floridian ... Iguana Invasion! Florida now hosts more introduced, exotic reptiles than native ones! I’m just back from the Keys, where I harvested around 20 green iguanas (Iguana iguana) for food.

While the language of invasive species biology is strong for some folks, it’s clear that the Floridian landscape is experiencing dramatic faunal changes, with negative impacts on native biodiversity. Whether below sea level, as in the case of the strongly deleterious lionfish (that’s been decimating reef ecology since it’s introduction) or on dry land as in the case of the green iguana, the region will never be the same.
After interviewing several experts and getting a range of opinions on the topic, the one strategy that seems obvious is eating the so-called “invaders” whenever this is an option. While in most cases it won’t eradicate them completely from their newly acquired ranges, it does offer some much-needed breathing room to native flora and fauna who are slow to adapt to the new-comers.
While the removal of the dozen and a half iguanas I’ll harvest on a given trip to Florida doesn’t make a significant or lasting impact on their population, it does go a long way towards developing a culture around this hunt and culinary practice. The lionfish hunt is now well established amongst Florida’s spearfishing community, and I think we can create something similar with the strongly invasive and deleterious green iguana.
Despite my desire to remove it from the FL landscape, I want to take a moment to express my appreciation and respect for this animal. I once had one as a pet (the pet trade is a culprit in this story too), and have always admired the species. However, I also enjoy eating them — serving them as taco meat at my annual Winter Solstice party is now a tradition — and I’d like to see the biodiversity of FL remain as intact as possible.
It’s a complex, often divisive issue. I’d like to hear your opinion on invasive species biology, and how to deal with it. #RatherHuntGater
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My favorite way to eat common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is as a "croquette". I make a spiced acorn ...
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My favorite way to eat common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is as a "croquette". I make a spiced acorn flour by leaching and drying ground acorn, then mixing it with paprika, garlic and onion powder, a bit of chipotle, and some sea salt. I fold this into beaten eggs until thick and viscous, then ... My favorite way to eat common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is as a "croquette". I make a spiced acorn flour by leaching and drying ground acorn, then mixing it with paprika, garlic and onion powder, a bit of chipotle, and some sea salt. I fold this into beaten eggs until thick and viscous, then dredge blanched milkweed florets in it and plop them onto a hot, well-oiled pan. I use my spatula to form them into round patties. These cook quickly due to the egg, resulting in something like a hearty, wild green veggie burger. They're incredible.
This time of year milkweed becomes a staple food, though by the end of the season I'm usually ready to take a break until the following season begins. Last year I decided to blanch, vacuum seal, and freeze about 20 individual servings of these florets to eat over the winter. I had them a few times, though I just wasn't craving them out of season. They mostly ended up in the compost.

This year I may freeze a few servings, but like many wild foods, they're something we'll eat a lot of in-season, and then think of longingly until the beginning of next summer.
Did you have a chance to eat some milkweed this year? How do you prepare yours?

#RatherHuntGather
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Wedding Pollock! I’m about to get married, and for dinner, I wanted to serve our guests a meal of wild ...
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Wedding Pollock! I’m about to get married, and for dinner, I wanted to serve our guests a meal of wild fish and game that I’d harvested. So… I went fishing! We’ve decided on a taco bar, which will feature both a whitetail venison taco and a fish taco too! To get the fish we’d need I went offshore ... Wedding Pollock! I’m about to get married, and for dinner, I wanted to serve our guests a meal of wild fish and game that I’d harvested. So… I went fishing! We’ve decided on a taco bar, which will feature both a whitetail venison taco and a fish taco too!
To get the fish we’d need I went offshore with the Bunny Clark, a party boat that fishes out of Ogunquit, Maine. I’ve fished with them several times a season the last few years and highly recommend the trip. It’s one of the ways I put enough fish away for the winter. While we catch a mix of groundfish species, we primarily target pollock and haddock — both of which were in abundance that day!

To me, Pollock (Pollachius virens) is a perfect utilitarian whitefish for the kitchen. We probably eat more of it than any other species. Its flaky white flesh rivals that of its close relatives cod and haddock (all are Gadidae, members of the cod family) — despite its reputation as a second-class citizen of the sea. Unlike cod, the fishery is still strong and abundant. It’ll be an honor to share it with our guests and I hope we, in turn, honor this fish by presenting it on our wedding day!

But, to the greatest catch of my life — Avani — I just want to say: I’ll be by your side, no matter the tide!
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Sun drying Alaria esculenta — the winged kelp. I spent a day with Micah Woodcock of @AtlanticHoldfast ...
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Sun drying Alaria esculenta — the winged kelp. I spent a day with Micah Woodcock of @AtlanticHoldfast Seaweed Co, out of Maine’s Penobscot Bay, who taught me about sustainably harvesting seaweeds from the local coast. It was an incredible, eye-opening adventure. After motoring out, we ... Sun drying Alaria esculenta — the winged kelp. I spent a day with Micah Woodcock of @AtlanticHoldfast Seaweed Co, out of Maine’s Penobscot Bay, who taught me about sustainably harvesting seaweeds from the local coast. It was an incredible, eye-opening adventure. After motoring out, we gathered this kelp species on a tidally exposed ledge that was home to a multi-colored suite of species, many of which are not just edible but highly desirable. Picture this: You’re chest deep in salt water as 7-foot long kelp fronds, swirled by the eddying surf, wrap themselves around your legs, anchoring you down. You are trying to cut them free, while still leaving behind the lower, reproductive part of the organism. All this while timing your knife-work to avoid the pounding incoming swells. It’s exhilarating, if not somewhat dangerous, work. I was thinking that this is unlike any plant foraging I’d done before until Micah educated me on the taxonomic kingdom to which these algae belong. They’re not plants at all, but rather protists, a sort of catchall kingdom for misfit organisms who don’t fit neatly into the plant, animal, fungal, or bacterial categories.
I’d wondered how readily these strange creatures would fit into my culinary world, so decided to experiment with the Alaria in a seaweed salad. It's delicious and simple to make! Take your trimmed up fronds and blanch them in boiling water. They'll turn from an olive-brown to a viridescent green the instant they touch hot water. After a few moments remove them to a bowl of ice water to arrest the cooking process and lock in that brilliant color. Once drained, give them a rough chop. Next, add finely grated garlic, ginger, and some diced chili, and dress it all with rice vinegar, shoyu, and toasted sesame oil. Top that with some toasted sesame seeds and you have a dish that would rival any salad you’d order at a fine sushi restaurant. Give @AtlanticHoldfast a follow, and if you’d #RatherHuntGather consider adding seaweeds to your repertoire!
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“If you could target one species of freshwater fish in Maine this year, what would it be?” my friend ...
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“If you could target one species of freshwater fish in Maine this year, what would it be?” my friend Arthur Haines had asked me. After a moments consideration, I'd responded with “Lake Whitefish” (Coregonus clupeaformis), the salmonid — closely related to salmon, trout, char, and grayling ... “If you could target one species of freshwater fish in Maine this year, what would it be?” my friend Arthur Haines had asked me. After a moments consideration, I'd responded with “Lake Whitefish” (Coregonus clupeaformis), the salmonid — closely related to salmon, trout, char, and grayling — that was almost extirpated from Maine’s waters in recent centuries.
Though once abundant in the Sebago Lake watershed where I live, it’s now relegated to just a handful of remaining waterbodies throughout the state.
Last weekend @wilderwaterscommunity @grantguiliano and I took a road trip into the North Woods to fish for this species, along with some heritage-genetics brook and lake trout. I live 2 hours from Maine’s southern border, and this was another 7 hours north, to give some perspective. The lake is now accessible by fairly well-maintained dirt roads, though float planes are still used routinely to access these waters.

This handsome fish makes for a unique meal when compared against its relatives, especially when cubed, battered and fried (we prefer acorn flour and bear fat, but maize flour and bacon grease are nice too), which yields something that tastes convincingly like chicken nuggets. So much so I think you could easily be convinced you aren’t eating fish at all. To be clear, it doesn’t taste like chicken breast, it tastes like processed chicken nuggets. Somehow, I really enjoy this about it.

While this species is secure in its distribution throughout its northern North American range, it’s now quite rare here in the northeastern-most state, and the catch where we fished is limited to 1 fish per person per day. Though they can grow larger, this specimen is a good representative of a mature fish from this lake. He and several of his relatives were eaten with gusto and greatly appreciated by all.
In total we fished for three days, catching our limit each day and sharing incredible meals amongst friends. Who knows, you may even get to see some of the footage soon in an upcoming project release. #RatherHuntGather

So, if you could target one species of fish, what would it be???
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Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) - the delicious, but oft maligned cosmopolitan fiddlehead ...
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Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) - the delicious, but oft maligned cosmopolitan fiddlehead (this text is a repost from my feed from last year). First, the good news, this plant is found around the world, has a flavor akin to mushrooms and almonds, and a texture and mouth feel reminiscent ... Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) - the delicious, but oft maligned cosmopolitan fiddlehead (this text is a repost from my feed from last year). First, the good news, this plant is found around the world, has a flavor akin to mushrooms and almonds, and a texture and mouth feel reminiscent of asparagus. It's easy to locate and identify, and simple to cook.

The bad news. Bracken fern has a mixed reputation due to the presence of a compound known as Ptaquiloside - a substance that reacts to create a carcinogen. Spend enough time foraging and you'll hear the warnings, admonishments, and imbalanced and disproportionate fears - despite the fact that it's been utilized by many cultures as a food, both in the past and now, in the present day. This compound is volatile, and water soluble, so boiling a few minutes in water eliminates it sufficiently to render these fiddleheads safe to eat. That said, it's not a plant to eat raw or every day. Neither of those options seem a temptation tho, so this shouldn't be an issue.

I only eat a few meals of it per year, but I really enjoy it's flavor and mouth feel, and it's a welcome variation in my spring-green repertoire.
You'll find me dressing them in a bit of butter or oil, a touch of salt and vinegar, and sometimes a touch of spice. I say keep it simple. I did this last night with a few marinated pieces of venison.
Ok - queue the "You shouldn't eat those, their poisonous!" Comments! Hahahaha

Do you even bracken fern? Have you before? What do you think/feel about them?

#ratherhuntgather
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Don’t be fooled — this dainty wisp of a flower is, in fact, a substantial wild vegetable. Robinia ...
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Don’t be fooled — this dainty wisp of a flower is, in fact, a substantial wild vegetable. Robinia pseudoacacia, the Black Locust tree, produces — and only for a fleeting couple of weeks — a flower of stunning beauty, aroma, and of course flavor. Its bouquet is at once both lilacs and jasmine, ... Don’t be fooled — this dainty wisp of a flower is, in fact, a substantial wild vegetable. Robinia pseudoacacia, the Black Locust tree, produces — and only for a fleeting couple of weeks — a flower of stunning beauty, aroma, and of course flavor. Its bouquet is at once both lilacs and jasmine, so much so that I’m usually alerted to its sudden ripeness by wafts of numinous odor bellowing through the streets, grabbing hold of me as I drive past. While you might expect it to be somewhat delicate and flimsy, it’s no meager trailside snack. It surprises the eater with both a light, snappy crunch and a leguminous chew whose flavor unmistakably suggests fresh raw peas. It forms the base of our salads as long as its season persists, being easily gathered in quantity, and as up to the challenge as any cultivated lettuce. While you might expect its aroma to be too overpowering for the role, its bean-like flavor makes it an optimal salad “green”, despite its lack of chlorophyll. Being rather intolerant to shade, this early successional pioneer can be seen in full sun, standing tall in its resplendent spring regalia, white flowers dangling like so many clusters of grapes. You’ll find it in all 48 contiguous states, in Eastern Canada and BC, and even temperate zones across the Atlantic too. See if you can spot, or better yet smell one, and visit it for a vegetable you won't soon forget. Bring a basket, and you’ll quickly fill it with enough salad to enjoy for days to come. After the early spring greens have become inedible, and before the milkweed flowers and sweet, ripe berries make their appearances, there is black locust flower, a short but inspiring season reminding us of why we’d #RatherHuntGather.
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I spent two days this week on a commercial fishing boat - Tony Bray's Intuition - tub trawling for ...
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I spent two days this week on a commercial fishing boat - Tony Bray's Intuition - tub trawling for Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus). This bizarre, but dignified species is the largest flatfish in the world. This one only weighs about 50 pounds, but the species has been known ... I spent two days this week on a commercial fishing boat - Tony Bray's Intuition - tub trawling for Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus). This bizarre, but dignified species is the largest flatfish in the world. This one only weighs about 50 pounds, but the species has been known to reach sizes in excess of 15 feet and 700 pounds! Though they begin their lives with eyes positioned on either side of their head, they quickly metamorphose in early development, becoming a “right-eye flounder”. As their left eye migrates— leaving their left side eyeless — they become ambush predators, habitually lying left-side down on the seafloor. Stocks of this species are — unfortunately — in bad shape. Studies show that populations have declined dramatically from historic highs, and have been extremely slow to recover. Though not currently receiving protection from the Endangered Species Act, they are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List, and as a Species Of Concern by the NMFS. As a result, the catch is severely limited and highly regulated, which is why you see the blue tag in this fishes mouth (all fish must be tagged and landings reported). You may wonder why fishing for this species is allowed at all, but it’s thought that banning landings altogether would not have significant impacts, as recovery is thought to be dependent on reducing by-catch from other fisheries. Of course, if it were line-catching like this that was threatening them I wouldn’t participate, but I feel good about the limited catch and the method of take we were targeting them with. The color and texture of their meat make it obvious why this fish was so heavily pressured in the past. The firm, flaky, cream-white flesh of its four large fillets don’t have as much flavor as some other fish but the mouthfeel is unbeatable. While the boat sells most of its catch to local restaurants or individuals, our crew of four split one amongst ourselves and shared a much-appreciated meal to celebrate our success at sea. Meeting it face to face has given me a deep respect for this animal. Long live the Atlantic halibut! #RatherHuntGather
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Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) This year I wore pants! Last season I made the mistake of going ...
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Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) This year I wore pants! Last season I made the mistake of going in shorts and flip-flops! Pinching off the tops, as we’ve done here, doesn’t result in many stings — but walking through a dense colony bare-skinned is a mistake I won't make (intentionally) again! ... Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) This year I wore pants! Last season I made the mistake of going in shorts and flip-flops! Pinching off the tops, as we’ve done here, doesn’t result in many stings — but walking through a dense colony bare-skinned is a mistake I won't make (intentionally) again! My legs itched for days with “contact urticaria”! Delivered via hollow stinging hairs (trichomes) which act like hypodermic needles, stinging nettle contains a chemical cocktail that includes substances such as histamine and formic acid. Anyone who's felt the touch of this plant surely remembers it. Yet it has to be one of the most valuable plants — at least from the human perspective — on earth. It’s a nutritive green vegetable reminiscent of spinach, as well as a fantastic steeped tea often used to treat iron deficiencies. Its roots contain a molecule that encourages free testosterone in the bloodstream (we use it @surthrival in our Pure Potency formula along with pine pollen), and it aids in the maintenance of a healthy prostate. It’s even a hemp-like fiber plant — I’ve seen sweaters knitted form nettle fiber. We’ve been eating it all week with fiddleheads and ramps as part of our spring greens regimen. From intentionally stinging yourself (urtification) to use as an herbal remedy and food, I bet you have some nettle stories to share! How has this plant been a food or medicine (or startling reminder to pay attention) for you? #RatherHuntGather
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“Meet me at Sucka Brook…” The white sucker (Catostomus commersonii) — so named for its fleshy, papillose ...
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“Meet me at Sucka Brook…” The white sucker (Catostomus commersonii) — so named for its fleshy, papillose lips, and bottom surface feeding habits — is another “species of least concern”, meaning its relatively free from ecological encroachment or population decline. Each spring, just ... “Meet me at Sucka Brook…” The white sucker (Catostomus commersonii) — so named for its fleshy, papillose lips, and bottom surface feeding habits — is another “species of least concern”, meaning its relatively free from ecological encroachment or population decline. Each spring, just as the snows melt, and right after the freshwater rainbow smelts have run, the suckers begin entering the brooks to spawn. Some, like this one here, grow surprisingly large. Though they aren’t fished much anymore, my neighbor is fond of using them to fertilize his tomato garden. I decided to help him catch a few for just that purpose, and thought I’d try eating a couple as well. I’d been issued all the standard warnings that accompany non-game fishes: “They're too bony…” “They taste like mud…” “They're ok if you put ‘em in the smoker…” etc, etc, ad infinitum. Fishing them was easy enough, if not a bit unorthodox. We attached heavy-gauge, five-prong frog gigs to the end of 12’ wooden poles, visited the brook (many small towns in this area have waterways named “Sucker Brook”, a reference to this fishes ephemeral springtime haunt) and proceeded to spearfish from the banks, or while shallow wading. The suckers were schooled up in a small pool less than a hundred yards from the inlet to the pond. We quickly speared about a dozen, plenty for my neighbors garden and my own culinary experiment. Well, bony they were — this being due to the small “Y bones” sandwiched between the tender flakes of meat — but to my surprise (why does any of this surprise me anymore?) the meat was truly delicious. Much more delicate and creamy than I’d expected. In fact, once the bones were removed it was about as good as any fish can be! Due to my concerns about the toxic burden bio-accumulated in lowland freshwater fish, I probably won't make this a frequent or regular food, but I'll visit the brook each spring to catch one or two. Who knows, I might even help my neighbor fertilize his tomatoes. #RatherHuntGather Oh ~ yes @grantguiliano ~ thanks for the photo 😜
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Is the Brook Trout the prettiest freshwater fish species on Earth? A lot of people seem to think so. ...
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Is the Brook Trout the prettiest freshwater fish species on Earth? A lot of people seem to think so. I’ve certainly fallen under its spell. Those blue halos circumscribing crimson spots, the bone-white piping contrasted against the thin black stripes along the pectoral, ventral, and anal ... Is the Brook Trout the prettiest freshwater fish species on Earth? A lot of people seem to think so. I’ve certainly fallen under its spell. Those blue halos circumscribing crimson spots, the bone-white piping contrasted against the thin black stripes along the pectoral, ventral, and anal fins... Salvelinus fontinalis (its name means “char of the springs) is not a “true trout” but rather a char, one of several genera of fish we lump into the ill-defined group we call “trout”. Try as I may, I can’t seem to get to the bottom of the term, which seems a grouping we lump salmonids into when they aren’t in the consistent habit of making runs to the sea — though they are more than capable of it, and often do (if you know the answer to this taxonomic riddle, please share below). The Brook Trout shares a genus with such fish as the Lake Trout (also a char not a trout) and the Arctic Char (a species I dream about fishing but haven’t had the opportunity).
This species, particularly the daintier specimens that inhabit the cold mountain brooks I fish, are a regular summer fare in our home. I avoid those raised in hatcheries, whose fins have been clipped or show wear marks from their days in concrete pens. Wild and free, genetically untampered, wild “brookies” are the first species I learned to fish for food. If I could only angle for one fish the rest of my life, it would be these. They require no special recipes since all seem to detract from — rather than add to — this delicacy. I just simply pan fry them and eat them off the bone. Is there a more delicate and pleasing flesh one could eat? If so I haven’t found it. Long live the Brook Trout! #RatherHuntGather
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Wild leeks in olive oil! I rough chop and pack them in the blender, salt liberally and cover with olive ...
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Wild leeks in olive oil! I rough chop and pack them in the blender, salt liberally and cover with olive oil, then pulse them to the texture of a pesto. I freeze the jars and use them throughout the year to add a bit of pungency to my cooking. #RatherHuntGather Wild leeks in olive oil! I rough chop and pack them in the blender, salt liberally and cover with olive oil, then pulse them to the texture of a pesto. I freeze the jars and use them throughout the year to add a bit of pungency to my cooking. #RatherHuntGather
Each year @wilderwaterscommunity takes me out to their cherished wild leek (Allium tricoccum) ...
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Each year @wilderwaterscommunity takes me out to their cherished wild leek (Allium tricoccum) “fields”. Not truly fields at all, but rather a river flood-plain forest, whose rich, silty soils come to life in green each year as the high waters of the spring-thaw recede. The naturally-formed ... Each year @wilderwaterscommunity takes me out to their cherished wild leek (Allium tricoccum) “fields”. Not truly fields at all, but rather a river flood-plain forest, whose rich, silty soils come to life in green each year as the high waters of the spring-thaw recede. The naturally-formed terraces sitting above the river are soon shaded by the leafy canopy overhead, but first, it’s the time of the tender spring greens. Plants like trout lily, spring beauty, toothwort, ostrich fern, and many other noteworthy wild edibles emerge, carpeting the forest floor in sun-dappled viridescence. While each deserves a monograph all its own, its wild leeks (aka “ramps”) whose roots are interwoven most completely into the fabric of my soul. While a relatively uncommon plant here in Maine, these terraces stretch out ahead for acres, staggering the gatherer’s mind. Food quantity like this elevates foraging from trail-nibble novelty to forest-food aplenty. With pack-baskets and bare feet we navigate the understory, gathering but one leaf from each plant. We leave the root bulb behind, avoiding the lethal harvest that’s so common when collectors — commercial or recreational — harvest this species. It’s how we steward this plant colony and ensure that it will remain viable and intact when we pass on and another generation inherits this place. When cooked, these greens are both sweet and savory, reminiscent of the way fermented black garlic reveals the sugars hidden in the alliums while still retaining it’s characteristic pungency. It’s texture has both delicacy and chew, making it a perfect potherb. I preserve mine in oil, and use them to vivify food when the harsh northern winter has frozen all memories of spring. I simply fill my blender with olive oil, pack that with rough chopped ramps, and pulse until a texture like pesto is achieved. I pour this into jelly jars, which I freeze, thawing as needed. It’s as if Nature herself sings a song in the form of wild leeks. Each year it’s that song that draws me again over the land, across the waters, and finally onto an island where I'm brought low to the forest floor. It’s how I know it’s spring. #RatherHuntGather
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A pair of jakes — young male wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), born last year. I’ve never worked ...
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A pair of jakes — young male wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), born last year. I’ve never worked this hard for them before. The season opened last Monday, and we put in 5 days of hard hunting, leaving the house each day by 4 am, to get settled in the pre-dawn woods or at the edge of fields, waiting ... A pair of jakes — young male wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), born last year. I’ve never worked this hard for them before. The season opened last Monday, and we put in 5 days of hard hunting, leaving the house each day by 4 am, to get settled in the pre-dawn woods or at the edge of fields, waiting for haunting gobbles to echo through the early morning air. My goal is wild food from the plant, animal, and fungal kingdoms, so I don’t hunt for sport. I’m more interested in “tagging out” early because there’s always another edible coming into season, and I'm not focused on "trophy birds". Each morning I’d wake up thinking "today's the day", after all, how could it not be? I’d done my pre-season scouting, knew where the birds were and had several strategies to get after them. Unlike in the past, I had a friend along with me — thanks for the photo @grantguiliano — who was filming our experience. While we had daily encounters with turkeys and saw more miracles of nature than can be recounted here, suffice it to say we spent a week in the woods running ourselves ragged chasing after a species who seemed more wily and wizened by the day. As our Friday unfolded without success we prepared to go into the weekend empty-handed, save for the knowledge that an army of hunters would soon be descending on the spots we’d been hunting all week while they'd been at work. About the time we’d normally call it quits, we decided to set up on a field, just inside the wood-line, and sit. We were not expecting any action, but rather were just enjoying being outside, undetected, while the symphony of the natural world unfolded around us. That’s when I spotted a hen pecking her way through the field. Behind her was a jake… no 5 jakes, all in lockstep, aping her every move. I gave a couple of short mouth calls which brought her over to investigate, her entourage in tow. Our gillie suits blended us into the rock-wall perfectly, keeping them from seeing us, even though they were inside 20 yards. I waited for two jakes to line themselves up in my sights, and harvested both with just one shotgun shell. And like that the season is behind me. It’s now time to fish and forage. #RatherHuntGather
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Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) fiddleheads. We gathered ten pounds of them yesterday ...
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Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) fiddleheads. We gathered ten pounds of them yesterday in a river floodplain forest, while traveling by canoe. We’d scouted just a week before, when only a few had broken through the silt-covered surface, and it felt like we’d have all the time in ... Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) fiddleheads. We gathered ten pounds of them yesterday in a river floodplain forest, while traveling by canoe. We’d scouted just a week before, when only a few had broken through the silt-covered surface, and it felt like we’d have all the time in the world to revisit them. Several days of tough turkey hunting pushed wild greens to the back of our minds, and we let a full seven days elapse before setting back out on the river. We returned to find the season fully unfurling, with many plants already past the edible stage of their development. Still, many plants were in their optimally-edible phase, and we eagerly filled our basket. The sand and silt that covered them, plus the rust colored scales you can see clinging to the coiled leaves all needed to be processed away, so I filled the sink with cold water, submerged these shoots, and vigorously agitated them. The sand sinks and the scales float, allowing me to (fairly) easily separate the edible from the inedible using a colander and a strainer. The cold water also helps rapidly cools the plant material, ensuring that it will keep longer. Next they went into the salad spinner to get them well dried, and finally into “stay-fresh” produce bags which slow plant respiration, preserving fresh plant material much longer than other methods of refrigeration. We ate a meal of wild turkey and fiddleheads for dinner, and are now planning the next harvest, which will be some time this week. When I step into a riparian forest, and look out at an expanse of edible wild greens, I marvel at how the fields I harvest are already planted, already weeded, and already fertilized. All I have to do is show up at the right time, willing to gather. Nature has orchestrated the gardening for us, and that’s another reason I’d #RatherHuntGather. Do you fiddlehead? Do you enjoy eating them - even if purchased at a market or a restaurant? I’d love to hear about your canning and pickling recipes, so please feel free to share ‘em if you got ‘em!
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Birch Sap! I’m collecting from the golden birch (Betula alleghaniensis) to cook down a batch of savory syrup. Tapping, collecting, and cooking birch is quite similar to working with maple, however that’s where the similarities end. The sap flow of birches is not nearly as fickle and weather ... Birch Sap! I’m collecting from the golden birch (Betula alleghaniensis) to cook down a batch of savory syrup. Tapping, collecting, and cooking birch is quite similar to working with maple, however that’s where the similarities end. The sap flow of birches is not nearly as fickle and weather dependent as maple, since different processes move the sap through the tree. Maple sap flows because of the contraction and expansion of carbon dioxide gas trapped inside. Cold nights and warm days create a “pump” that pressurizes the tree. Flow can often be painfully slow, and some days it doesn’t flow at all. Birch is a different creature altogether, and its sap flow is far greater in both consistency and volume — full buckets are the norm. This is due to a different physiological “pump” known in botany as “root pressure”. Birches are also tapped later in the season, which means the preserving properties of maple season’s cold temperatures are no longer available (I often pack maple sap in snow until I’m ready to cook it). I had 80 liters of birch sap spoil last year because I didn’t keep it cool enough before cooking! Here’s another considerable difference; birch sap must be reduced at least 100:1 (usually more) to yield syrup, considerably more than maple’s average of less than 40:1. Nutritionally complex, it boasts vitamin C, a mineral complex, and several antioxidants. It’s a much different flavor too, less sweet and more molasses-like. While there’s some sucrose (the dominant sugar in maple) there’s far more glucose and fructose, the same sweet components as honey. I find it lends itself best to savory dishes, and am fond of using it as a meat marinade, in steak sauces, and alongside shoyu, sesame, ginger, and rice vinegar on seared tuna. While I’ll probably make less than a liter this season, it’s all I need to get us through the year. This tree provides me with so much - I go to it for fuel (bark and wood), for medicine (chaga fungus), hygiene (chew sticks), and of course for food (syrup). It's a humbling reminder of why I'd #RatherHuntGather Have you tried birch syrup or any of the products made from it? Do you tap birch, maple, or any other trees?
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Putting the grind on some alligator meat 🐊 (see previous post). This is a relatively equal mix of ...
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Putting the grind on some alligator meat 🐊 (see previous post). This is a relatively equal mix of steak trim (white meat) and the shoulders, hams, and shanks (dark meat). I ended up with about 14 lbs of grind, which I tested out today in a stir-fry — fantastic. There’s no escaping the ever-present ... Putting the grind on some alligator meat 🐊 (see previous post). This is a relatively equal mix of steak trim (white meat) and the shoulders, hams, and shanks (dark meat). I ended up with about 14 lbs of grind, which I tested out today in a stir-fry — fantastic. There’s no escaping the ever-present alligator chew, which I think is enhanced by this animal’s age, but the flavor is wonderful and I really enjoy the texture. These @Cabelas grinders are outstanding machines (don’t skimp on good equipment!). Also, hotel pans help convert your kitchen into an amateur butcher shop. Hunting is a challenge, no doubt, but following through on meat processing takes far more commitment. It’s a tremendous amount of work which — done well — takes discipline and organization. People who don’t hunt (i.e., purchase meat) often have lofty ideals about “using every part of the animal”. It’s a noble aspiration and I try to do it as much as I can, but I’d invite anyone who believes that to process a year’s worth of their own protein (while still living a modern life). Conversely, a lot of hunters simply drop their animals off at the game butcher, and sometimes I can understand why. For me though — and this is just a personal preference — that defeats the point. In a world as mad (and complex) as ours, this practice — feeding myself — keeps me sane and grounded. I utilize as much of my prey as I can, which varies from species to species and animal to animal. What matters most to me is this: when I sit down to eat is there a memory, a story, a place and a time where/when this animal and I met. Am I a part of that ancient dance between predator and prey — both of us here on earth for a limited time engagement. One final thought, much of what I’ve written above applies to plants as well - lest the vegetarians amongst us think themselves exempt 😜 I spend as much time processing plants. But that's another post entirely! #RatherHuntGather
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The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). I first tasted alligator meat on a trip ...
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The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). I first tasted alligator meat on a trip to Florida in the spring of last year, when a friend shared this exotic delicacy with me. While I’d expected to enjoy it as a novelty, I now count it amongst my favorite meats. It’s difficult to describe, ... The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). I first tasted alligator meat on a trip to Florida in the spring of last year, when a friend shared this exotic delicacy with me. While I’d expected to enjoy it as a novelty, I now count it amongst my favorite meats. It’s difficult to describe, having qualities of pork, fish, shellfish, and white meats, yet defying and transcending all of these descriptions. Perhaps it’s because alligators are a life-form older than anything we might attempt a comparison with. Predating even the dinosaurs, this animal represents one of Earth’s nearly perfected organisms. Once in danger of extinction due to market hunting and habitat loss, alligators are a conservation success story, having been removed from the endangered species list in 1987 after a full recovery. Today’s hunts are limited and highly regulated, despite being listed as a “species of least concern”. I was recently invited to South Carolina where a friend manages an extensive, privately-held wetland that is frequented by recreating humans, in addition to the wildlife that calls it home. Inhabited by countless alligators, the state issues him a handful of “nuisance tags” each year to remove the animals large and powerful enough to pose a significant threat to people. Despite being less of a hunt, and more of a management cull, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to harvest an older, mature bull for meat. This “old man” was 10’ 8” long and weighed over 300 lbs. We butchered him there in the field, packed him on ice and drove back up the east coast to Maine, to finish trimming, tenderizing, and packing the meat for the freezer. His skull will reside here too, where he’ll always occupy a position of honor in our home. Have you ever eaten alligator? Would you? Does the death of a crocodilian evoke the same emotion for you as a mammal? I felt tremendous respect and admiration for his animal, but not the same quality of empathy I feel for the warm blooded. I'm curious about your thoughts on this. #RatherHuntGather
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My phone jarred me out of sleep from another room. It was the county police dispatch calling to see ...
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My phone jarred me out of sleep from another room. It was the county police dispatch calling to see if I was interested in picking up a roadkill deer. I’m on “the list” and occasionally get calls like these. “Yes", I said quickly, as I threw on some clothes, hopped in the rig, and sped off to the ... My phone jarred me out of sleep from another room. It was the county police dispatch calling to see if I was interested in picking up a roadkill deer. I’m on “the list” and occasionally get calls like these. “Yes", I said quickly, as I threw on some clothes, hopped in the rig, and sped off to the address they’d given me. I arrived to something much different than I’d imagined. This deer hadn’t been hit by a car, but rather lay dead on someone’s lawn, still steaming with warmth, a victim of predation. “Coyotes did this”, said the officer on the scene as he filled out the transportation tag. It was a mature doe whose shoulder had been partially eaten before the predator spooked. The wounds, however, were inconsistent with a coyote kill, and conversations throughout the day, as well as some deeper examination of the carcass, revealed that the likely culprit was in fact feline. While northern Maine is home to the protected Canada lynx, and locals make occasional unsubstantiated claims of seeing long extirpated mountain lions, the most likely culprit was a bobcat. This doe was probably targeted because she was pregnant, carrying these two beautiful unborn fawns. It was just enough to slow her down. I was able to salvage nearly all of the still-fresh meat from her body, and these two beautiful fawns will get buried later today. It’s a reminder that nature isn’t always benevolent. There’s a harsh edge that can’t be denied. It’s an emotionally-complex story, and I’d love to know what you think and feel about it. Also, if you’re willing to do the work, get on your local roadkill list, it’s a great way to help out, and to supplement your diet with wild venison that would otherwise go uneaten.
Even when nature is harsh in the extreme, I'd #RatherHuntGather
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We’ve recently returned from a fishing trip to the Florida Keys. My good buddy Jim, captain of the ...
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We’ve recently returned from a fishing trip to the Florida Keys. My good buddy Jim, captain of the charter boat the Reel Identity, always puts us on the fish (his contact info is below)! Inshore we do a lot of reef fishing, but when the weather permits, there’s just nothing like a day of offshore ... We’ve recently returned from a fishing trip to the Florida Keys. My good buddy Jim, captain of the charter boat the Reel Identity, always puts us on the fish (his contact info is below)! Inshore we do a lot of reef fishing, but when the weather permits, there’s just nothing like a day of offshore trolling!

This is a mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) — aka dolphin, dorado — one of the few stories of a strong, intact, abundant, and relatively stable fishery in our salt waters. They’re listed as a “species of least concern” by the IUCN. The EDF places mahi caught by angling in their “Eco-Best” category, and the MBA rates it as “Best Choice” when selecting seafood. The Natural Resource Defense Council classifies it was a “moderate mercury fish”, their second lowest rating, suggesting capping consumption at 6 servings per month. I can live with that.
Marathon Key, Florida has become a favorite meat-fishing destination for me, and if you're interested in getting out on those waters give Capt. Jim at the Reel Identity a call (305)916-0844, or hit him up at [email protected] Be sure to stop by the Tackle Box too, to see Chris. He’ll get you outfitted with everything you need to get on the water. These dudes might even know a thing or two about iguana hunting — just saying. Bring a cooler!

Seafood is — IMO — a crucial part of a healthy, well-rounded diet but more than ever our choices have tremendous impacts on our health, and the ecosystem too. Buying seafood can feel like a competition between difficult choices. Getting out there to angle, packing fish in my cooler, and bringing it home with me gives me confidence in every bite.
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Nearly 5 gallons of finished maple syrup from the 2018 harvest! This is just our second year of serious ...
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Nearly 5 gallons of finished maple syrup from the 2018 harvest! This is just our second year of serious “sugaring”, yet we’ve made tremendous progress! We didn’t even have our taps out yet at this time last year, and our total yield was only around 2 gallons. Still, that got us through an entire ... Nearly 5 gallons of finished maple syrup from the 2018 harvest! This is just our second year of serious “sugaring”, yet we’ve made tremendous progress! We didn’t even have our taps out yet at this time last year, and our total yield was only around 2 gallons. Still, that got us through an entire year, with about a pint to spare. This season is still going strong and we’ve more than doubled our yield. We've also focused our taps closer to home, and uphill, so there’s less work and more reward. That’s what I love about developing a process and then improving and refining it. At present we’re running 50 taps, which seems to be the sweet-spot for our needs. Also, since we’re carrying the sap by hand, we aren’t ready to take on any more than this. Our sugarbush still needs a lot of work, clearing saplings, opening up the canopy to get more sunlight on the maple trees, improving trails, as well as getting clearer on which trees produce the most and sweetest sap, and which are not worth tapping at all. I still marvel at the fact that we’re foraging all of our simple carbohydrate needs from the landscape. It was far simpler to get started than I’d expected (with a little help from our friends) and it’s the perfect activity to fill the space between ice-fishing and turkey season. If you make maple syrup too, you may be noticing what I am… that there are maple trees all around us that go untapped each year, whilst people spend hard-won money on imported sugar! Well, we’re one more sugar-independent household, and we're grateful that even in this, the Anthropocene epoch, the earth still provides!
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I’d tap that! Red maple I mean. Our property has enough Acer rubrum to provide our sweetening needs for the entire year. In sugaring, there's often a lot of emphasis on the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), but our reds produce a syrup that's just as fine. Last year’s supply is about to run out, but ... I’d tap that! Red maple I mean. Our property has enough Acer rubrum to provide our sweetening needs for the entire year. In sugaring, there's often a lot of emphasis on the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), but our reds produce a syrup that's just as fine. Last year’s supply is about to run out, but this year's sap is already flowing and we have 25 taps out there working for us today, with at least as many more going in this week. I’m hoping to produce a little more surplus this sugaring season so as not come as close to running out as I am right now! To be candid, I'm a bit sad to see the warm temperatures, longer days, and wet, melting snow because it means the end of the hard-water fishing season is near. But it also means that abundant sunshine, long days, and the greens foraging season is close at hand. There’s so much debate in the nutritional world about carbohydrates and especially simple ones like the sucrose found in maple syrup. For me it's a blessing of nature to have this incredible food so close at hand, but what do you think? Is this wild food a healthy one, or is maple syrup something to steer clear of? If we're going to eat sugars, then I’d #RatherHuntGather them!
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Mud Hen! That’s the pejorative monicker for the lake trout in these parts. Salvelinus namaycush ...
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Mud Hen! That’s the pejorative monicker for the lake trout in these parts. Salvelinus namaycush isn’t actually a trout at all, but rather a char, like the brook trout and arctic char with whom it shares the genus. They’re all — trout, salmon, whitefish, and grayling — Salmonidae, and the members ... Mud Hen! That’s the pejorative monicker for the lake trout in these parts. Salvelinus namaycush isn’t actually a trout at all, but rather a char, like the brook trout and arctic char with whom it shares the genus. They’re all — trout, salmon, whitefish, and grayling — Salmonidae, and the members of this illustrious fish-family are generally considered fine table fare. The lake trout, however, has developed a rather unsavory culinary reputation here in Maine. Described as tasting as muddy as lake-muck, I hesitantly processed this fish into fillets that I’d ultimately attempt to choke down, despite the defamatory warnings of pseudo-epicurean anglers. The flesh, a brightly pigmented orange that reminds me of the creamsicles of my youth, was more visually attractive to me than that of brook trout or landlocked Atlantic salmon. “If it isn’t palatable I can feed it to my dog” I mused. A quick panfry revealed no off-putting odors, though once cooked my fork still wavered. I’m not fond of that lake-water flavor I’d been admonished about. Yet the first bite was unerringly mild, almost convincingly a saltwater fish. Easily as good as a brook trout, and for my tastebuds, better than the salmon I’ve been eating this winter. Yet another “trash species” vindicated in the pursuit of wild food! I’ve been led down this road more than once and each time, with a little thoughtful preparation and care, species by species I’ve been convinced that the world tastes great. Got an opinion - one way or the other - about lake trout? Ever enjoyed a species everyone else says isn't worth eating? #RatherHuntGather
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I don't celebrate Valentines Day, but I will acknowledge a lil something I call "The-Day-Before-The-Day-After-Valentines-Day". ...
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I don't celebrate Valentines Day, but I will acknowledge a lil something I call "The-Day-Before-The-Day-After-Valentines-Day". I'm in love with a real-life mermaid who's eyes are like gazing into the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, and who's loving heart calms my restlessness like ... I don't celebrate Valentines Day, but I will acknowledge a lil something I call "The-Day-Before-The-Day-After-Valentines-Day". I'm in love with a real-life mermaid who's eyes are like gazing into the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, and who's loving heart calms my restlessness like a day on a Bahamian beach. Avani, I love you 😘😍 Oh, here she's holding a West Indian sea star (Oreaster reticulatus) that we found at low tide on the beach in Greater Exuma. It was thoughtfully returned to the sea. Come home soon Love!
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Made of place. Hydrated by your watershed. It’s more than just eating local, it’s drinking local ...
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Made of place. Hydrated by your watershed. It’s more than just eating local, it’s drinking local too. If our bodies are composed of 65% water, where should that water come from? Whether treated or untreated, filtered or unprocessed, what is the source you water yourself with? While bottled ... Made of place. Hydrated by your watershed. It’s more than just eating local, it’s drinking local too. If our bodies are composed of 65% water, where should that water come from? Whether treated or untreated, filtered or unprocessed, what is the source you water yourself with? While bottled water from exotic locales has its merits in some circumstances, I’m grateful there are still local springs we can drink from, even in an era where pollution has become ubiquitous anywhere there is human habitation. Similarly, while chlorine in tap water keeps us from developing water-borne illnesses within the confines of the grid, it forms carcinogenic trihalomethanes when it reacts with organic matter (which is its job, and the very reason we put it into tap water to begin with). Additionally, the tap also supplies a daily dose of phosphoric acid and lye (for maintenance of the pipes), as well as controversial fluoride in many municipalities. It’s just not feasible to deliver clean, chemically pure water through our piping infrastructure at present, for a variety of reasons. Like hunting your own meat or foraging your fruits and vegetables, gathering your own spring water isn’t for everyone. It’s an anachronistic practice kept alive by the thriving few who turn to the natural world for subsistence, even though “we no longer have to”. Getting started is easy, check out @FindASpring, or on the web at FindASpring.com to locate a wild water source near you. Even when it comes to water, I’d #RatherHuntGather
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