Primary Ingredients: Bow and several arrows, target, knives (at least three very sharp), hatchet, binoculars, cow call, bugle, good shoes (two pair), clothes (warm and cold), rope, more rope, chili beans, eggs, apples, baby carrots, tortillas, cheese, candy (whatever suits you), coffee, beer, sleeping bag, matches, and don’t forget the paper!
Secondary Ingredients: Fresh elk steak, flour, eggs, crackers, garlic salt, Lowrys, pepper, Ziploc freezer bag (two), rolling pin, bowl, salt, lard (not shortening), potatoes, milk, good cast iron skillet, flipper, swisher, fork, knife, plate, empty belly, and good company.
Methods: After a fun filled summer of shooting at, around or near your target (or neighbor’s cat), open your closet and drag all of your hunting paraphernalia into the living room and make little piles according to Don Day’s weather forecast. This usually takes a couple days. The children will play King of the Mountain, and your lovely wife will remind you that this is a house and not Cabela’s Bargain Cave. With all necessary material sorted, the pickup can be loaded. Some additional sorting may be necessary because it will not fit into that crew cab pickup.
As your departure day arrives, don’t forget to kiss your wife and kids and promise to call sometime during the week if the phone will work. It is also very important that you leave very late in the afternoon so you can arrive at the designated camping spot at about 11 p.m. in a snow storm to set up camp.
Wake very early the next morning, grab an egg, cup of coffee, and dig through the truck for the batteries. Pick a direction and start walking. The first elk you will see will probably be about two hours later at the top of the cliff you just scaled and you will be left with a fleeting glimpse of tan racing through the forest. That’s okay; it’s early. After 5 or 6 more miles begin to think about how you are going to get back down that cliff in the dark. After arriving safely back at camp, grab a beer and build a fire. Before bed, eat a satisfying meal of chili beans and cheese on a tortilla. Repeat this process for as many days as necessary (don’t forget to call your wife).
When the time comes and the elk is standing there waiting to be shot, make sure you are at least a mile from the road on a steep slope surrounded by downed timber and slash. Once the critter is cleaned and quartered, begin the tendering process by carrying, dragging, and dropping the smaller pieces several times before depositing them in the truck. When arriving back at camp, drink several beers by the fire and forget the chili beans.
The next day, drive home and carve out the back straps (you can unload the truck tomorrow) and take them in the house. Don’t forget to kiss your wife and kids.
You will need the entire kitchen for this next part. Cut the back straps into butterfly chops … I usually make them about 1-inch thick, sprinkle lightly with salt and let them sit while you are preparing the rest.
Put one bag of crackers in a Ziploc and squash into fine powder … a rolling pin works well, but then again, so does that empty beer bottle. In another Ziploc combine flour, garlic salt, Lowrys, and pepper and shake vigorously. I dump a handful of each spice in with 3 cups of flour. You should be able to identify all the spices in the mix. In the bowl mix three or four eggs with milk, dash of salt, and a little extra pepper (just in case). Place the meat, flour, eggs, and crackers in a convenient spot next to the stove. Heat cast iron skillet to just-right setting ” too cold: steak will soak up lard; too hot: will burn the crackers.
Put just enough lard into skillet to coat it evenly. Put steak into flour bag and shake to coat entire surface. Take steak from flour to eggs. The flour helps the eggs stick to meat. Take steak from eggs to crackers, shake a lot and press. Put steak into the skillet and be patient. Moving it around will cause the coating to fall off. It should take about five or six minutes per side. Add additional lard as necessary to maintain coating on skillet. Use a flipper (spatula) not a fork to turn steaks.
When steaks are cooked add flour, milk and dash of salt to skillet for gravy. Stir constantly with swisher (whisk) until thickened.
Serve with Potatoes, green vegetable (remember you haven’t eaten any for a week), and a story of how this beast ended up in the skillet.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.