21 August 2012

Venison Stews I’ve Known

Necessity and opportunity are two things everyone in the backcountry learns about quickly.   Once, while working as a fencer in the Harper Avoca catchment we shifted camp up valley to where we were to build our next deer exclusion fence.  We soon ran out of meat and I was given the job of going back to our old camp to fetch a leg of venison we’d left hanging in a tree.  A quick inspection was all I needed and I shouldered my rifle and headed up the hill in search of some fresh venison.  The hunt was a disaster and the details are not worthy of recollection.

Finally in mid afternoon I returned to our old camp and looked hungrily at the swarm of flies about our meat.  There was nothing for it but to unhook the leg and take it down to the stream.  I carefully boned the meat of out and washed the fly eggs and maggots from the meat.  The venison had a pale and friable look about it.  I wrapped it carefully in my bush singlet and a couple of hours later arrived back at our new camp.  The venison was carefully diced and thoroughly seared in the camp oven along with chopped onions.  Water, carrots, parsnips and a little thickening were added.  And a few potatoes.  Salt, pepper and a few spices later and we sat about eating the best venison stew we’d had that summer.  It was unbelievably tender.

Tony Hooper, Allan Depree, BLS - Venison Eating Avoca Crew 

Once, on a solo tramping trip I did up the Rangitikei I was pushing my way through thick bush on my sixth day out and stumbled upon a deer carcass.  My nose told me that it had had been shot within the last couple of days.  Whoever had shot it had only taken a little of the meat.  I’d been eating nothing but dhal baht and the idea of a little more protein was quite appealing.  I cut off enough for a couple of meals and made my way on up the valley.  Solo tramping teaches you about how much of one's life is compromised.  That evening, without any compromise, I chose a site, pitched my tent the way I wanted it, lit my fire and decided how to cook my meal.  I then sat down on a log to the best and only Moghlai Venison Stew eaten in New Zealand that night.


  1. Great-sounding recipe Barry, I will commit it to memory.
    How important is maturing it in the bush singlet (they're getting hard to find these days)?

  2. Cheers, Nick. The maggots were an indication of maturity. The bush singlet was mainly to protect the precious cargo from the gunge in the bottom of my pack. The whole thing was just about how ‘needs must’. Dont forget to wash the meat! If you're hungry enough you dont need sauce.