photo of mourning doves

DRY RUBS ARE AS INTEGRAL TO DOWNHOME BARBECUE AS SMOKE. These potent mixtures of salt, pepper, spices, and oftentimes sugar cure the meat before cooking and flavor it while it’s on the fire, mingling with the juices to form an ambrosial crust. The following rub is custom-designed for wild game, with woodsy blasts of thyme and juniper, but works equally well on beef or pork. Try coating a venison flank steak (sometimes called a London broil) with this, searing it quickly on the grill until medium-rare, then slicing it across the grain into very thin, spice-edged strips. You can also make a killer Carolina-style barbecue “mopping” sauce for game by adding it to some apple cider vinegar and a little ketchup. One thing to note: Despite the name, you don’t actually want to rub this into the meat, since most of it will cling to your hands if you do. Just give it a few good pats to help it adhere.

Field & Stream’s Ultimate Wild Game Rub

Time: 10 minutes; Difficulty: Easy

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup ground black pepper

¼ cup sweet paprika

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed and minced

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. For best results, use your fingers to fully distribute the juniper oils. This makes 1¼ cups, enough for 8 to 10 pounds of meat. Kept away from heat and light, it will last up to six months.