Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors

Several years ago a friend of mine was nearly electrocuted while bass fishing on a Midwest impoundment. He had seen the gathering clouds in the west and watched as the sky turned an ominous dark gray. But he pressed on. Why? “The fishing was just too hot to quit,” he said. “I gambled that the storm wouldn’t pass right over me.”

But it did, and as he belatedly headed for cover a bolt of lightning hit close enough to raise the hair on the back of his neck. He vows to never again ignore the signs of any storm.

American hunters and fishermen have been staring at the signs of a similar deadly storm, but so far few have heeded the warnings. The storm in question is the economic siege that has buffeted state fish and game agencies since the early 1980s. A yearlong investigation by the staff of Field & Stream reveals, in fact, that many of these state agencies are going broke. If this is news to you, you had better read “Storm Warnings” (page 70) because the fallout from the crisis threatens to erode the quality of your hunting and fishing. This month, our report examines what went wrong and why. Next month, we’ll look at possible solutions. At the end of deer season, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I open the freezer and see all those neat rectangular packages of butcher paper-my winter larder of venison. But I have to admit, all too often what should be a great eating experience has turned into an agonizing chewfest. It seems no matter how I prepare some cuts of venison the end result has been less than appetizing.

After one such meal last year, a hunting buddy told me, “This reminds me of a recipe for sea ducks I got from an old waterfowler. He said, ¿¿¿Fill a large lobster pot with water. Place a brick in the bottom. When the water reaches a roiling boil, drop in your ducks. Cook for several hours. Pour off the water, throw out the ducks, and eat the brick.'”

If you’re tired of turning venison into brick, check out “Tender Mercies: The Perfect Venison Dinner” on page 51. Contributing editor Eileen Clarke, author of six game and fish cookbooks, explains how anyone can cook the perfect deer steak. Clarke has cooked an average of five deer a year for nearly 20 years, and her expertise shows. Heeding her advice will turn your venison into a mouth-watering, rather than gut-wrenching, experience.