Whenever I’m asked what the best-tasting game meat is, I always quickly blurt out the word “antelope,” before my social filter can stop it. You see, admitting you like antelope is a bit like saying your favorite college football team is the Miami Hurricanes or that Jeffrey Dahmer was just misunderstood. Reactions range from, “You must be joking, right?” to total disbelief to the kind of social ostracism normally reserved for people who play Dungeons & Dragons.
(Before the one guy who reads this blog and is a Dungeon Master pipes up, let me admit: I played D&D from the time I was about 10 years old until I discovered beer and girls and still have the 20-sided die to prove it. Also, anyone else out there feel like fantasy football is Dungeons & Dragons for jocks?)
The thing is, I really believe antelope, more correctly known as the pronghorn, is the best-tasting game meat there is. From its tender texture to the sweet, mild flavoring, pronghorn meat is the one wild game that reminds me of autumn on the prairie. I wouldn’t trade it, pound for pound, for elk, deer, or Wagyu beef. Not joking.
Of all the antelope I’ve eaten, only one proved challenging on the plate, and it was given to me by someone I would hesitate to call a hunter. He killed it and had it professionally processed, but his wife and kids wanted no part of it, so I volunteered to take it off his hands. From the second it hit the skillet, I knew something was wrong and confirmed it with a bite. It was gamey like nothing I’ve had before or since–like sage and iron and pure adrenaline in every gullet-clenching bite. In the end, I couldn’t save it. I often wonder what that guy did to the animal to make it virtually inedible. I suspect it wasn’t a pretty death.
There seem to be so few true antelope lovers in existence, but now and again I run across them. We’re like a secret society. I evangelize anytime I can, but the side-glances and whispering about my sanity are getting me to the point of paranoia. I expect any day the kitchen police will show up, take away all of the sharp objects within reach and replace all the pronghorn in my freezer with whitetail. And that would be a tragedy.