To be clear, I like Steven Rinella. I enjoy his writing, which I find down-to-earth and conversational, I like how he represents himself in interviews, and I actually looked forward to The Wild Within, an hourly, eight-episode program that aired on the Travel Channel. And I rarely watch television.
So it is no surprise to me that I am thoroughly enjoying Rinella’s new book The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game. Touted as a “comprehensive big game hunting guide for hunters ranging from first-time novices to seasoned experts,” The Complete Guide is just that. Within the pages of this book you will find Rinella’s recommendations on hunting gear, basic and advanced hunting techniques, thorough descriptions of fourteen big game species to help you learn more about the animals you hunt, butchering procedures, and lastly, cooking techniques and recipes to bring your hunt to a satisfying conclusion.
Throughout the book, Rinella succeeds in portraying himself as a regular guy. Given his success with the television show Meateater and the sponsors that come with this success, you know Rinella could choose to use any gear out there. Yet in covering the basics of layering, rather than promote one particular brand (say, Sitka Gear), he simply recommends the type of gear and the material (merino wool face mask, for example). This leaves the choice of brand, cost, etc. up to you. I appreciate this, as our budgets and needs range dramatically. Another example of this is seen in his “four-boot rule.” Rinella suggests four pairs of boots are all you need to hunt in any condition: a medium-duty all-leather boot, a backpack hunting boot, a pac boot, and a knee-high rubber boot. Only with the backpack hunting boot does Rinella mention brand names (Schnee’s and Meindl) and this only to emphasize the importance of foot care on hunts.
Rinella covers topics from buying tags to finding land to hunt on and is particularly detailed in his coverage of hunting techniques from stalking to ambushing to still hunting. The “Tactics and Strategies” section that covers these topics is useful to all hunters, but particularly to those just starting out.
The largest part of The Complete Guide is dedicated to specific big game species. From antelope to javelina to whitetail deer, Rinella covers physical characteristics, breeding and reproduction, diet, edibility, hunting opportunities, and hunting methods. Because of his extensive hunting experience, you know the information in this section is tried-and-true, not just theoretical hearsay picked up from a cursory glance at a secondary resource.
The butchering section is filled with helpful, step-by-step instructions that include pictures. He covers field dressing, skinning, aging, and breaking down the animal and offers tips for packaging and freezing meat.
When it comes to recipes, I’d have to say my favorite is the Bone-In Blade Roast with Root Vegetables. I love to roast meat and this recipe is so diverse – it calls for a blade roast from deer, elk, caribou, or moose shoulder. Nothing is better than a roast on a cold winter’s day. Except maybe chili, which you will also find here.
The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game is an essential part of my cookbook library and ought to be in everyone’s hunting library. Unlike many reference books and cookbooks, Rinella’s work is so readable that I treat it like a novel. It is so believable and matter-of-fact that I feel completely at home reading about hunting, butchering, and cooking. Which, of course, I do.
An added bonus: this is Volume 1: Big Game, which makes me think there will be a Volume 2, probably on small game, waterfowl, or fish. I’m looking forward to that!
To order a copy of Steven Rinella’s new book, click here.