Look who's coming to dinner!
1/18/2009 11:57:52 AM
A story appearing in the Kansas City Star on Wednesday and posted online got me thinking about my experiences with ole Procyon lotor, aka Ricky Raccoon as table fare. Iíll have to admit I have mixed emotions about the subject.
See story by clicking on this link:
When I was a kid back home in West Virginia it wasnít unusual to have raccoon about once a year but I never found it on the table at the Fielder homestead. My mother would prepare the squirrels, rabbits and grouse that Dad and I brought in as well as the occasional bear roast or liver our hounds produced. And she would do a masterful job with the venison the neighbors dropped by but she drew the line right there. I donít ever remember Mom fixing a raccoon.
There was a lady in our church whose husband was a coon hunter. My dad and I had a mutual hunting friend in Howard Meadows who sometimes hunted with this fellow. His name was Willard Meadows, no relation to Howard. About once a year Howard would take a fat, young raccoon that we caught to Mrs. Meadows and the result was one of the truly tasty wild game dishes Iíve ever enjoyed and I think Iíve tried most common species of game animals at one time or another. Another of the best was the cow elk steak that Gary Washburn prepared when we were bear hunting the Capitan's in southern New Mexico.
The secret to preparing a raccoon for the table is to par boil the pieces in water with bay leaves, onion or perhaps a potato and to continually skim off the fat that rises to the surface. Raccoons are greasy critters and if you donít fix them right, they arenít fit for human consumption. I recall taking a group of boy scouts from my church when I was in school in Florida out to Lake Walk In Water for a campout. As we arrived at the campsite about dark we saw a raccoon scurry up a live oak tree. Naturally the kids wanted to try to catch it. One of the boys, a strapping six-footer volunteered to climb the tree and shake him out. Some of the boys thought they could catch the coon in a jacket when it hit the ground. Needless to say, Olí Ricky had other ideas but the boys managed to capture him, sacrificing a nice jacket in the process. After dispatching the animal, the boys got a lesson in coon skinning. One of them suggested we have the coon for supper. Right away my vote was a hearty ďno,Ē but I was outvoted. We devised a spit and the roasting process began. Needless to say, the result was a greasy critter, burned on the outside and not nearly done enough in the middle. But the young bucks, obviously proud of their conquest enjoyed the spoils, eating the hams of that Florida coon and sucking the meat off the bones in a victory celebration. I think I spent a good bit of time in the outdoor facility that evening. As I said, these are some greasy critters.
When my wife was carrying our son, I got the idea that I could prepare a raccoon for the table one October day. I got out the pot, trimmed the fat off the coon, put the bay leaves and a large potato in the water and set it on the stove. The result was a stench that would make a slaughterhouse smell like a flower shop. My wife, who had morning sickness everyday needless to say was not a happy girl. The result was a promise, no, a threat if I ever tried to cook another raccoon in her kitchen I would be doing my own cooking for a very long time and she wouldnít be there as a witness.
If you would like to prepare a raccoon, perhaps for the anniversary dinner youíve been promising your wife my advice isÖ.donít! But if youíre looking for a good camp recipe there are several online. Try this link:
Youíll find recipes for everything from barbecued coon to roast raccoon with stuffing on the site.
Many fond memories of my youth center around the times, either at my grandparents farm or at hunting camp when we had wild game for dinner. A tasty wild dish just seems to put an explanation point on a good hunt and brings out the basic ďhunter/gathererĒ instinct in me. Iíll close this with a favorite photo of the immortal Isaiah Kidd and his friend Matt Radford at bear camp preparing a raccoon for dinner. Iíll promise you that when Mr. Radford pulled that bad boy out of the oven of that big old wood-burning cook stove it was definitely fittiní to eat!
(Click to enlarge photo)
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