Ever since I was attacked via e-mail by someone over my website for my guide business that mentioned “waterfowl hunting” as a service (how could anyone hunt you evil person you…), I have tried to be somewhat careful when blogging about some of the things we do around here. Not for fear of getting verbally attacked by some PETAphile (they are pretty easy to wind up and drop), but a lot of fly fishermen lean toward the foo-foo animal-lover crap that could be turned off by some of the realities of life in a remote Alaskan village.
Ya, I’m pretty much over that now. If what we do and what I type bothers you, please feel free to visit another website, or another village for that matter… Life is far too short to get worked up over things that have zero impact on you, thousands of miles away from you. Specifically, trapping is something that built our nation, brought the first people to most of North America and especially Alaska. It is what clothed and fed our ancestors for thousands of year and without it, most of the people who get upset over things like this wouldn’t exist to whine and protest, because their great great great great grandparents would have died of exposure and/or starvation long before they produced whiny protesty offspring.
That said, although I’m not a trapper and don’t get a thrill out of killing animals, I sure love to eat. We subsistence hunt a moose every other year to feed our family and a few others in our community, along with the salmon, halibut, clams, shrimp, ducks, geese and other tasty critters that populate our neighborhood. They all taste yummy.
But… our family favorite remains beaver. Tanis traps them for their fur, but we save off the hind quarters and backstraps for a special treat. We are planning to harvest more of the meat in the future, because I think beaver will make an exceptional sausage without having to add suet. The hindquarters have a lit of stringy tendons and cartilage running through them, so we put them in a small pressure cooker for 20 minutes and the meat just falls away from the bones and tendons. Backstraps just get sliced and fried as fajita meat, or just eaten before it can escape the pan and onto a plate. You don’t even get splinters in your tongue when eating beaver, even though sawdust is all they eat…
I’ll do a separate post about Tanis’ trapping adventures, but a couple days ago he came back from floating the Situk with three respectable rodents in the truck. Two were small and not worth the effort, but the big one yielded about 1 1/2 pounds of backstrap. Teen bought a new jumbo food processor this winter, so we decided to shred the meat and make beaver burgers. Too bad it only made two patties… McDonalds doesn’t offer a 3/4 pounder? They should!
Moose is about as fat-free a meat as you can get. It doesn’t make a patty that holds together unless you add a bunch of stuff (like fat, oatmeal, etc) to make it stick. The nice thing about the food processor is it shreds the meat and holds together nicely. But moose is a dull reddish brown, pretty dark and lifeless looking when raw. This beaver meat looked like it was glo-in-the-dark red with neon lights behind it. Really weird looking.
But oh, what a yummy burger! Toasted bun, swipe of horseradish, smoked cheddar, leaf lettuce, tomato slice and half an avocado. Unfortunately we’re all out of bacon, but I don’t think even bacon could have improved on our beaver burger as I was.
Years ago when she was cute and little, Eden made a special request for a special birthday dinner… Beaver and brussel sprouts. I’m raising very strange kids!
But they will be kids who will be able to survive WWIII and probably enjoy the journey.