Wild Game Cookbook


Barbeque-Baked Raccoon

Remove every bit of fat from raccoon. Parboil it with a 1/4 cup salt and two or three each: onions, potatoes, small rutabaga. When raccoon is tender, cool, remove meat from bones, and dice. Place in baking pan. Mix together: two bay leaves, crumbled; one bottle barbeque sauce; one can tomato paste; two tablespoons chili powder; one-half teaspoon pepper; two tablespoons celery seed; two tablespoons brown sugar.

Pour over meat and bake at 300-degrees for 1 1/2 hours, adding tomato juice to moisten as needed.

That sounds delicious, doesn’t it? OR NOT.

A while back, I received a book called Wild Game Cookbook from Jolene, a reader in Texas.
It was first published in 1968, and I have no idea if it’s still available. Most likely, you’d have to pick it up used, if you can find it. It was published by A Benjamin Company/Rutledge Book and is edited by L.W. “Bill” Johnson. (“The Hunter” is tagged to his name.) The book includes sections for upland game birds, waterfowl, small game, and big game, plus special sections for accompaniments for game, smoking and smoke, handling of game, and cooking of game.

Whether you want to fix a casserole of partridge, a breast of grouse, roast rabbit, sausage-stuffed duck, beaver tail soup, venison short ribs, or caribou collops (collops?), this book has the recipe. How about some braised elk chops? Bear stew? Saddle of antelope?

Squirrel pot pie?

Raccoon in sour cream sauce?

Southern-fried muskrat?

Woodchuck in sauce? Roast opossum? Coddled rabbit? Wild duck burgundy? Mud hens with cream gravy? Orange-kissed pheasant? Doves in wine sauce? Quail with grapes and hazelnuts? A partridge in a pear tree? (Just checking to see if you’re still paying attention.)

Okay. So some of these recipes (some?) are a little out of the ordinary, shall we say. I’ve eaten squirrel before. (And want to again. Unfortunately, the woodland creatures are safe from me. So far.) Venison, of course. Duck and goose and quail–but not from the wild. And rabbit. Oh, and pheasant.

I might, if I get the chance, try some of these recipes for rabbit, squirrel, and venison. And the other recipes are interesting reading, and I like that the book comes with handy tips about each type of game before launching into the recipes for that particular animal.

But I asked myself….. Would I eat that? I’m NOT a picky eater. (I wrote about this once. See The Food in Martinsburg.) I’m a pretty adventurous eater. I love food, and I’m curious about it. I rarely come across a food I despise so much that I wouldn’t finish it if I had a plate of it in front of me. I might not care for it a whole lot, might not go out of my way to get it, might not plan to serve it at my house, but I’ll eat it. I ate blood pudding one time at a restaurant in England. Now that’s gross. Really. (Blood pudding is a sausage made from pork blood.) I don’t think I truly need to have it again, but I ate it because I was curious about it.

So what wouldn’t I eat? Is there anything that repulses me so terribly that I wouldn’t eat it?

I examined the book and my adventuresome spirit. Muskrat…. Just sounds…. I don’t know. That just doesn’t appeal. Coot. Mud hen. Maybe I’d try it? Maybe. But raccoon and possum…..


Raccoon and possum. Maybe it’s because I see them as these awful nasty creatures that occasionally mayhap destroy my chickens…. I just see them as SO NASTY.

I totally can’t see myself going after it voluntarily. Unless it was the end of the world as we know it and I was, like, ready to eat bugs, too. Raccoons and possums, to me, are some of the most disgusting creatures on the planet. Maybe it’s the “chicken lady” in me, but it’s my gut reaction.

You? What would you eat? What have you eaten? What would you NOT eat?


  1. MrsB says:

    My grandmother lived in White Sulphur Springs all her lived. She inherited HER grandmother’s regular old cookbook. I remember reading recipied for coon and sweet potatoes as well as for beaver and bear. Yikes!

  2. DeniseS says:

    Don’t think I’ll be finding these items at my local grocery store along with the partridge in a pear tree. (I was paying attention). But I bet these recipes were on everyone’s dinner table at one time. The most exotic I’ve ever gotten is ostrich served at a restaurant I ate at for a birthday party years ago.

  3. Annabelle1 says:

    I have fried muskrat!! A friend of my husband gave us some to try and I fried itjust like chicken. Guess what it tasted just like chicken!!!

  4. falnfenix says:

    i honestly think balut is the only thing i won’t at least try. i’ve even tried durian…but i can’t stomach the idea of eating a fertilized, mostly-developed duck egg.

  5. pdelainey says:

    I can not bring myself to eat head cheese. Almost anything else I’m willing to try.
    My husband actually wants to raise partridges, but we don’t have any pear trees.

  6. Leck Kill Farm says:

    Venison was the most common game I ate growing up. It was a staple in many homes. I come from a family of hunters so game of all sorts was common – squirrel, rabbit, pheasant (I love smoked pheasant), wild turkey, quail, grouse, duck, Canada goose all come to mind. I remember eating all sorts of tiny birds in Germany and sausages made from things I don’t want to know about.

    A close friend of ours comes from a family where the men do all the game cooking and oh do they make excellent food. They hunt all over the country so elk, moose, various deer, antelope, etc. show up on the table at their house.

    I have had bear and it was delicious but hunters in my area typically do not keep bear meat for consumption. According to them, beat meat can often be “off”.

    At least where I live, the line is drawn at raccoon, ground hogs and possum. I have never know anyone to eat those even on a dare and I knew some really dirt poor farming/living off the land families growing up and no one hunted those for food, only sport. I can only think it was because the meat was so nasty or unappetizing that even the most frugal housewife wouldn’t attempt to serve it. I suspect it is because of their diets impacting the taste of their flesh. Same applies to bear.

    Muskrats were trapped to protect farm ponds and I think people sold the fur but never heard of anyone eating them.

  7. Heidi533 says:

    I’m a lot like you in that I will try anything. I can’t think of anything I truly hate enough to say I would never eat it again. Although I might have to be starving to eat a plain bowl of oatmeal.

    As for blood sausage (also known as blood pudding, black pudding and black sausage), I had that multiple times while I was in Scotland last summer. I would recommend trying it again as it seems to vary from place to place. At the hotel we stayed in while in Glasgow it was wonderful. I could have cleaned them out. However, the B&B we were in near Stirling was another story. It smelled and tasted so strongly of blood that I had trouble eating anything on my plate that morning.

  8. knchock says:

    I am from southwest Virginia where I grew up. My Dad and 2 of his brothers and their father were hunters, so we grew up eating venison and some squirrels. As a teenager, I went to a hunting camp (not far from the WV border) that had no electricity, only gas. Someone had killed and skinned a raccoon and it was soaking in the kitchen sink waiting to be cooked and eaten. Kind of resembled a cat in the light of a gas lamp. Now that I’m married and in NC, my husband and our oldest son hunt. So I cook and we all eat venison, turkey, squirrels and frog legs. A friend gave us some rattlesnake once that kind of freaked me out curled up in my fridge, but I did attempt to cook it and we did taste it. However, I must’ve overcooked it cause it was rubbery, plus it had lots of bones that I had a hard time cutting meat off of. Hoping no one ever gifts us snake meat again. I’ve never heard of blood pudding, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never be hungry enough to be able to put it in my mouth.

  9. utroukx says:

    I’m rather fond of black pudding, but I’ve only ever had it from an upscale grocery store here in Ohio.

    I’ve read of someone that ate raccoon. I think it was out of revenge after it had killed a couple of his chickens. I can’t remember what he did, but I think he soaked the meat overnight in something in order to get rid of some of the gaminess. Milk, maybe? Anyway, he compared the taste to beef somewhat. I’d maybe try it. Maybe.

  10. AnnieB says:

    LOL, what a great post and great comments!

    I think I’d be able to try raccoon and possum. I would, however, draw the line at bugs. NO insects for me!!!!

  11. Joell says:

    YUK! I have tasted a couple of “wild things” I would rather not taste them again—when someone tells me to try something and them says “it tastes like chicken” no thank you, when I want something that tastes like chicken, it will be chicken.

  12. beforethedawn says:

    I was brought up being told that most wild animals have rabies (especially raccoons, opossums, bats, and squirrels). So inherently, I don’t think I would want to eat those. (Yes, I realize they *all* don’t have rabies, but that doesn’t help.) I’ve had elk, deer, buffalo, antelope, duck, goose, rabbit, and snake. The elk, deer, buffalo, & antelope are my favorites.

  13. mamajhk says:

    When I was growing up my dad would hunt rabbits, which were pretty good then not so sure about them now, though. He would fish at a relative’s farm pond and if the fish weren’t biting he would gig for frogs, they also tasted pretty good then but I have had them as a grown up and they weren’t as good as they were when mom fixed them. I had a co-worker that loved to hunt and would get more deer than he could use so I was able to get some (just had to pay for the processing fee). I have also eaten buffalo (made into burgers) I have tried cooking a mud hen and just couldn’t get the smell off my hands and will not ever try it again.
    One of my grandmother’s had a book called “Home Companion” which I have inherited and it has recipes for cooking all types of game.

    I have also fixed and eaten cow tongue which a lot of people are grossed out by. My husband loves it and when we were getting beef from his folks we would get the tongue and the liver because no one else liked them. I would pressure cook it and remove the skin.

    I would definitely pass on snake meal and probably bugs also. Might try other stuff if: 1. I was hungry 2. they were cooked correctly.

  14. falnfenix says:

    beforethedawn – the body temp of the American opossum is to low to harbor rabies.

  15. holstein woman says:

    When I was young in Ohio, our neighbor and his wife had 3 daughters and my mother had 3 daughters. We lived in an apartment upstairs and next door to them. The man was out of work so he went squirrel or rabbit hunting every day so we ate rabbit or fried squirrel or rabbit with mashed potatoes navy beans and home made biscuits. Yummy. Oh to be a child on Elysian Street in Toledo again.

  16. Smallfarmgirl says:

    I figure if ya put bbq sauce on it, you can eat just about anything.

  17. PaulaA says:

    I wouldn’t eat raccoon or opossum, not because they are nasty, but because they are CHARMING. Don’t feel that great about eating cows and chickens, so don’t want to try any new animals. For those of you that do, i suggest you get really familiar with the zoonotic diseases. Wildlife are reliably full of parasites, and you can get tularemia from just skinning a rabbit.
    But I’m really eager for a plate of chanterelles and fiddlehead ferns. And ramps!

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