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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kill It & Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, by Ted & Shemane Nugent

Reviewed by Steve Sorensen

Published by Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2002; 203 pages, 22 chapters; indexed.
Underlying the cooking theme is Nugent’s reverence for wildlife and his unapologetic explanation of what it takes for wildlife to thrive in the modern world.
Love him or hate him, the rock & roll legend Ted Nugent is probably the most outspoken advocate for “blood sports” today. And when he turns to the domestic side of hunting — the preparation and cooking of wild game meat — you’ll find it a lot harder to hate him because you’ll love the dishes he prepares and the way he talks about them.

My first exposure to Nugent as a hunter was in the pages of a print magazine and my impression was — let’s just say it could have been better. Since then, he has grown on me. I learned that if you come to him with expectations, you’ll be disappointed. If you come with an open mind, he’ll sidle up to you and share some wit and wisdom in a way that no one else can. In fact, I must admit that he has turned some phrases I wish I could have written.

The attitude of this book is “Life is a BBQ” (a direct Nugent quote), and most of the 22 chapters are followed by one or more recipes. Underlying the cooking theme is Nugent’s reverence for wildlife and his unapologetic explanation of what it takes for wildlife to thrive in the modern world. Nugent argues that habitat destruction, not the hunter, poses the greatest threat to wildlife; that the cruelty of nature offers no reason for man not to participate; that hunters are the greatest conservationists; and that wildlife is a renewable resource. These are truths that hunters should shout from the mountaintops.

This book is both serious and fun. He isn’t afraid to tell you what he thinks. (Check his opinion about Janet Reno on page 66.) And despite a liberal helping of run-on sentences and made-up words, you always know what he is talking about. Here’s a typical sentence: “With long, coarse hair in black, brown, red, gold, silver, calico, brindle, and varying combinations and shades of all of the above, accented with spectacular razor-sharp ivory jutting out of their prehistoric lips, and a disposition that only me, their mothers, and God could love, these huge, ornery beasts are just what the good BBQ doctor ordered for a weary old rock ‘n’ roll guitarboy to cleanse the soul and humble the heart.” In case there remains any uncertainty about what meat he is praising, he continues, “If nature heals, pork exhilarates.”

Although this old rocker and roller is a true family man who advocates clean living, think of his book as having a PG-13 rating for it’s occasional use of language and erotic imagery. Shemane (Mrs. Nugent) offers her point of view in a couple of chapters, and she is as entertaining as Ted himself. Don’t miss her story about bison hunting on their honeymoon (Chapter 11), or her own view of fresh flesh (Chapter 14) along with a few dessert recipes. I plan to try her recipe for “Coca Cola Stew” in Chapter 13. Chapter 3 (by Ted) is about do-it-yourself butchering, which will be of particular interest to hunters who’ve finally decided to butcher their own deer. The book also includes 8 pages of trophy game photos and ends appropriately with an appendix of conservation organizations every hunter should be familiar with.

Kill It & Grill It is worth having in your kitchen. It’s a unique cookbook for sure, and every game-feasting hunter should have a copy. It is available from The hardcover is just $14.93 and the paperback is only $11.53 (32% off the list prices).