Jet Boat Fishing
episode 45 | Apr 13, 2021
Hunting & Fishing

Ep. 45: Hank Shaw, Hook, Line and Supper

Travis speaks with Hank Shaw who is a James Beard Award-winning author and chef and focuses all his energies on wild foods: Foraging, fishing, hunting. Travis and Hank discuss a wide array of topics including what causes some meats to taste gamey, strategies or game care, tips for the new hunter, angler and forager and how Covid has affected the landscape of wild food collection. Hank tells us about his most recent book, which is more of a life project, Hook, Line and Supper.
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Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader, and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re a new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, where you can learn more about courses, services, and products that we offer as well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.

[00:00:43] Before we get into this episode, I want you to know that the Silvercore clubs Ultimate Firefighter Tuition Giveaway with the Training Division in Texas is now live. No strings, no games, absolutely free to enter. All you have to do is write in and tell us why you feel you deserve to win. The Training Division will provide all of your training, your lodging, your food, everything. All you have to do is get yourself to their location in Texas. This would cost over $6,000 if you paid on your own, and it represents a life-changing opportunity to one lucky winner, full details on

[00:01:23] Today I’m joined by renowned hunter, angler, gardener, cook, professional author, and lover of Gwar, Hank Shaw. 

Hank Shaw: [00:01:37] Gwar!! 

Travis Bader: [00:01:39] Welcome to the podcast Hank.

Hank Shaw: [00:01:41] Thanks for having me on. 

Travis Bader: [00:01:42] Absolutely. Man it’s been a while since screaming through the Sierra Nevada in your Subaru, while I chowed down on your lunch of salmon collars. 

Hank Shaw: [00:01:49] Yeah, I know. And it’s even been a long time since we met each other in Vancouver for that dinner. 

Travis Bader: [00:01:54] That was fun. That was a lot of fun. 

Hank Shaw: [00:01:56] Yeah. 

Travis Bader: [00:01:56] I enjoyed that. That was abattoir, wasn’t it? 

Hank Shaw: [00:02:00] It was, it was, I think it was 2018 was it not?

Travis Bader: [00:02:03] Going back a few years. 

Hank Shaw: [00:02:05] Yeah.

Travis Bader: [00:02:05] Man. And then of course COVID hit. I got, I got to imagine with your background and the videos you put out and the podcast you put out and the books you put out, COVID probably brought a lot more eyes to you. Is that a fair assessment? 

Hank Shaw: [00:02:24] That is a fair assessment. I was just talking to a fellow, food blogger friend of mine, and we’re all like shaking our head because everyone got this insane COVID balance in terms of traffic. However, the flip side of that was at ad revenue rates went in the toilet. So I kind of made out not terrible, but I got this gigantic boost in people like looking for like, Hey, what do I do?

[00:02:51] How can I eat my lawn? Or how do I go hunting? Or how do I, you know, catch a fish to eat it? And then dah, dah, and then, but balanced off with the fact that, that, um, the revenue that was being brought in was pretty, pretty minimal. But you know, that’s a minor concern given what we’ve just all been through. I mean, it’s, I can’t really complain.

Travis Bader: [00:03:12] Why do you think it is an ad revenue would have dropped off, yet the demand went up?

Hank Shaw: [00:03:16] Uh, because everybody’s was losing money. Um, The only people who didn’t really take it in the shorts during the pandemic were essential services and things that are entirely online, but the biggest advertisers for a website like mine are kind of national brands that revolve a lot around retail. So, um, I don’t really run every individual ad. I just, I worked with an ad network. 

Travis Bader: [00:03:41] Got it. 

Hank Shaw: [00:03:42] And the Ad network um, you know, this is what it was, you know, and fortunately things are kind of back to normal, which is weird, right? Because the United States went through this wretched, horrible COVID pandemic, right? Where everybody got it and homeless people died, but were actually vaccinating people. Whereas you Canadians, nobody got it, but nobody’s getting vaccinated either. 

Travis Bader: [00:04:05] You got it. Don’t get me started on that one. You know, despite the fact that I’m married to a chef who loves to garden and she loves the forage. I credit you with awakening the forger within.

Hank Shaw: [00:04:20] Oh. 

Travis Bader: [00:04:20] I had no idea. It wasn’t even on my radar goin’ pickin’  mushrooms or looking for wild herbs and, it wasn’t even on my radar. The very first time I ever actually picked mushrooms was with you. And that was.

Hank Shaw: [00:04:31] Really? 

Travis Bader: [00:04:32] Yeah, that was those porcinis. And man, I had a lot of fun. 

Hank Shaw: [00:04:35] Well, I’m really glad that we actually found some, cause it’s not always a guarantee. 

Travis Bader: [00:04:38] Oh, we found a crapload. 

Hank Shaw: [00:04:40] I know. 

Travis Bader: [00:04:41] That was a pretty good day, that day. I remember, we get out of the vehicle, you’re given a little, a little lesson, you said, so you look around and here’s some of the areas you might find them and look for shrubs and we’re literally just out of the vehicle and you just kick your boot. And you’re like, Oh, like this one right here. Like, come on, this had to been planned.

Hank Shaw: [00:04:59] It wasn’t, it was just a really good day. And I mean, you were you living in British Columbia, there’s all kinds of really good mushrooms too. 

Travis Bader: [00:05:06] Well slowly, I’ve been getting into it. And I mean, my wife more so, and I just kind of follow her lead because she’s doing all the research on it and. But learning that most of the mushrooms actually won’t kill you and some will get you sick and take your time and identify that was a, that was a big one, but we. 

Hank Shaw: [00:05:26] Yeah mushrooms are kind of an interesting one. They’re like, uh, if you take a collection of anything, human beings, whatever, whatever you’re going to find that like 2% will kill you dead. And 2% you would get on an airplane to go pick. 

Travis Bader: [00:05:41] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:05:41] And then there’s another percentage that like, Hey, you might go to the hospital and then there’s another percentage that like, Oh, absolutely, if I see them totally picking them. Then there’s another percentage of like, yeah, you’re going to worship the porcelain God. And then on the other side, you’re like, Oh, if I find him sure and I feel like it I’ll, I’ll pick them. And then there’s this vast middle of blah. 

Travis Bader: [00:06:00] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:06:00] You know, where there’s just, they’re neither edible nor not edible. 

Travis Bader: [00:06:04] Right. You know, I’ve been seeing on a Meat Eater, Rinella is really pushing the squirrel hunting.

Hank Shaw: [00:06:13] He is, interestingly. 

Travis Bader: [00:06:14] Yeah. And I was, I would never credit myself as a, a voracious squirrel hunter, but I’ve hunted squirrels and I’ve eaten squirrels, all up until that one day, when you said, what is that? Some very minute percentage of squirrels carry the bubonic plague. I haven’t had a squirrel since then.

Hank Shaw: [00:06:33] That’s ground squirrels, not. 

Travis Bader: [00:06:35] Oh is that what it is? 

Hank Shaw: [00:06:36] Not tree squirrels. Yeah, so I mean, the, I don’t know that there has never been a tree squirrel with the plague, but, uh, what I’m referring to are groundhogs and, and ground squirrels, they have a much more, a much higher incidence of it. It’s still a little overblown, like, you know, it’s, I don’t know the actual percentage of danger that you would have if you ate prairie dogs or, or ground squirrels. Um, but I don’t just because I, I prefer tree squirrels, which are much cleaner and safer to eat. 

Travis Bader: [00:07:11] Okay. So I went, hyper cautious. 

Hank Shaw: [00:07:13] You have the western grey squirrel don’t you? 

Travis Bader: [00:07:14] We do. Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:07:15] Yeah.

Travis Bader: [00:07:16] Yeah. They’re good eating.  

Hank Shaw: [00:07:17] They’re very good eating. 

Travis Bader: [00:07:18] Other than that fear, I guess now irrational fear, the possible bubonic plague in them. So it’s ground squirrels, got it.

Hank Shaw: [00:07:24] Yep. Ground squirrels. So the ground has to have that kind of a rough on them. And then that you do find them in trees every now and again, but they were climbing up the trees from their holes and they look different. 

Travis Bader: [00:07:34] Right.  You know, we get a lot of marmots up in a few of the areas that I like to go to um. 

Hank Shaw: [00:07:39] I know people who eat marmots. 

Travis Bader: [00:07:41] Okay. Well, I guess squirrel’s back on the menu, they better watch out. So you’ve got a background, like from a very early age, your mother got you into foraging and gardening, and then you got into fishing pretty early, wasn’t it?

Hank Shaw: [00:07:56] Very early, very early, like before I can remember. 

Travis Bader: [00:08:02] So, there you are heavy background in foraging, heavy background in fishing. And you started hunting when in your thirties or 32? 

Hank Shaw: [00:08:11] Yeah. And, uh, when I was 32. 

Travis Bader: [00:08:14] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [00:08:15] And so God, that’s 18 years ago now. 

Travis Bader: [00:08:18] Despite your background in foraging and fishing, you then go on to write basically for wild game hunting related books. And you’re just now writing a book on fishing Hook, Line and Supper.

Hank Shaw: [00:08:35] Yep. 

Travis Bader: [00:08:35] How, how come you what made you decide to do it in that order? 

Hank Shaw: [00:08:39] Primarily  and I haven’t written the fish, the foraging book yet either. So a lot of it has to do with familiarity. So I was a journalist for 18 years. So the job of a journalist is to learn a thing of your beat, whatever your beat is and learn it very, very well, and be able to relay what you lo and what you learn to your readers clearly and fairly.

[00:09:04] And, and that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s in the essence is what journalism is all about, at least as a reporter, as opposed to a commentator. And so, given that I had already hunted for quite quite a while before I even started out put paper to, or put pen to paper. But, uh, what I had found was that my first book does have fishing and foraging in it to be fair. 

Travis Bader: [00:09:28] It does. 

Hank Shaw: [00:09:29] So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s got a little bit of everything. So, but I decided to do deep dives into waterfowl with, with Duck, Duck, Goose, with, you know, the cervids and all things antlered and horned is Buck, Buck, Moose. And then with small game with Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail, because I, uh, I find that. Since I’ve really more or less stopped eating domesticated meat with the exception of, um, I have a couple of friends who are very good hog farmers, so I got some, some really good farmed hogs, um, once or twice a year.

[00:10:05] Other than that, it pretty much everything in our house has been hunted or fished, in terms of the protein. So the daily, day by day, week by week, year by year exposure to game animals from all over the North America. And, you know, in every season you get a really good intimate knowledge. And I kind of already had that fish knowledge and I had the reason why I started with ducks because it’s where, you know, you can see the Duck, Duck, Goose right there.

[00:10:37] Uh, and I started with that was because, um, here in California, we have unbelievable duck hunting. And so I had far more experience with that than I did with uplands when I wrote that book. And you know, I, I do it on every year and I hunt big game every year, but it’s not like I’m, I’m not like, you know, I got a friend named John Stallone and John Stallone, like lives for big game hunting.

[00:11:04] He hunts big game for months at a time. And I’ll hunt big game until I get one or maybe two. And then I’m like, all right, good. Now I can go hunt birds. And so it took a while for me to develop the institutional knowledge, to be able to write a really quality cookbook about venison. So, so kind of a long way of coming around to those areas were popular.

[00:11:28] Those areas were things that people wanted to read about. Those are also areas where there’s a, a bigger need. So, especially with ducks, I mean, I think ducks are probably the, the game animal that is the most horribly destroyed in the kitchen of anything, with venison being a second thing. 

[00:11:45] And then, then I think, I think a lot of people cook upland animals in a decent way, even without the help of someone like me. And then that’s also kind of true with fish in the sense that pretty much everybody knows how to fry a piece of fish or maybe slap it on the grill. 

Travis Bader: [00:12:01] Sure. 

Hank Shaw: [00:12:01] So to write a fish and seafood cookbook, a, um, since I’ve fished in like five Canadian provinces in 40 some odd States and you know, for the better part of 45 plus years, right. And I’ve eaten or cooked and catched, caught, eaten, or cooked like 500 species or something like that. Every time I would write a sentence, I’d be like, well, this is true. And then over here, my head would be like, well, but there’s not other fish that lives in Louisiana that doesn’t really act that way. So, so the, the problem with the, the eternal exceptions of the diversity of fish made it difficult to cook.

[00:12:42] The second thing that made it very difficult to cook is if or to, to write, is that for every time that I want to write about, say the Pacific Northwest fish, I have to be cognizant of the fact that, well, nobody wants a recipe for halibut. Nobody, because if you want a recipe for halibut, you live where halibut live.

[00:13:04] Well, guess what? Most people don’t live where halibut live. So the recipe needs to be applicable to you, to me down, you know, 1500 miles South of you, in California, as well as somebody in Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Colorado. So you had to think about fish in a very different way. You had to think about fishes in kind of a galactic sense. Where you put them in broader buckets. Where you have, this is a lean white fish, this is a soft, lean white fish. This is a very firm one, this is a fatty fish. This is a fatty orange fish, like a salmon or a trout, or as Canadians say tr-oot. Um, 

Travis Bader: [00:13:47] I don’t know any Canadians that say that, but.

Hank Shaw: [00:13:49] I do. There, they live in Alberta, my friend, Kevin Casajuan likes to say tr-oot.

Travis Bader: [00:13:56] Tr-oot, tr-oot. 

Hank Shaw: [00:13:58] And he has a hard time saying tr-out. 

Travis Bader: [00:14:00] Tr-out. Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:14:02] You do it better actually. Um. 

Travis Bader: [00:14:04] You know, we’re a little closer to the border here. 

Hank Shaw: [00:14:06] That’s true. That’s true. But I mean, that, that was the thing it’s like, I wanted to write a book that is not only useful for everybody, fresh water or salt. But it also really gives you master recipes, um, fundamental skills on cooking any kind of fish or seafood that will then really free you from recipes. Like there are recipes, lots of recipes in the book, but, but the really sort of structured as if you want a beer batter fresh fish, this is how you beer batter fresh.

[00:14:38] But if you want to fry fish and like these seven other ways, I’ve got these seven other ways and they’re all tested and they’re all, they’re all ironclad. And then what if you want to poach fish or grill or cure, I’ve got a big section on salting, smoking and curing because people have been doing that with fish and seafood for as long as we’ve been catching fish and seafood. 

Travis Bader: [00:14:59] Totally. 

Hank Shaw: [00:14:59] Because if you catch things by the ocean, you live near salt. 

Travis Bader: [00:15:02] That’s right. You know, I, I think that’s part of the appeal behind the whole Hank Shaw brand and is the fact that you. You look at the whole process and you look at things differently. You’re kind of, you know, you’re, you’re kind of a counter culture kind of guy. Even your website, you got a .net website, not a .com or you got a .net website. But, but you look at when your contemporaries are out there and chasing big game and posting big, big game pictures and big flashy expeditions.

[00:15:39] You’re talking about pheasants, quails, and cottontails, and how to basically eat stuff that grows out of your sidewalk. And you do that in, from a chef’s perspective. I mean, you’ve, you’ve got your, uh, James Beard award winner for your website. That’s a pretty big deal in the, uh, in the cooking world. 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:02] There you go right in the back.

Travis Bader: [00:16:04] Oh yeah. You got it up there, I love it. Man, yeah. If I had something like that, I’d be flying it loud and proud for sure. That’s, that’s kind of, kind of like the Oscars for, for chefs, isn’t it? 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:15] It is. It is. Um, and, uh, very lucky and very, very proud of to get it. 

Travis Bader: [00:16:20] You were nominated what, in 2009, you’re nominated again in 2010 and in 2013 you got it. That’s massive. 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:28] It’s even cool to be nominated because in you’re still on the podium right. Cause they only nominate three. 

Travis Bader: [00:16:34] Only three? 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:35] Yeah. For any given category. 

Travis Bader: [00:16:37] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:38] So in any given category, there’s going to be three finalists. And so even just to be nominated is a big deal. 

Travis Bader: [00:16:43] Wow. So we were actually supposed to do this podcast on Wednesday tentatively, but you have Spanish classes on Wednesday. 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:53] Not this time. Uh, this time I’m, I can’t do it on Wednesday cause I’m Turkey hunting because our Turkey hunting. 

Travis Bader: [00:16:58] Ahh, good for you! 

Hank Shaw: [00:16:58] Season has started, uh. 

Travis Bader: [00:16:59] Good for you. Well you’ve got a lot of. 

Hank Shaw: [00:17:01] Spanish, I think I have a week off of my Spanish, but.

Travis Bader: [00:17:03] Well you’ve got some pretty good Turkey hunting around where you are. 

Hank Shaw: [00:17:06] We do. They’re all, they’re all Rio’s except for the far North of the state on your Oregon where there’s some Merriam’s, but mostly they’re the Rio Grande turkeys, which, um, it would be unfair to say that they’re the short bus Turkey, but they are significantly easier to hunt than Easterns. Easterns are notoriously the hardest. So you’d see that in Ontario and then in the American East. 

Travis Bader: [00:17:29] Right. So the Spanish lessons, there’s a, I’ve seen the big shift in how you cook over the years and you’re, you’re getting a lot more of a Spanish and Mexican flavour to a lot of the things you’re doing right. Are you just doing the Spanish lessons primarily to get a better feel for the cooking? Or is there something more in there? 

Hank Shaw: [00:17:52] It’s yes and no. So, uh, I’ve been fascinated by Mexican cooking, in specific in Latin American cooking in general for quite awhile. And the thing about Mexican cooking, there’s two, there’s two, two main things. One is proximity, like it’s our other neighbour. There’s three main countries in North America and, and yours is one, mine is the other and Mexico is the third.

[00:18:14] And, and so proximity matters, but what really, really cemented it was the fact that, in my opinion, a great world cuisine has to be underpinned by a great world civilization. So the reason why that is the case is because you have to have had centuries, or if not, millennia of a ruling class that can just sit around and have somebody cook for them in fancy ways.

[00:18:48] And that’s sort of the underpinning and it sounds weird and elitist, but it’s true if you think about it, like, is there a really good food in, oh, I don’t know. Kenya, for example. 

Travis Bader: [00:18:59] Sure. 

Hank Shaw: [00:18:59] Yeah. There’s really good food in Kenya, but there was never any big, giant civilization. Like there was an Egypt or in Zimbabwe, um, or in Ghana. So, you know, it’s just use African examples. And in Mexico you have to, you’ve got the Maya and the Aztecs, not to mention there’s a couple other groups that, that are a little bit lesser known, but you’ve got these major long lived sophisticated civilizations that underpin their food. And so that connected with the ingredients that they have available.

[00:19:33] So the area that is now Mexico, has everything from the origin of chilies, the origin of tomatoes. Um, and they also had to some extent potatoes, although those were mostly from the Andes, uh, not to mention lots and lots and lots of other ingredients that we use on a daily basis, you know, corn, beans and squash, for example.

[00:19:56] Corn, beans and squash as we know them originated in Mexico. Now they were widely used all the way up to, to Southern Canada when white people showed up. Um, but they filtered North from Mesoamerica. So you have these amazing ingredients. You have these amazing techniques   in the civilizations that underpin it, and then  they’re our neighbour.

[00:20:19] So I got very, very interested in it, uh, some years ago. And then I very quickly realized that if you only speak English, it is like seeing just a shadow of the real cuisine, because while there is a fairly large number of Mexican cookbooks written in the English language. There are an order of magnitude more cookbooks written in Spanish.

[00:20:48] And until, and unless you can read Spanish and speak Spanish and really understand Mexico, you know, like actual Mexicans, like it’s not just food  ladies and gentlemen, it’s the human beings who make it. 

Travis Bader: [00:21:00] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:21:00] And you cannot really, um, grok to use a California term, the, the, the cuisine or the people or whatever, unless you speak their language. So that’s a prerequisite. And when I was in high school, I took two years of Italian and three years of Latin. So those are really good underpinnings for learning Spanish. And, and so the goal eventually, one of my best friends, uh, is from Monterey. Uh, in Nuevo Leon and he lives here in California and runs a restaurant called Nixtaco.

[00:21:37] And so Patricio and I, our goal is to write a Mexican cookbook someday. And I refuse to be the gringo who’s standing there unable to answer questions in Spanish. And cause you, you do see this, you see this where there are American or Canadian or other or chefs of any other country that don’t speak X language.

[00:22:00] And don’t, don’t really, they just kind of parachute into a culture. And then, and then cherry pick things from it without really fully understanding the whole culture. And I don’t want to be that guy. Like, uh, I want to be the guy who’s like, Oh yeah, that’s really good. Even if you don’t like the fact that I’m a wedo um, you have to, I want to be that guy. They’re like, yeah, you got to give the devil his due, you know. 

Travis Bader: [00:22:25] That’s fantastic. 

Hank Shaw: [00:22:26] And I hope people will, will see our book, which is years in the future. I hope they will see our book whenever it comes out as a positive thing and adding to the overall knowledge. And here’s the thing, like if it does well, shit, we’re going to print in Spanish too.

Travis Bader: [00:22:42] That’s pretty damn cool actually. Have you already started kind of pre-writing it in your head or do you have? 

Hank Shaw: [00:22:47] Yeah, yeah, it has. It has, uh, it has, we have some structure for it, but it’s, like I said, it’s, it’s a few years off. 

Travis Bader: [00:22:53] Years in the making. Yeah. I don’t know if I can get behind your, uh, your love of Gwar but I did hear you rockin’ out to some Control Machete, and, uh, I can get behind that. 

Hank Shaw: [00:23:04] Control Machete, they’re from Monterey.

Travis Bader: [00:23:06] Are they? I didn’t know that. 

Hank Shaw: [00:23:07] It’s interestingly, like a lot of the music, a lot of the Mexican music, I like a lot is from that city. 

Travis Bader: [00:23:12] Yeah, that’s interesting. 

Hank Shaw: [00:23:13] Like Kinky, Kinky from that city. And El Gran Silencio from that city. Um, yeah, there’s a Jonas in Plastilina Mosh. Plastilina Mosh you may know, because there was, it had one hit that really made it into English speaking world was Mr PMOSH. Mr. P M O S H. And it was about 20 years ago, but it was, it got major radio play, at least in this country. 

Travis Bader: [00:23:39] Did it? I may have missed that one, but yeah, no si señor  I always had that on my list of, uh, of songs if I ever made a movie. And there’s some Latino gangsters kind of cruising through that’s what would be playing in the background.

Hank Shaw: [00:23:52] Oh yeah. Well, they were of course heavily influenced by, um, by a Cypress Hill. 

Travis Bader: [00:23:57] That’s right. Yeah. Now I remember reading one time, there was a quote that you had there and it was, uh, I’ll, I’ll read the quote. It says, I, I think it’s just because Americans fear food, plain and simple. We’re probably the niche in that is the most scared of our food supply because it’s failed us at times.

[00:24:17] And I, and that was in regards to people’s fear of getting foraging is it and getting wild game? And what, what was the, uh, uh, the impetus behind that one, because I just saw that one cut and paste it out and I thought, yeah, that’s kind of an interesting one. 

Hank Shaw: [00:24:36] I think it is really more of a reference to the general food supply. So, and that of course bleeds into the wild world as well because they, the thought the, you know, the general thought, I think this is, this is true in Canada, too, where, Oh God, you know, what if my burger’s got e-coli or what if my, my lettuce has listeria and dah dah dah, in, in the thought process with that is, well, if that’s the case in a regulated, farmed food environment, how much worse must the wild environment be? So that’s the thought process. 

Travis Bader: [00:25:15] Ahh. 

Hank Shaw: [00:25:15] So, and the other, the approximate thing is every time I take somebody on a, on a edible plant walk. Oh yeah, that’s edible. That’s edible a hundred percent. I could, I could eat at the French laundry as much as I want, if I had a dollar for every time, I’ve heard this. What if a dog peed on it? Well, don’t you have a sink? 

Travis Bader: [00:25:37] Yeah. You can wash it off. Number one, or maybe don’t pick from the section on the side of the sidewalk that’s at dog pee level, right? Just go back a little bit. 

Hank Shaw: [00:25:45] Hey, it’s strangely yellowed and burnt. Like let’s, let’s pick that one, you know? 

Travis Bader: [00:25:50] Oh my god. 

Hank Shaw: [00:25:52] That’s the thing like mushroom poisoning, 50%, give or take, the stats are roughly that, but it’s not an exact stat. Roughly half of all mushroom poisonings are caused by people having panic attacks from eating perfectly edible mushrooms or eating perfectly edible mushrooms that are like rotten or moldy or something like that. 

Travis Bader: [00:26:16] Ahh. 

Hank Shaw: [00:26:16] Yup. So like they’re not actually eating a toxic mushroom. They’re either eating a rotten edible mushroom, or they’re just freezing because they don’t trust themselves.

Travis Bader: [00:26:25] Interesting. 50% of the time, it works every time. 

Hank Shaw: [00:26:29] Roughly, roughly about that. 

Travis Bader: [00:26:31] Do you find as you’re through your writing and through your website and your books, and do you find that you’re seeing more people out in the places that you would typically go to? Like, are you kind of creating your own competition out there?

Hank Shaw: [00:26:48] I think that’s true. I, I, I think I’m not the only person doing it, but, um, I’ve been doing this publicly for quite a long time. So, uh, it is why I don’t do many plant walks anymore. And if I do do them, I do them in public places where it’s illegal to pick. 

Travis Bader: [00:27:03] Ahh yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:27:03] So that if you want to go back there and pick up this illegal spot, that’s on you. Um, years ago, like where I took you.

Travis Bader: [00:27:10] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:27:10] That’s a spot that you could go back, you could go back and you could pick at it. Now I trusted you because you’re a Canadian and we’ll not only because Canadians are generally trustworthy, but. 

Travis Bader: [00:27:20] Difficult access. 

Hank Shaw: [00:27:21] Yes. Difficult access. So, yeah. Like I would take people in and we would actually go to a place where we could gather and about 90% were good people and would respect my spots, but that leaves 10%. And when you’re dealing with, you know, maybe a hundred people over the course of the year, then that means 10 people are stealing your spots. And then that can kill a spot.

Travis Bader: [00:27:45] Totally. And they tell their friends or friends tell friends, and then.

Hank Shaw: [00:27:49] That’s the thing. That’s like, people don’t get that. So here’s, here’s etiquette. Like if you’re listening to this outside here, this is, this is, this is true to knowledge I’m dropping on you. If either of us or anybody takes you to one of our spots, it is for you and you only. So if I take you to my mushroom spot and you want to return to that mushroom spot, you need to ask me if you can return to my spot and you don’t bring other people, unless you have. 

Travis Bader: [00:28:25] 100%.

Hank Shaw: [00:28:27] Trust in that other person that, that other person is never going to, to burn your spot, which is very difficult to do because there’s even good friends. Who’d be like, Oh no, oh yeah. I posted it on Instagram with a geo tag. You’re like rubber hose now. 

Travis Bader: [00:28:41] Yeah, no, I get behind that 100%. You know, we, we caught some heat, you know, April Vokey. Uh, you’ve podcast with her. 

Hank Shaw: [00:28:50] Actually I was on her podcast in April and I are going to do our first virtual book event, uh, in May together. 

Travis Bader: [00:28:58] That is so sweet. That is so cool. So, uh, when she was with MeatEater, we did a video doing  some crabbing and just handpicking crabs. And although we didn’t give any locations and we’re very careful about making sure it was just like views of the water. Man we caught some heat from people who were local in the area and they could kind of pick it out. And it’s, it’s something that has to be taken very, very seriously. You don’t want these to get these spots kind of burned out.

Hank Shaw: [00:29:26] Yup. At least, at least. So with crabs, they, they move like I’ve had my clam spots just raped. It was the worst. It was the worst. Like I went there, it was, it was money. Like you, you, you would get your limit of clams. Absolutely. And then I, I took a few people there and it was gone. 

Travis Bader: [00:29:43] Yeah. It’s gotta be tough. I guess that’s part and parcel with getting the information out there, even if you’re not giving them your secret spots or locations away, you are encouraging people to get out there and search for themselves.

Hank Shaw: [00:29:55] I don’t mind that. I mean, uh there’s uh, again, if you want to swing back to MeatEater, uh, very recently, uh, Steve Rinella’s brother said something to the effect of like, well, I don’t know that we want more, to be recruiting more hunters, which caught a lot of flack actually. 

Travis Bader: [00:30:11] Mhmm, I saw that. 

Hank Shaw: [00:30:12] And they did a retraction. I can’t remember. But anyway, um, there is that theory out there though. There’s a lot of people who are established who, and you see this nimbyism with, with all things in human experience. It’s like, I got mine, I’m going to shut the door by me. I just don’t think that’s very fair. It’s just not very fair for, for anybody, especially if what you’re doing is you’re teaching them how, you’re basically teaching them how to learn themselves.

[00:30:36] So I don’t necessarily, this is why I will take somebody to, or, or talk to somebody about a public area where maybe isn’t legal to hunt or fish or whatever, but I’m going to show you what it looks like. Like, if you see this habitat, if you see this kind of rock structure, if you see this kind of, of, you know, area in the marsh, it’s, that’s kind of what you’re looking for and yeah, it does it get them close? It sure does. And it helps them be successful on their own so they can find their own spots. 

[00:31:07] And yes, of course, there’s a great example. Um, I didn’t take you there, but, uh, on the coast of California, there’s, everyone’s secret spot. I’m going to say it because it’s, it’s just hilarious. So, uh, over the last 10, 15 years I have had people, hey man, you know, like the secret spot it’s Mount Vision Road in Point Reyes National Seashore.

[00:31:30] I have heard that a dozen times from different people, who don’t know each other, that that’s their secret spot. Like dude, really like everybody, the planet is at that particular place at that at a particular time as porcini on it. 

Travis Bader: [00:31:42] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:31:43] But in you know, it’s, it’s not a secret. So, so that kind of stuff, like at least it gets them to like, that’s what it should look like. And, and I’ll be honest. I mean, I don’t, you know, yeah there’s more, there’s more pressure here and there, but I don’t think it’s that bad, you know? And if, and if it does get that bad, people are doing something positive, like I’d rather that than, you know. 

Travis Bader: [00:32:04] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:32:05] You know, there’s a million things that they could be doing that is more harmful to not only the environment, but to, to my experience doing my thing. 

Travis Bader: [00:32:14] Have you heard of them a fellow by the name of Shane Mahoney? 

Hank Shaw: [00:32:18] Oh yes. Santa Claus. 

Travis Bader: [00:32:20] Santa Claus. Yes. 

Hank Shaw: [00:32:21] He’s from Ontario isn’t he? 

Travis Bader: [00:32:22] Uh, he’s from Newfoundland actually. 

Hank Shaw: [00:32:25] Oh, he’s a newfie. Okay. Gotcha. 

Travis Bader: [00:32:26] Yeah, he’s a newfie. You wouldn’t guess it by his accent. And a little Irish comes up when you talk with them. Little Newfie can come up, but for the most part, man, he’s a hell of an order.

Hank Shaw: [00:32:35] Not like Lori from Cod Sounds. 

Travis Bader: [00:32:37] Yeah, that’s right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:32:38] I love Lori. And she’s got the best accent. 

Travis Bader: [00:32:42] Well, he was saying something, circling back to about talking about recruiting hunters and he’s talking about the North American model of conservation. And he said, everyone talks about, we got to get more hunters, we’ve got to recruit hunters, we’ve got to get women into hunting and he’s taking a different approach as opposed to saying, Oh, we got to get these more hunters out there. So we have more people on our side to fight the other side, who would be anti hunting. He says, why don’t we ride a trend that’s already moving as opposed to trying to stop the flow of the water, get on the water and ride it down in that trend that he’s looking at his food, essentially.

[00:33:22] And he, and he set up this, so he’s got Conservation Visions and The Wild Harvest Initiative. And I thought it was kind of an interesting concept. So it’s not that you need more hunters, you need more people to understand why hunters hunt and to appreciate where their food comes from and understand why they should care about their food.

[00:33:43] I thought that was really interesting. And when he was saying that, because I did a podcast with him recently, when he was saying that you sprung to mind, because that’s sorta your whole thing, you, I don’t know if you’re taking it from a conservation approach, but it’s, it’s what you’re doing. You’re, you’re getting people excited about something that’s already something that’s sparked in their curiosity.

Hank Shaw: [00:34:03] I, I think I, I don’t know that I take it specifically from a conservation perspective. Although I, I I’m aware that it is important. So the ansul is kind of like, um, it would be an add on to what Mahoney is talking about is that when you are invested as a gatherer, or an angler or a hunter, you have skin in the game, in the places in which you do your thing.

[00:34:31] So what Mahoney is talking about, I think, is that, so here’s me, I’m a guy who does these things and, um, like we mentioned off the air, there have been years where I have, um, or I have hunted more big game meat than I, that I ended up, could use in a year. So I distributed that big game meat as gifts to friends and family.

[00:34:57] And so there everybody who does these things gathering or angling or hunting has this halo around him or her, who have people who can appreciate the gifts from the wild. So everybody who receives those gifts or who does the actual thing has skin in the game of keeping the environment as, as, as healthy, healthy is probably a good word for it as possible.

[00:35:23] Um, if you are an urban dweller, typically it’s an urban dweller, uh, who has zero connection to the wild world. If you ignore it, it’ll go away and they don’t have any connection to it whatsoever. So what that means is they don’t have, there’s no real reason to value it, except as a pretty thing for that they see in TV commercials or maybe they drive through it once in a while.

[00:35:49] And the interesting thing about that view is because there’s quite a lot of urban dwellers who, who say they feel quite strongly about the environment, is that when you don’t live in it or don’t participate in it, you view it as a museum to look at and not as our home. 

[00:36:06] And it’s our home, wherever we’re just animals, you know, we’re, we’re hairless monkeys with thumbs and. And we’re just a little bit more clever than most of the other animals. Just a little bit, you know, like think about it,  if dolphins had thumbs, we’d be in trouble.

 Travis Bader: [00:36:27] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:36:27] You know, so, um, The fact that we’re incredibly divorced from our natural origins is something that’s the larger picture of what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to have more people had more skin in the game so that when it comes time to, and you’re seeing this, you’re seeing this in American and in Canadian politics to some extent, um, where, yeah, there’s even staunch conservative Republicans when some other facet of the Republican party wants to, um, wreck a natural spot for, usually mining and gas sometimes logging. 

[00:37:05] Um, then, but they’re hunters, you know, they’re staunch conservatives, but they’re hunters. Uh, and they’re like, no, you can’t do this, you’re going to wreck the spots because they skin in the game. And so that’s a way for, um, I guess wise uses one word for it, there’s a lot of use, you know, buzz words for it. But the bottom line is the, the perspective of, of the wild world as a home to not, don’t mess your home up, versus you museum to never touch. 

[00:37:42] Like a great example is logging. So there are lots of ways that logging can be done to the advantage of, of the forest, it’s selective logging. And in some cases like, especially in the East grouse, for example, grouse really dig clear cuts. Um, and, and historically, before we showed up, um, that would have been a side effect of, uh, microbursts and storms, which would knocked down a whole bunch of trees at the same time.

[00:38:10] So then once humans showed up, you’re talking about native Americans and you know, and First Nations people you are talking about managed use of fire. So for a hundred years, I don’t know about Canada. And I just think it’s the same in Canada, but in the United States, we had a no fire at anytime policy.

Travis Bader: [00:38:30] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:38:30] So what that did is that that allowed the understory of our Western forests to get so thick that when you do have a fire, you get what’s called a ladder fire and it will wreck a forest. Whereas when the natives were there and they were like, yeah, yeah, we’re going to burn this stuff at the right time. And we’re going to run this fire through. And it’s essentially like a brass and little stick fire. 

[00:38:51] And it’s, it’s not that hot and it goes really super fast and it clears out that underbrush and it actually helps trees and it helps a whole bunch of conifers actually set seed. But there’s a whole bunch of conifers that won’t actually, their seeds wont germinate, unless they’ve been burned or charred, you know, obviously they can’t be incinerated, but. 

Travis Bader: [00:39:09] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:39:09] And then that’s the thing it’s like when you get these big old ladder fires through like, Oh no, it’s a museum. You can’t touch it. Then what happens is the fire burns so hot, you burn the seeds to a crisp and then you’ve gone the other way. So, let me ask, this sort of one little example of yeah. You know, we live here and sure we can mess things up, but we can also be an agent for positive change. 

Travis Bader: [00:39:31] I think what Shane said, he said something along the lines of, it’s not that there’s a different set of rules for the animals and for me, the issue is, is that I am one of the animals. 

Hank Shaw: [00:39:45] Right. Exactly that. 

Travis Bader: [00:39:47] For people to get skin in the game, 32 years old, you started hunting.

Hank Shaw: [00:39:52] Yep. 

Travis Bader: [00:39:53] What kind of tips would you have for a late onset hunter? Cause we get people calling up saying, ah, you know, I, I never, I didn’t have hunting in my family. I’d never be able to pick it up, I’m never going to be able to master it. Maybe I’ll dabble a little bit. And I don’t, I don’t necessarily think that’s true and case in point yourself. I mean, what, what would you tell people to look at and concentrate on if they wanted to awaken that interest in themselves? 

Hank Shaw: [00:40:20] Uh, well, number one is to try the fruits of the labour. So first and foremost, if you want to be involved in gathering, or angling, or hunting, you need to enjoy the fruits of that labour. So you have to, I think most people have bought fish from,  this is, you know, this is a side note um, fish is the primarily wild food that the world still eats. It’s the last gathered food, you know, I mean, there’s, you know, obviously the wild mushrooms, but that’s kind of a boutique product where most of the people listening to this, if not all of the people listening to this have eaten wild fish. So that’s number one. 

Travis Bader: [00:41:03] That’s a good point. 

Hank Shaw: [00:41:04] Uh, for gathering wild mushrooms is probably be a good way to go about it. Um, if you live in the East ramps or fiddleheads, and you know, there are some commercially available wild food products that you can buy. Um, and then with hunting, typically you have to have a friend who does it, however, you can try farmed game, which is a game meat, that’s not really wild game because it’s because of that North American model that Shane Mahoney is talking about. You cannot, you haven’t been able to buy real wild game from North America for over a century. It’s been illegal.

[00:41:37] Now that said there is a company called D’Artagnan, where they will sell British game online. It’s expensive, but it’s real, real wild game. I mean, you know, pellets and all. Um, so the, you kinda got to get your feet wet and that’s kinda how I got into it was, um, as a child, I had the privilege of being, uh, sort of situational only child. So, cause my, my next sister is seven years older than I am. So it was just me and my mom and my stepdad for quite some time in the house.

[00:42:10] And so they really like to eat at nice restaurants. So when the only the one kid in tow and a kid who like good food, uh, I got exposed to game meats in a very high end setting in Italian or French restaurants in New York city back in around 1980. And so I always had it in my mind, a, um, that game and, and squab and duck and goose and venison they were always luxury foods. They’re always high-end foods. 

Travis Bader: [00:42:39] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:42:39] And so then flash forward, my friend, Chris Niskanen, who is the outdoor writer, the newspaper that we both worked at in Minnesota at the time he started just giving me a duck or giving me some pheasants or giving me some venison and because I knew how to cook and because I had this early experience with high-end game meats, this is, I got to have more of this, you know, and I’d already fished and gathered things for my whole life. So I knew what the end result was going to be before I got and did the hard work. So the hard work for, hunt, hard work, hunting is hardest of the, all of the 3 to get involved in.

[00:43:20] Now with gathering, it’s probably the second hardest because, uh, let’s just knock fishing at first, fishing is easy, hire a guide, do what they say. Don’t gut the guide and, and you will eventually catch fish and you will, you’ll, you know, you buy my book, Hook, Line and Supper available wherever fine books are sold.

Travis Bader: [00:43:42] Get it. If it’s anything like the other books it’s going to be fantastic.

Hank Shaw: [00:43:46] It’s actually going to be better, um. 

Travis Bader: [00:43:47] Well I look forward to it. 

Hank Shaw: [00:43:48] Because of the, my long experience with this stuff, but anyway, I digress. 

Travis Bader: [00:43:52] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:43:52] Um, there’s lots of information out there for the budding angler. It is a, it is a pursuit. I mean, it’s one of those things where the difference, a real true angler is not just a person with a rod and reel in his or her hand. Um, but you can start like that. So similarly with gathering, um, I always tell people to start with your own property.  Start, start with learning the names of the plants that are on your property. You will find that probably 50% of them are edible in some way, shape or form, unless you’ve, of course you’ve only have grass, which is weird.

[00:44:30] Um, but some people do and. Fi, even the process of learning the names of those, um, it will open you to this world. Like, so there’s homework involved in gathering because there are poisonous plants, not many, but there are poisonous plants. And there’s a couple of families, notably the carrot family, which has hemlock and it’s got water hemlock and you know, so there, there are toxic plants in that category.

[00:44:56] So you’re like, Oh, okay, this family, but first of all, you have to know that it is a family of plants and, and that they’re all related in some way and that, and that they share structure. So yes, there’s some homework involved, but you can do that in your couch.

[00:45:10] Um, there are apps like iNaturalist, or I forget what they’re called they’re okay. But they’re the kind of like the wikipedia of gathering, in the sense that I don’t know that I’m going to trust it a hundred percent. Like, I don’t know that I’m going to trust my life on a cell phone app when I’m in the woods right. 

Travis Bader: [00:45:28] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:45:29] So use it as a tool. And this is the thing, I mean, this is a, you know, you have to learn how to learn and, and, and, and many, any decent college will tell you how to learn, how to learn, which is to say that’s one source, work with other sources. I can tell you that if you live anywhere, other than where you and I live. In other words, the West coast, um, the books of Sam Thayer, he lives in Wisconsin are very, very good.

[00:45:55] Um, he’s got three or four out, um, and they are they’re worth or buy them. They’re worth every penny. And they, they, um, they involve plants from about the great Plains to the Atlantic ocean from about the boreal forest, all the way down to Northern Florida. Now with hunting, that’s the hardest. So you have to really want to be involved because hunting, the act of hunting is the hardest of the three.

[00:46:24] And the aftermath of the hunting is hardest of the three and the skill set you need to, to know, is the hardest of the three. So I highly recommend you start with, well, what’s the result. Do you really like venison? Do you really like upland game birds? Do you really like squirrels? Do you really like ducks?

[00:46:42] Um, then that will start your, your journey. And when you decide that this D this is the thing, or these are the things that I want to pursue, number two, do they live where you do? So I might want to hunt grouse and pheasants all I want. They don’t really live in California. I mean, there’s, there are a few wild pheasants and there are a few wild grouse where I live, but it’s really, that’s not really what you do if you live where I do, you hunt ducks and geese.

[00:47:13] And that’s important because if I was a dedicated tuna fishermen, which I used to be, I wouldn’t lay where I live now because I have to go a long way to even get on a boat, to fish for tuna. I have to go a long way to, to hunt a rough grouse or a woodcock. So proximity is important because if you have to travel, you’ll do it once or twice a year.

[00:47:39] And like, meh, you know, I mean, you only at best be a dilettante. Um, then you have to learn your weapon, whether it’s a shotgun or a rifle or a bow, you have to learn your weapon and you have to be good at it because you, this is, this is, this is really important because you can’t, unshoot a bird, you can’t unshoot a deer.

[00:48:02] And so you owe it to yourself and to the animal that you are pursuing to be a clean killer. And it sounds harsh, but it’s true. So flip the script for a second. If I’m Mr. Deer walking around in the woods, would I rather be shot in the heart and be like, Oh my God, I’m dying and then dead. Or would I rather be shot in the liver and die over the course of 24 hours, I think, you know the answer. 

[00:48:29] You know, both suck in the end because you’re dead, but one’s a harsher nastier way to go. And if you’re constantly behind on your birds and which is the big, single biggest problem for, for beginners they’re behind on the bird. Um, I always say if you’re new to hunting any bird, if you’re going to miss miss in front of it.

[00:48:50] And if you just think that you’re going to be a better bird shot, and I have actually missed in front of birds where you see the bird go ehhh. 

Travis Bader: [00:48:57] That’s right. Put the brakes on. It’s like Daffy duck and air brakes. 

Hank Shaw: [00:49:01] See pellets,  I think they feel the air or something coming at ’em or something. But anyway, you owe it to be a marksman, in whatever it is that you do. And that, that requires practice. You have to practice it that. And so that’s your homework there and plus you have to learn the habits of the animal where the animal lives. None of this is, is plug and play. The closest to plug and play you get is a party boat for fishing. And, and all of this is, is becomes part of who you are. So 30 years ago, 20 years ago. 20 years ago, I ha I defined myself in a large part as a runner.

Travis Bader: [00:49:36] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:49:37] Cause I was a very good distance runner and, you know, I would walk in the room and somebody, well what are you, I’m a runner, you know, I’m, yeah, I’m a journalist, but yeah, I’m really a runner. And you kind of do that with hunting and fishing and gathering as well.

[00:49:52] It, it becomes part of how you define yourself. Cause it’s not just something that you pick up and put down, you can do that with fishing, but you really can’t with anything else. And if you do with hunting, cause I seen ’em, I’ve seen ’em where we’ll do guided hunts, forage where I cook and you know, I help guide some times and process animals and stuff.

[00:50:12] And you’ll see people who have like, yeah, they’re really just here for the food and they, they hunt maybe once a year or twice a year. That’s fine, in that environment, because we are doing a very level best to make sure that everything comes out okay. But that’s not really a hunter. That’s a shooter. 

Travis Bader: [00:50:30] Yeah. Yeah. Good point. Yeah it’s a heck of a commitment that’s for sure. 

Hank Shaw: [00:50:35] It is. 

Travis Bader: [00:50:37] So small game  or big game what’s your favorite? 

Hank Shaw: [00:50:40] Small game, a hundred percent. Like I like hunting deer and I like it. Like I put in for an oryx in New Mexico this year. I don’t know if I’m going to get it, but, um, you know, I put in for big game stuff because I think it’s exciting. It’s an adventure.

[00:50:52] But it’s, it’s a lot of it’s serious business. You know, elk hunting is serious business. Um, even deer hunting is serious business, whereas, you know, you can go out duck hunting and sure it’s serious cause you’re actually, you’re killing animals to eat. Um, but it’s somehow more, it’s somehow lighter. It’s somehow, um, nobody’s pissed off of serious when you’re hunting pheasants, if you are, you’re. 

Travis Bader: [00:51:20] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:51:21] Not somebody I wanna be with. 

Travis Bader: [00:51:22] You’re doing it wrong. 

Hank Shaw: [00:51:23] Yeah. You’re doing it wrong. And plus, I mean, just from a very specific, forget the actual acquisition of the protein for a second and, and big game is all red meat. Period, end of story. It’s all lean red meat. Now there’s differences. Like I shot a nilgai last year and it was pretty cool. Um, it’s a bovid so it’s more related to the cow than it is to the deer. So the fat is more like beef tallow than it is like deer fat, which means it does not coach your mouth.

Travis Bader: [00:51:51] Interesting. 

Hank Shaw: [00:51:52] So it was very lean, but the fat that it had was amazing. So that was kind of a neat little thing, but it’s still, it’s, it’s basically beef. It’s like super, super lean grass fed beef. Or small game, you have the diversity of colour. You have the diversity in texture, you have the diversity of flavour. You have some of the strongest, no, you have the strongest flavoured wild animals that we eat in the small game world, ptarmigan, muskrat, um, sharp tail grouse.

Travis Bader: [00:52:25] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:52:26] You know, squirrel has a significant flavor. I like it, but you know, it’s a squirrel. 

Travis Bader: [00:52:31] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [00:52:31] Like if you a squirrel, you’re like, that’s not chicken. It looks like chicken. It’s not, doesn’t taste like chicken. So you have these, um, powerful flavours. And, and this is where you would talk about gamey meat in the sense that, um, that it’s gamey in the way that the may, that word was meant to be used, in the sense that is a, it’s a meat that has its own flavour as opposed to off. 

Travis Bader: [00:52:57] Right. So that’s an interesting thought too. I’ve seen discussions and arguments over what makes game meat tastes gamey where some have a very strong gamey flavour and some don’t. And I think, uh, Rinella did some stuff testing meat by rubbing a knife on a scent gland, and then cutting the meat with it to see kind of what flavour that would impart.

[00:53:24] And some people will be put off by the whole gamey flavour and some meats will stay stronger than others. Do you have any thoughts as to what will make one game meat  taste gamier than the other of the same species? 

Hank Shaw: [00:53:41] I actually wrote an entire article on it. If you Google the words, gamey meat, you will see my article on it.

Travis Bader: [00:53:46] Oh, there we go. 

Hank Shaw: [00:53:46] Um, so the short version is this. Yes, absolutely. Um, there’s a number of things that affect flavour and the strength of the flavour. Number one is diet. 

Travis Bader: [00:53:58] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [00:53:59] So a sagebrush eating animal is going to be more strongly flavoured than a animal that eats farmed grains. Uh, two, species, which is sometimes also deals with diet. So a white tail in Iowa is going to eat GMO corn. A white tail in the Sonoran desert of Arizona or Mexico is going to eat whatever it is you can find in the Sonoran desert, is going to taste radically different at the same species, different, different region. 

[00:54:30] So now you’ve got ducks. There are, I don’t know how many 20, some odd ducks that we hunt. There’s a lot, a lot of different species. And they range from they range from scooters and sea ducks and harlequins, which are the most pretty, but most disgusting duck on the planet. They’re vile. 

Travis Bader: [00:54:49] Never had one. 

Hank Shaw: [00:54:50] They stink. Um. 

Travis Bader: [00:54:52] Yeah okay.

Hank Shaw: [00:54:52] I mean, if you skin them, you can eat them. But like, basically this is like Newfie food you know, they eat ters um, and ranging from them to, um, to pintails, which are never bad. 

Travis Bader: [00:55:05] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:55:05] Wood ducks, which are never bad. To then you’ve got the, you know, ducks like a Mallard, which can be anything from vile to sublime, depending on now, again, diet and diet also involves region. So even within California, you’ve got wigeon on the Humboldt coast. So the North coast it’s visually exactly the same as British Columbia.

[00:55:28] And they, these particular sets of wigeon fly up and down the coast and the eat sea lettuce and seaweeds and stuff, they are legendarily disgusting. Like disgusting, horrible, just stinky, stinky, stinky. I mean, yes, you can skin them, but. However, same species, if it flies inland and ends up in the rice fields where I live, it’s unbelievable. It’s one of my favorite ducks in the world because it eats rice there and same bird, same region, different diet. 

Travis Bader: [00:55:58] Interesting. 

Hank Shaw: [00:55:58] So there’s one other big thing that affects gaminess in terms of just no matter what you do with it. Cause we’re not, we haven’t really discussed game care yet. Um, but, and that’s hormones. So it is 100% true that a rutty buck is going to taste differently from the buck that is after the rut or before the rut, because their hormones. Now stress hormones are a big deal and anybody who raises animals for food knows this. 

[00:56:27] This is why the, the, the meat industry has developed enormous protocols to make sure that the animal that is about to be killed is as calm as possible because you can taste adrenaline, just like, you know, you hear it, they’ll say you can smell fear, which you can cause it’s, you know, there’s their hormones and things excreted through the skin. 

Travis Bader: [00:56:47] Right.

Hank Shaw: [00:56:47] You can taste adrenaline. So people who shoot running deer or running pigs or running antelope, that’s going to be a different flavour from an antelope that never knew what  was coming. 

Travis Bader: [00:57:02] Interesting. 

Hank Shaw: [00:57:02] And people who shoot rutty bucks, um, which is unfortunate because everybody wants to, because that’s when they get really dumb, I guess if you’ve ever watched videos of, of rutty bucks, it is exactly like watching 23 year olds in a nightclub at about midnight. All they’re doing is staring at the girl’s ass. 

Travis Bader: [00:57:20] Yep. 

Hank Shaw: [00:57:20] And they’re like, Ooh, let me look at that, oh that’s perty. And they’re doing dumb things and they’re fighting each other and it’s it’s, it’s it. Anybody who says, Oh yes, we’re so much more elevated than animals. Like yeah, you should just look at that, it’s pretty much the same. 

Travis Bader: [00:57:36] That’s funny. 

Hank Shaw: [00:57:37] So yeah, that affects a lot. And then there’s game care. I mean, I’m assuming everybody is taking care of their game cleanly and nicely and with ice and coals, you know, that kind of stuff. So bad game care can cause off flavours in a hurry. 

Travis Bader: [00:57:51] Um, putting game meat on a tarp is one thing I’ve heard is a big no-no and then other people will  do it. Some people lay down bows of branches. And so they can put their game meat on that. Cause they say the tarp will infuse a terrible flavour into the game meat. I don’t know about that. 

Hank Shaw: [00:58:07] Not unless it’s a disgusting, dirty tarp. 

Travis Bader: [00:58:10] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:58:10] Like if you wash the in between hunts, you’re fine. 

Travis Bader: [00:58:13] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:58:14] Like. 

Travis Bader: [00:58:14] That kind of makes sense. 

Hank Shaw: [00:58:15] I mean, if you enclose it, you should make a bag out of the tarp and the meat sort of stews in its own heat, you know, then yeah that’s bad, but just laying it on the tarp, that’s just, nothing wrong with that. 

Travis Bader: [00:58:24] Yeah. I know a fellow and he’s, he’ll get a whole bunch of ice and he’ll put it inside the, uh, the cavity on his deer and then washes it all out. And I don’t, he swears by it, I can’t imagine that’s the best game care method out there.

Hank Shaw: [00:58:40] It’s not ideal because, and this is why, because the, I mean, assume he’s not talking about big blocks ice. 

Travis Bader: [00:58:46] No. 

Hank Shaw: [00:58:46] Even if he did, where ice touches meat, it, it damages meat. 

Travis Bader: [00:58:50] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [00:58:51] Um, and when ice melts, uh, once the Meltwater gets about 40 degrees, it becomes a reservoir for bacteria and there’s lots of bacteria, the, in a cleaned gut cavity. So I, but let’s assume he’s hunting where I do in that a zones where you can hunt a deer in a hundred degrees of weather. So if you were to gut that deer, take the tenderloins out because otherwise tenderloins are going to get hit by ice and wrecked. Um, and he threw a bunch of ice in the cavity for like an, I don’t know, half hour, an hour.

[00:59:23] That’s not going to hurt anything. It’ll cool the carcass down pretty quick. But soaking, that’s an entirely different story. That’s a Texas thing, they do that in Texas a lot. They like, they will bury a game, a skinned game animal in ice. And yeah, they’re like, Oh, it takes all the blood out. And like, yes, it does.

[00:59:39] And as long as it’s say it’s under 40 it’s, it’s food safe, but it results in a very white washed out meat that lacks any kind of flavour. And if that’s what you want, go for it, but most people don’t like that. 

Travis Bader: [00:59:52] Okay. Well, while we’re on the topic, I’ve got another fellow and he says, talking about hanging meat, hanging your big game. And I always approach it from the sense that hanging or aging your meat is an enzyme related thing that helps break down the tissue. I might be wrong. Uh, he approaches it from it’s the weight of the animal, and that’s why you don’t hang a lighter animal as you would, perhaps a heavier animal. The weight will help stretch out the tissues and.

Hank Shaw: [01:00:24] Nah, he’s wrong. 

Travis Bader: [01:00:24] Help break it down. Wrong?

Hank Shaw: [01:00:26] Wrong. Yeah he’s just wrong. 

Travis Bader: [01:00:27] Okay. I have to play this for him. 

Hank Shaw: [01:00:29] Now I’m not saying that there is zero mechanical effect of, of, of aging, but that’s not what aging does. Like, no, it’s, it enzymatic. It’s enzymatic and, um, in some ways, I’m trying to think how I’m trying to make him right somehow. And if you were to make him right, he’s kind of, he may be observing an effect that he’s not, that isn’t, that what’s going on. So, so if you hang a deer, let’s say it’s blacktail. 

Travis Bader: [01:01:00] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [01:01:00] Because we’re both on the West coast. So you’re hanging a blacktail in the garage, the mechanical effect of hanging that deer in a proper temperature, um, we’ll just let it get through rigor. You know, it’ll take a day, two days, sometimes, sometimes three days to get through rigor mortis.

[01:01:19] And when it gets through rigor mortis, that’s, that’s not mechanical, but the hanging process keeps, will keep the deer from like, doing this right, to rigor. Um, it’ll keep everything stretched out, but I’ve, you know, I’ve put skinned quarters in, in a cooler above ice say, it’s not touching it, but it’s cool.

[01:01:41] And they don’t curl up. So I, no, it’s it’s, that’s a hundred percent enzymatic. You hope it’s not bacterial because, um, you, you can get that. There’s a thing called bone sour with things like elk and moose.

Travis Bader: [01:01:56] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [01:01:56] Where there’s so much heat in the animal that even if you skinned it and hung it, um, it can still go south, right at the ball joint of the hip usually. Um, and so typically what you’ll want to do in a big ass animal, especially if it’s in a hot weather, is open that meat up. So quarterings fine. But even then, like, I’ve seen, I have seen the thighs, so the full hind leg haunch of a moose or a, or a nilgai, or an elk, it’ll rot at the bone. So what you do then is you, as you take these to say, you have a hind leg and you, you make a cut from the ball and socket joint, tapping your knife on the femur bone all the way to the knee. 

[01:02:42] And then just, you can kind of open up that meat just a little bit. You’re going to make that cut anyway to debone the leg anyway, but it just adds another angle to cool off the interior that may cause that meat, because like, you know, it’s, you know, can’t even, it’s huge, it’s 

Travis Bader: [01:02:57] It is. 

Hank Shaw: [01:02:57] This thick and it needs time and, and, and the ability to cool off very quickly. So, but yeah, this is, it’s not mechanical. It’s, it’s within the meat. Cause you can, you can stick a piece of meat on a rack and through enzymatic action over the course of several days at 33, 35 degrees, uh, anything under 40 is okay. 

Travis Bader: [01:03:22] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [01:03:23] Um, and it will loosen up and it’ll get tender now real aging, real aging is 100% enzymatic and that’s then you’re talking three weeks. 

Travis Bader: [01:03:32] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [01:03:32] Minimum. So the, the, all of the studies show that if you dry age, a piece of meat. And by the way, you only dry age things that you’re going to cook medium rare. There is zero reason to dry age, a shoulder or a neck. You could, it’s not going to hurt it, but you, you braze those anyway, so what’s the point. So you, you dry age things like a hind leg or the back strap, and nobody can really tell the difference between something that’s been aged like five days and something that’s been aged 14 days. You start to notice once you get to be about 20 days. 

Travis Bader: [01:04:06] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [01:04:07] So, and in fact it’s a, it’s a, it’s a logarithmic curve. Like it goes from, eh kind of, to whoop. And, and then, um, once you get to be all the taste studies that I’ve read, say three weeks the sweet spot for broad acceptance in and pleasure ability of eating that meat three to four. Once you get past four weeks, you start to get kind of cheesy notes. Um, I don’t know if you’ve ever had really super, super, super aged beef. Um, but it’s cheesy. It’s sort of. 

 Travis Bader: [01:04:37] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [01:04:37] Blue cheesy. Um, and not everybody likes that. That’s an acquired taste. 

Travis Bader: [01:04:44] Right. So that’d be like a René Redzepi sort of thing. 

Hank Shaw: [01:04:47] Oh yeah, yeah. That milk cow that he did.

Travis Bader: [01:04:49] Yep. 

Hank Shaw: [01:04:50] No, no. I think that was Magnus Nilsson. 

Travis Bader: [01:04:52] Oh, was it Magnus? 

Hank Shaw: [01:04:54] Yeah, I think it was Magnus who did it. 

Travis Bader: [01:04:55] Okay. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So birds, I had one guy say he likes to hang his birds until their heads fall off, then he knows they’re done. 

Hank Shaw: [01:05:05] Stop, stop, stop. So you had one guy who says that he does it? 

Travis Bader: [01:05:12] I’ve never seen him do it. I’ve never seen him do it. He says, Oh yeah, this is how you do it. I’ve never seen him do it. 

Hank Shaw: [01:05:19] Of course you haven’t because nobody does. 

Travis Bader: [01:05:21] Thank you. 

Hank Shaw: [01:05:22] It’s a rural myth. 

Travis Bader: [01:05:23] Thank you. 

Hank Shaw: [01:05:24] As far as I know, this originated in the eternal fight between the French and the English, of which you Canadians are very aware of. So it used to be said by the English, that the French would hang their pheasants until their heads fell off. And it used to be said by the French, in French, of course, that the English would hang their pheasants until their heads fell off. As some sort of denigrating, kind of like yeh-he. 

Travis Bader: [01:05:43] That’s right. 

Hank Shaw: [01:05:44] Now that said you do hang, you do hang, um, birds quite awhile. You know, you can hang them in the right conditions for a couple of weeks. I don’t, because again, you get to that high gamey, that sort of cheesy, um, funky, really funky aroma that you either like, or you don’t. I like five days. Um, five days with the wild pheasants are really good. That’s like the three weeks with, uh, with the beef or the venison. 

Travis Bader: [01:06:13] Five days, under 40 degrees. 

Hank Shaw: [01:06:15] Yes. Well, it doesn’t have to be under 40 degrees. In fact, pheasants, um, and upland game birds. And I don’t fully understand why, I don’t fully understand, I need to look into this, but, but red meat aging is always done very close to freezing and below 40. Birds aging, and this is includes things like rabbits in England. I don’t really age rabbits, but well, who do they want it just below 60.

[01:06:42] So it’s much more similar to the, um, to the aging of salami. So you don’t age salami under 40, or if you do, it takes exponentially longer for that salami to be worth eating because you don’t get that ferment, that is bacterial action. Um, And so they’re, they’re, the sweet spot in the bird studies because there’s been a lot of them because they, you can sell wild game in, in the United Kingdom. Is that 55 is your sweet spot because above 55, you start to get listeria bacteria growing. 

Travis Bader: [01:07:18] Okay.

Hank Shaw: [01:07:19] And over 60, the listeria kind of take over, which is bad. 

Travis Bader: [01:07:22] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [01:07:22] But this between 50 and 55 is the ideal temperature for birds, which I find fascinating because it’s like 34 or 36 for, for red meat. 

Travis Bader: [01:07:32] Interesting. 

Hank Shaw: [01:07:33] Not entirely sure why it could be the feathers. It could be the, the fact that you’re, you’re, you’re aging a bird hole. Um, now the caveat to that is you can’t age a goose or a turkey or something of that size without cutting it. Um, all the others, you can, you can gut or not. 

Travis Bader: [01:07:51] Okay. And you? 

Hank Shaw: [01:07:53] And I don’t. 

Travis Bader: [01:07:54] You, you don’t gut? 

Hank Shaw: [01:07:56] No, because I mean, with a pheasant or a grouse or something, I don’t, because it is a lot harder to pluck a bird that has been gutted than it is a bird that is, where its skin is intact. 

Travis Bader: [01:08:06] That’s a good point. And the skin’s where all the flavour is. 

Hank Shaw: [01:08:09] Uh, yeah. Yeah. Like if you’re going to age it, you better damn well pluck it, cause otherwise, why did you just go through that exercise? You know. 

Travis Bader: [01:08:17] A hundred percent. Is there anything else that we should be talking about about this new book?

Hank Shaw: [01:08:23] Yeah, I mean, I think I just said super excited about it. Like it feels like a culmination book, you know, it feels like, you know, this is arguably the last in this series because we’ve covered the game animals and you know, now efficiency food and I’m I’m, I may or may not do a plant book. Uh, and if I do do a foraging book, I’m not going to step on Sam’s toes.

[01:08:48] I’m going to focus on the West coast. Um, and it feels kind of like the, the, uh, maybe this is the kind, the last of that triplet title, you know? Cause all my books are like Hunt, Gather, Cook  and Buck, Buck, Moose. 

Travis Bader: [01:09:01] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [01:09:01] Cottontail. Hook, Line and Supper. 

Travis Bader: [01:09:03] Yeah. 

Hank Shaw: [01:09:03] Um, I think the cool thing about it is that the process of writing this book took a lifetime. Whereas the others were more of a project. This feels a bit more like a memoir. There’s a lot of personal information in it. Uh, there’s a lot of stories in it. There’s fam, my family’s in it. 

Travis Bader: [01:09:24] That’s cool. 

Hank Shaw: [01:09:25] Um, and I think the, uh, accessibility of this book is exponentially larger, especially in the last one because there’s only 2 million upland, upland hunters in North America and that includes Canada. Anybody can buy fish and anybody can, anybody, you know, can just go to a fish market. And so this book is accessible to anybody who goes to a fish market as it is to an actual angler and it like, it is the first book I think I’ve written where gunfire is not involved. 

[01:09:59] So, um, I am really a little nervous, definitely excited about, uh, the possibility of having a book that is applicable to, uh, not just the hook and bullet crowd. And, uh, I think the hardest part about this is going to be to spread the word. So, um, it will, in Canada, it’ll be available on, but it will also be available, um, distributed in regular bookstores by Chelsea Green is actually the, the, uh, the company that is distributing the book in brick and mortar stores all over.

Travis Bader: [01:10:36] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [01:10:36] Um, so you’ll be able to get it just like you would any other book in Canada and definitely United States too. And the only thing I, I like, I, this book is going to live and die off of whether people like it or not. And if all I can say is if you get it and you like it, tell somebody else, because in this, in media environment, the only way that these things have any success is through word of mouth and through, uh, they call it social validation is the actual term is like, so, you know, leaving a review on Amazon or. 

Travis Bader: [01:11:05] Right. 

Hank Shaw: [01:11:06] Or, or social media or that kind of thing. And it’s, it’s daunting. It’s daunting because here’s a book that could potentially do very well. And because it could help a lot of people become better fish cooks, not just anglers and, but people have to know it exists. 

Travis Bader: [01:11:21] Right. So get it, read it. 

Hank Shaw: [01:11:24] Yep. 

Travis Bader: [01:11:25] Leave a review. 

Hank Shaw: [01:11:25] You can pre-order it now. 

Travis Bader: [01:11:26] What’s that? 

Hank Shaw: [01:11:27] You can pre-order it now, it will, um, via either through Amazon or through my website, uh, which is, which is the easiest way to get to my website is 

Travis Bader: [01:11:38] Okay. 

Hank Shaw: [01:11:38] But that just redirects it to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is the name of the website. That’s really the core of what I do. I mean, it’s, I, I have a pretty strong Instagram presence where I’m hunt gather cook on Instagram. I, and I that’s the social media I like the best. Um, the website is of course Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. And then I do run a Facebook group, that’s a private group called Hunt Gather Cook.

[01:12:05] And it’s cool because it’s got guys got 22,000 members now, and it’s a no drama group. It has everything from, you know, people who really adore the former administration to people who really hated their former administration. 

Travis Bader: [01:12:20] That’s awesome. 

Hank Shaw: [01:12:21] And everything in between. And this, there’s zero politics, there is, um, I police it very heavily for that because it’s, it’s important for people to come together over what they do share, which is a love of wild food. And, you know, you have to answer questions to get in so that, um, uh, so I know that you’re not some weird bot from Indonesia or China or wherever. 

Travis Bader: [01:12:43] Yeah. It’s a fantastic group actually. And you police that, you moderate that whole thing yourself?

Hank Shaw: [01:12:48] Yeah, I am. I mostly do all the moderating. There’s a couple other, my, a couple friends, a guy named Sean and a guy named Christian who help me out.

Travis Bader: [01:12:56] Very cool. Well, Hank, thank you very much for coming on The Silvercore Podcast. As usual, it was a pleasure speaking with you. 

Hank Shaw: [01:13:05] Always. I can’t wait to get to Canada. Someday you’ll let us back in.

Travis Bader: [01:13:09] Soon, soon, it’s happening soon. 

Hank Shaw: [01:13:11] Is it? They actually have plans for that? 

Travis Bader: [01:13:14] Ah they say. 

Hank Shaw: [01:13:15] Ah yeah they say. They said that you’re going to get a vaccine too.

Travis Bader: [01:13:17] Yeah they said that too, yeah. Well, they say 4th of July or no, you guys said that, 4th of July, the borders are opening.  

Hank Shaw: [01:13:23] Oh really? 

Travis Bader: [01:13:24] That’s what the, that’s what we saw brandin around in there. 

Hank Shaw: [01:13:27] That goes well for the hunting season. 

Travis Bader: [01:13:28] It does. It does. 

Hank Shaw: [01:13:31] Yeah. 

Travis Bader: [01:13:31] Thanks Hank. 

Hank Shaw: [01:13:38] Yeah. Thanks for having me on. 

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