Not long ago, Bill Woodward, a hunter, angler, naturalist and retired fisheries biologist from Monmouth, called and sounded big-time excited.

This avid outdoorsman was making a variety of sausages from 50 pounds of moose-meat burger. Just imagine. Fifty pounds of sausage links and patties make a huge pile of seasoned meats.

When hunters shoot a moose or multiple deer in the fall, they must come up with innovative ways to keep meals from becoming boring.

One of Woodward’s solutions includes sausage recipes. (More on this point later).

My knowledge of making wild meats interesting day after day comes from firsthand knowledge. I lived off the land for many years, so my family and I consumed up to five deer a year, an occasional bear, Atlantic salmon (mostly from Canada), upland birds, squirrels, hares, saltwater fish, etc.

Back in the 1970s, my solution to venison variety would make my ancestors roll in their proverbial graves. Hamburger Helper — less than a dollar a box then — created an interesting dish by substituting bite-sized pieces of venison or venison burger for beef hamburger. This change-of-pace pasta made steady meals of wild meat, particularly deer, a pleasure.

I also corned venison and made mincemeat from neck meat, the latter extremely costly because of all the dried fruit. This ancient dish for a holiday pie has everything to recommend it, though, and the homemade version outshines typical, store-bought mincemeat that has no meat in it.

The following recipes add variety to meals: Venison Diane, venison Oscar, stuffed venison roasts, roasts covered with bread stuffing, venison in red-wine sauce over linguine and Galloping Gourmet venison. All but the Galloping Gourmet recipes can be found in fancy cookbooks.

The Galloping Gourmet method simply means pounding salt into lean cuts like venison and frying in clarified butter over medium heat. Salt draws butter into the meat — unhealthy but fine once or twice a year.

Venison over linguine proved a favorite of my daughters, best illustrated by a quick anecdote.

When my oldest, Heather, was 4 years old and at an annual physical, the doctor asked her about favorite foods. The little kid began with deer meat, surprising the doctor, who immediately interrupted by saying, “Deer meat! That’s a first.”

Woodward, an experienced sausage maker, offered us a recipe for sweet venison sausage, and it begins with 11/2 pounds of ground moose or deer meat and a 1/2 pound of pork fat. He sometimes changes the latter to 1/2 pound of ground meat instead of unhealthy pork fat.

Before stuffing the mixture into pork casings or making patties, Woodward thoroughly mixes 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon celery salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground sage, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire and 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Woodward follows the same philosophy with his ingredients as several cooking-show hosts and I do. We might say, “Use a tablespoon of olive oil” or “a splash of red wine,” and then all an observer can hear is “glug, glug, glug” as we add far more than that to the skillet.

My recipes go like that — glug, glug, glug with lots of dry ingredients.

For instance, I love fennel and sage in sweet sausage and would use far more than a 1/2 teaspoon each of those two herbs.

And as far as 1/4 teaspoon celery salt — forget it. I’d use ground celery seeds instead of celery salt and lots more than 1/4 teaspoon, too.

“If you want hot sausage,” Woodward said, “use the same recipe as above and add 2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper and substitute Cajun powder and chipotle sauce for the Worcestershire.”

Two tablespoons of crushed red pepper for two pounds of meat would indeed lean the sausage toward hot.

Summer sausage delights finicky palates, so Woodward also makes this treat. He claims it tastes much like bologna.

Woodward uses 2 1/2 pounds ground meat, 2 1/2 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick Curing Salt, 1 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard seed, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, and he mixes the ingredients well.

He then covers and refrigerates for three days, mixing every day during this process. Then, he makes 6- to 8-inch link sausages that measure 1 1/4 inches in diameter, places them on a cookie sheet and heats in a low, preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 156 Fahrenheit.

Woodward made one point about the casings for link sausage that intrigued me. He prefers pork to lamb casing because the latter is so fragile.

Yes, pioneering days still influence the indomitable American spirit, and many hunters feel that ancient, honorable touch with the past.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:

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