Tips for Cooking on a Backcountry Hunt

My dad always loved that old Napoleon quote about how an army marches on its stomach. During hunting season, he kept a plastic milk carton filled with assorted treats, canned venison, corned beef, dried fruit, jerky, coffee shots, crackers, and caramelized peanuts in the back of his Jeep Cherokee so he could support me and my brothers. ‘ Cheer up when we otherwise would have become weary and whiny.

He and Napoleon undoubtedly understood something elemental about humans: we are better able to withstand hardship when we are well fed. This is especially true on backcountry hunts, where it can be nearly impossible to eat enough food to make up for what you’re losing by climbing, walking, and keeping warm.

Packing the right cooking gear and food for a backcountry hunt doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Just follow these guidelines for a happy, well-fed hunt.

There are several lightweight stoves that can meet the needs of field hunters. Each one has its ups and downs.

A: boiling
An excellent choice for game when using freeze-dried or dehydrated food.

Pros: Highly efficient; simple design; easy to use and maintain.
Cons: poorly suited for anything other than boiling water; performs poorly in extreme cold; you can’t fly with the boats, so they must be purchased on the spot; it is clogged with empty steel canisters that need to be bagged and then thrown away.

B: The best nova
This is the best option for the camp kitchen, as it’s suitable for everything from brewing coffee to sautéed wild mushrooms to processed black bear oil. White gasoline is the most suitable fuel, but you can use regular gasoline or even diesel in a pinch.

Pros: variable flame; reliable in extreme cold conditions and at high altitudes; Easy to find fuel.
Cons: noisy, difficult to maintain and operate.

C: Liberty Mountain Westwind Spirit Stove
These stoves burn denatured alcohol, they are a bargain hunter’s best friend. These stoves are great for car camping and overnight backpacking trips, but they are inefficient; carrying enough fuel for an extended backcountry trip is a hassle.

Pros: extremely light; virtually indestructible; free of mantenimient.
Cons: Takes a long time to boil water; inefficient.

The best kitchen sets are made of stainless steel, anodized aluminum, or titanium. They are all good, but titanium is the best. Avoid plastic handles or lids as you cannot use them over fire. Also avoid non-stick surfaces, because they don’t last. A standard basic mess kit should include the following, in order of importance:

A: Small cup/pot with pan lid. This alone will cover your cooking/eating needs. It functions as a pot, a bowl, a cup, and a pan. Works on a stove or over a fire.

B: Bigger pot. Useful for small groups, when you want to boil enough water for three or four people to use at once. It’s also good for more elaborate cooking projects, like stews made with freshly slaughtered meat.

C: Spoon fork. No explanation needed, though if you eat a lot of freeze-dried foods out of bags, consider the longer-handled options.

D: Oil and seasoning. Use them to cook camp meat, wild mushrooms, and any unexpected food you come across.

ME: Portable backpacking grill. A luxury, but certainly convenient when you’re doing a lot of cooking over a campfire.

This is a very simple backcountry menu that can be changed or supplemented in many ways.

Instant coffee packets: 2 per person per day.
Instant Oatmeal Packets: 2 per person per day.

Flatbread: Whether it’s tortillas, pitas, bagels, something that resists falling apart and lasts up to a week in a package.
Hard cheese: 4 oz per person per day.
Sausages: Either wild game or other cured wild game salami, or highly preserved sausage packs; 4 oz per person per day.
Mustard, It’s worth it: A small bottle for a trip.

Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals – Buy the 2-serving bags. Each 2-serving bag is a dinner for one person. Pack several extra bags per person for emergencies. The shelf life is 30 years, so don’t worry about waste if you don’t use them.
Small bottle of hot sauce.

Snacks, Desserts, Extras
Drink mix bags: 2 per person per day.
Protein/energy bars: 5 per person per day.
Assorted high-energy snacks: jerky, nuts, candy bars, hard candy, granola, etc.

Pack according to expectations, but keep in mind that you will eat more than you think.