Late-blooming hunter Hank Shaw carves new career

  • Updated: February 12, 2013 - 10:24 PM
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Hank Shaw, a former political reporter and St. Paul resident, now is a food writer and chef who authors a website called Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Photo: Photo by Holly A. Heyser, Dml -

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Hank Shaw started hunting a dozen years ago, at age 30, when a Minnesota friend took him pheasant hunting.

"I couldn't hit anything,'' he said, "but I was hooked after that.''

Shaw, now 42, a former newspaper journalist from St. Paul, has morphed into an avid hunter, wild-game cook and author who runs a website devoted to good -- and healthy -- eating. He writes about food, fishing, foraging and hunting, and will be at Pheasant Fest this weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

"I'll be talking about how to prepare, than take care of it from when you get it out of the dog's mouth 'til it goes in the freezer,'' he said from his home in Sacramento, Calif. "I'll be talking about hanging birds, proper field care, how to store 'em.

"Good meat starts as soon as the animal stops breathing; that's when you should start thinking like a cook.''

Shaw, author of "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast," is a big proponent of plucking game birds, even pheasants, instead of filleting the breast meat from the carcass. "I never breast birds,'' he said.

He said he was born a fisherman who came to hunting late.

"I hunt everything that tastes good,'' he said. His favorite eating: canvasback ducks and ruffed grouse. "Those are some of the finest eating birds in the world,'' he said. "Woodcock is unbelievably wonderful, too. Venison is a staple for me.''

He sees more people turning to hunting to feed their families quality food. "I don't think I go a week without hearing from a reader of my blog who wants to get into hunting,'' Shaw said.

The reason is simple. "Fundamentally, people want to take more control over what they feed themselves and their family,'' he said.

"Corporate factory agriculture has failed them enough times, where they are voting with their feet. They are opting out of shrink-wrapped chicken.''

DOUG SMITH

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