Dec 19
2011

A Girl Hunter Weekend & Coming Full Circle

GH Collage 1

I’m not sure that Georgia Pellegrini, author of the book Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time, would appreciate being likened to a young teenage boy, but I can’t help compare her to Sam Gribley, the hero of one of my sons’ favorite books, My Side of the Mountain . In 1959, Jean Craighead George crafted the character of Sam Gribley, a native New Yorker who was tired of living in a cramped apartment with his parents and multiple siblings. Armed with a few supplies, a headful of knowledge that would rival the most capable explorer’s and an insatiable spirit for adventure, Sam heads to an abandoned hillside deep in the Catskill Mountains.

Sam spends the spring and summer learning to make flour out of acorns for pancakes, composing salads from the wild plants that most of us would mistake for weeds, and capturing and training a young peregrine, Frightful, who becomes his hunting partner and companion. As summer turns to fall, Sam is faced with a new set of challenges as he prepares shelter and clothing, and works diligently to prepare a food supply to last him through the harsh northern winter. I’ll admit that I was just as engaged by Sam’s adventures as my two sons. And I found myself asking, “Could I have made it out there alone? Could I do what Sam did?”

Fast-forward several decades to present day. The setting is Joshua Creek Ranch in the Hill Country of Texas, set amongst brush-covered hillsides dotted with quail and pheasants, doing their best to stay out of range of the avid hunters who descend upon this Beretta Trident-ranked hunting lodge (that’s like the equivalent of Michelin stars for you food lovers out there).

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There we were, fourteen food bloggers, most of us had never touched a shotgun let alone thought of shooting a live animal with one.

Girl in the Hay Trailer by Bakerella
Photo courtesy of Angie of Bakerella
Left to right: Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, Bridget of Bake at 350, Shelly of Cookies and Cups, Wendy of Wenderly, Angie of Bakerella, Amy of She Wears Many Hats, Cheryl of TidyMom (below), Erika of Ivory Hut (above), me (in the hat), Georgia of Georgia Pellegrini (below), Elana of Elana’s Pantry (above), Marla of Family Fresh Cooking, Carrie of Deliciously Organic and Lori of Recipe Girl. Front and center: Eric of Joshua Creek Ranch, a different kind of Girl Hunter.

However, we were there for a weekend of bonding and to catch a glimpse inside the life of Georgia Pellegrini (aka our modern-day Sam Gribley). Some of the similarities between Georgia and Sam are quite striking. Georgia also grew up in the tri-state area, anxious to return to the solitude of her home in the Hudson Valley after a day at her Manhattan prep school. As a young girl, she foraged from the land and learned to appreciate the quiet and simplicity that nature provides.

After years of schooling, Georgia moved on to a job at Lehman Brothers in Manhattan, living a life that gave her financial stability, but left her wanting more. She followed her passion for food and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute which led her to stints in restaurants in New York and France. In her new book, Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time Georgia tells the story of killing a turkey with her own hands at the behest of the chef where she worked. Something stirred inside of her and she knew that she wanted to learn more about where her food came from and to be a part of the process of bringing the food to her plate.

GH Collage 3
Marla of Family Fresh Cooking and Lori of Recipe Girl

I will admit that, before reading Georgia’s book, I was not a fan of the whole hunting “thing”. My thought was that hunters were just out there for the thrill of the kill. For some reason, I never made the connection between the many hours I spent fishing as a kid with my dad and later fly-fishing with my husband, and the intentions of many hunters.

Fishing Collage

Heck, my husband and I even learned to fly Harris Hawks as the dogs flushed out birds in the bushes and the hawks swooped down to make the kill for their trainers. And yet, in my mind, I was still different from the hunters with guns.

Hawk

Now I readily admit that this way of thinking came from a very ignorant place. Sure, there are hunters out there that dress up in camo and head out into the bush for the singular goal of finding a new trophy to hang over their fireplace. However, I now believe that most hunters have purer intentions. Yes, I’m sure they get a rush when the shotgun kicks back in their shoulder (I know I did when we were on the skeet shooting range). However, as I learned from reading Georgia’s book and listening to the staff at Joshua Creek Ranch, many hunters have a much deeper understanding and respect for where their food comes from than those of us who pick our meat from the grocery store shelves.

Georgia’s book tells the tale of her introduction and then full immersion into the world of hunting, her adventures along the way (not all of them easy), the characters she has befriended and her full circle back to the place she loved as a little girl, the place where humans and nature can co-exist in a mutually respectful way. Much like Sam Gribley.

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My turn on the skeet shooting range. Photo courtesy of Cheryl of TidyMom

Check out this amazing video for Georgia’s book, made by the talented team of Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple.

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Blog is the New Black December 19, 2011 at 6:21 am

Very cool!

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2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Thank you!

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3 Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray December 19, 2011 at 7:13 am

This looks like SO much fun!

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4 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

It really was!

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5 Maria December 19, 2011 at 7:57 am

Looks like a fun weekend!

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6 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Thanks, Maria. It really was a great weekend.

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7 Brooks at Cakewalker December 19, 2011 at 8:03 am

Dara, a sensational adventure perfectly described in words and stunningly photographed! Many thanks for sharing it with us.

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8 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Thanks so much, Brooks. It was certainly a weekend to remember.

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9 Lori @ RecipeGirl December 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

This brings back so many great memories of our best girl’s weekend ever! I love the photos of you fly fishing. I can’t wait to do it for reals one of these days!

Let’s go hunting!

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10 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

It really was a great weekend, wasn’t it? It was so good to spend some time with you, Lori.

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11 Lauren from Lauren's Latest December 19, 2011 at 8:31 am

Love that you all went shooting! :) Getting this book for Christmas!

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12 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

You’re going to love it, Lauren!

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13 bellini December 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

This is our kind of weekend Dara!

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14 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I think it might become my kind of weekend, too!

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15 Marina {YummyMummyKitchen.com} December 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

This looks awesome. I would love to do a cool blogger meet-up (still not sure about the guns though :) )

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16 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm

You might surprise yourself, Marina. It definitely was an enlightening weekend for me.

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17 Georgia Pellegrini December 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

Oh Dara, this is such a wonderful post. “My Side of the Mountain” was one of my favorite books as a kid, so I take it as a total compliment : ) It was so wonderful spending time with you and I hope we do it again very soon! xo

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18 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I’m so glad you take the Sam Gribley comparison as a compliment, Georgia. It was such a fantastic weekend and I hope we have a chance to spend more time together in the future.

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19 Traci December 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

Sounds like a great weekend. Loved all the photos. It looked beautiful!

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20 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Thanks, Traci. It was such a beautiful, peaceful spot.

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21 Carol December 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

I love that more people are gaining a better understanding of hunting. I agree with the statement that many hunters have a much deeper understanding and respect for where their food comes from. I also think that it is a fairly small portion of the hunters who give the rest a bad name.

I married a hunter 5 years ago and he has only one time killed for the sake of a trophy (two ducks that remained in my freezer for an unnatural amount of time). He and his brothers do mostly management hunting which means they are not allowed to shoot bucks. My husband’s motto is “You can’t eat the horns!”

He brings the deer meat back and this is what we eat rather than beef for the next year. I have also had to learn to cook all sorts of birds and fish which has been an adventure for me. I’m still a little iffy about cooking squirrel though… :)

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22 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Thanks so much for your comment and perspective, Carol. Georgia’s book and the weekend in Texas certainly gave me new insight into the world of hunting. By the way, Georgia’s book has a chapter on squirrels and accompanying recipes.

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23 Carol December 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I already have her book on my list of things I want for Christmas! I’m a little scared to have the book in my house though. I’m pretty sure she is my husband’s fantasy girl! :)

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24 Delishhh December 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

Wonderful post and what an awesome weekend. I am glad that folks hunt for the good reasons, in Sweden we have to hunt Moose every year or they take over the roads and cause a lot of car crashes. I could never do it – i just can’t kill anything – if i had to hunt for my food i would probably end up being a vegetarian :) But i love meet so i let others hunt for me. However, i will only by organic meat – not eating cow that has been eating grain. . .

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25 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm

How amazing that moose are so common in Sweden. You are certainly smart to buy only grass-fed beef. Not only is it a responsible outlook, but the beef just tastes better!

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26 Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen December 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm

So awesome! And, what a great video….thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to read the book!

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27 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

The video really sets the stage for the book. It’s a great read!

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28 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. December 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

looks like a complete blast

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29 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

It really was.

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30 brandi December 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

this sounds like such a fun weekend – i can’t wait to check out the book!

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31 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

You’re going to love it, Brandi!

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32 Amy December 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Love your recap! Hope we can do it again sometime. AND get you to share your fishing tips with us!

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33 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Thanks, Amy. It was so good to spend some time with you – you are such a sweetheart and a flippin’ amazing shot!

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34 DessertForTwo December 19, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I wish I coulda joined y’all! It looks like a great weekend!

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35 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm

It was definitely a weekend to remember.

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36 Brenda M. December 19, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Oh my Gosh – My Side of the Moutain – one of my most favorite books every growing up! We read it with my 5th grade class and I still remember it. We also learned how to make a fish hook out of wood and string and how to make sassafrass tea. I’m SO glad you read it with your boys – they will remember it forever, I bet!

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37 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I love that so many people have read My Side of the Mountain. We really enjoyed reading it with our boys and I’m sure they will read it countless times over the next several years.

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38 Marla December 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Dara, I say it time and time again – You are such a wonderful writer. Your descriptions of our weekend are spot on and filled with info for those who want to learn more about GP and her book.
Those photos are you fly fishing? Wow!! Love that. The book you speak of…I think we discussed that acorn flour over dinner one night at the ranch.
Miss you and look forward to more fun times together soon.
xo

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39 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Thanks so much, Marla. It was such a fantastic weekend and you know that I always enjoy hanging out with you. Miss you! xo

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40 Liz December 20, 2011 at 5:46 am

Oh, what fun!!! And such a wonderful group of bloggers!!!! Thanks for sharing with us all~~

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41 Tickled Red December 20, 2011 at 6:54 am

Dara I think that your comparison to Sam was spot on. I just adored Georgia’s book but ended entirely too quickly. Loved the photo of you shooting ;D

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42 TidyMom December 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

Fabulous post Dara! and I love the pics of young Dara! hehe

Miss you guys miserably, and am thrilled to have experienced something so incredible with such amazing women and friends!!

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43 Wenderly December 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Fabulous recap Dara! Gorgeous photos! Love seeing you as a little whipper-shnapper! So cute!!

Miss you and your sweet sparkle!

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44 Lynn December 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I wanna do that!

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45 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective.com December 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Oh my lands, what fun you girls must have had! I love seeing ladies with weaponry!

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46 Jeanette December 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

What a beautifully written post – and an excellent adventure!

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47 Carrie M December 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Raised in the country my family did hunt to put food on the table. I’m glad you were able to experience the way of the pacific northwest for the last 150 years.

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48 Anna @ hiddenponies December 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

So fun, what a great idea for a weekend! I love knowing where my food came from but I’m still not sure I want to be the one killing it :)

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49 Elise December 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

What a wonderful adventure Dara! Beautiful post.

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50 Amy @ A Little Nosh January 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Sounds like an amazing experience. Georgia needs a show on Nat Geo or Discovery. I’d totally watch her hunt and cook!

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51 alex January 16, 2012 at 6:06 am

Nice Photos, especially, the eagle.

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