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Up close and personal with elk

I visited my hometown in Nebraska over my birthday weekend. While we were there, my dad introduced Zach and me to some of his animal friends.

Check out the rack on this one!

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This elk is called Rambo.

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My dad helps feed Rambo and the rest of the elk herd, as well as bison and various other animals for a friend.

These two tough guys make a handsome pair.

Now give Rambo a little kiss!

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Venison-eating vegetarians

Nebraska farm-raised bison

My dad and his bison friend.

This photo of a photo is my dad feeding his buddy the bison bull. The bull is part of a herd that lives at a private Nebraska cabin area owned by a friend of my father’s. On the same property, the owner of the bison herd also keeps a herd of elk — some of which Zach and I recently ate.

This is noteworthy because we are usually pretty stringent in our rejection of meat. But something about the opportunity to try anti-biotic free, grass-fed, humanely raised and rendered-in-a-small-town-butcher-shop elk enticed me. I miss red meat the most of any animal product that I no longer consume. And if something happened in the world tomorrow that required me to eat what I or someone else could forage or hunt, it’s reasonable to assume that venison could be on the menu. So, in the interest of survivalism and trying new things, we accepted an offer of some frozen elk meat.

The couple of filets we expected turned out to be half a dozen steaks, a rack of ribs and a few packages of hamburger and cube steak. (I think some father was excited to get some daughter on the carnivore train again.)

As luck would have it, for a guy who gave up animal protein a long time ago, Zach rocks at preparing it. We tried the steaks first. Lightly seasoned and flashed seared over hickory chips on the grill, they were melt-in-your-mouth tender. The ribs, not so much. But I think that owes more to the fact that elk are lean, muscly creatures than it does to Zach’s abilities.

Elk filets and grilled veggies

Zach's excellent elk filets, flash seared over hickory, plus grilled veggies and dijon white cheddar potatoes.

We haven’t gotten to the elk hamburger yet, but I look forward to it as a special occasion treat sometime this fall or winter. Fellow vegetarians out there, would you make an exception for a chance to try rare (pun intended) meat?

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