A madman's cookbook

"How better to give honor to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than to party hardy with delicious meat, lovingly carved from skeletons of protein-rich animals in the ultimate afterlife habitat of steel and charcoal?" asks Ted Nugent in his new book, "Kill It and Grill It" (Regnery, 2002, hardback, $21.95), co-authored with his wife, Shemane. In their new cookbook the Nugents present more than 50 mouth-watering recipes for deer, elk, wild boar, rabbit, bear, wild turkey, duck, squirrel and rabbit, as well as life in general.

Two years ago, Ted Nugent — rock star, passionate hunter and NRA board member — penned "God, Guns and Rock and Roll," which made the New York Times Bestseller list. That book outlined Ted's political philosophy. In this sequel Ted and Shemane not only offer some of the best recipes from their travels, they suggest that people join them in accepting responsibility for being carnivores by going out and killing at least some of the meat they eat.

"We don't just cook, we dance naked at the primordial campfire of life," the Nugents proclaim. Whether or not that's a figure of speech is the Nugent's business. But the imagery stirs the roots of the soul.

Ted Nugent speaks rock and roll, but this book is grounded in science. Wild game meat is low in fat, low in cholesterol and high in protein. The American Heart Association recommends wild game. Native people whose regular diets are similar to the Nugents' show little evidence of the heart disease, diabetes, stroke and hardening of the arteries that plague modern civilized man. "Kill It and Grill It" is good for more than just the palate, it's nourishment for the soul and inspiration for the heart. You may not always agree with Ted, but unlike many other rock icons he is alive and well and rocking.

A hunting life

Unless Madonna writes a book about her newfound interest in hunting, Ted Nugent is the uncontested best-known hunter in the world. He spices his words with rock and roll language and is as persistent as the Energizer Bunny (for which he once did a commercial) when it comes to drumming up support for hunting. Still, his words often hit the bull's eye of the heart.

Nugent's passionate sermons from the swamps have created a growing conservationist tribe: Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America. They have also inspired young and old. I have listened to testimonials from people who claim that Ted has moved them to drop drugs and become addicted to hunting. Ted is a perfect example of how important celebrities are to the future of hunting and shooting sports. They are the best weapon we have to counter the all-to-frequently anti-gun, anti-hunting press.

The carnivorous Nugent family has not bought any meat from a grocery store since l969. Ted says he and his clan kill upwards of 50 deer per year, as well as boar, birds and other assorted critters. What they don't eat they donate to various charities. To be such a prolific hunter, it helps to have a rock star's income and your own hunting preserve, in Ted's case Sunrize Acres. Uncle Ted invites you to join him there to hunt deer, boar, sheep and buffalo, incidentally — for a fee, of course.

Practical advice

Drawing on what they have learned in the last 30 years, the Nugents' book walks you through the process of transforming wild game on the hoof into meat on the table: "kill, clean, cool, cut, cure, freeze, cook and rejoice." At each step the suggestions are pragmatic and clear and the recipes are equally clear. Some of the book may be preaching to the choir for the seasoned hunter, but the recipes are definitely first-class.

Ted and Shemane offer main course recipes including: Biltong Jerky, Jamaican Jerk Venison, Stuffed, Rolled Venison Log, Italian Venison Casserole, Wild Boar Chops, Sweet and Sour Antelope, Goosebreast Rendezvous, Squirrel Casserole, Pheasant Chow Mein, Rabbit Belle Chasse, Wild Turkey With Morel Sauce, Maple-Bourbon Wild Boar, Bar-B-Que Backstrap, and Coca-Cola Venison Stew. Shemane has an additional section on mouth-watering desserts.

On a more serious note Ted writes: "The killing of game for consumption is a deep, intensely connecting act. To take an animal's life in order to feed our family is serious, serious stuff. We must elevate the meaning of this activity to a much higher level in our lives."

This is important. Frequently the Nugents speak of hunting in terms of spirituality. All of us need to hear these words to remind us that with power comes responsibility. Each year we have more and more technologies to make it easier for us to hunt successfully. For each new advance in technology, we should make an equivalent inward step back toward personal values and ethics so that we use our new resources wisely.

And what does the carnivorous Nugent think of vegetarians? "Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians… except for the occasional mountain lion steak."

James Swan is the author of the book "In Defense of Hunting."

To purchase a copy visit his website.