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It’s time to welcome a new generation of health-conscious meat-eaters into the world of hunting.

Photo above: Rupp with some steaks and roasts she procured in Pennsylvania last fall (still in their original packaging).

Years before I got my first hunting license at the age of twelve, I was–at least in my own young mind–a crucial part of the process of putting our family’s yearly venison in the freezer. It was my job, you see, to wrap. As Mom and Dad cut up their deer into steaks, chops, and roasts, I’d sit next to them with my trusty plastic wrap, freezer paper, tape, and Sharpie. First I’d wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, making sure no air was left inside. The thick, white freezer paper went on next (Mom showed me how to do the cool-looking butcher’s fold), and I’d tape it down securely. Next, I’d write with the marker whether it was Mom’s or Dad’s deer, the cut, and the date, and embellish the package with little drawings of deer.

Fast-forward thirty-some years to southern California, where an eclectic group of friends gathers on our back patio while my husband grills up elk and moose backstraps from our freezer. I’ve long since traded the paper and tape for a Foodsaver and abandoned my nascent career as an artist, but I still love the whole process of turning a game animal into a delicious meal. Even more, I enjoy the comments from my nonhunting friends: “This is delicious!” “Hey, I thought it would be gamey!” “Sure, I’ll have seconds!”

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