Some readers are happy to share their game and fish recipes, but the number is small, and I believe it’s more from bashfulness than anything else.

I’ve been to a lot of hunting and fishing camps where the food was excellent, and one of the crowd was highly regarded as the premiere cook, but they often seemed reluctant to contribute — even when I compliment the meal just eaten and ask for the recipe.

Folks, it’s time to get over your bashfulness and step up your game. This month, we have a tasty recipe from a frequent contributor, Bob Szymakowski of Winston-Salem, N.C., and I’m willing to wager most of you have a recipe your friends really like.  Consider this your invitation to share it.

Hunting and fishing are sports we like to share with our buddies, and we often get together to share in the catch or kill, so why not spread our good recipes around. Most fishermen and hunters simply enjoy good food and appreciate learning how their counterparts enjoy it. There are differences from the ocean to the mountains, plus new folks have moved into the area or old friends have returned.

Those recipes that are good in the hunting camp or beside the creek after a long day of chasing the big one or recipes that excel on the deck or patio after a hard day are the ones we want. Most folks have a go-to recipe or two they use for preparing fish or game for friends, and those are the ones you should share. If you think it’s good, someone else will — and they’ll appreciate you sharing.

By now, deer season is open everywhere in the Carolinas is in some form or other. The mornings and evening are cooler along the coast, and some will be cold in the mountains. It’s a time when some warm venison should hit the spot, and who doesn’t like Sloppy Joes. If there is a simple man food that best represents  the definition, then Sloppy Joes are it. They are simple to make, full of flavor and are definitely filling.

Yes, Sloppy Joes will work for a snack, lunch or dinner, and it’s a safe bet some leftovers have been eaten for breakfast, especially in a fishing or hunting camp. This recipe includes a couple of unusual ingredients that give it a good burst of flavor. It tastes very good freshly cooked and will hold for several hours on the serve setting in a crock pot, or it can quickly be nuked warm for a quickie lunch. Some folks say that like spaghetti; it gets better every time it is warmed. If that’s your goal, you might want to double the recipe, as it tends to go pretty quickly.

Venison Catalina Sloppy Joes

I was in a bit of a quandary about an October recipe and was really pleased when Bob Szymakowski shared this one. It not only solved my problem, but it tastes good, and I’m sure most readers will enjoy it. Bob has never suggested or shared anything I didn’t like, so I trust his judgment in food explicitly. My biggest surprise is that it doesn’t involve a crock pot, his normal speciality.

I was torn between doing another fish recipe and holding a venison recipe until November, but this sealed it, and I believe you’ll agree after your first taste.

While there are multiple fishing opportunities during October, it’s when hunting season begins in earnest, and a great majority of the hunters in the Carolinas are chasing deer. This is a venison recipe that includes all the attributes requested for this column. It will be fun, simple and tasty. The ingredients are simple, too. Most folks will have some fresh venison or a little left in their freezer from last season, and while the ingredient list says pork sausage, using feral pork sausage makes it leaner and better. 

By October, we’re getting some cool weather, and warm food not only tastes good, it feels good, too. There may be some who disagree, but this recipe is much like a stew eaten on Hawaiian bread. It could easily be eaten with a spoon while taking bites of bread. The meats and veggies are pretty standard, and what first got my attention with the red pepper flakes. Adding beer for cooking is becoming more common, but it always turns heads, and when that beer is specified to be a cactus lime beer, the taste buds wake up, too. 

This recipe slowly wakes up the culinary senses until the cup of Catalina dressing is stirred in at the end. This caps off the recipe and slaps you awake. This is a bold-tasting mixture, but without a lot of spicy heat. It is a dish everyone should find tasty and filling.

Deer are sensitive to smell and movement, but will do some foolish things at times. However, you have to be there, quiet and still to see them. If you are in your stand with a stomach full of these Sloppy Joes and feeling good, you’ll spend more time there, move less and be quieter — unless you are prone to snoring. That means you’re more likely to see Mr. Wallhanger creeping around when he is out searching for Ms. Right. 


2 pounds ground venison

1/2 pound ground pork sausage

1 green pepper

1 white onion

2 white potatoes

1 stalk celery

1 carrot

1/2 bottle of Michelob cactus lime beer

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 cup Catalina dressing

1 package Hawaiian rolls


Chop and dice vegetables. Brown venison and pork in a deep skillet. At about halfway to brown, stir in onion, green pepper, carrot and mix well.

Once meat is browned, stir in the beer, nutmeg and potato. Reduce heat and simmer until beer is absorbed. Stir in the cup of Catalina dressing and heat until warm throughout. Warm the Hawaiian rolls. Stir before serving.

Bob Szymakowski, creator of this dish, said the way to serve it is with some sauce splashed on the Hawaiian rolls before adding the Sloppy Joe mixture and with pineapple and/or melon slices, some greens and sliced limes on the side. He said it tastes best when followed by more cactus lime beer, but even folks too young for that will like it with a glass of sweet tea.