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BRONSON, MI --

Almost 40 years ago, the Bronson Kiwanis group wanted to honor the farmers in the area by hosting a meal for them to appreciate. One of the ideas was to enjoy some of the game hunted on the land owned by the farmers. The donations were prepared and served, starting a tradition that has continued today.

“It was for the farmers but some of the local Kiwanis groups heard about it and came,” Fred Reynolds said. “A couple of years later, it evolved into a membership drive and now it is a fundraiser.” The wide variety of meats are donated from around the area, making a truly local foods experience.

Through the years, the offerings have ranged from the common to the more unusual and varied from year to year. For 2017, the myriad of choices went from squirrel stew to grilled meats to stir fries along with the basic roasts. Pheasant stir fry was featured as well as a venison version, the stew, and deep fried gator. The attendees also enjoyed grilled goose, rabbit, and venison, meat loafs made of antelope and venison, and a variety of roasts including bear, buffalo, and venison. Wild turkey, ham and venison summer sausage rounded out the meat menu. Side dishes of scalloped potatoes, corn, rolls, cheese, and desserts completed the meal.

“The stir fries are to offer a little variety and they stretch the meat in the dish,” Reynolds said. He organizes the cooking of the meat in preparation for the annual event. “I have a couple of younger guys who help me out with getting all the meat ready.” One of those young men was Jason Hutchinson who began grilling meat at 9 pm the night before. He figured it took him up to 20 hours to get the meat ready.

“I must have done between 50 – 70 pounds of meat,” Hutchinson said. “I grilled the goose, rabbit, and venison, so I did all the grilled meats here tonight.”

Reynolds offered some tips on the best way to prepare the game meat.

“Don’t cook wild game too long,” he said. “It is best to leave it slightly raw as game meat isn’t as marbled like beef or pork are.” He also encouraged adding ingredients to roasts such as wine, orange slices, and cloves or jalapeno peppers and cheese to summer sausage.

The diners ranged in age and experience but all enjoyed the meal. Two little girls came with their parents and grandparents and were part of the giving and receiving portions of the dinner. Miley and Makenna are involved in the Cloverbud program in St. Joseph County, Michigan and helped their grandfather dress out one of the geese that was donated. Both girls actively participate in fishing and hunting with some of their male relatives. When asked what they liked best about these outings, their answers were very enthusiastic.

“I like to spend time with my uncle,” eight year old Miley said while six year old Makenna enjoys going out in the boat because “I can cast my own pole!”

32: A common sight in the kitchen during the Sportsman’s Wild Game Dinner was roasters with various meats being prepared in different ways. Photo by Julia Baratta

50,51: The meats were served buffet style with signs identifying what was contained in the dish. Over 14 meat dishes were offered that night. Photo by Julia Baratta

59: One of the grilled entrees was rabbit. Other grilled meats offered that night was goose and venison. Photo by Julia Baratta

60: Attendees to the annual Sportsman’s Wild Game Dinner enjoyed a buffet style meal with a myriad of choices. Photo by Julia Baratta

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