Wildlife party puts game on the line

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The men gathered in small circles, their hunger swelling from a smoky aroma of cooked meat.

Fingers greased from the fleshy feast reached out for another slab of deer ribs, another hunk of wild boar and another piece of elk. The mood was positively primal.

But this was no gathering of prehistoric hunters around a campfire. These were more than 500 modern Christian men and boys seeking fellowship and a taste of true wildlife at Cape First.

On Friday night the church held its second annual Wild Game Feast. Pastor Gary Brothers welcomed the hungry crowd to his men's gathering, themed "Real Men Don't Stop for Directions."

To speed up the serving line, food tables were pulled apart for self-serve access.

"You won't know what's there, so if it looks good to you take some," Brothers announced.

The menu included two rams, two wild goats, an elk, a bison, four Russian boars and a host of venison, fish, wild fowl and hearty side dishes. It amounted to at least a pound of meat available to each person.

Those who had never eaten wild game before had questions about taste and texture, said Phil Wellin of Broadside Adventures.

Wellin and his business partner, Rocky Francis, provided most of the meats. They hunted the animals at a wildlife hunting ranch in Licking, Mo. Some guests contributed to the meal.

Allen Basham of Sikeston, Mo., was a first-time game eater. He picked up a chunk of bacon-wrapped goat meat and admired its tenderness before popping it into his mouth.

"As long as it doesn't walk off my plate, I'll probably eat it," he said. "You don't mind if I use my fingers, do you?"

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