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Leon's Blog

Check out this Dutch oven squirrel recipe

Subsistance hunting is not limited to indigenous or aboriginal people.
Check out this Dutch oven squirrel recipe

Subsistence hunting is nothing new, nor was it ever limited to just aboriginal people.  My father told this story from the Great Depression:

Squirrel hunting can be challenging, but the meat is tasty and nourishing.

Squirrel hunting can be challenging, but the meat is tasty and nourishing.

by Leon Pantenburg

The farmer was mad as hell when he caught Dad on his property. Dad, probably about 11 or 12 at the time, had only shot his .22 rifle, loaded with shorts, twice. But as he was coming out of the cornfield (not far from the “No Hunting” sign) with two squirrels in hand, the landowner was thoroughly hacked off and waiting with a shotgun.

“I’m calling the sheriff! You people just come on my land and kill any damn thing you can!” the big, red-faced man yelled. “What’s your name, boy? What’s your daddy’s name??!!”

“Charles Pantenburg. My dad is Pete.”

A pause. The farmer’s face seemed to lose some of the angry flush as he looked over the poacher. The man was, after all, confronting a skinny, hungry-looking kid in ragged clothes.

“Your family lives a couple miles away? ”

“Used to.”

Another pause, as the farmer was calmed down.

“Your daddy was one who lost his farm.”


My great-great-grandfather, James Hollowell, served in the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry during the Civil War. The family farm he started was lost during the Great Depression.

My great-great-grandfather, James Hollowell, served in the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry during the Civil War. The family farm he started was lost during the Great Depression.

The farm, 160 acres south of Ames, Iowa, had been in the family since my great-great-grandfather, James Hollowell, settled there after the Civil War. But the ripple effect of the 1929 stock market crash created a tsunami that wiped out thousands of small farmers. When Pete couldn’t pay the back taxes, the family was evicted from the house Pete’s dad built. It hadn’t taken long to go from prosperity to homelessness.

Pete tried to find any kind of work, and every day after school, my Dad hunted small game. Sometimes, all the family had to eat was what Dad killed.

The farmer looked around and swore again, but this time, at nothing in particular.

“You follow me up to the house!” he ordered, and marched back through the standing corn. Dad trailed along behind, sure that he was in deep trouble. The farmer went inside the farmhouse, and re-appeared with some eggs.

“Here. Don’t you come back here sneaking around,” he ordered. “Next time you go hunting, you go in through the front gate so I know who is out there!”

Squirrel In Cream Sauce (from “Linda Stephenson’s Wild Game Dutch Oven Cooking)

2 squirrels, cleaned and cut into serving pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 (4 oz) can mushrooms, sliced and drained

1 c beef broth

1 c sour cream

2 Tbs lemon juice

3 Tbs flour

In a large bowl, soak squirrel in salted water overnight. Remove pieces and rinse. Combine squirrel, onion, thyme, mushrooms and broth in Dutch oven. Cook for two hours.

Remove meat to a platter and keep warm. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice and flour, stir well. Add sour cream mixture into Dutch oven and stir until thickened. Spoon sauce over meat.(Linda recommends using a 12-inch Dutch oven, with a temperature of about 325 degrees.)

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Leon's Blog

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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