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Today is September 28, 2022

Hunting camp life

Food, drink, and fellowship

By Steven Ward

Hunting camp life

Some hunters look forward to the hunt. Others look forward to the gathering before and after.

Mississippi consultant and restauranteur Chris Gouras Jr. enjoys hunting — he grew up hunting and fishing in north Florida with his father and now enjoys big game hunting across the world.

But when he spends time at the hunting camp he co-owns on Kings Point Island near Vicksburg, it’s the cooking that he lives for.

“At Kings Point, I love for folks to have a good time, hunting, relaxing, and eating,” Gouras, 50, said.

When friends or clients visit for a weekend hunt, Gouras makes sure everyone has a full belly.

“Frequently, I will grill lamb chops and sausage for appetizers, serving them with peppers and cheeses,” he said.

“I will prepare seared spinalis cuts of ribeye, smoked prime rib, beef, and venison shish kabobs. When we have mallards, I like to cook them on the grill wrapped in bacon with jalapeños, with or without cream cheese. When they are almost done, I pile them in the center of the grill and pour a jar of orange marmalade over them, close the vent and lid, and let it melt over the poppers.”

Mississippi lobbyist Ben Thompson is a friend who has spent time at the hunting camp Gouras co-owns with Gulf Coast resident Bo Mandal.

“The hunting is great and everything, but that Friday night meal is just special,” Thompson, 43, said.

Gouras, who co-owns four Another Broken Egg Cafes with his brother George, grew up in a restaurant family.

“Growing up as a kid we would barbecue on our Sunday dove hunts,” Gouras said.

“Later, after moving to Mississippi, my uncle Jimmy paid for me to have a hunting membership at Cedar Ridge, a hunting club in Port Gibson. Friday and Saturday night supper there was always great — steaks, fried catfish, and fried chicken were the normal fare,” Gouras said.

Next, Gouras joined the Bell Island Hunting Club north of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River at Eagle Lake.

Gouras said the cookouts at Bell Island were legendary.

“Sometimes we would feed upwards of 40 people and go through two to three ribeyes a night. Supper meant giant ribeyes, fresh-cut French fries, cold beer, and bourbon,” Gouras said.

Breakfast at the Kings Point hunting camp has Gouras cooking country ham, biscuits, grits, eggs, and omelets.

Gouras has a tip for hunting camp cooking food preparation.

“Get some things done in a crockpot or on the smoker, so you don’t have to start cooking after the sun goes down!”

“I enjoy spending time with friends and making memories. When folks leave our place, I hope they have a memorable experience, that they remember the land, the hunt, and the food,” Gouras said.

Rusty Larsen has been in the restaurant business for 36 years. He owns and operates Rusty’s Riverfront Grill in Vicksburg.

Larsen, who owns a hunting camp in Warren County, said he got involved in hunting camp life because his sons and friends love to hunt.

Larsen, 51, said a big part of the allure of hunting camps — besides the hunt itself — is the fellowship and the food.

“We do a lot of steak and seafood at the camp. Every now and then, we throw in some high-end sandwiches including lobster rolls and Rueben sandwiches,” Larsen said.

Larsen’s favorite hunting club meal: fried pork chops.

“Everyone at our camp takes turns pitching in to do their part when it comes to the infamous Tuesday night meal at Camp Showtime,” Larsen said.

Unlike Gouras and Larsen, Guy White does not own a restaurant. He owns and runs White Construction Company with offices in Ridgeland, Texas, and Florida.

His lack of restaurant expertise doesn’t impact his love or skill when it comes to hunting camp cooking.

“Cooking is a big part of hunting camp life. I’m a big duck hunter, so I keep a Coleman two-burner grill in my boat, and we cook during hunting lulls,” White, 58, said.

White said he and his friends have cooked everything from sausage, steaks, and hamburgers in their boats and held contests to see which boats cook the best meals.

Back at his camp off Highway 3 near Satartia, friends, and family gather around the fireplace, the fire ring outside, or the large screen TV with a football game on in the background.

White said he has gone “grill crazy” at his camp.

“We have a Big Green Egg, Hasty Bake, a Louisiana steak broiler, a griddle, and several fish fryers. We cook everything, but I love stopping at the Flora Butcher Shop on the way to the camp and picking up some Wagyu steaks for the outside broiler,” White said.

“Ribs are a staple on the menu. Yes, we fry all kinds of fish. Catfish, crappie, saltwater fish are all on the list. We even sear tuna and get fresh oysters when they are available. We like to prepare fresh good sides and usually a big salad in a big wood bowl.”

White’s best tip for hunting camp cooking? Don’t be scared to try something different.

“Sometimes you get into a rut where you just cook the same things. Crockpots are great for a good meal. Everything doesn’t have to be fried or unhealthy. There are a lot of options for menus. Be bold and mix it up,” White said.


Look for these "hunting camp recipes" in this month's recipe section.

  • Chicken Fried Duck (Recipe by Chris Gouras Jr.)
  • Camp Showtime Bread Pudding (Recipe by Rusty Larsen)
  • Guy White's Famous Chicken Thighs (Recipe by Guy White)
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