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When It Comes to Dessert - All is Fair in Deer Camp

By Tim H. Martin

Tim MartinDessert is a highly prized commodity in deer camp. I’ve seen scuffles, wounded friendships, multiple contusions and out-and-out thievery over something as trivial as the last squirt of Cool Whip. But I almost feel guilty about the apple pie incident that occurred while hunting with Dakota Outfitters in Southeast Ohio.

I was there to help film a bowhunting segment with Buckmasters Editor Emeritus Russell Thornberry. During our second day on location, Joan Gangle, the camp cook, baked a GORGEOUS two-crust apple pie — my favorite dessert!

Hers was an old fashioned recipe that I’d wanted to collect for years. The problem was, the pie wasn’t for Russ and me. Joan baked it for another group of hunters who’d be arriving later that week — but not to worry — there were little pumpkin muffins for us to snack on.

Russ and I scowled at the muffin basket, with its cakes all daintily wrapped in silky orange bows and jack-o-lantern cellophane. Although thoughtfully made, the muffins paled in comparison to the golden-crusted beauty resting beside them. It was the pastry-world equivalent of a dozen Rosie O’Donnells sunbathing beside Marilyn Monroe.

The day before the other hunters arrived, I managed to arrow my buck — a furry-antlered 10-pointer that weighed nearly 300 pounds. For some unknown reason, it never shed its velvet and was the largest-bodied buck I’d ever seen on the hoof — an absolute butterball!

After a rainy morning of struggling to retrieve my buck (with six people and a military gurney) we wrapped up filming and did what most tagged-out hunters do best — hang around the camp kitchen, drink coffee and bug the cook.

The forbidden apple pie was still there, awaiting the arrival of its rightful owners. It stared seductively at Russ and me from the kitchen counter, seemingly daring us to peek and sniff. With Joan there, it remained safe and unmolested — a pristine offering for the outsiders who’d soon be invading our territory.

Just before supper, the other hunters arrived. Russ and I dined with them since our quarters had a twelve-seat table and the only television in deer camp — a magnificent beast with a 73-inch plasma screen.

Throughout dinner, the noisy gang watched The NFL on CBS and told endless deer stories, so I held hope that they might forget about the pie’s existence.

But after gorging themselves full of meat loaf, gravy and scalloped potatoes, Joan informed the intruders that there was, indeed, a surprise dessert in store.

A lump rose in my throat when she announced, “AHEM! I’m sorry you new guys didn’t save room since I baked my specialty just for you. Remember to grab it off the counter when you leave tonight ... and don’t forget the carton of ice cream in the freezer!”

My lip quivered a little bit. I’m sure of it.

Eventually, we bid our exhausted cook goodnight, and another hour crept past. It was then that my hopes began to rise. Maybe it was because the Cowboys scored two unanswered touchdowns, or perhaps it was due to a strategically placed basket of muffins now obscuring their pie from view, but somehow, Marilyn was being forgotten!

The moment had arrived to urge the unsuspecting hunters toward the door. “Fellas, better hit the sack soon!” I warned. “The bigger bucks move awfully early around here … and that game is a real snoozer.”

They continued to chatter about a missed field goal and details of the next morning’s hunt, yawning and patting their bellies. But, eventually they conceded and began to filter outside one by one.

I crossed my fingers.

Just as the last guy was making his way out, he stopped in mid-stride, scratched his head and asked, “Hey, didn’t the cook say something about making us her specialty?

My heart sank.

I mumbled something like, “Stay right there, dude. I think I know where it is,” and disappeared around the corner.

I shuffled back to hand over their secret treat and said, “Here. Joan would be upset if you forgot her special Halloween muffins.”

I shoved the basket into his hands, slammed the door and scoured the kitchen for the biggest spatula I could find. Seconds later, two massive wedges of golden apple pie were rotating in the microwave and subsequently topped with fist-sized scoops of vanilla ice cream — and the football game was going into overtime — YESSSSSSS!!!

Click Here to Read More Deer Camp Dinner Diaries.Russ laughed evilly and was all too happy to help me dispose of the evidence. We breathed sighs of relief and contently kicked back into dueling recliners with steaming plates of ill-gotten booty.

As the melting ice cream began to seep into the crust, I thought about the poor saps in the other camp unwrapping their girlie little pumpkin cakes. Those guys actually turned out to be incredibly nice fellows and I was surprised when I felt a sharp pang of guilt — or maybe I just swallowed the ice cream too fast.

-- Tim H. Martin


Crust Ingredients & Directions:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, 1/2 cup lard or shortening, 2 1/2 cups AP flour, 1/2 cup cake flour, 1 Tsp salt, 1 Tsp sugar and 1/2 cup chilled water.
  • Stir flours, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to mix flours with the fats. Work until the mixture has the consistency of small peas. Do not over-mix or it'll make the crust tough. Drizzle chilled water over the dry mixture a Tablespoon at a time, mixing until just firm enough to hold shape. If the dough crumbles, add more chilled water. Turn dough out and divide. Between a top and bottom layer of plastic wrap or waxed paper, flatten and shape in two equally sized disks. Store in sealed plastic bag, and chill a few hours or overnight.
Filling Ingredients & Directions
  • 4-6 large Granny Smith apples, 1 Tsp Lemon Juice, 2-3 Tbls AP Flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 Tbls cinnamon, 2 pinches ground nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
  • Peel, core and slice apples. Put in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir dry ingredients and coat apples. Let stand before putting into the pie.
Assembly & Final Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out crust, one disk at a time on a lightly floured work surface. Start in center and roll outward until disk is about 1/8 inch thick. Place bottom crust in a buttered 9 1/2- to 10-inch pie pan. Stir filling, pour into pie pan and dot top of filling with 2 Tbls butter. Roll out the top crust and use your rolling pin to center it over filling and bottom crust. Trim excess crust at edge of pan to 1 inch and fold top crust under bottom edge. Press and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust to vent. Beat 1 large egg with 1 Tbls heavy whipping cream and brush over top crust of pie. Sprinkle small amount of sugar on top. Bake for 1 hour.

--Based on recipe by Joan Gangle of Dakota Outfitters

Apple Pie

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