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In this episode, Eduardo Garcia joins Ben Masters on a bighorn sheep hunt in Big Sky Country – recognized as the hardest hunt in the lower 48 states. The vast, treacherous terrain offers the ideal setting for a meal rich with the joy of working for it – an ingredient in no shortage at 9,700 feet. Thumbnail photo by Yogesh Simpson

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- My name is Eduardo Garcia. I'm a professional chef, avid hunter, fisherman, and wild foods forager. A few years ago, I nearly lost my life doing what I love. Since then, I've doubled down on my mission to make food an integral part of every adventure. This is my Hungry Life. ♪ I'm out in the woods ♪ The type of hunting I've done in my life has been so low maintenance, meaning I grew up in an idyllic location for hunting and fishing. It wasn't having to venture 10 miles deep to uncharted territory to find animals. This bighorn sheep hunt came about because I'm elk hunting and I see three beautiful rams and I realize, I had this aha moment, I've never hunted bighorn sheep. Those are some serious rams hangin' out in elk country, in my backyard. I don't even know what bighorn sheep tastes like. The reason I hunt is to eat, to make a meal. It's to experience the flavor and taste, and this is the first time in my life I have ever dedicated myself to the pursuit of a meal like this before. You know, the thing about Ben is he's an incredible horseman. His background is training mustangs, wild American mustangs, and honestly, I mean, there's no one in the world I'd rather have on a pack trip than Ben Masters. The American West is vast, and that's the beauty of it, and that's the challenge of it. - Sheep. - Oh, no, it's . Dang it. They say it's the hardest hunt in the lower 48. I'll be hunting right on the Yellowstone National Park border, 30 miles from where I grew up in Montana. Just spotting a bighorn sheep, let a lone a legal bighorn ram, in a zone that's that big is incredibly challenging. I know that there's a high chance that Ben and I will not see, let a lone harvest, legal ram on this hunt. Damn, dude. But you'd better believe that we're bringing as much good food as possible with us and or sourcing or finding it where it's available. There's a ton of black currants right up here. Make you a deal, Masters. - What's the deal? - If you can out pick me at these black currant patch right here, then I'll make the first cocktail. - [Ben] What all flavors of berries are there out here? - Well, we should be finding huckleberries. Also, we should find elderberry, thimbleberry, and whortleberry or grouseberry, which are my favorite. They taste like bubblegum. Have you ever sipped on a black currant corn whiskey cocktail at 9,700 feet? - [Ben] No, but I'd like to. That took, what, five minutes to get? - So, when you eat a nettle, you gotta fold it into itself like that and then fold it again and you fold it again. That way all the stingers are on the inside and then you can eat it. Okay, I think I got what I need outta here. Clearly, these guys need water, the horses. - Yeah. - We need water. - [Ben] Yeah, let's go get this water. - Pools, Ben. We've got four main pools for horses to drink out of that, by the time we're back tomorrow, will be nice and clear pool. This is camp, buddies. Welcome home. The pursuit of a trigger pull, for me, is not as strong as the process and the journey and the joy of just soaking in a moment. Wow, he's hanging out with a younger three-year-old ram. I haven't seen a legal ram in this district yet, and I've covered it. If they're not there, they're not there. I'm hunting on all levels, which is I'm hunting for wild foraged foods, which include bighorn sheep on this trip, but also included these berries that we pulled. Mint black currant tea spiked with some moonshine. - That is really good. - It's strong. Which also included steaming nettle, which went into a chimichurri, which also included the garlic that came out of my garden, which I packed and brought up onto the mountain. And we brought some sweet potatoes from my garden, and we brought a beautiful real deer hind quarter from a really young two-year-old neel deer and took the time. So, you put the meat on there, lay this in. You put the coals on top, start searing the outside, and then, through that, a sort of protecting layer to keep the dirt off of our grub. And this dirt is suffocating now, sort of the oven, and let's let it rip for three hours and then unearth it. When, yeah, we could've been out hunting, but that's kind of the thing is that putting an emphasis back into your food on a mountaintop... Look at that piece. - Oh, man. Is it... Let's eat this. - Let's eat it, let's eat it. Part of the joy, for me, in hunting is that it's not easy. The most forgettable meal are the ones that require no effort, and I'll carry that with me next season when you know I'll be back on that mountain. I invested more than a half a year into the pursuit of a single meal and never got to sink my teeth into a perfectly cooked big horn sheepsteak. So many parts of the journey kinda reaffirm we were successfully surviving out in the woods. It's not typical to think that that's success, you know, coming home empty handed. Hunting is the act of pursuing a one thing, and when it comes to the pursuit of that one thing, I'd say we definitely succeeded in being hunters and fulfilling that role of hunters. We didn't kill anything, but killing is different tham hunting.