Casey Nordine

I am the youngest of four siblings. Feeding a household of six people can be a tall task, demonstrated by large grocery bills and the necessary skill of cooking for a crowd. My parents hunted as a pair in the first few years of my childhood. At times they held close to a dozen big game tags between the two of them, with the hopes of putting some affordable protein on the table for the family. As us kids got older this transitioned into my folks taking us on regular fishing and hunting outings, and soon enough they were spending a lot more time untangling our reels and helping us fill our first deer tags than they were focusing on their own pursuits.

We grew up in western South Dakota, on the edge of Black Hills National Forest. I caught my first 20 inch trout on my sixth birthday, and started going to deer camp on our friend’s ranch when I was eight. I never had to think too deeply about my connection to the outdoor world. Hunting, fishing, and camping just seemed like the things we did, and I enjoyed it all without hesitation.

As is the case for many, my teenage years offered a greater taste of freedom. My friends and I spent countless hours exploring our surrounding public lands in old 4x4s and Subarus, fishing mountain creeks, and looking forward to the two or three days of deer hunting we’d get in each fall.

After graduating I moved to the Twin Cities of Minnesota to attend a small liberal arts university and play football. It was during this time that I recognized the deep connection between myself and the outdoors. As a kid I could hike and bike out my front door. In the cities it was about a 90 minute drive to the nearest state forest. Each year at college I found myself more and more eager for summer break, when I could return to the Black Hills to pack in as much camping and fishing as possible.

My high school sweetheart and I got married right before my senior year of college. As my graduation approached we made the decision to move back to the Black Hills. Once settled in South Dakota, I began looking for any and every opportunity to get outside, particularly if it resulted in fresh trout for dinner, or punching a deer tag. I dusted off my .270, took up bow hunting, and purchased a muzzleloader, turning my primary hunting season into a four month venture. For the first time in my adult life I had a freezer of food to do with as I pleased. Wild game and fish became the staple in our home, and thus was born my passion to prepare meals outside of my standard chili and spaghetti catalog (I still LOVE both, though the recipes have morphed over the years).

In the past few years I have added elk and small game hunting to the mix, not to mention that I now get to share my love of wild foods and wild places with my daughter. Her favorite color is “sparkly pink”, and her favorite food is heart tacos. I’m a proud dad.

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