From The Good Earth

Michelle Cain, Fish Biologist, Harvester and Gourmet Cook

By Megan Tarter / Photography By Michael Carney | November 15, 2014
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Michelle Cain

Hosting a gourmet game cooking show on YouTube wasn’t part of Michelle Cain’s plans, but the host of “CookIN’ Gone Wild Field to Table” enjoys using her experience in the field and kitchen to do just that.

Michelle grew up on Snow Lake in Steuben County; her childhood was spent on the lake with her family, boating and fishing. When she started school at Ball State University, the influence of the lake on her childhood helped her realize wildlife biology was the career path she wanted to pursue. After completing her undergraduate degree, Michelle earned a master’s degree in fisheries biology. Before she had even finished her thesis, she was offered a job with the Department of Natural Resources at Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area in Winslow. It was during her time there Michelle decided she was going to start deer hunting.

“I told a friend ‘I want to deer hunt but I know nothing. I need you to take me from start to finish and teach me everything,’” said Michelle.

Michelle began deer hunting in 2009, harvested her first deer that same year, and from that moment, she was hooked. Along with fishing and deer hunting, Michelle also hunts turkey, squirrel and dove. Michelle enjoys hunting alone and with her husband, Adam, and she believes women are just as capable at hunt-ing as men, from dragging a deer carcass out of the woods to cleaning and processing the meat.

“I’m girly; I like to do my hair and nails and wear dresses, but I also like to put on camo and go out and hunt. Women shouldn’t feel limited to do one thing or the other,” said Michelle. She believes it is important for women to understand where their food comes from and how it’s processed, and by hunting, fishing and foraging they learn this.

“I think it’s the pride in knowing that you worked hard to harvest that animal or plant. It gives you a sense of pride in your cooking and what you’re putting in your body.”

She is living proof of her theory. Her expertise with hunting gave her the experience and the knowledge she needed to take part in several segments on cooking wild game for “Indy Style” on WISH-TV. Michelle then realized what a great opportunity having a show solely focused on wild game cooking would be. Thus, “CookIN’ Gone Wild Field to Table,” a YouTube cooking channel, was born. The show is the brain-child of Michelle and her director at Indiana Fish and Wildlife. The first episode aired in January 2013 with a Seared Duck and Cranberry Sauce recipe. Over time, “CookIN’” developed from being solely in the kitchen to including the process of hunting the featured meat in each episode.    

“Now we’re going from harvesting and cleaning the animal to cooking it to give viewers the whole experi-ence,” said Michelle.

The goal is for viewers who are just getting into hunting to see what it requires, specifically, that hunting has many facets and it is not as difficult or time-consuming as it might seem. Each episode is carefully planned out, from bringing in a mentor to show Michelle the ropes of hunting each different animal, to filming each episode in her very own home.

Her process for cooking gourmet wild game meals is quite simple: She chooses common recipes and tweaks them to include wild game. Michelle said she’s always liked to cook, she is a self-proclaimed “ex-perimental chef” and she enjoys taking a recipe and making it her own.

“I love being involved in ‘CookIN’’ because I am able to learn a new set of skills from an expert and, of course, I love eating the meals I create.”

Michelle finds her role on “CookIN’” is vital to showing people who do not think they can hunt or cook that they can get involved in these activities.

“Anyone can do this—I had a want and need to do it and we didn’t want the show to be a stereotype. Our main message is ‘If I can do it, you can too and here’s what you need to know.’ I’m always learning along the way and I want people to see I’m not an expert either.”

Contact Michelle Cain
mcain@dnr.in.gov | 317.234.8240.

Indiana Fish and Wildlife
Facebook INfishandwildlife
Twitter @INFishWildlife
YouTube idnrvideos

Information about Indiana Fish and Wildlife events such as Hunt, Fish, Eat classes are at Wildlife.in.gov.

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