A rare experience: From the Elk (Mountains) to my kitchen | AspenTimes.com

A rare experience: From the Elk (Mountains) to my kitchen

"How common is it to find the bullet one shot an animal with while preparing the meat nearly a year after it was butchered?" is not a question I ever imagined myself contemplating, let alone typing into Google.

For the record, the results of this search are so wildly unhelpful and irrelevant that I'm forced to wonder if I am the first person to ever Google such a question. (While I realize this is unlikely, I am willing to bet it is not one of the internet's more popular searches). Not convinced? Try Googling it — or any variation of the question — yourself.

It was about two Sundays ago now that a stunned "no way," resonated from the kitchen of my apartment, where Nate had been slicing an elk steak.

Those who know Nate will tell you he is comically unfazed at times that would likely startle or spook others, so when something does strike him, you pay attention.

And there it was — wedged deep into the raw, crimson steak of what he presumed was a front shoulder — the single, silver-colored .300 Remington Ultra Magnum bullet that punctured the elk almost a year ago.

It certainly seemed cool, albeit savage, to this novice, and while I didn't know at that time how unusual it was, what I did know is that I was hungry, meaning my first concern was whether we could still consume this piece of meat.

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I knew Nate would say it was fine — not that he would lead me wrong but simply due to the whole seldom being fazed factor — so I looked to the internet for validation.

Trying to succinctly explain the situation in a Google search was seemingly impossible, however, for exactly the same reasons I struggled with that opening question.

I decided then that I would ask my immediate family (mother, father, brother) in our group text. No one in my family possesses any particular knowledge on hunting, wild game or anything related; I was just hungry and couldn't think of anyone better.

Shortly after posing the question, my younger brother, Austin, replied: "Bullets are highly radioactive. The gunpowder used in modern ammo leaves a coating of highly dangerous chemicals on the bullets after they fire. I wouldn't eat any part of that elk, it's just too risky."

Nate laughed condescendingly. I didn't need him to tell me that my brat of a little brother was messing with me, though evidently he did.

Thirty minutes since Nate's gnarly discovery, with the steak now sizzling above an open flame, my hunger intensifying and little to no legitimate assurance from my parents, I decided to take the question to a vote of the people; specifically, the Instagram followers of @littlebitof_erica (this is a reference to Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5," which is unrelated but something I feel is lost upon most).

In a real last-ditch effort, I created an Instagram poll asking my friends — most of whom are equally, if not more, clueless on the subject than I — if it was kosher to eat the meat.

The responses were a mixed bag after about an hour, at which point I said "screw it" and ate the damn steak, which was delectable.

By the next day, the majority sentiment was a strong "no," but hey, one must always consider the source (you know, something we do a lot in the newsroom).

The good news is I didn't die, or at least not yet.

Hunting season is just around the corner and because I've thoroughly enjoyed not buying red meat from the store and sharing with friends for the better part of a year now, please join me in wishing Nate well in the woods.

The bullet, however, I can live without.

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