Graves Peeler, who ranches down in the brush country of lower Texas, has, I think, a better herd of authentic Longhorn cattle than any other individual in the United States. Last year he killed a twenty-five-year-old cow, a red with black nose, black tail, and black hoofs. She was in good condition for her age, Graves Peeler says, but “rough, like all old cattle and old people. She had lost her girlish figure, but by no means her activity. She had been eating prickly pear (with the thorns singed off) seven or eight months out of each year for the past thirteen years of drought. She was gentle enough to eat soft ground feed that the milk cows ate, but could never resist the temptation to try hooking any dog that came in sight of her.”
Graves Peeler let a butcher in Pleasanton have the meat, and about this time a friend from another county who had had a bad heart attack came through and asked the butcher for aged beef. His doctor had told him to eat protein in the form of red meat. The butcher showed him the carcass of the Graves Peeler cow. The man took home twenty-five pounds. He old Graves Peeler later that the meat made him feel so good that he wished he had bought the whole carcass. He said it was tender.
I have to argue against myself in setting up the panther, now generally and pompously called “mountain lion” as an authority on the best meat to eat for gaining strength. When a panther kills, he doesn't carry on any of the butcher-shop cuts. He rips an animal open and feasts on the insides, particularly on the fat of the intestines and the kidneys. I am not sure, but I think he also eats the intestines themselves. That's what the Indians, who had all sorts of meat to choose from, preferred. A doctor has told me that the core of vitamins and proteins in grazing animal is located in the innards.
A lot of the best meat on earth goes to waste every deer-hunting season. The traditional custom is to take hams and backstraps and let ribs and the meat around the lower parts of hams and shoulders go. The lower leg meat is all muscle and is full of juice. I believe there is no better-tasting or more nourishing meat than the ribs of a big fat buck roasted over coals. It doesn't need salt, pepper, or any oilier seasoning. All it needs is to he done to a turn; the juices keep inside it.
I cannot prove that wild meat has something that domesticated meat doesn't have in the way of vitamins and nourishment. I only know it has always tasted better to me and has made me feel more thrifty. I am pretty sure that a pound of fat wild turkey is worth more to the body than eighteen pounds of much-advertised milk-fed turkey. As the old saying goes, “You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.” You can't grow a Caesar out of the equivalent in food value of air swallowed through a funnel.