Need A Last-Minute Gift? Some Great Ideas – December Newsletter

Last-Minute Black Belt Gift Ideas

Time is running out for procrastinators with an unfilled Christmas list. Never fear, we have some ideas for you that will make the outdoors person in your life happy on Christmas morning.

Click on this link for lots of Made in the Black Belt gifts, such as Mama Nem’s Pepper Jelly, made at the Rural Heritage Center in Thomaston. The jelly comes in 4- and 8-ounce jars and is made from red or green peppers.

You can also make your favorite hunter happy with a lifetime hunting or fishing license – or just purchase their license for them for a year. You can learn all about the many options at this link.

Gift cards from some of the food and beverage establishments in the Black Belt are great stocking stuffers. Visit our BBQ & Brews page for a list of some of the best places to stop while traveling through the Black Belt. 

Hurry! Book a Great Black Belt Hunt

Here’s another great gift idea for the hunter on your list, but don’t wait too long. There are still spots open for deer hunts at many of the Black Belt lodges. You can find a list on our website at this link. The lodges offer incredible experiences, including wonderful Southern cooking. You’ll need to hurry, though, because the rut is fast approaching and there won’t be many spots available.

And, speaking of the rut, our friends at Great Days Outdoors, have a great article by Alabama outdoors writer Charles Johnson. In the article, Johnson points out that planning is critical when placing tree stands. “Before going in an area blind to place a stand, the hunter needs to pay close attention to wind direction.” Read the entire article at this link.

If it’s bird hunting you prefer, don’t forget that quail season is at its prime NOW! Cooler temperatures make for great dog action in the fields. Quail season ends on the preserves on March 31. Many of our lodges listed at the link above offer quail hunting.

Duck season runs from Dec. 1 through Jan. 27 and our lodges have great packages available. Seth Maddox, the Migratory Gamebird Program Coordinator with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, has predicted a good duck season based on long-range weather forecasts. Let’s hope he’s right!

Have You Voted?

We’ve got some great entries in this year’s Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Buck Photo Contest so far and with our deadline still a couple months away, there’s plenty of time to visit to enter and to vote. We’re conducting the contest on our website this year with another change – you can vote once a day from now until the deadline, Valentine’s Day 2019.

Photos of any deer taken this season in Alabama’s Black Belt region are eligible for a chance to win a cool Wildgame Innovations WiFi Action Camera, valued at $169. The winner will be determined by the number of votes received on the website.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

Stacy Lyn’s Venison Turkey Masala

A native Alabamian and now resident of the Black Belt region, Stacy Lyn Harris is a bestselling cookbook author, blogger, TV chef, gardener, speaker, wife and mother of seven children – that in itself carries with it some pretty heavy-cooking duties. In addition, she tends bees, chickens, home schools her children and feeds her family of nine with the creative dishes prepared from the wild game brought home by husband, Scott, an avid hunter.

For this holiday issue, Stacy Lyn provided us a venison recipe to share with you. Deer season is going full blast in our neck of the woods – Alabama’s Black Belt. We thought a recipe for this wholesome game was more than appropriate. To boot, it complements our Big Buck Photo Contest which is underway until Feb. 14. Visit this link to order Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook, or this one for a personalized copy.

From Stacy Lyn: The meat most often found in Masala dishes is chicken (Tikka Masala), but venison and wild turkey are perfect for this low-and-slow heat style dish. The most flavorful cuts of meat are usually the toughest cuts, but if marinated and cooked with low slow heat, just as this recipe calls for, you will end up with amazing flavorful and tender meat. I use the venison hindquarter roast and wild turkey breast in this recipe.

The flavor combinations in the spice blend of Masala lends itself to wild game, without overpowering it. You can buy Masala, or you can make your own with spices you most likely already have on hand. You will be using the spices in the marinade and in the sauce.


For the marinade

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 lemons

6 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root grated

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1 pound venison hindquarter cut into 1 inch cubes

1 pound turkey breast cut into 1 inch cubes

3 fresh red chilis sliced

For Masala

2 tablespoons vegetable oil for browning the meat

4 tablespoons butter divided

2 chopped onions

4 cloves garlic

2 fresh red chilis

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 cup cilantro leaves and stalks, chopped

28 ounces plum tomatoes

1/3 cup ground almonds

2 14-ounce cans coconut milk

1 lemon halved

Greek yogurt for serving


  1. In a small frying pan, add the first 8 spices and toast for one minute. Add the spices to a large bowl and finely grate in the zest of 1 lemon and its juice, crush in the garlic, and peel and finely grate in the ginger. Add the yogurt, venison, turkey and red chili peppers. Cover with plastic wrap and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven. When sizzling, add venison and turkey pieces in batches. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the meat until browned, but not cooked all the way through, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the meat and set aside.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add onions until browned, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and brown for about one minute. Add the sliced red chili pepper, coriander, turmeric and cilantro stalks and brown for about 3 more minutes. Give the mixture a stir and add the tomatoes. Add the turkey and venison to the mixture and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  4. In a processor, add almonds until chopped very finely. Add the almonds into the Dutch oven and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and halved lemon, then simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lemons and squeeze the juices into the sauce with tongs, and season to perfection. Dollop a few spoonsful of yogurt and swirl through, then sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the Masala. Serve with Basmati Rice and Indian Bread (naan).

Youth Trapping Workshop Scheduled

There are still a few openings available for the Alabama Department of Conservation Natural Resources youth trapping workshop in Greensboro scheduled for Dec. 29-30. The workshop is recommended for youngsters ages 7 and up. Ages 7-15 must be accompanied by an adult – and it’s suggested that ages 16 and up have an adult with them, too.

The workshops are free, but preregistration is required. Contact Mike Sievering at 205-339-5716 for more information. There is also a workshop for adults set for Feb. 23-24 at Portland Landing in Dallas County. 

Lakepoint State Park Buffet for Christmas

Lakepoint State Park’s Water’s Edge Restaurant has a great buffet planned for Christmas Day lunch. If you’re in the area, head over to the park between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to enjoy prime rib and roast turkey, cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, whipped potatoes, steam broccoli with cheese sauce, stir-fry veggies, baked potatoes and more. For dessert, don’t miss the pecan cobbler or a piece of delicious layer cake.

Enjoy this fantastic meal for $18.99. Call for reservations at 334-687-8011. After lunch, stroll around the park for a while. It’s a beautiful place.

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<p>Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox. Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox.

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