Hunting trips create memories

By Sandy Bond

“When I cook for myself, I’m happy with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Marty Looyenga said. “But when it’s for everybody, my wife Debbie usually takes care of it unless its wild game. She leaves that to me. She never liked venison growing up, but has grown to like some of the stuff I make.”Marty and Debbie both have busy careers as teachers in the Mobridge-Pollock School District; he teaches high school science and she, at the upper elementary.

But they take time to hunt as a family and whatever he and the kids bring down or pull in are the favorites on the family dining room table.

“I wouldn’t trade an afternoon sitting in a duck blind with one of my kids for anything,” Marty said.

They have all really taken to hunting and fishing, he said, and he is working on building up a pile of hunting memories with Eric, 15; Aryn, 12; and Alexa, 10.

“Despite Eric having harvested seven deer, he has yet to shoot one with the bow,” he said. “Maybe next fall.”

This past fall, Alexa got her first deer two days after her tenth birthday.

“She even volunteered to help me butcher it,” he said.

Aryn took the hunter safety course last year and during her West River hunt, she was able to shoot one for the wall, he said.

“We were hoping for anything with antlers, but this one came by first,” he said. “After it went down she jumped into my arms, with tears flowing; how I wish I would have had a video camera.”

“My fondest memories of hunting have been with family, either with my father or my kids,” he said.

The love of hunting and of teaching is in Marty’s DNA.

The son of Lowell and Jane Looyenga, Marty and his sister Mindy were raised in Webster where his dad taught high school social studies, and his mom taught at Enemy Swim Day School in the Bristol area. His mother is currently teaching English at the Mobridge site of Sitting Bull College.

“My dad took me hunting when I was just a little guy,” Marty said. “I still remember the first hunt I was on and he shot a nice five-by-five buck. I was hooked.”

He brought down his first deer with a bow in 1977.

On one particular hunt, he said, he sat with his father at Lynn Lake near Roslyn.

“It’s now all water, but back then there were quite a few deer,” he said. “During the course of the morning about 15 deer walked by us. I ended up getting a nice buck, but the hunt with dad is what I remember most.”

He learned to cook from his parents and also to use what they have harvested.

After graduating from Webster High School, Marty earned his bachelor’s degree with a major in biology and a minor in computer science. He taught at Warner for six years, Webster for 13 years and Mobridge for 13 years.

“Lake Oahe drew us here,” Marty said.

They have a German shorthair pointer, Griz. They also have a cat named Cuddles, whose attributes may be a bit more subjective.

“The girls named him,” he said, “but he really is an ‘anti-cuddler.’”

His worst culinary catastrophe, he recalls, was duck breast strips with crème of mushroom soup he whipped up in the ever-dependable and functional Crockpot for a potluck dinner the family attended. They ended up bringing it all home.

“It didn’t taste too bad,” he said, “but it sure looked awful!”

Hoping to share his passion for fishing with others, Marty started a non-profit organization, the “Outdoors 101 Project.” Meant for beginners, it teaches kids and their parents the fundamentals of fishing.

They go over different fishing setups and equipment, he said, and all class participants get a rod and reel combo and the kids get a tackle box – completely loaded.

The mentor and youth hunting season starts early, he said.

“The best advice I can give someone taking a youngster hunting is: get a gun that fits and doesn’t kick much, practice shooting and take them scouting. Build up the hunt, and talk about it a lot. Make it something to plan for and look forward to,” he said.


BBQ Venison Sandwiches

We like to use the neck portion of the backstrap, but almost any cut will work. Place 2 lbs. of venison in a Crockpot with a little water, some onion and Rick’s Salt. Cook for a few hours until the meat can be pulled apart. Take from the Crockpot and allow to cool. Shred, or pull apart, the meat, removing the fat and connective tissue. Place the shredded venison in a large skillet and mix in the following:

¾ cup ketchup

1/3 cup mustard

¼ cup ranch dressing

1 ½ cups Old West BBQ sauce

¾ cup Kraft Thick-n-Rich BBQ sauce

A few turns on the pepper grinder

2 cups water

Heat to medium and lower to simmer. As the water cooks off the sauce will thicken. Stir occasionally. Fresh buns are best!



(Great for deer, beef, geese and even wild turkey)

Meat cleaned up with all fat and connective tissue removed. Cut meat into 1–1 ½ inch pieces. Cover meat with marinade and let sit overnight. Thread meat onto skewers with bacon pieces between each piece. Veggies such as green pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and pineapple are great mixed in on the skewers


½ cup soy sauce

1 6 oz. can pineapple juice

¼ cup oil

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Place the skewers on the grill and when the cherry tomatoes get soft and shrivel, they are done.


Little Steaks

Cut backstrap into 1¼-inch thick pieces. Soak the steaks in apple juice overnight. A few hours before grilling, pour off the juice. Cover the steaks with favorite BBQ sauce and let sit in the refrigerator until the grill gets lighted. As the grill heats up, remove the steaks from the BBQ sauce and wrap with a strip of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Steaks should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees (medium–rare). Seasonings can be added to taste.


Kids’ Favorite Venison

8” piece of venison back strap seasoned liberally with Rick’s Salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill over low heat until medium rare (145 degrees). Slice meat on the table for serving. Goes great with hash browns and toast. It doesn’t get much easier than this one.


Venison Marinade

3 lbs. venison (cut into strips)

½ cup sugar

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup corn oil

3 tbsp. ground sesame seed

1 bundle finely chopped green onion

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. crushed black pepper

Marinade over night in Ziploc bag in refrigerator. Grill to medium rare (145 degrees)

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