North·The Arctic Kitchen

'Passionate about life on the land': 13-year-old hunts his own supper

This week's Arctic Kitchen recipe: fresh, fried ptarmigan.

'I’ve hunted grouse since I was like six, maybe even five'

Mackynnen MacDonald-Taylor has a true passion for life on the land. (Arthur Taylor)

Kids these days.

Always on their phones, watching TV, playing video games ... hunting.

Believe it or not, in this fast paced world of new technology, screens and social media, some kids are still finding time to get outside, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy nature. 

Some are even hunting and cooking their own food for themselves. Just like 13-year-old Mackynnen MacDonald-Taylor.

"I've hunted grouse since I was like six, maybe even five," he said in an interview with CBC Northwind host, Wanda McLeod.

Mackynnen lives in Fort Smith, N.W.T., and spends a lot of time at his family's cabin. It's a 120-kilometre snowmobile ride north of the community and it's a great place to learn to hunt. 

Mackynnen MacDonald-Taylor often follows his father while snowmobiling near Fort Smith N.W.T. (Arthur Taylor)

Chasing down his latest hunt on snowmobile was a rush.

"My dad stopped cause he saw the ptarmigan," he said.

Mackynnen then took off his helmet and took aim.

"I took a shot and missed, took another shot and hit ... I thought it was down, but it wasn't and was still alive somehow. Then I shot for the other one and missed, then hit again."

After he knew two were hit, he stopped firing. His dad Arthur Taylor went after one on his snowmobile and Mackynnen started running for the other.

"I got close to it and then jumped, and it ran away, and jumped and it ran away … it went on for two minutes," Mackynnen said.

Then his dad came by on his snowmobile and shot it.

This is the cabin where Mackynnen MacDonald-Taylor learned to hunt and fish. (Arthur Taylor)

"He's always been passionate about life on the land," his mother Erin MacDonald said. "Since he was born, he has been surrounded by adults who love the bush."

Mackynnen's father raised him to love hunting and fishing. MacDonald says her son was also born with his passion to hunt, fish, trap, canoe, skidoo, and camp.

"He absorbs every lesson, but mostly because he has adults in his life who take the time to teach him," she said. "He is one fortunate kid."

But Mackynnen hasn't always liked the flavour of wild meat.

"We always thought that the red meat didn't taste good," he said. "It was more gamey and ptarmigan had red meat so we were like 'nah.'"

Now that he's getting older, though, he's starting to appreciate the taste.

In fact, he's so proud of his recipe his mom decided to share it on CBC North's Facebook recipe group.

Mackynnen MacDonald-Taylor cooks his freshly caught ptarmigan. (Erin MacDonald)

Mackynnen cuts the meat into slices and soaks it in lemon juice and water. Then he applies a technique he uses for when he prepares and cooks fish.

"We take fish, we fillet them, we cut them into small pieces and then we put them in eggs and flour and then fry them. So I basically did that but I didn't cut them into small chunks cause I wanted to see what bigger ones tasted like," he said.

It's a recipe perfect for any young hunter learning how to live in the wild, and cook the wild meat they catch.

"My dad had some, just a tiny bit, and then I had all of it, almost."