Everybody has a story and Wapiti is no exception. The Native American Indians referred to the elk as the “Wapiti”. More specifically, the word Wapiti came from the Shawnee Indians, who viewed them as the ghost kings of the high country in the American west. Wapiti are very cautious and are much more wary than deer. They are very difficult to track, can live at high elevations, and can travel longer distances than most other wild game. They have a “sixth sense” that is sensitive to human presence; quickly vanishing into aspen groves so thick one would think it impossible to enter. They are driven by their survival.
For centuries elk have lived out the prairies and grazed on the rich grasses in large numbers. When Lewis & Clark encountered them and in the spring of 1805; Lewis wrote in his journal and described herds in the thousands as they made their way in search of a Northwest Passage.
Wapiti is naturally low in fat, low in cholesterol and high in protein. It is dark red, very tender and does not need marinating. Wapiti meat can be substituted for beef in most recipes with a few changes. Since Wapiti is so low in fat it is important to remember not to overcook, it will cook quicker and if overdone will dry out and be tough. With burgers and steak it is important to leave a little bit of pink in the center.