Janesville36.6°

Janesville hunter has trophy marinade

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October 22, 2007
— The Gander Mountain store manager didn’t need much convincing to carry Shaggy Dog’s Venison Jerky Marinade.

“It’s great stuff,” said Tim Tollefson.


Employees sampled the product and “100 percent came back that it was probably the best marinade they’ve ever had,” Tollefson said.


Chris Cass—aka Shaggy Dog—and his wife, Jill, may have a found a niche in the marinade market.


It’s a liquid, and neither Chris nor Tollefson are aware of another. Marinades usually are marketed as either a mix or rub.


But with Shaggy Dog’s, “You just take it home, put strips of venison in a bowl and its ready to go,” Tollefson said.


“It couldn’t get any simpler.”


The Green Bay Gander Mountain store also has picked up the product, and Tollefson figures more stores will be selling it in the next few months.


That means that the Casses, both 41, of 470 Mohawk Road, Janesville, may be kicking it into high gear to fill the orders.


Each 12-ounce pouch must be made individually. To make larger batches, they need a process to keep the ingredients suspended in the liquid, but that would cost more. They’re waiting to see how the product takes off before making that investment.


Chris has been making the marinade for years, fine-tuning a basic recipe he got from a friend.


He never had to be convinced of its popularity. His jerky is all that’s requested by his fellow hunters at camp.


After numerous requests for the recipe—which he declined to part with—he finally said, “That’s it. We’re doing it.”


Cass already has a business that includes bowfishing videos he produces. He also does taxidermy.


A big outdoorsman—if there’s a season, he’s in it—Cass is former president of the Bowfishing Assocation of America. He also organized the Wisconsin Bowfishing Association.


“This was a natural progression,” he said.


But he wasn’t prepared for the hassles of starting a food manufacturing company.


“I have a public relations degree from college, I’m a pipe fitter at the (GM) plant, I hunt and fish all the time. What do I know about FDA regulations?”


The couple had to get a federal Food and Drug Administration food-processing license, and their suppliers must be FDA approved as well. They rent a kitchen that must be inspected by the Rock County Health Department.


Chris and Jill are the manufactures, packagers and marketers. Chris usually works afternoons at the GM plant, so he and Jill start production in the morning.


Chris is grateful to Gander Mountain for giving his marinade a chance.


He and his son Jarred recently stopped at the store for minnows. Jared looked between two shelves as they stood in line and got a big grin.


“He’s says, ‘They got Shaggy sauce here!’ ” Chris said. He remembers thinking: “Yep, we’re finally getting somewhere.


“All that work just to find out, ‘Can we do it or not?’ ” Chris said. “Right now, we’re definitely not going to get rich at it.”


The one problem? It’s been cutting into his hunting.


Chris recently found himself doing a demonstration during opening weekend of bow season.


“Talk about something that kills a man,” he said.


SHAGGY DOG’S

The name: Why Shaggy Dog’s Venison Jerky Marinade?


“Just look at me,” said Chris Cass.


The name stuck from deer camp. “A lot of guys ended up with dog names.”


The price: Twelve ounces cost $6.95 and is available at Gander Mountain. One pouch makes about 5 pounds of jerky from deer, elk or beef.


The uses: Customers are finding that the marinade is good on other meat, as well, Jill Cass said.


She found that out herself when an arrow pierced a bag and she had to use it up. She used it on pork chops, chicken and fish.


The Web site: The company Web site is www.shaggydogsmarinade.com.



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