I went hunting this year.
Some of you already stopped reading.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, hunting was a way of life.
A special holiday: schools closing on the first day of rifle season.
A test: waking up before dawn to sit in subfreezing temperatures hoping, praying, or – in my sister’s and my case – dancing for the deer to come. We called it the “OK, Deer. You Can Come Now” dance.
Celebration: a photograph of our first deer televised on the local news station. My deer didn’t make it; my turkey, though . . .
Pennsylvania Outdoor Life on WNEP
The same station that brought you the “Apparently” Kid
Reward: meat in the freezer. Horns on the wall (maybe). Head mounts? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Then I moved – college, you know. I didn’t hunt for 4 years.
I moved again – marriage, you know. I hunted off and on for the past 6 years.
Never got anything.
Until this year.
This year I harvested a doe and a buck – and found a slightly different perspective.
Some readers may find the following descriptions and photos distasteful.
Consider yourself warned.
I stood over my first harvest – the doe – and understood why Native Peoples thanked animals for their sacrifice. This doe had been alive moments before; I could feel the heat coming off her. I found myself praying she didn’t suffer. I never thought these thoughts when I was younger.
I had the meat processed into burger – 22 pounds, to be exact.
Enough to fill the freezer.
I was invited to go out again on the last day of the season – processing (if any) would be taken care of.
With two minutes remaining a buck walked out – literally under my stand. I couldn’t take a shot without shooting through the floor, so I waited. Seconds passed; I started to think: Should I take a shot?
I’ve never harvested a buck before; but as I’ve always said, you can’t eat antlers.
I had plenty of burger, but didn’t have any roasts.Would it be worth it?
It was getting late. What if I only wounded it and then couldn’t find it?
Then he started to run and I had to make a choice.
He turned. I had time to make another shot.
I took it – he went down.
Then came the processing.
My uncle and I processed the whole thing.
It was gross; it was disgusting.
It was necessary.
It looked something like this:
I’m not sure how to say it. I enjoyed the hunt, but it wasn’t fun. I derived no pleasure from killing these animals, although I’m thankful for the meat in my freezer. And my in-law’s freezer. And my uncle’s freezer.
I could never hunt for sport.
Contrary to PETA’s website, most hunters don’t hunt for “recreation.” It’s true: many don’t rely on hunting to survive, but those lucky enough to harvest an animal won’t have to buy that at the grocery. Case in point: this year “cost” me $146. I only had to pay for my license and processing of the first deer, and those monies were given as gifts. This means I paid about $2.43 per pound of meat; try buying burger or roast from the deli for that price. I should have no need to buy beef for the next year.
Neither is hunting a necessity. I won’t starve because I didn’t get a deer.
But, hunting makes things easier; my bank account can stretch a bit further.
These are things I didn’t think of before.
Hunting: natural and organic.
Very Circle of Life, don’t you think?