I Went Hunting This Year

I went hunting this year.

Some of you already stopped reading.

That’s okay.

 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, hunting was a way of life.

PA hunter-trapper patchOur rite of passage: the hunter’s safety course. (100%, thank you very much.)

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.

 

300 savage pump
I hunt with a .300 Savage similar to this one

 

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.

I took the shot – and missed.my first buck

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:

hams 2015

 

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?

circle of life quote

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