It’s been more than a decade since I decided that I wanted to go hunting. I don’t recall the why that idea got planted in my head, but I know that I’ve loved venison and elk ever since I tried it….and there’s only one way to stock your freezer with it.
When I first asked Dylan if I could go hunting with him, he was surprised but was very happy to agree to teach me what I would need to know. After I moved here and after the fishing season was over, it was time to look to land rather than lake for our next fresh-caught meal. Now I’m a softie (which is how I had ended up with my five fur babies) and when I was going to college for Equine Science, I always stressed it wasn’t going to be for veterinary medicine because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to put an animal down. Knowing this, Dylan said that we would start out small, rather than just jumping into the large game hunting and going straight to deer.
So we got me my first hunting license, the required safety orange, and a new camouflage “outfit.” Small game comes in season before deer, so Dylan reasoned that we would see if I’d be able to kill a lil fluffy critter without crying by starting with squirrel and rabbit. So I took a day off, grabbed my trusty Benelli 12-gauge, and out we went.
I took my shotgun for a couple hikes, and when the first day of deer season came in I went hiking with Dylan’s .270…just to switch it up a bit. Between lack of time off together on days that it’s legal to hunt (Sundays are closed for that here in PA) and Dylan’s badly bruised knee from the first day, we didn’t make it out again for the season, and I was convinced that we wouldn’t get any venison this year. I certainly didn’t think that I would get a deer by….unconventional means.
After the city bus hit a deer at work and no one else spoke up, I found myself in possession of a little buck. I left a message for Dylan at his work and sent a message to his mother that, “Long story short….I got a deer.” A friend helped me gut it and load it into my car, wrapped up all neat in the tarp that had been feeling abandoned since it remained unopened during hunting season.
Driving home from work that night I felt all paranoid and jumpy. I felt like an axe murderer on my way to hide the body, even though in reality I knew there was nothing wrong or illegal with the situation. Dylan didn’t get home from work til late, and after a quick trip to the 24-hour market for a few essentials, we got to work. I helped him hang the deer in the garage and held the flashlight as he began the skinning process. It took a lil while, but I got to help with parts of it, and he was so proud of me.
It was about 4:30am by the time I got to bed, and I woke again at 8:30 to start my day. Dylan reported the deer to the proper channels and ended up staying up all day butchering the deer into steaks, roasts, and stew meat. He was dead on his feet by the time it was all complete and he could rest, but he forgave me for keeping him up all day because we now have a freezer full of venison.
So I may not have shot a deer this season, I may not have dragged one through the woods after field dressing it, but I got to experience a lot of the “work” that comes after the kill. It may not have been how we wanted or expected to get our deer this year, but we certainly won’t complain.