Monday, November 19, 2007

Deer Hunting

I’m not a deer hunter. I tried when I was younger and really enjoyed the experience especially the part of scouting out a place to hunt and then hunkering down and waiting for my opportunity. The problem is me and guns don’t have a working relationship. I could hit the broad side of a barn with a rifle, but only if I was close enough to throw the gun at it.

My deer hunting is now restricted to foraging through the freezer section of my fridge to see what venison my successful deer hunting brothers and sisters have donated to the cause. Last week I enjoyed some venison stroganoff and this week I’ll dip into some venison chili. People who say they can’t stand the taste of venison have never really tried it other than just fried up in a pan. Meat processors can do wonders.

The great thing about deer hunting is the bonding it can build with families. One of my fondest memories of my dad is of him taking me deer hunting with him when I was 4 or 5 years old. At least that’s how old I think I was. I remember my canteen had milk in it and I sat on a stump trying to be as quiet as possible. I don’t think we had any success that day, but the joy of being with my father was probably reward enough for the both of us.

That kind of bonding has been passed down from my brother John to his two sons Max and Derek. That’s Max pictured, who is 12-years-old, with the 5 pointer he shot on the opening day of Michigan’s gun-deer season Thursday, November 15th. My brother Matt and his wife Laurie also got their bucks early in the season. I count myself lucky to known that at least someone in the family can be successful at deer hunting.

This is probably where someone with PETA or another animal rights group would probably say it’s a barbaric practice. I once talked with a conservation warden who had worked with the Department of Natural Resources in northern Wisconsin for more than 30 years. I’ll never forget his words. Animals out in the wild don’t die of old age and rarely in their sleep.

I took a year off of college and worked with the U.S. Forest Service on a timber crew. We marked trees for cutting in the woods. From that experience I learned to appreciate nature and wildlife. I can definitely get the appeal of hunting. Those who’ve never done it really shouldn’t criticize. The timing of Wisconsin’s season also prepares us for another, the Christmas shopping season when survival of the fittest is truly tested.

Deer hunting season is great. Besides I’d rather see a deer carcass strapped across someone’s car or truck hood than part of my dashboard.