Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Content Coming Soon

Just letting you all know.

 I think it's a sign my family's getting older and older, or just not hunting, or something. No one got a deer on the first or second day, or at all that I've heard of. And I know the PA deer population is exploding and has been for some time. I never got one. I had a chance a couple times. My brother and I were right down behind the house at joining of our feeder crick with Seeley Creek. I didn't have my mind in the hunt--I often didn't--so my brother tapped me on the shoulder and pointed across the water to the steep sidehill covered in pine. A buck was skittering his way down among the pine needles and rocks, a couple doe close behind. I can't remember what I was hunting with--probably my brother's 12-gauge-- but I remember drawing the bead down behind the front leg and waiting for the buck to stop at the bottom before he took off again. I waited and waited, in the way time turns like molasses before the shot, and realized I couldn't do it. I didn't want to do it. I liked venison, a great deal, but not enough to shoot and kill to get it. So I didn't shoot. My brother winked at me when I brought the barrel down, but didn't say anything. He didn't shoot either, but he has his own reasons for that. I don't know them.

As penance of a sort, I haven't eaten venison much since then. Though I do love the memory of seeing the deer hang from the apple tree overnight, and then butchering the cold carcass on the metal dining room table, seeing my dad or my mother slide the knife into the meat on either side of the spine, and how the backstrap would go straight into the frying pan with some butter, maybe some flour--I don't remember exactly--and then out on a communal plate, even while our hands were still bloody, and even though the carcass wasn't nearly done.

I have bad memories too, like trying to force the shot-meat and the gristle into something identifiable as hamburger, which meant through the hand-grinder attached temporarily to the kitchen counter,and often coming close to breaking the thing. That was my job, to grind.And grind. And grind some more.


Fred Haag said...

You write a good picture here. But I will say that we are eating some venison tonight (off the fork between a spit of oak woods and the neighbor's forgotten pasture.)

Rusty said...

I knew somebody would make me jealous after this post. I just knew it. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Broke my foot the night before opening day this year--sad times. But we already had a freezer full of meat, as a farmer friend of mine had some nuisance tags that I filled this summer. So perhaps things turned out as they were supposed to.

One thing I have noticed recently is the number of urban hipster type people who have expressed interest in going hunting (at least in conversation). Five years ago, admitting you hunted in public, at least in places like New York City or Boston, would get you dirty looks. Now it seems to be fine. I don'thave a scientific sample size or anything, but it's something I've definitely noticed. Wonder if that's an offshoot of the local foods movement, which seems to be gaining in popularity...

Susan at Stony River said...

OMG, I was the family Grinder too: what memories that brings back. I was youngest, so my mother's and grandmother's old grinders would be set up in the kitchen and oh Lord, it went on forever! My mother would tell me I left too much fat in, then Grandmom told me it wasn't enough. Pffft. And Mom left both grinders to me when she died. *sigh* Great.

Happy holidays to you meanwhile!

Randy Lowens said...

I can't believe nobody's called you a sissy yet, Rusty.

The only deer I ever killed was with a Chevy Luv pickup, right headlight applied to left ear. I left it in the ditch and continued to work. A hunter friend said we should salvage the meat, so we punched out, fetched and gutted it. Every break we shoved a fresh bag of ice inside the carcass. After work we finished the butchery.

The funny part came when my big shot buddy was teaching me how the gutting was done. “Gotta be real careful passing this part here,” he instructed as he sliced a portion of the abdomen... just when a blob of feces squirted out across his hand. I had to finish the gutting on his direction, while he bent over beside the truck, retching. Of course, the guys around the machine shop never teased him about it. We just called him Mighty Bawana for the next five years until he changed jobs. Blue collar Southerners are gentle sorts.