“Omg! Omg!! Omg!!!”
I’ll get back to that in a second. Living a self-sufficient lifestyle requires a vast variety of proficiencies: growing your own food, foraging edible and medicinal plants, food preservation, caring for livestock, construction, and hunting are just a few of the skills one needs to be self-sustaining.
To be honest, I really didn’t want to go deer hunting this year. Not seeing anything but deer and elk scat and prints for the past two years and this year’s physical issues, any excitement I’ve had about hunting was all but extinguished.
Mr. Misty’s enthusiasm has had to carry me this season and I grumbled, all the way to the little local market, about what a waste of money it was, barely making it before the cutoff for buying tags.
We’ve been out a few time, weather driving us quickly back in. Last week, there was finally a break in the rain and a monetarily blue sky; when the sun broke through, you could almost hear angels singing to which Mr. Misty cheered, “let’s go to the gate and glass the hillside!!” (just on the other side of our property.)
Protesting, loudly, under my breath, I pulled on my “hunters Orange” t-shirt and hiking boots, and dragging my feet to the truck, desperately tried to think of a reason I shouldn’t go. Darn it! Where was the cough that had been plaguing me the past few days when I needed it!!
We get to the gate, Mr. Misty flys out of the truck and has his spotting scope set up before I even unbuckled my seat belt. I’m so enthusiastic I don’t even bother pulling out my rifle. I finally make it to the gate (which is less than four feet away) and he hands me his rifle, barely concealing his irritation with my lack of interest and tells me, “here, look through this and tell me if you see something”, to which I reply, “M’kay…siiiiggghhhh.” Seriously y’all, it was my best sigh since I was sixteen, with eye-roll for added effect, but he was already focused on the hillside.
Pulling the rifle scope to my eye, I started my normal grid-like search: left to right / up a down, in small quadrants. I don’t know if that’s how you’re supposed to do it, but it’s how I do it.
Tree. Tree. Stump. Bush. “Oh! Petty leaves!” Tree. Stump. “Are those huckleberries?” Grass. Brush. “I wonder if there are any edible mushrooms out there.” Stump. Rock. Brush. “I’d probably eat one that would kill me.” Pine. Cedar. Cottonwood. Brush. “Well, at least it would put an end to this pointless ‘hunt’.” Brush. Grass. “Sigh…(with eye-roll)” Tall grass. Brush. Dead Queen Anne’s Lace. “Wow! It’s beautiful even when it’s spent and brown.” Stump. Branch. Deer butt. Grass. Tree. “Wait!! Butt!!! BUTT…and horns!!”
By now it’s raining again and Mr. Misty confirmed I was indeed seeing a Buck (where we live in the Pacific Northwest, we can shoot any Buck) and tells me to go ahead and take the shot. Good thing that Buck wasn’t in any hurry. Even with the extra time it took me to line it up, it wasn’t the best shot – I aimed for the shoulder and hit closer to the hip, and I’m pretty sure I closed my eyes.
What a humbling experience filling my first tag was – once we got the Buck down off the hillside and to the truck, Mr. Misty and I both said a little prayer, laying our hands on the Buck and thanking him for his life and for the sustenance he’ll be providing our family this year.
We spent the evening prepping it for hanging, with Mr. Misty doing the hardest part. I am amazed how adept his knife skills are. He’s been hunting since he was a young boy, so he’s had lots of practice. Me? I’m lucky if I can successfully cut up a whole fryer for dinner without needing a band-aid.
If you’ve never done it before, dressing out game animals is pretty stinky. Because of where I shot it, we were worried the bullet had traveled through its intestines, which would have made the job much worse. As luck would have it, the bullet bypassed the guts, severing the spine.
I forced myself, through some tears and rain soaked clothing, to stay out in the garage with him while he finished the task. The tears weren’t from the smells or the bone chill – it was the recognition of a life being taken. I knew it would be hard, but I don’t think you’re ever really prepared for it. And it’s also why there weren’t many photos taken.
When Mr. Misty fills his tag, we will work on a post discussing how to dress out and process a game animal. We may even share some favorite recipes with you.
Do you hunt? Share a tip or a story below.
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