Sunday, November 4, 2012

My First Buck

A Novemberish day.  Gray sky, gray woods, and the kind of chill that makes you fall in love with your woodstove.  I'm perfectly aware that this exact temperature will, in early April, feel downright summery, and I will spend the evening patrolling the backyard for signs of dandelions (to eat, not kill), glad to finally get a break from that tiresome old woodstove.

Gray sky, gray woods and, at the very edge of the field, clothed in gray and tan, a buck.  In the eight years since we moved to Vermont, of the dozens of deer that have grazed our fields and dropped mountains of dog treats on the ground, not a single one has been an antlered buck.

This one is a beauty of sorts.  He doesn't have the Audrey Hepburnish litheness of the does, but is as fat and stocky and glossy as a Jersey cow, with a neck the size of my torso (well, almost), and a lovely but seemingly impractical crown of horns with three spikes on each side.

I waited for him to go back into the woods before I took the dogs out, and while I was throwing balls for them, gun shots exploded from the direction in which the buck had disappeared.  Hunting season doesn't start until next weekend, so I hope that what I heard was target practice.

But sooner or later, somebody will get my buck.  The fact that he was the first one in eight years to venture out into our field doesn't speak well for his camouflage I.Q., and perhaps it won't be a tragedy if he doesn't live to pass that trait on to next spring's crop of fawns.

Whoever kills him, though, had better eat him.  If you kill it, you should eat it.  And in my book, getting your meat through hunting (if you're a good hunter, that is, and hit your mark) is far superior on humanitarian grounds than buying steaks from feedlot-raised cows. 

Before somebody shoots him, my buck will have had a fine life, growing up next to his mother, finding good things to eat in the woods, going down to the trout stream to drink at dusk.  And the hunter will have high-quality meat, free of antibiotics and other horrors.

Next weekend our village will hold the annual game dinner.  The fire hall will be redolent with the smell of cooking meat:  bear, moose, deer, and who knows what else.  We usually attend these dinners, to show community spirit, and my husband eats some of everything.  I, on the other hand, despite all my convictions, confine myself to pie.

10 comments :

  1. As a Veganish eater, I agree with you. Hunting is more humane than the factory farm, by far, and without major predators, the deer would soon be too abundant for their habitat. Where is Wolfie's (and Bain's) ken?

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  2. You mean the REAL wolves? I hope they're wending their way down from Canada, and that when they arrive in Vermont they will be protected. Coyotes also help control the size of the herd. We've seen some of their "leftovers" in the woods behind the house.

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  3. So glad you saw the buck. I love the game supper, but I've found my body can't handle all that meat anymore. It's sad, really...

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  4. I have a hard time even with the smell of all that meat, which is why I only eat dessert.

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  5. I wish I could get Mike up there to get your buck and then he and his dad could butcher and process it and then I could make you something sublime or plain. I've gotten good at cooking deer. It's our meat for the year, Mike's and one of his dad's.

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    1. Quick, get yourselves up here! I saw the buck again yesterday, and he's quite plump. Today is the first day of deer hunting season, though, so he may not be around much longer.

      You're lucky to get to eat wild meat all the time.

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    2. Mike's heading out next weekend to do just that (not on your land, of course).

      It took a long time to embrace the game. I'll have to write about it.

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    3. http://south-city-musings.blogspot.com/2011/10/food-blog-action-day.html OH wait. I did.

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  6. OK, I know it was probably deliberate, but your title had me prepared for your first $ earned. You're so clever.

    I also love the fact that you see deer in the wild. I have to fly to Africa to see that (given that I'm not an intrepid explorer in our own wild bush in the south of the south island).

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  7. Oh, lord, in certain cities in this country, deer have become an urban pest. Entire neighborhoods have to put fences around every single tree and shrub and plant to keep them from being devoured. Our deer, I'm happy to say, keep their distance from the house, I assume thanks to the dogs.

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