Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fatback, empty power lines, and biscuits.

   Fat back is disgusting.  I don't care what anyone says.  It is and half of me feels scarred for having tried it.

   I figured I had seen everything I needed to see to understand the south until this weekend.  As stated previously, I went with E4 and DU to a family farm to try our luck.  Arriving late Friday, we went to bed quickly in order to be up early.  DU had the "perfect" place for me to set up shop and get a good deer.   E4 took my TC to a stand squished between two small fields.  I climbed my tree (sans tears) and sat intently listening for a deer to unknowingly saunter by.  The stars were beautiful, the clearest I've seen since I've been home. The sun rose along with my hopes.  Nothing at 7.  Grunted with my flextone.  Nothing. An hour later. Two hours later. Nothing.  I stood up.  Nothing.  Sat down. Silently pleaded with the deer to come and try to figure out the buzzing power lines.  Nothing.  Sigh.

   And then I hear it.  It's like a mother hearing her baby cry 3 miles away.  The powerful crack and explosion of my TC muzzleloader.  You must be kidding me.

  A quick text and it's confirmed.  E4 harvested his first deer of the season.  With MY muzzleloader.  

  Let me break here so you can understand.  E4 is DU's long-time friend.  E4 was the first person in North Carolina who really showed me that southern hospitality thing that people rave about.   His accent and his Momma are as southern country as it can get.   He's been a great friend and someone I've really been able to count on.  It's a beautiful thing.  Now that we're done with the sentimentalization, my story can continue.

  So, E4 got a deer and I was truly happy for him.   Truly happy, that is, once I got over the fact that I've been hunting for over a month and still have nothing to show for it.  But hey, if you harvested a deer every time, "hunting" would be called "shooting". Also, E4 and I are in an alliance against DU in order to fill our tags more quickly than him, so the score as of now is a straight tie. 

  E4 has never field dressed nor quartered his own deer.  Therefore, in order to build up his self efficiency, DU decided that once we got the deer back to camp, he and I would go get biscuits.  E4 was left with a deer hanging on a tree, waiting to be dressed and quartered.   Feeling like I was leaving a child behind, I longingly looked back as E4 picked up his knife and started his novice adventure. 

  We pulled into Oxford, North Carolina and I was assaulted with a small town, full of people I couldn't understand.   The accents were thick and everyone seemed to know everyone else- in essence, I was smitten.  And then there were the biscuits.

  As we pulled into Sunrise Biscuits, I took note of the dirty exterior.  Knowing full well that in the south, dirty, hole in the wall places generally equal fantastic food, I was excited.  Sunrise has a simple menu, 2 women behind a counter and a smell that needs to be experienced because words fail to describe.  Holding the bag containing white packages of breakfast on the way back without getting to take a bite was a practice in self restraint, but I made it.

   The ham and cheese biscuit was heavenly.  As I took my first bite sitting on the John Deere gator, I felt angel wings flutter on my face and the taste of edible gold on my tongue.  All of that ended swiftly when E4 suggest I taste his fatback biscuit.  It tasted how bad breath would taste if you could solidify and fry it.  A southern delicacy that is lost on this Yankee, fatback is a sodium infused hardly edible patty of pig fat that I will never have to eat ever again.

  The biscuits were ingested, deer was quartered and the afternoon hunt went just as unfruitful for me as the morning had.  But I took some neat pictures, got a true taste of the back woods country life and learned of the to-each-his-own fried goodness that southerners adore.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween (and more importantly , first day of Muzzleloader Season)!!

What would Halloween be without some good hunting carvings? This labor of love, the Browning symbol took two tries and a lot of patience.  DU, of course, did the Duck's Unlimited symbol and an homage to his favorite NFL team, the Colts. Each of the puppies got one as well, making our front porch ablaze with the beauty of rotting produce:

I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!!!

As for me, I'll be hunting. (Shocking, I know.) Tonight, DU, E4 and I are going to be venturing about two hours away to a family farm that is overrun with deer.  DU was able to get a bunch of good harvests out of there last year so we're hoping for the same tomorrow.  I shot a little bit yesterday and was dead-on so I hope that is a good omen for tomorrow morning. Even though it is the first day of Muzzleloader, I'm allowing E4 to use my TC triumph since he amazingly enough does not own one.  I love black powder .50's but I figured E4 would enjoy coming out.  Besides, I'm yearning for my first bow kill.

Stay tuned!! Hopefully I'll be celebrating my first bow harvest this time tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Puppy Trifecta

  Waterfowl hunters know that a good duck dog is essential for a good hunt.  And since we're still in that second date awkward getting-to-know-you phase, I feel that you, dear reader, need to meet my babies.

   When DU and I got together, we both brought a puppy into the newly forming family. Titus Andronicus, my fantastic pit bull/boxer mix, abused stray who stole my heart in the SPCA, is my baby.  He's been by my side no matter what.  Everyday when I get home it's like I've been gone for seven years. DU lovingly calls him our "little creeper" because anywhere we are, Titus is. If you call another dog, Titus will come running, just in case you need him too.  Titus' favorite activity is to stare at me.  You may think I'm joking but I'm not. Whenever I'm home, no matter what I'm doing, even if I'm in the bathroom or outside mowing the lawn, I get this:

   Oscar is another story.  DU's albino pit bull who is eccentric at best.  His wiggling twinkie-esque body exudes happiness. His smiles, grunts, sneezes and growls are the first things that people are greeted with upon entry into our home.  He's been with DU since puppy hood and has had his fair share of trials.  During a break-in while the pair were still in Indiana, Oscar was brutally attacked by the robber.  The man was eventually tried and convicted partially through dental records of Oscar's teeth marks on his leg. This big pit bull was present in the court room, muzzle and all, happy as could be.  He's an ornery old man whose favorite activities include sleeping, sitting on Titus and eating cheese. 

   Last but certainly not least, especially for the purpose of this blog, is Avery.  This beautiful pup was abandoned with the rest of her litter in a cardboard box by the side of the road.  DU and I went to help our friend, E4, to pick out a dog at the local humane society.  Avery was visiting with her foster family getting over parvo (a terrible puppy intestinal disease) when she fell into our laps.  At first, she wanted nothing to do with us.  However, after I held her, DU and I knew she had to come home. The day after we welcomed the warm ball of black fur into the inner sanctum of our family, DU had to do some work on a family friend's boat.  We figured Avery might enjoy coming.  Not really expecting much at 14 weeks, I threw a small toy duck into the lake. Avery trotted right in and picked it up.  She brought the offering back then proceeded to sit next to me as if saying, "Mom... can I go again?". Of course, I obliged. As of yesterday, we found out that our little girl is not only not gun shy in the least but can now retrieve dead trainers. You'll be hearing about her more, as she is already becoming a great duck dog but also a fantastic companion.

   There you have it! Our babies- Oscar the Old Man, Titus the Creeper and Avery, Duck Retrieval Extraordinaire. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Modern Woman's Guide to Hunting. Vol. 1

   Sunday was the worst day of hunting I had ever experienced.  After a luxuriously lazy Saturday, I was up bright and early to begin hunting on Sunday.  My camo was freshly cleaned with Primos scent eliminating spray and washed the night before.  My bow looked hungry and ready to harvest some deer.  Most of all, I was going to use a climber at a new spot we had not hunted but suspected a lot of movement.  After I helped DU get his deer out of the woods the night previously, we set the climber on the tree and spread some feed. I fell asleep that night with visions of big bucks dancing in my head.

    The woods were illuminated by a full moon that morning which acted as a spotlight to get to the new part of the woods.  Across the field I trudged, thinking that this was going to be the day of hunting that I had been planning for.  Usually a little afraid of the big, dark, mean forest, I was confident that morning and was not spooked at the breaking of twigs or moving shadows.  Finally making it to the tree, my bad luck started when I realized I didn't have my rope.  This rope is a quasi-big thing as I use it to hoist up my bag and bow once I reach the summit.  Without it, I was forced to keep the cumbersome contraption strapped to my back. I figured this was just a small issue until I tried to get into the stand.

   Climbers are designed to circumference trees with steel cables and adhere to them with sharp teeth.   Two separate parts, one has to use upper arm strength to move the seat part up and lower body to hoist the platform up.  Tricky business at first, but the motion becomes fluid after a couple times up and down a tree. Usually that is, unless you're faced with a different stand or gigantic tree.  Unfortunately, I was faced with the latter.

   Remember when I mentioned that I'm 4'10.5?  This does not bode well with a big tree.  Big trees make the first couple of movements up it really tough, as the biggest part of the tree is at its base.  Given that my base had to be low enough for me to get into it, I could barely move the bottom up.  Once I got into the stand with my bag on my back, I was a crying mess.  It took four attempts to get into the stand.  Each attempt had its problem.  The seat being too loose, which resulted in it hitting me in the face.  The top, again not properly adhered, slid to the right and fell on my arm.  My bag was not securely in the stand and tumbled out, breaking one of my good arrows.  The base was at a weird angle that just refused to budge an inch.

   I stood there,  sweating in my thinsulate boots, insulated pants and yards of camo fabric, tears running down my face with my broken arrow on my back, 5 feet from the ground.  I cried.  I looked for DU even though I knew full well he was across the land and would never hear me. I cried some more.

  After catching my breath and realizing I had made enough noise to ensure I would not see a deer, I checked myself. I was alive, I was in the stand ( a little battered and bruised but nonetheless, in), and I could do this.  With my entire body shaking from the strain of moving the platform up, I slowly scaled the tree. At the summit, I slowly attached my safety harness to the tree and sat.  Surveying the damage, I was okay.  My arm was starting to turn purple but my face seemed fine.  The broken arrow was useless anyway, as it was a practice broadhead that had lost its sharp point. With nothing to hold my bag or bow up, I carefully secured my bag underneath my seat and my bow on the ledge in front of me.

   As I watched the sun rise, I remembered how weak I felt, crying at the base of this tree.  I cried because I felt that I couldn't do it.  I couldn't move the stand an inch. I couldn't even get into the stand.  Then I looked around me and saw that I had done it.  I was in the tree and I was ready to kill something.

   So, the Modern Woman's Guide to Hunting Vol. 1 Rule 1:
      Hunting is Hard- Try.
  If you don't succeed- Cry. 
And try again.  
(Repeat as necessary)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Irony, you're amusing.

Well... last Friday's post was Ironic in more ways than one.

    First of all, we did get let out at 5.

       Secondly, DU did get a buck. A six point.  Just as I was driving into the woods to help him move my stand. That jerk.

           Thirdly, I hunted all day on Sunday.  It was beautiful.  I saw a buck that was well out of bow range and a doe who decided to show up just after sunset. The day was one of those spent well. 

Occasionally, I hate Irony.  But this weekend, not so much.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall is in the air... and If you Hunt... you know what that means...

    Ah yes, friends, Fall.  The time of year that makes people want to drink apple cider and go to Vermont to watch leaves change color.  For the hunter in your life, you may have noticed that he or she is not around as much anymore.  And whenever he or she is around,  the person in question is falling asleep from getting up at 4am that morning or is telling you every detail of the newly harvested animal in the back of his pickup truck.  I've been used to this, as it is I who loves hunting.  However, there is a new facet of my love for hunting that I did not come to expect.  

   The Ducks Unlimited man who forgets cooking utensils hunts.  He loves hunting, watches hunting, gets very excited when new magazines are shipped to the house and even just purchased a camo purse for one of my Christmas presents.  (Shhhhhh..... I don't know about it). However, it is in his hunting that we find our problem.  He's a student who works when he needs to and makes a good living as such.  I work from 9-6, Monday through Friday.  These days, the sun decides not to rise until 7:30, making it so that if I chose to hunt in the morning, I'd get an hour of mediocre sitting in before having to venture back to work.  By the time I get out of work, there is less than an hour of sunlight left.  In a few weeks, I'm assuming that just like back home, I'll go to work as it starts getting light and leave when it's already dark.  Are you starting to see a problem?
   DU can go hunting when he doesn't have class or when he's not at the shop.  He can hunt in the mornings and sit till a decent hour.  Hell, he can even do homework in the stand.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't answer phones nor e-mails while waiting for a big buck to arrive. Weekends pose another problem.  Given that I get up early every weekday, I love sleeping in on weekends.  However, I've been missing more and more morning hunts because I fail to get up when the alarm screams. The animals pose another hurdle.  DU spends a lot of time at home so he can bear being away from them.  When I get home from work, a welcoming committee greets me as if I'd never come home before.  Hence, on weekends, I love to just hang with them.  But.  I love to hunt.

    I'm assuming DU is in the stand right now, enjoying the last fleeting moments of this beautiful Friday.  I'm at work, silently begging my Boss to let us leave at 5 and wishing I was in the woods.  It sounds so bad to say but I get jealous of DU because he gets to go hunting whenever he pleases.  This is a new problem that I'm not too sure how to solve.  I could always hunt last season.. whenever I wanted to.  But now with a more-full-time-job, three "babies" at home and a strong desire to sleep, hunting is starting to take a backseat.  I wish I could be that care-free person who gets to hunt when the mood strikes.  I guess its all about learning how to balance.  I don't like being an Adult.  I want to do what I want when I want, with no concern for how anyone will react.  Unfortunately, I'm in the corporate Adult world.
   I guess the best I can do is to just be happy that DU gets to enjoy himself and hope that he brings home a big deer.  My time will come.  Until then, I'll just sit here and silently send subliminal messages to my Boss, send us home at 5....send us home at 5..... send us home at 5.....


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Perils of Sleeping In...

    MmmmmmMMMmMmmmm Bed is so comfortable..... wait.. What time is it!!?!?!??!?

  We've all been there.  Whether it be late for work, overslept for school or missed an entire day by giving into the luxurious temptations of a ultra-plush bed- sleep can seriously screw things up.  You can get fired for it, demoted, reprimanded and the like.  However, sometimes oversleeping is exactly what you need.

   When I get sick, I sleep.  When I'm upset, I sleep. I sleep when I'm cranky or when nothing seems to go right. On a rainy day, it takes ten tons of dynamite to get me out of the warm confines of bed.  I guess it runs in my blood, as my mom is a narcoleptic.  She slept through a lot of my childhood.  She wasn't the kind who would fall asleep at the drop of a hat into a pile of spaghetti but the kind who slept hard- for days.  Weekends would be spent going to bed at 8, getting up at 4, making dinner, and going back to sleep.  It must have been hard to live like that- never feeling fully rested and always tired.

   My Indiana man had planned to return home this weekend, leaving me the task of taking care of the 3 babies and house.  However, he put off the trip till Saturday afternoon to enjoy the last day of early duck season.  Friday night was date night.  We went to a movie and Bass Pro Fishing to pick up some last minute things.  That and Bass Pro just reeks of a perfect location for a romantic date night.(You may think I'm using sarcasm to draw you to a conclusion that I was unhappy about being there- I'm really not.  I love that store and wish to figure out some way to live there.)  Retreating back to our abode, we set our alarms and drifted to sleep, thinking that they would rouse us from slumber at 1am.

  Fast forward to 4:30 when we woke with a start, fascinated by the time on the clock. Thinking the clock was lying and playing a joke on us, I closed my eyes tightly then opened them.  4:31. Shit.

  I was a little irritated.  I had really wanted to go hunting.  But since it would take an hour to get to the launch, another forty-five minutes to get in place and put the blind up- time was of the essence and we did not have that luxury.  By the time we would have been in place, the ducks would have already been settled to wait out the mid-90 degree day.

   I settled back in the comforter and felt Indiana man's signature arm-under-my-pillow move closely followed by the I'm-going-to-break-your-ribs-bear hug with the other arm.  Tucked deeply away from the hustle and bustle of the world, I told myself that life can't be all that bad and there was definitely a reason we over-slept that morning.

  I gave into sleep a little while later only to be woken up again to the sound of loudly thumping tails. I knew the culprits were the two big puppies, as the little one is crate trained across the house. I unconsciously felt the presence of two wet noses mere inches from my face and the sound of smashing tails metronome-esque against the wood bed.  Not-so-silently pleading with me to get up and let them outside, both went nuts when I sat up.  Obviously the universal sign for "Mom's up and the only thing she'd love to do right now is to stand outside in the freezing cold and watch us pee"- I could only laugh as I watched the abundantly overjoyed display; Two dogs, two insane tails and wiggling bodies- both jockeying for the first position out the door.

  The rest of the mid-morning was spent hanging out in bed, getting breakfast and preparing for Indiana man's departure.

  I was happy then that the wail of our alarm clocks failed to push us into the hunting world.  The morning was how I wish all my mornings could be.  Funny, warm, filled with love.  Oh and of course, full of puppy kisses and wet noses.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bow hunting... How I love Thee... let me count the ways....

    I never thought that I would love bow hunting as much as I do.  For those of you who aren't really sure what bow hunting is then let me explain.  Bow hunting has come far since Robin Hood threw on his first pair of tights.  While many people still shoot long bow (I've never tried but I think it would be interesting), compound bows have introduced technology to an ancient art.  Limbs, cams, and strings all combine to increase speed and hit harder.  I'm a personal fan of Hoyt bows as I just purchased a new Vicxen and absolutely love it. (Except for the fact that it has pink strings... I'm getting it re-strung after season)  I shoot about fifty times a day, if my arms will allow, and with the Vicxen, shooting is accurate and smooth.  I'm not getting paid for this (even though I wish I was) so you, dear reader, can take my testimony as fact.

   I started shooting bow a handful of months ago. Funnily enough, when I started shooting bow, my life was rapidly changing.  My ex-beau had reappeared after months of silence and trying hard as ever to get me back.  He told me, again, that he loved me.  He said that he wasn't able to listen to country music because every song he heard made him think of me.  Of course, like any dumb girl who lives in the past, I melted like ice cream on a sidewalk in August.  We started talking again and I rested in the reassurance that since he was back, then life would go back on track. 

   He called me one night and told me that I should come to Johnson's, a country store that supplies all hunting needs.  I had been going there since I moved to the small town where it is situated.  I knew everyone at Johnson's and everyone definitely knew me. Being the token hunting girl, I was on the receiving end of a lot of good natured jokes but the guys always took great care of me.  I excitedly went to Johnson where I was faced with my ex and a bow.  He had a trade in the works and the result was a bow.

   I took it home and started shooting it.  It was a Bear youth bow that drew back 35 pounds.  It was good for a starter bow and I started shooting everyday.  As days progressed, I started getting stronger- not only in my draw but in my convictions.

   My ex started coming over more frequently.  One afternoon, I was shooting in the yard and he drove up.  He was talking and going on about something.  I wasn't really interested as all I could think about was the pain this person put me through.  It was this moment that things changed between us.  He didn't realize it but I did.  I felt pain, anger and disgust surge through my body by just looking at him.  By just looking at him. I'd never felt that before. The flame my heart had been harboring for him flickered and went out.

   Weeks passed and my bow was getting lighter.  By the time that I had increased the weight to 40, more changes were being set into motion.  I visited my best friend in North Carolina for spring break and was unknowingly walking into a new, exciting adventure.

    Being a great friend, my bestest threw a party in my honor during my trip. I was hanging out in her kitchen minding my own business when suddenly she appeared and dragged me outside to the porch.  There was a guy reclining on the porch ledge, nursing a beer and wearing a Ducks Unlimited shirt.  He was told that I was a girl who hunted and fished.

   He was interested. 

      We talked. I told him about my guns, the deer I killed, and showed him pictures of my new bow.

   He was really interested.

       I got cold so I threw my cowboy boots on and went into my Jeep.  My jeep has deer decals on the back and random hunting company stickers. I went back to the house wearing my camo jacket.

    His jaw dropped and he was smitten.

   I now shoot a fully adult bow at 46 pounds, which will ultimately get up to 50 in the distant to near future.  My arrows go through targets and I'm more accurate than I have ever been.  The guy in the Ducks Unlimited shirt showed me that love is stronger than distance and time.  That the heart has reasons that reason knows not of.  He made an effort and turned my life into an unpredictable adventure.  Even though he forgets cooking implements and almost sets duck blinds on fire, I adore him for the person he is.

   And it's funny to look back on all of it now- that it all started with a girl shooting a bow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy First Day of Duck Season, NC!

   Ah the beauty of waterfowl hunting.  My man and his friend have been hanging out in the boat since 1 this morning, waiting for first light.  I, unfortunately, still have to make money so I'm at work, wishing I was out there with them.  As we're still getting to know one another, I should share my one and only experience with hunting aviary animals.

  Oh Geese.  The most annoying birds except for Seagulls but are oh-so- delicious. As with any hunting, I'm accustomed to getting up early.  However, I was not ready for waterfowl hunting's definition of early.  Getting up at 2:30am would ultimately mean that I would've had to go to bed at 6pm in order to get my solid 8 hours of beauty sleep.  Getting to bed at 11, I had a nice 3 hour nap before pulling myself out of the warmth of my snuggly bed and into my camo. I was excited, as I always am for the first day of any season, so I was my crazy perky self, much to the groggy disgust of my significant other and our friend.  The trek to the lake took about an hour so by the time that we pulled into the boat launch, I was falling back asleep.  No rest was allowed for the weary, as we jetted out to our predetermined spot and started setting up the spread of decoys.  [Note: This sounds easy, as we were in about 4 inches of water.  But please keep in mind; under the small amount of water lay feet thick layers of gooey mud just waiting to adhere to our boots and refuse to relinquish their grasp.  Therefore, getting through to where we were going to put the decoys involved maneuvering through waist-deep muck. Did I mention that I'm 4'10.5? It was an experience. ]

  Once the decoys were floating merrily in the water, hanging out on the sandy bank or sleeping silently, we settled into the blinded boat.  [A blind is camouflage  which conceals a large John boat and the three people within it.  It basically tells birds- "Hey!! This is a nice spot to fly near! Look, all these other geese decided to bed down here! I'm just an unassuming pile of cattails and other man-made vegetation! Of course there aren't three hunters inside of me, waiting to make you dinner! Hey!! Come back!!] Once all was settled, we had to put our face makeup on which ended up being the best part of the day.  I was covered in the stuff like girls from the jersey shore pack on brozer. It was great.

   Surrounded by extremely flammable materials and firearms, the boys decided that bacon was needed.  So, they started the propane single pan cooking contraption and proceeded to make bacon.  However, one hunter who will remain nameless forgot everything that is needed in order to make breakfast. [read: utensils, plates, spatulas, a place to put scalding hot grease] So this is what happened:

While I tried a small bite of bacon, which was very good, I opted out of having a full-on bacon breakfast.

   Soon enough, the sun starting coming up and the birds flew.  Goose calls bellowed.  The air was electrified with energy.  My ears were constantly perked and my adrenaline started pumping when I heard the calls come back.  We saw a lot of geese but didn't get any real good shots at all.  But the sunrise was beautiful and the goose pit was full of laughter.  Waterfowl hunting is completely different from big game.  I don't like one or the other better just yet but it's interesting to note that with waterfowl, hunters hang out in the pit, swap jokes, talk about love, and rejoice when birds fly overhead. With gun and bow, you can't talk. You can't move.  When a deer comes, you can't gesture wildly to your buddies, because: a) the deer will run away and b) there would be no one around to gesture wildly to. But maybe it'll be in the differences that I'll love both equally like a mother loves her children- love abounds but for each but in separate ways. Only time will tell...

   When the hunt finally ended at around 10 in the morning, it was time to take a power washer to my face and get rid of the camo makeup.  It only took about 7 washcloths to get the stuff off my face and arms so when the truck pulled into our driveway, I was ready for a nap.

    I fell into bed and was shortly joined by the hunter who had forgotten all the cooking utensils. Before allowing myself to be lulled to sleep by the chimes outside, I mulled over the morning.  That morning I had: gotten up as early as many people my age go to bed,  wore more face makeup than I have in a year, almost was eaten up by feet of muck and lit on fire, watched a beautiful sunrise, and experienced the  majesty of waterfowl hunting. Not a bad morning at all.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My First Deer.

Since we're getting all acclimated and all, I should probably share with you my first experience harvesting a deer.  This is pivotal, as I was not really sure of my love for deer hunting until the moment that deer dropped.

     It was a cold Thanksgiving morning.  My boyfriend at the time and I were at a turning point in our relationship.  After a year of  relatively good times,things were starting to go sour.  We were living in sin in an apartment that I was paying for.  I paid for everything from rent to heat to food.  I didn't expect much from him because he had been burned months before which included skin graphing and the whole nine yards. Unfortunately for our relationship, he was not only still feeling the physical effects of it but also the emotional toll in not being able to take care of me.  He was the alpha male kind of guy, one who needs to be able to take care of everything- no matter what.  The weekend after opening day I came home to a half-empty apartment.  It felt terrible because at first, I felt relieved.  Relieved that I wouldn't have to hear him complain everyday, wait up for him or have to be the one to tell him to get the hell out 

    Once the initial shock melted away, I was sad, lonely and angry.  I had moved to the town I lived in essentially so we could be together. I worked hard to pay for everything and wasted money that needn't be wasted on a guy like him. Most of all, I was angry because I didn't know what would come of my hunting season.  We had been hunting his friend's property and I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to continue hunting there.

      I eventually got a hold of him a little later. He told me how much he loved me and that we'd be together but he needed to move out in order to be less of a burden on my shoulders.  A complete cop-out if you ask me, but since he didn't ask, I didn't mention it.

      Weeks went by and I went hunting every morning and afternoon I could. Some days he'd be there, some days not.  But every time I saw him, a part of my heart would ignite.  That part got smaller and smaller as the months went by and eventually went out.  But we're not there yet.

      And then there was that Thanksgiving morning.  It started like any early morning hunt. 4:00am. Freezing cold walk outside to let Titus pee and a quick run upstairs to throw my camo on.  After driving to the land, he and I walked to the stands.  Sounds easy, but through a dirt road flooded and up to my knees in freezing cold water, walking turns into an aerobic workout.

     The morning was relatively quiet and nothing moved.  Once everyone descended from their tree stand thrones, the men decided a push was necessary to get the deer moving.  [A push is when a group walks through thickets and woods while making enough noise to make deer a county over move.  Hunters placed on either side of the thickets attempt to get any deer that come out]  I was told to scale a monstrous stand and wait. 

    The guys started screaming and singing as they walked through the brush.

    I stood and waited, my gun shaking in apprehension as my hands refused to calm. 

   Then came the moment the deer decided to peek outside the thicket.

    I breathed and calmly lined the cross hairs.

    A second later it was done and I could barely move.

   Numbly, I cocked the shotgun just in case.

    Once the push was over, the guys came out yelling and high-fiving one another as I looked down from the stand.  Encouraging me to come down and survey my handiwork, I shakily put my safety on and climbed down. Walking over to the guys circled up, I saw the mound of deer in the brush.  I quickly knelt down and patted her stomach.  I said a quick prayer and thanked her for the meals she would provide.

   The whole ordeal took only a second but forever I had been changed.

    I felt empowered.  I felt like there was nothing I couldn't do.  And I fell in love with hunting.

    Later  after the hunt was over, I did a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner and extended an invite to my soon to be ex-significant other.  He said he'd call when he was done with another push.

     He never called.

    But that night, I ate my small dinner and drank deeply from a cheap bottle of wine alone. For the first time, I wasn't sad and I knew all would be well.  As long as I could hunt, life would be good.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Hunt. Animal Lovers, beware.

Not to say that I don't love animals.  I do.  I own three.  Well, to be exact my house has three dogs (Titus, a rescued Boxer mix, Oscar, an albino red nosed Pit Bull, and Avery, a newly rescued Black Lab), three mice and one snake.  But I do love hunting.  Anything that I can legally hunt, I enjoy harvesting. While I will try to get that big buck or great moose (eventually in the future when I can hopefully afford such an adventure), I hunt for food. I hunt because I enjoy the taste of wild game and the hunt.

   Let's go back, shall we?

        My Granddad hunted.  He fished and he worked hard to support his family through night school.  He was (and is) a great man.  Most likely, he's in the happy hunting ground, hanging out with the boys in a hunting lodge around a fire, sharing stories about the "one that got away".  He met my Nana during the second world war and married her just 19 days after being engaged.  He loved his family and most of all loved being outside, hunting and fishing.  I suppose that's why I love all things hunting.  I feel more at home and more connected with him when I'm out in the stand or on a pier. 

    And back to the present.

      I hunt. We've already established that.  Muzzleloader, shotgun, rifle and (my most favorite) bow- I'll do what I can in order to put meat in my freezer.

      I started hunting last year.  28 beautiful, stunning days spent in a stand.  Before that season, I'd never watched a sunset and sunrise in one sitting.  Before that season, I never really knew what it meant to be to live in nature.  I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to harvest my first deer last Thanksgiving.  From that moment on, I wore more camo, shot more guns, and fell in love with bow hunting.

     I'll never hunt for a man.  Because a man allows me the opportunity to hunt on a parcel of land or because he shows me how to skin a deer just right or climb a stand in an effective way, then I'll do it.  But always, I will hunt for me.

    My aim with this endeavor is to tell my stories and to give a voice to the real female hunter. A hunter who has to work to support not only her habit but also support her family (in my case, lots of adopted puppies).Who works hard to keep the house clean, the animals fed and finds time to venture out to the stand as much as possible. Not the one that is seen on TV clad in free gear, loaded down with makeup and smiling perfectly-  but the one who truly loves hunting.

   Because I will always.. Hunt Like I'm Hungry.