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.