Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Deer Denoument

Hunting season is over. First, there's bow season, then shotgun season (no rifles in southern New York), then muzzleloader season. Altogether, about eight weeks of deer hunting time for some hunters, but only four weeks for me. I ended up with three deer, one of which went to Foodlink and two into my freezer. They were a nice big doe and two smaller "button bucks".

There's a big pot of vegetable soup with chunks of venison cooking on the stove right now, simmering in wait of Christmas Eve dinner. My son Kevin will take home a couple of roasts, some chunks, and some ground venison when he leaves after Christmas. We'll have plenty of venison chili and spagetti sauce for the next year, and a few crock pot roasts, too.

I figure I spent about 35 hours in the woods to get those deer, often in temperatures in the low 20's, and once it ranged from 11-18 degrees for five hours. I still have many little brush wounds from pushing through scrub where the deer hide, usually successfully. And I never saw a buck with antlers in all that time.

You might think deer are scarce in the country south of Rochester, New York. Wrong. They are everywhere. The roads are littered with deer that have lost battles with cars and trucks. There are deer tracks through the snow in virtually every yard of the suburbs, and you pass herds of them in the parks at sunset. Unfortunately, when winter comes early and we get a heavy snow cover, like this year, many of the deer may not make it to spring.

I talked to a woman this morning as she walked her dog down our snow-bordered street, and I mentioned my hunting outcome. She said, "Well, at least they got to roam the forest for their life, and not live in a feedlot waiting to be trucked to the slaughterhouse." First time I ever heard that kind of comment, and maybe there's something to it.

This year we saw several coyotes as we hunted. This is a new thing. The coyotes are breeding here because prey is plentiful - too many deer. Of course, the coyotes also eat all kinds of other wildlife and unfortunate house pets.

Years ago, getting a doe permit was an iffy sort of thing. There were many hunters and deer were scarce. Now, each hunter is allowed from two to four does in addition to a buck. But because there are many fewer hunters, the deer population continues to grow. At some point nature will take care of this problem by creating a deer disease or bringing a totally devastating winter. In the meantime, I'll do my part to keep nature in balance and put really fine meat in the freezer.

November, 2008 is coming. Look out, deer! I'll be back, I hope.


john said...

Congratulations on your fine harvest. I used to travel to your area to hunt whitetails during the Southerntier season and had many enjoyable days afield. I am 59 now, I still love the chase and the taste of venison. My son doesn't hunt. It hurts me because we will never have those wonderful times together during deer season. Those of us who still hunt must try to educate young men and women to use the natural resources available to them. We are all "hunter/gatherers"
and to ignore this is dangerous and unnatural.

Anonymous said...

I became a vegetarian after my sister married a pig farmer and I toured his factory farm. He was so proud of his operation, but I was absolutely disgusted. I decided that I wanted no part of an operation that treats life as merely another product, and since that time have never eaten anything that has a mother.

I don't hunt myself, but I have less of a problem with hunting than I do with purchasing packaged food at the supermarket. In a weird sort of twist, I think hunters have more respect for life than mere consumers.

Ron Davison said...

You know, it's not really considered fair warning for the deer if you provide the warning on your blog. :)
Merry Christmas and thanks for letting me feel free to sit on the front porch of your blog and swap stories and ideas. I'll continue to stop by.