The Circle

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I’ve been out hunting nearly every day for the last three weeks and until yesterday hadn’t seen a thing.  The season ends in a week, so I was beginning to think 2015 would be a year without tacos, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, tenderloin, chili, stew, cubed steak and summer sausage (and liver for Ginny).

But yesterday evening nature provided a big buck.  So now the pressure is off. There will be red meat in the freezer and on the table next year.

I know the subject of hunting bothers some people.  I totally understand that.

I take no pleasure in killing animals.  But I do get some satisfaction from knowing that no animal will die to feed me without first living a pleasant natural life on this farm.  The deer that I took yesterday was not fattened with GMO corn on a filthy feed lot.  He didn’t have any hormonal growth promotants implanted in his ear. He wasn’t slaughtered on an assembly line. And neither was he terrified and chased around the county by a pack of dogs while so-called hunters waited along roadsides for a chance to shoot at him. Instead he died instantly and without stress or fear, with a belly full of acorns, leaves and wild grasses. In the several years he’s been roaming around here he’s probably fathered dozens of offspring–and likely enjoyed some tasty meals in our gardens. He has been part of the organism that is our farm and so even now, he lives on.

I like being aware of where my food comes from.  As long as I eat meat, I prefer to know its true cost.  I don’t want to eat animals without ever getting any blood on my hands.

Before I field-dressed the deer, I thanked God for providing him.  I thanked the deer for his sacrifice.  And I asked forgiveness of both of them.

I’ll go hunting again today and every day next week.  It’s an important part of this season in this life.  I will try to take at least one more, if possible.  But if not, so be it.

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19 comments on “The Circle

    • Bill says:

      Glad it resonated with you Laura.

      I sat down to write a post about finally getting a deer this year and I ended up waxing philosophic. That’s why I don’t get invited to parties.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’ve never been a hunter. It’s not because of the life death thing but because I just didn’t have the interest to spend long hours in the woods in cold conditions. My interest lies in fishing where a hook, line, and sinker is bated up and thrown out in the lake. Hunting involves focus and alertness which has a very short life span for me. On the other hand while fishing one, can relax in the sun on a nice chair and even nap a little while waiting for the fish to take the bate. In most cases they will hook themselves. Food and drink can be consumed at will with walks up and down the bank if needed. Even with my grandson and his friend chucking rocks into the water, fish can be caught. The freedom to be loud, noisy, and move around at will, is hard to beat for old guys like me and kids like my grandson. Although, I wouldn’t eat any fish from the nitrate laden ponds around my town, it’s still fun to catch and release. The three to five pound lake trout in Northern Nevada are awesome when taken straight from the water to the frying pan on a shore lunch.

    Good hunting. Have a great post Christmas hunting day.

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    • Bill says:

      I know plenty of people who catch and release but that’s not for me. I don’t like fishing that much. If I couldn’t eat the fish I wouldn’t bother trying to catch them.

      Your comment reminds me of an observation my son made one time about a difference between hunting and fishing. He pointed out that while deer are harmless herbivores, fish are ruthless predators. We catch fish by hooking them when they’re trying to kill and eat some other creature, whereas deer are just minding their own business trying to avoid predators like us. He drew a significant moral distinction between fishing and hunting. I’d never thought of it that way.

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  2. wonderful news that you got a nice buck to help feed the family

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. I would have preferred a doe, but this big guy was alone when he stepped out of the woods. Of course he will produce a lot more meals than a doe would.

      My wife is a vegetarian so the only family member he’ll be feeding is me (and our faithful lab Ginny who gets the liver).

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  3. Well done on the buck for the freezer. I’ve not hunted, but like Dave, done quite a bit of fishing, a little fly casting for river trout, but mostly ocean salmon fishing, and yes, I think there’s a similar ethic at work in the two spheres of food garnering.

    My husband grew up hunting and fishing in New Brunswick (like Maine), and feels the same way as you about it. I remember him once being choked up when he accidentally hit a duck with the car when it was waddling across the road at night in a city park, and when I asked him how this could possibly bother him when he was used to shooting ducks, he explained it in a similar way to you. And he’s right, it IS different.

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    • Bill says:

      Last year I found a fawn that had gotten tangled in the net fencing around our gardens and died. Even though it would otherwise have grown up to be nuisance here, and I would have tried to shoot it during hunting season, I was very sorry to find it that way. Had it be alive I would have gladly rescued it and would have been glad to have done so.

      I believe in mindful participation in our food circle, but without ever losing sight of how precious and wonderful all life is.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It feels good to appreciate our food rather than take it for granted, whether meat or vegetable. Is it just me, or does it taste better too!

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    • Bill says:

      Amen. I totally agree. When you raise (or hunt personally) the animals you eat, then you won’t ever waste the food or take it for granted.

      And I also definitely agree that food tastes better when you know the story behind it.

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  5. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Bill, you follow all the rules our father taught us, my brother and me, so very long ago and honour hunters everywhere. Salut!

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Deb. I try to take it seriously, but I don’t claim to be deserving of any credit. I just hunt the way that seems responsible and thoughtful to me. Others may reasonably see it differently. Glad to know your father (and his children) sees it the way I do. 🙂

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  6. avwalters says:

    We see no problem in hunting, and, for us, the question remains open. If practiced in a sane and humane way, hunting is one way to ensure that one’s protein didn’t come with the kind of killing industry attached to that stuff in styrofoam trays with clear wrap over it at the grocery store.

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  7. Dilip says:

    A fascinating account Bill of your views on hunting! I too enjoyed the forests and the hunts till the ban on shooting came in force in India. But my love for the forests will remain forever 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      Interesting. I was unaware of India’s hunting ban before your comment sent me off to Google.

      Although I do hunt, I prefer my time spent in the woods not hunting. A love for the forests is a very good thing, it seems to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Zambian Lady says:

    Hats off to you for your kind of hunting. Around Vienna, hunters put food in a trough, wait for deer to come for feeding and then shoot them. I am not sure why, but this makes me uncomfortable. I know the ending is the same for the way you hunt and the Viennese way, but I prefer the former because the deer has a ‘fighting’ chance. Some people have argued that the Viennese deer at least die happy and not running from slaughter, but I beg to differ.

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