Saturday, November 05, 2005

deer season in the northwoods

Today was the first day of the two weeks out of each year that I least enjoy living here. It's firearms deer season.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not against hunting per se. Various groups of humans have always had a predatory relationship with certain animals, and I'm not vain enough to say that all of that is wrong. I myself have participated in deer hunting. I considered it this year, but decided against it, for the reason that if one of us shot a deer, we would have to deal with butchering it, which we do not have the space for, or having someone else do it, which would require 1) a valid deer tag at $29, and 2) an additional $65+ for processing. That gets to be expensive meat. Plus there's all the time sitting, waiting in the woods, time being a precious commodity around here.

What I do not like about this time of year is that I do not feel completely safe here. Years ago when this was still our weekend retreat, The Hermit was nearly hit by a bullet fired from the road as he was walking out, fully dressed in blaze orange. Ironically, the shooter is one of our neighbors now, and our kids are best friends. We have talked with the parents on several occasions, but the incident is never brought up. The shooter ended up being fined by a DNR conservation officer after we reported the incident.

Still, there is a hunting camp on the old farmstead just across the creek, where I normally run Togo, and on the 40 just to the south. Rifle bullets travel a long way, and you just never know.

Also, and this is my main pet peeve about hunting these days: When did all terrain vehicles become essential equipment for deer hunting? Or grouse hunting? The northbound lane of the freeway was packed with vehicles yesterday, every other one being a pickup truck or SUV towing a trailer with one or more 4 wheelers, and blaze orange visible somewhere. I made a beer run to Sturgeon Lake this afternoon, and every deer camp I passed had more than one 4-wheeler. The use of these vehicles is restricted to certain hours during deer hunting season, yet I wonder why they are allowed at all. 20 years ago, hunters walked into the woods and dragged their deer out by hand. What has changed, why do people feel they need these gas-powered toys just to carry on the "tradition" of deer hunting? I think "deer season" is just an excuse to bring these toys out in the woods, to explore man's primal nature on the seat of a fossil-fuel burning toy. Note the sarcasm.

On the above mentioned beer run, on the way out I drove by the home of the person who nearly missed shooting my husband years ago. There were about 5 or six guys in blaze orange parkas standing around in front of the house. When I returned, they were still there. Spending a lot of time out in the woods communing with nature!

At any rate, I won't feel completely safe walking my dog or walking in the woods until these yuppie yohos have gone home to the cities for another year. And I won't apologize to anyone about saying that.


Floridacracker said...

The ATV does suddenly seem to be the golf cart of the hunting crowd these days.
I'm still pro hunt, but the modern hunter is quite the gadget guy...I confess to not getting it. It should be the simplest of activities.

We have the south floridiots who come up here to hunt since they have paved over most of south FL. It gets crazy.

TroutGrrrl said...

I'm with you Deb. I don't dislike deer hunting per se, but there's a lot of things about deer season that I do not like. I had to watch a deer die last weekend - I think it had been shot with an arrow, then ran into the road in front of a truck. It was dying, dragging itself out of the ditch, on front legs only, when I passed. It was a beautiful 8 or 10 point buck. I don't like seeing that kind of stuff, I know that's my issue.
I think the mixture of alcohol with hunters who haven't a clue is most of what irritates me. So many go out once per year, don't sight their rifles in, aren't familiar with any other kind of outdoor activity etc. and they give them all a bad name.

the Contrary Goddess said...

get one of those FRS radios with the capability to scan and listen in as they talk to each other in the woods! I've heard the most hilarious things. I know I'm like evil or something, but when they are lost is the most funny. When they shoot a deer and it dies on my land, it is mine. They've taken to hunting further away now mostly. Also, flat tires tend to encourage them to go somewhere else too.

Some old guy drove up here the other day asking if he could park here to walk into the forest. I asked him what did he think, that I'd moved out here and built this house so I could be his parking attendant? I mean, not to be mean, but NO.

It is something to deal with every year, and also something to come to peace with. I'm glad for hunters though reducing the ever expanding population, and glad for the delicious deer too.

Eleutheros said...

Deb, with all the other homestead skills I read about on your blog, don't hesitate to schwing out the butcher knife and process the deer yourself. Of all the larger animals, a deer is the easiest to butcher. In some way it's easier than chickens and rabbits.

We have our share of those idiot WalMart Warriors here in the woods every fall as well. The deer population absolutely has to be reduced each year, but there ought to be an IQ test when they issue the license.

In our state a license isn't required if you take a deer on your own property and since we do the butchering ourselves, it's a chunk of groceries for no cash outlay.

Good luck dodging the bullets.

roger said...

out here yuppies hunt wifi hot spots. you have more adventurous fools there. i mean, your fools may be more adventurous. i'm sure we have as many here.

i have butchered deer. it is doable. and interesting.

dragonfly183 said...

I;ve never butchered a deer myself but i have watched my dad do it several times. Bear doesn't like Deer meat for some strange reason so naturally he doesn't hunt them. I love Deer meat though. My mom makes the most awsome chili and summer sausage with it.

My 7 acres borders a 100 acre piece of land that the owner rents to hunters each year. Our hill top is much higher up than that property so i am not as worried about stray bullets. But my dog often snoops about when i am back there working. He wears and orange collar this time of year

H. Stallard said...

I'm really partial to deer meat myself. I especially like it made into jerky. Several of my deer have been fixed that way all except the tenderloin.

I've met my share of idiots and stupids in the woods while hunting. I was shot at by a guy carrying a rifle in one hand and his whiskey in the other while I was carrying a bow. I gave serious consideration to returning fire with an arrow but decided to lay low and wait for him to leave.

When I hunt, I really prefer to go where no one else is anywhere close to me. I love being in the woods, like to hunt, really enjoy eating the meat but still have a hard time when I have to watch the deer die.

Deb said...

Wow- it's nice to see some of you here who haven't commented for a while, and I believe this is the Dread Pirate Roberts' first comment here, so welcome! I recently saw The Princess Bride again for the first time in about fifteen years, so I can appreciate the reference.

Okay, with all of the encouragement I'm rethinking the idea of a freezer full of venison. It does sound appealing, and I'm up for learning a new homesteading skill. I just talked to a homesteader friend today who is busy butchering deer for extra cash. Of course, there still are those 30+ chickens to kill...

Contrary Goddess- you reminded me of last year, when one of the city folk who owns the 40 just kitty corner across the road got lost in the swamp surrounding Sand Creek after dark. He was yelling for help, and I may have even heard him, I just didn't pay attention because the neighbors across the road are often yelling for some reason or other...but that's another story. They ended up sending in a helicopter to find him. He was having a hard time walking because of hypothermia from his wet legs. Some of these people are just woefully unprepared...But the more deer they kill, the less to keep out of my garden next year. Everything in balance.