Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Now the Fun Begins...




















   For those of us who live in Alaska, hunting is a major part of our lives. It's not just the sport of bagging an animal; for many of us, how well we make it through the winter depends on the success of the hunt. Meat is expensive no matter where you live, but here in the bush, it's especially costly. For a lot of folks, there just aren't jobs available and so being able to shoot or catch what you eat is a necessity. Where we live, on Chichagof Island, there is a large deer population. Seven or eight years ago when we had twenty three feet of snow, many of the deer were wiped out, and for a few years the bag limit was cut back, as it should have been. It would have been disastrous if hunting had continued as it had been prior to the big snow. For the past three or four years though, the winters have been uncommonly mild, and the deer have rebounded and are abundant. For years I took my sons out hunting with me. Like many others here, we counted on a few deer to help supplement the food supply. As I've gotten older though, I'm not so inclined to get out and chase the deer around. My body is rebelling against me so it's not nearly as fun as it used to be. Fortunately for me, both boys love to hunt, and this year they both came home to do some hunting and both were successful. We were the happy recipients of one of Brian's hunts. He blessed us with two bucks. Not only did he shoot, gut and pack them home, he skinned them and helped to process the meat. It doesn't get any better than that for me.I didn't have to buy gas for the truck or bullets for his gun, he provided it all. We just fed and housed him for awhile and he took care of the rest. There's an old saying about hunting... after you pull the trigger, the work begins. No truer words were ever spoken. Unlike fishing, where you can let your catch go if it isn't hurt, there's no shooting a deer and then walking away from it. Nope, when you go hunting, you're in it for the long haul. If you're lucky enough to be successful, the fun is over. It's  a  lot of work. I once shot a deer when I first started hunting that pretty much gutted itself. It was walking away from me, and I got all spastic and took the shot even though I probably shouldn't have. It hit the poor thing in the hind leg, ricocheted upward and ran the length of his stomach cavity before exiting. Every time he jumped, some of his innards fell out. When I caught up to it, I didn't have to do anything but take out the heart and liver as I recall. That was kind of bizarre. Nice, but bizarre. In every other instance, you have to gut the deer, and then pack it out to your vehicle. Depending on how far away it is, and what kind of terrain you were hunting in, it can be a real pain. As the saying goes though, that's just the beginning of sorrows. Once it's loaded in the truck and hauled to town, it has to be hung up and skinned, unless of course you bone it out in the field, something that I've never done. I'd prefer to be away from the area where I shot the deer as soon as possible, Around here, a gunshot is like ringing the dinner bell to these Alaska Coastal Brown Bears. Brian once lost a deer he was gutting to a bear. Probably better to lose it while it was on the ground than to be packing out out and have the bear decide that what you killed is his. After the deer is skinned, it usually sits for a few days, I guess to kind of tenderize the meat. Then it's time to butcher. I learned how to butcher a deer when I was living on the farm, and it has served me well down through the years. After that, some of the meat gets ground and the rest is put into roasts, back strap,tenderloins, stew meat and however else you like your meat. I've eaten a few meals so far using this venison and I have to tell you, it's delightful.If you're going to eat red meat, this is the stuff you want. No steroids, fillers, sawdust, mad cow or any of the other stuff that store bought might contain. Anyway, I'm not trying to discourage anyone from hunting, just remember, once you've pulled the trigger, that's when the real fun starts.

6 comments:

  1. We've used a bit of our meat. So grateful for that!

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  2. HI Autumn,
    We had hamburgers last night with some of ours. Really tasty. I may have to make some vegetable soup with one of the small roasts sometime soon.

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  3. There is nothing better that Sitka Blacktail Deer meat...

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  4. Hi Todd- it's really good, that's for sure. I've only had Whitetail once in my life, many years ago, and it was really gamey. I've eaten moose, but never caribou or elk, but I understand they are both tasty as well. What about you, do you hunt at all up where you are? Drop me a line if you get time, let me know how you are. Thanks for commenting

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  5. Glad they were able to shoot some deer and had enough to share w/everyone that's really nice.

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  6. Hi Camille- yeah it was great. It's so nice to look in the freezer and see a nice supply of venison and halibut and know that it will carry you through the winter. I wish I could send some your way.

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