Day 13 – Thoughts on hunting

I hunt. And by that, I mean that I actually shoot wild animals and use them for food…and occasionally decorations. (It’s the woman in me.)

This weekend was the opening weekend for deer season where I live. I went out, by myself, and walked, waited, and tried my best to think like a deer. I apparently suck at that, but my luck tends to be rather high. As I was getting ready to head home, my sister and her friend told me that there was a nice buck in our barnyard. (How many times do I tell people that we need to start in our own backyards???) 😉

After quite the little escapade, I had my tag filled, meaning my season was done for the year. Yay!

I would consider it a successful deer hunt! A nice 5X5 buck whose antlers will hang on my wall and whose meat will fill my freezer.

I would consider it a successful deer hunt! A nice 5X5 buck whose antlers will hang on my wall and whose meat will fill my freezer.

So why do I hunt? Well, it’s not just the thrill of the chase (although, I will admit that I’m kind of fond of that part.), and it’s not just because venison is so very, very nummy. No, it’s not just that at all. It’s because it’s the humane thing to do.

Did I fall and hit my head?

No, in fact, I have most of my faculties pretty well straightened out. And after what I saw a few years ago, I will support every season that is opened for wild animals. (I guess I should put in a “within reason” clause in here, just because I don’t want to be called out on this sometime in the future.) That doesn’t mean I will hunt in every season, but I will support the right to hunt.

It wasn’t so very long ago that we had a deer problem in our yard. In. Our. Yard. Having to bury approximately 200 deer that year was hard, watching all that meat go to waste was hard, knowing that it could have been prevented was hard.

We found deer, frozen in our feed.

We found deer, frozen in our feed.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. To make a long story short, our hay was too rich for their system and we could get no help in dispersing them from our land.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. To make a long story short, our hay was too rich for their system and we could get no help in dispersing them from our land.

So from now on, I will actively do my part to ensure that the deer population is controlled, and that we are proactive in our steps to ensure a healthy habitat. The key word being “healthy.”

And next year, I will teach my son the skills required to hunt. Typical? Maybe not. But I cannot wait for the chance to show him what my dad and grandpa taught me.

The power of knowledge

I was fortunate enough to be recently featured in several pieces written by a wonderful woman (Aimee Whetstine) and featured, along with several other amazing women, on her blog everday epistle. The topic? Women and guns.

It’s been an amazing experience, having the opportunity to not only have my voice heard on such an amazing platform, but the chance to hear the thoughts and opinions of so many others – especially on a topic that women usually get a back seat on.

I thought it would be a good idea for me to explain my reason for not only owning a gun, but for using it as well.

I use my gun, approximately once a year, but the fact that I KNOW how to use it is what gives me peace.

I use my gun, approximately once a year, but the fact that I KNOW how to use it is what gives me peace.

I commented on Aimee’s BlogHer post that it is NOT the gun itself that gives me a feeling of empowerment. It is the fact that I know how to use the gun, and use it properly, that leaves me feeling more protected and enabled.

Sleeping with a gun under my pillow would do nothing to alleviate my fears of not being protected, if I did not know what to do with it. Likewise, if I were to carry a taser in my purse, yet know nothing about how it works.

The power from a weapon doesn’t just come from the weapon itself…it comes from the peace of mind and knowledge that you gain from owning it. The same is true that the danger of a weapon does not come from the weapon itself…it comes from the person wielding it, their intentions and their ability to use it.

Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a ban on assault rifles. Although I do not own a single assault rifle, I can’t help but feel a little dismayed and saddened by the votes cast. Eliminating weapons will not magically fix the problem, because the problem does not relate to the weapon used.

As long as we keep throwing bandaids at the true problem, the bandaids will continue to fall off.

The Second Amendment promises the right to bear arms. It says nothing about picking and choosing weapons only deemed “safe” by some outside source. And it also gives you the right to have bare arms…meaning that if you have no desire to own a gun, or to learn how to use one, that is your right as well.

Perhaps we need to start remembering that we need to respect others’ rights…as well as our own.

Hunt My Meat Monday – Success!

That’s right, after a few failed attempts this week, I managed to finally bring down my deer. In fact, as I type this, my dear is at a local butcher shop, being turned into pepper sticks and dried venison (and I’ll have a recipe for that at a later date). I can’t WAIT!

But, the story on how I got my deer is an entertaining one…and since I happen to like to entertain you, my reader, I will share my story with you:

It all started Sunday morning, as I woke up to the promise of another beautiful day on the prairie (seriously, 50 degrees on the prairie…in North Dakota…in November?!? Pinch me, I’m dreaming!)

A friend of my husband called and said that there were some deer west of our house a bit. I drove a mile west, saw the deer he was referring to, walked a half-mile in, shot three times, missed, and walked the rest of the way home. Great way to get a mile walk in, but not a successful hunt. It was now almost 9 a.m., I had to get myself and four boys ready to greet at church at 9:35, plus have the refreshments ready for the Fellowship Time following church. But I wasn’t in a hurry. 😉

We made it through church (did I mention that we were also Sunday morning greeters/ushers for church?), made it through the snack preparation for after church, made it through Sunday School (did I mention that I was asked to sub for a Sunday School teacher that was sick?) and then headed home. I had a long, busy day already, and it was barely noon.

As we pull up to the grocery store to pick up some milk (we go through milk like CRAZY!), my little sister called, telling me that there was a buck just west of the farm. I’ve been down this road already…in fact, I had walked that mile already that day! But she was insistent that I hurry out and see if I could shoot him. And so we hurried home, I grabbed my orange sweatshirt (state law to wear blaze orange while deer hunting during gun season), grabbed my gun and headed back west again.

As I got out of the suburban to cross the fence and head out into the field, it dawned on me that my attire was not the best suited for hunting excursions. This is what I was wearing:

My version of hunting...with style.

 

 

Yes, I am wearing a green cowl-neck sweater dress, complete with brown leggings and knee-high dress boots. I was a fashionable hunter as I crossed the field, even kneeling to use my scope to spot my target. The buck got up, I shot once and missed. I reloaded and shot a second time. I didn’t miss that time. The buck did a summersault and was down. I had filled my tag.

Now, to be clear, I hunt for food and to protect our crops and livestock. I am not a trophy hunter (although I don’t mind having a mount on my wall), and have no desire to spend days on end tracking my deer. I prefer I shoot them, they die, we take care of them and they’re in our freezer. Simple as that.

When we checked on my quarry, it became apparent that the meat on this deer was safe, as I had shot the buck in the head, eliminating on side of its rack. A pretty crazy shot from where we were, but the animal was dead, which was the point I was going for! (Sometimes, when an animal is shot in the body, it can ruin large portions of the meat. Had this been a trophy deer, my shot would have been a sad deal, but since this buck was nice, but definitely nothing special, my shot was in a great place…causing no damage to any edible part of the deer.)

The guy walking with me started to field dress my deer (take all the insides out), and I quickly told him that I could finish the job. I knew I wasn’t wearing appropriate clothing, but I’m perfectly capable of dressing out my deer. Any errors in judgment that I had in my dress code were my mistakes, not something he had to make up for! But he graciously insisted that he could finish the job, and actually enjoyed this part of the hunt! (And he did a great job!)

Here I am, with my buck (complete with my fan-tab-ulous outfit!

Not exactly what I "planned" to wear when hunting, but it works!

 

 

When my Dad and I took my deer to the local butcher shop to be processed, he commented on my unique attire. I guaranteed him that although I was dressed in truly my Sunday’s best, I had no qualms about helping unload the deer. I’m guessing it was a fresh change from some of the guys he sees! 🙂

I don’t have a recipe to share with you today…I’m too tired and and little run down from the craziness of today! But if you go over to my friend Katie’s blog, she has an awesome pheasant recipe (that I happened to supply her with!) and I’m linking up some past venison recipes she has shared…go ahead, check them out!

Hunt My Meat Monday

I know, I’m funny, right? Normally I participate in Hunk of Meat Monday with Beyer Beware…but today, I don’t have any meat to make, because my hunt was unsuccessful this weekend. Oh well, I have two more weekends to work some magic.

But I want to share my hunting story, because I think you will enjoy it!

Things I need for my hunt: blaze orange, gratis tag, shells, clip, pelvis saw.

Deer season opened at noon on Friday. The boys and I drove around a bit, but didn’t really do much for hunting. Saturday morning, bright and early, I walked the trees behind our house with some friends. Then we walked more trees and then we walked some more. (By the way, did you know that hunting is GREAT exercise?)

We saw a few deer, but I never did shoot. Not sure why. Hmmm…better get over that!

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, my little sister and I decided to walk another set of trees. It wasn’t a great day for hunting, it was cool and the wind was blowing 40+ mph. After we walked the trees, we thought maybe walking the slough next to the trees would be a good idea. The chances of having the deer laying in the weeds were pretty good with the wind the way it was. And so Amy decided to take the south side of the slough…and I took the north.

What I did not realize is that the slough extended for most of the quarter of land. And in order for me to cross the slough, to get back to the road where the vehicle was parked, I needed to either A) walk for about a half-mile north before heading east again, or B) get my shoes a little wet. I decided to go with B…looking back on it, I should have hoofed it farther.

Anyway, I was walking along, crossing the slough where it looked the driest and the most narrow. But you know about looks, right? They can be deceiving.

About 10 yards from solid ground, the ground went from squishy to ankle deep water to over knee deep. I was up to my butt in slough water and no where to go but forward. I closed my eyes, prayed I kept my shoes on and forged on…not thinking about what things I may be stepping on, in, etc. My sister was laughing so hard that she could hardly stand!

I finally made it through and out the other side. Shoes still on, clothes soaked, gun dry, mentally smacking myself for not walking the extra bit. Did I mention it was cool? And windy?

The slough behind me didn't LOOK that wet...famous last words.

So, we got into the suburban and I suggested since I was already soaked and dirty, we might as well walk something else while we were out. Apparently my stinky slough-water-filled clothes got to my sister though, she insisted we stop by the house for me to change.

My socks after my little swim in a slough. The slough grass is a nice touch, I think.

Maybe next Monday I’ll have a better story…and hopefully a recipe!

Why Do I Hunt?

I’ve posted several times about my love for hunting. I was raised with the hunting tradition, it was something that my family did together…and it provided food for our family. But that’s not ALL that hunting is about.

Apparently being a mom that hunts makes me weird. I can live with that.

 

 

Through hunting, I have actually learned a lot about caring for wildlife, conserving their resources, and what can happen when the number of wildlife is left unchecked, and not enough resources are provided for them. In fact, last year we lived through one of the worst years ever for wildlife issues on our farm.

As the deer eat away at the bottom bales, the whole stack becomes unstable.

 

 

It started off innocently enough. One afternoon, there were a few deer in our hay yard. My husband has no issues with a few deer. He realizes that when the winter’s get tough, wildlife needs to find feed somewhere…and we were convenient. We did our best to encourage them to leave. I walked through the hay yard often, we drove through the yard, our dog roamed the yard, etc. Yet, before we knew it, the numbers skyrocketed. We went from a few deer, to a few hundred, to probably over 1,000 deer. We called our state Game and Fish officials, and received little help. We called neighbors and local wildlife enthusiasts, but little was done.

That isn't just dirt on the horizon. Those are hundreds of deer, still making our yard home.

 

 

Our yard was a popular place for people to come looking. They drove through and watched the deer, some wanted to hunt for sheds (the antlers that bucks lose in the winter), others just wanted to see what it looked like. And then the deer started to die. It wasn’t one or two. More than 180 deer died in our hay yard. They pooped, they peed, they made a mess and destroyed our hay…and then they had the audacity to die. It was another mess to clean up.

We learned a lesson or two last winter/spring. Hunting is not just a “sport.” It’s not just a way to provide food for a family. It’s necessary to provide balance and keep wildlife healthy. Too many animals in one area is not a good thing, for the animal or for the landowner. We will do more this year to keep the problems at bay. If we’re expected to bear this burden, then we will do so on our terms.

Already we have had two deer taken on our land during the youth season. It was a great opportunity to introduce some young people to hunting, and it started early pressure on the deer in our area. In just three days, regular deer gun season starts…and I’m hoping that it’s a successful one (meaning that a majority of deer tags are filled).

And if you happen to be a North Dakota hunter, and you happen to have a deer tag, but you happen to not need, nor want, the venison (deer meat)…then let me remind you of the Feeding Families, Meating Needs program available. You can donate your meat to local food banks, which will provide that food to people in need.

When I think of the amount of meat that was destroyed and wasted last year, it makes me almost ill. Add that into the amount of hay we lost, the amount of time it took to clean up the mess and the resources that were used…no one can afford those types of springs.

Fall Friday

Today is definitely a fall day. It’s cool, windy and a great day for hot cocoa…and it reminds me that in a few short weeks, hunting season begins!

For those new to my blog, last spring we had a TERRIBLE problem with deer in our yard. We aren’t sure on the exact number of deer that we were unintentionally feeding/housing, but we do know that about 180 of them died in our yard. Game and Fish estimate that approximately 10% die in a normal year, and every time we called them, they claimed there wasn’t a problem here. So, if 180 dying was 10% of our number of deer, well, you can do the math, right?

Needless to say, these deer are a nuisance and a danger to our cattle herd. And I do what I can to relieve the problem.

This year, we started out early with the special youth season. Two does have already been culled from the large number of deer already hanging around the area. Here’s my niece’s take on her successful hunting experience:

We (my dad, brother and I) were on our way to stake out at my aunt’s house. We were on the road to the south of my aunt’s house, when my dad said, “There are three deer in that field. They’re all does.” So we kept on driving and my dad asked me if I wanted to try to get one of them.
I said, “I don’t know will the farmer let us?” We went and asked the farmer if we could try to get one of the three deer. And being as kind as they were, they said, “Yes.”
I was so excited I was going to get my first deer!!!!!!
I loaded up my gun than headed to the field they were in. When we had walked to where we needed to be my dad went first to check it out and make sure the deer were still there.
Then so we weren’t seen we started crawling on our hands and knees through the cut wheat. We crawled about 75 yds to a haybale and check out if the deer were still there. My dad spoted them after a few minutes and so slowly on our hands and knees crawled forward. After crawling for 200 yds, my dad saw them at 153 yds and so I sighted up and went in for the kill.
I aimed at the first one I saw. I was so excited it was finaly here it was my turn to get a deer and I was ready to shoot my deer. I told my
dad which one I was aiming at and he said, “Whenever you’re ready, fire.”

So at first I was pulling the trigger slowly and then I got impatient and just pulled the trigger. I hit it and I was so excited! I was grinning from ear to ear. My dad told me, “You just barely nicked the shoulder blade nice shot.” And I got the biggest of the three!

My niece's first hunt, and a successful one at that!

And just for those that are wondering, yes, my sister and her husband are an avid hunting family and this doe will go a long way to fill their freezer with great food for the winter months! For those that hunt, but find that their freezer is too full to take all the meat, there is a great program in the state called, “Feeding Families, Meating Needs.” Check it out here!

I hope to be adding my own successful hunting story in just a few short weeks!


					

Preparing for fall

It’s raining…again. And although we have a few acres planted, my husband isn’t in the best of moods. He would like to have had more in the ground, but guess what? That’s the nature of the business. So while we’re down, this is what I’ll be doing:

https://secure.apps.state.nd.us/gnf/onlineservices/lic/public/online/lot/lotterypurchase.htm

That’s the link to applying for your deer license, if you’re going to hunt in North Dakota. And I would like everyone to click on it and apply.

Game and Fish has REDUCED the number of licenses this year by almost 7,000 across the state. That’s right, I said reduced. As in subtracted. As in they believe the numbers are getting too low. As in give-me-a-break.

In my perfect world scenario, every single license would be purchased, and every single one would be filled. (They usually expect about half of them to be filled.) If Game and Fish are technically going to “contract” out this many deer, than let’s take them out. And remember, even if you don’t care much for venison, you can always DONATE the meat! (Or donate money so that meat can be donated!)

Game and Fish claim that the last three winters were rough, causing great losses. I agree that the winters were rough, but the management of resources and habitat was severely lacking. And their solutions to the problem were to basically do nothing for the animal, just try to avert the problem from the land owner. Apparently doing nothing is easiery than even attempting anything else suggested.

And this is what you end up with:

The deer died in and on our feed supply for our cattle.

 
And if you know of some young hunters, who are looking for a successful first hunt, send them our way. My husband would LOVE to see some young hunters come and hunt on our land. He’s even talking about setting up soem deer stands, just for the “apprentice” hunters to get a chance at having a successful season.
I’m filling out my application on the wet, rainy day…and I hope you are too. I hope to see you this fall, with my blaze orange on!