Warning: If you have problems with hunting or eating meat, stop right here! There are details you may not want to read or see.
When Simon was about seven, and James was about three (maybe eight and four–I’m not sure), the two of them and a cousin who was in between their ages, who lived on our property, disappeared one afternoon in November. This was in Michigan, and in Michigan, the last two weeks of November are Deer Season. (Maybe that should be in all-caps; it is that important to a lot of people, and the first day is nearly a state holiday!) People who are not hunting stay out of the woods and near buildings during that time, lest there might be stray shots. It can be dangerous to be walking around in the woods or fields during that time. Anyway, these three children disappeared. When someone realized they were missing, both families started searching. By the time we had been looking for 45 minutes, my sister-in-law was about ready to call the police–and then they showed up. They had been out hunting deer behind the woods at the back corner of our 40 acres, over a quarter of a mile from the houses! They were armed with a baseball bat and a stick, and Simon apparently fully expected to bring down a deer. They were totally unafraid, with no idea of the danger that the adults knew about!
Ever since that time, Simon has dreamed of killing a deer. He would love to live off the land, with a hunter-gatherer type of lifestyle. He has gone on hunts with friends half a dozen times since we moved over here, and never saw a deer when anyone in the group had a gun that could bring one down. This week, he went hunting twice with a friend who moved to the area a few months ago and who, importantly, possesses a gun license and a deer rifle. They went out in the middle of the afternoon the second time and searched for likely places to see a deer. After several hours, an hour or so after dark, they gave up and started out, and finally got a possum for their pains. Then they continued on down the road–and saw a deer in the middle of the road! It took a couple of minutes for Simon’s friend to get his gun loaded again, and Simon kept the spotlight on the deer. The first shot only wounded it (they hadn’t realized the gun wasn’t sighted in properly), so Simon took off up the river, following it. He soon caught up and delivered the killing shot. Then, he got to pack it out of there to the car (probably a good thing he had so much adrenalin in his system–it was heavy!) Finally, his dream of bagging a deer came true.
Mr. Imagination was along, since I had gone to town that day, leaving him with Simon, and no one was home to keep track of him. He was over the moon to be a part of this experience.
I love the grin on Simon’s face! The second picture is the Daihatsu–the gutless car that is often scoffed at, but which can go almost anywhere.
Simon brought the deer home and hung it in our carport. The next evening, Little Miss helped him skin it, and then he and Gayle brought it into the kitchen where we boned it out. The friend he went with, and his wife, stopped in while we were working, and he was excited to see that part of the process. The next day, they came back, after we had minced all the meat, and helped turn some into sausage and package it all. We got 34 kg of mince and 5 kg of backstrap from that deer! (That’s about 86 pounds.) It was a young stag, so quite tender and tasty. We had venison sausage patties with breakfast, venison hamburger patties for lunch, and backstrap for dinner. The boys were delighted to get to eat all that meat! Now, Simon wants to go hunting even more.
Half of the bones are cooking in a big pot right now, to make bone broth, and the other half are in the freezer waiting. There was very little waste from this animal, something that makes me feel good about them killing it.