Monday, October 17, 2016

A Romantic Night in Deer Season. . .

I had plans for last Friday night.  They went something like this:

DH would get home from work early enough to bow hunt in the evening (his goal). While he was out hunting, I would prepare a nice dinner of salad, lasagna and garlic bread.  Once darkness fell, and he returned from the woods, we would have an enjoyable, relaxing dinner accompanied by a bottle of Merlot I had bought just for that evening.  When dinner was over, he would help me wash the dishes, which he does about half the time now that all the kids are moved out and the dishwasher is (again) broken. After that, we could watch a DVD, or play a game, or who knows what might happen (a favorite dinner and a bottle of wine, you know). . .

How Friday night really went down:

DH came home from work early enough to go hunting.  I began dinner preparations, starting with the salad and moving on to browning the meat and boiling the noodles for the lasagna.

About the time I put the (frozen) ground beef on the stove to cook and put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles, my cell phone rang.  It was DH. How unusual, because he doesn't talk on the phone while he's hunting; normally he would text if he needed something or wanted to share with me something he'd seen in the woods.

I answered my phone in a whisper, as is the appropriate volume for talking to someone who is hunting.

"I just shot a nice eight point.  I'm coming in.  Is dinner ready?" Came DH's not quiet voice in my ear. "We'll eat, then we can go out and track him after he's had a chance to pile up."  Pile up meaning collapse and die.  Don't want to track too soon and end up chasing the injured deer around. Better to let it lay down peacefully and bleed out.

A deer!  Fresh venison!  Oh joy!  Meat for the freezer!

Unfortunately, as I had just then started the actual cooking of lasagna ingredients, dinner was an hour off yet, going by the original time table of it not being dark enough for DH to return to the house until about 7:45 p.m. There's really no way to hurry a lasagna when you're making it from scratch.

So DH returned to the house, all jittery and full of post-deer shooting adrenaline. I continued my dinner preparations while he paced the kitchen and recounted (about three times) the story of spying and shooting this buck.  As I was finishing layering the lasagna and sliding the baking dish into the oven, he decided that he just couldn't wait any longer and he was going to go track his deer for the thirty minutes remaining until dinner was ready.

Even though his shot was a little further back than he had initially thought, it was a good clean kill shot, and it only took him about fifteen minutes of following the blood trail to find his deer, laying head first against a tree and most definitely dead.  Satisfied that it wasn't going to be lost if he went in and ate dinner, he returned to the house, suddenly ravenously hungry now that the adrenaline was wearing off (and it being an hour past our usual dinner time when he's not hunting).

So we did have our nice dinner of salad, lasagna, super garlicky garlic bread (when you make your own, you can put in the perfect amount of garlic, LOL) and that wine.  Although we only had one serving each of everything, then it was out to the woods to retrieve that buck!

Being as the tractor is currently out of order (ahem, I broke it the weekend before.  Actually, the snap ring in the right front axle broke, but it happened to be me driving the tractor when that happened and the wheel fell off. . .) we hitched up the wood hauler trailer to our 4-wheeler and drove that out to get the deer.  We had to park that in the southeast corner of our woods road, and walk in about 100 yards to get the buck. Bumbling along in the pitch black darkness of the woods with just little flashlights (so as to not scare off any wildlife in residence), DH led and I followed, trying to neither trip on fallen trees or roots nor get whacked in the face by branches or brambles.  Oh what a romantic evening!

But wait, it gets even more romantic!  Once DH had brought me to where his deer lie, I got to aim my flashlight beam on the deer's nether regions and hold the buck's hind legs apart while DH got down to the business of field dressing it.  Because we'd all ready decided that with the number of downed trees we'd had to step over on our way from the woods road to the deer, there was no way we were going to drag that thing back to the trailer and haul it to the edge of the field (where the light of the full moon could be utilized) before gutting it.  That thing was too long and weighed too much for DH to pick up by himself and heft over fallen logs, and I wasn't going to be much help trying to hold a flashlight (so I didn't trip over stuff) and heft half the weight of a deer with one hand at the same time.

Once the buck was hollow inside (in other words, gutted), DH attached his drag harness to the deer and himself, and began towing the deer through the woods, with me walking beside and helping to lift the carcass whenever we came to a downed tree across our path.  Huffing and puffing,and only arguing a little, we finally made it to the waiting 4-wheeler and trailer, where we hefted the deer onto the trailer and headed back to the house.

On the ride home, sitting on the trailer beside the buck, I couldn't resist taking a few pictures.  Which, being cell phone pictures at night, mostly came out lousy.  So you don't get to see how cool the full moon actually was.  And you only get kind of spooky looking pics from my view on the trailer.

riding through the field in the dark

my silent and lifeless traveling companion

When we had the deer at the house, we had to hang it off the back deck in order to reach it with the hose to rinse out.  What with gutting it before removing it from the woods, we weren't sure what kind of debris may  have gotten into the open abdominal cavity while dragging it to the trailer.  Typically we can drive the tractor pretty close to where a deer lies and just toss it into the tractor bucket, not worrying about how much it weighs, and allow the tractor to carry it to where ever we are going to dress it.  Boy, it would have been nice to have the tractor usable.  Perhaps someone shouldn't have broken it.  Isn't this romantic?

The tractor is nice not just for the hauling of the deer, but for easier hanging.  You can just let the hydraulics lift the loader bucket (and the deer) as high as needs be.  Not so when all you've got is a couple middle aged married people, and a deer prone on a trailer maybe two feet off the ground.

Between DH and I, and a little help from an extra rope, the header on the deck, and the 4-wheeler, we did manage to hoist that buck up high enough to get his rear off the ground so that he wouldn't be sitting in the runoff water from washing his insides. (Yes, yes we did tie a rope to it's antlers, throw the rope over the header, then tie off the other end to the 4-wheeler.  I got the honor of driving the quad ever so slowly forward while DH watched to see if the rope was going to break--and hopefully catch the deer if that happened--before the leverage we'd created lifted the deer high enough to tie the original rope off to one of the posts).  Once the buck been washed, we had to lower him back onto the trailer, and drive him to the barn where the gambrel and scale are located.  At the barn, we had to hoist him again, although we didn't have to pick him up very far to be high enough to attach to the hook on the rope hanging in the barn rafters, and from there a pulley system made for easier lifting.

All said and done, DH's 8-point buck weighed in at 150 pounds, dressed. Not bad at all.

We did end up drinking that bottle of wine.  It just didn't happen until after 11 p..m., which was what time it was when we came inside the house to clean ourselves up, put away the dinner leftovers that still sat on the table, and really be done working for the night.  The bottle was barely finished and our eyes were barely still open before we crawled into bed and fell asleep.

So much for romance.  But then again, romance and deer season are kind of mutually exclusive.  You gotta feel the love in the teamwork of dressing and hanging a freshly harvested deer because that's about as close to romance as you're going to get.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a "fun" evening. What do you like to make with the venison?