Monday, August 27, 2007

Autumn is Near

Warning: This is going to be a post about hunting, so if any of you have objections to hunters or hunting, you will want to skip today's blog from the Nature Knitter.

The opening if our archery deer hunting season is fast approaching--September 15th this year. Except for turkey hunting in the spring, I think this is the time of year my Spousal Unit looks forward to more than anything. He started putting up the portable tree stands last week. I am a bow hunter, but definitely not as hardcore as he is. It's a heckuva lot of work putting up all those stands and trimming trees and underbrush for shooting lanes. He spent lots of hours last fall after each day of hunting documenting what we had seen and at what time, what the weather conditions were, what phase of the moon, etc. This year we will find out how all of his hard work benefits our hunts.

We have some private landowners who let us bowhunt on their property in the fall. Yesterday afternoon the Spousal Unit promised me he would take me to the new McDonalds for an ice cream cone and then out to scout for deer. Now what woman could possibly turn down an offer like this? He knows I love ice cream cones and also being given the chance to sit out in the woods and watch birds (with an occasional deer, if they're cooperative).

The first thing I noticed when walking from the car was that several of the maple trees had already started changing color.

We saw a doe and fawn shortly after getting out in the field. The lay of the land necessitated that I had to put my little stool on the top of a rise right out in the middle of the hayfield. It was so beautiful and quiet (something I never get to experience here at home right next to the highway). I saw and heard lots of birds: flicker, eastern wood peewee, chickadees, cardinals, crows, common nighthawks, great blue heron, and robins.

We use walkie-talkies to communicate and finally about 8:15 I was calling him to see if he was ready to leave when all of a sudden about 30 yards away from me, out of nowhere appeared the biggest buck I have ever seen alive. Holy crap--my heart started pounding just like when it's hunting season. He didn't know I was there because the wind was blowing towards me and I wasn't moving. I took a few pictures but it was getting so dark and I couldn't hold the camera still enough for the delayed shutter. Here is the only crappy picture in which he's somewhat identifiable (and I had to adjust the contrast).
These big bucks are so cautious and it's such a privilege to be out in their habitat and able to see one. Around here, most of the bucks don't get very old or big because so many people hunt (mostly shotgun). I like bowhunting because it's early in the fall and the weather is usually not too cold. I love sitting in my treestand in the woods and watching all the birds....because you're dressed totally in camouflage the birds and other wildlife aren't usually aware of your presence.

Last year I finally got a deer with my bow (after bowhunting for 4 years). It was on my birthday and a pretty nice 8-point buck. (Here's me and my antlers--which the Spousal Unit picked up from the taxidermist just today).
Our taxidermist, Larry (and his wife, Sue) are also big bowhunters. While listening to Larry's stories about the bear hunts he's been on, apparently the Spousal Unit mentioned enough times that he's never had bear meat and so Larry and Sue gave him a package of bear brats which we grilled for our supper.
They were pretty good, but I couldn't really notice a difference in flavor from the deer brats we've been grilling all summer. Anyway, now we can finally say we've eaten bear meat, even if we didn't shoot it ourselves. Some day....


mon@rch said...

I have never tried bear meat but save one of thse bear brats for me . . . . Ok?? I was amazed at the number of trees already starting to show color!

Trixie said...

Was the bear meat greasy? I've never had it, either.

My DH is planning a deer hunt this year, too. And he's even looking into caribou. YUM!

Do you think that the trees are changing early because they are stressed?

Oh, and BEAUTIFUL eight pointer.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Tom,
Too late! I was finishing up my first one and there was still one on the plate and my spouse says, "do you want that last one?" Even though I wanted to eat another, I let him have it...sometimes 4 brats isn't enough!

Hi Trixie,
I didn't notice it was greasy. I'll have to talk one of my hunting buddies into giving us a package of steak and see how we like that.

Caribou--that would be exciting and it's right there in your own state! Does he bowhunt?

I think the trees are changing early because of the weather--drought for weeks and then flooding rains. Leaves on my crabapple and Russian Olive trees are falling like rain.

Ruth said...

I haven't eaten meat for 3 months now,(except fish). But I would eat your venison. Your respectful hunting is far better than mass farming of meat. I would think most game meat would be lean. My father in law shot a bear, but I didn't eat the meat. I have had moose and venison several times.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Ruth,
Our "free-range" venison is very lean and delicious. I think part of that is because we get it processed very quickly after the hunt. Most of the deer around this heavily agricultural area are "corn fed." I wonder about this as I have no way of knowing how many farmers in the area are now planting genetically engineered corn and soybeans. But at least I know there are no antibiotics added.

Mary said...

I'm no hunter, Ruthie, but I enjoy your enthusiasm! I've had deer meat - never had bear meat. You say the photo was crappy but I could tell he was a huge one!

It's terrific that you and your husband share outdoor activities. AND that he treats you to ice cream. What a cool guy, your spousal unit is...

Larry said...

I do like Venison! I'm not a hunter but have been out with hunters when I was younger.-I had a friend that would wake me up at like 6 in the morning to carry deer out for him on school days.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
Thank you for understanding.
My spousal unit is a pretty special guy....not too many people have been able to put up with me as long as he has!

Hi Larry,
We each got a deer last year and I have been trying lots of new venison recipes. We're down to about our last 25 lbs of meat in the freezer, so we did pretty good feeding ourselves for an entire year.
People think I'm nuts when I tell them what time I get up (voluntarily) on the weekends to go out deer hunting.