On Saturday, my 22-year-old shot a big buck in our back yard. He had practiced for weeks, truing up the sights on his compound bow and shooting targets. It takes great strength and skill to pull back the arrow, hold it and then release it at precisely the exact millisecond to take a deer properly.
With his bow ready, Riley sat in a woodsy stand for days, waiting, watching.
Finally, on Saturday, he saw the buck. “It was inside the fenced yard behind us chasing does,” he told me. “So, I rattled two antlers together and the buck heard it and looked up thinking there were two males sparring nearby. Then, the buck jumped right over the fence toward me and that’s when I took the shot.”
That perfect shot, right through the lungs, brought the deer down in 10 seconds flat.
“He was dead almost instantly,” Riley said smiling and pointing to the small wound on his side. He was exceedingly proud of his accomplishment. I am proud of his discipline and persistence.
I am also excited about a freezer full of meat!
Tonight, the guys are carving and grinding the fresh meat and packing it into labeled bags for burger, cube steak and filets. A couple of years ago, they learned how to process all the meat with little waste. They begin the task almost immediately after the hunt. I stay away during the field dressing and gutting. I don’t like the gore. But, I’m around in the kitchen for the processing, often washing dishes or just talking with the boys about hunting or telling stories. It’s fun to have them in my kitchen again. Every bit of meat is carved from the bone or ground and repackaged for freezing. Even the scraps are cooked and fed to the dog. They bury the head in the yard under an old wheelbarrow for 10 months. Next summer, they’ll mount the skull to a wooden plank as a trophy of the experience.
At first, their hunting deer bothered me. I am a lover of animals. Then, I learned that suburban deer have virtually no natural predators. As a result, their populations are too high which results in their natural food depleting which in turn means they eat endangered vegetation, become diseased or starve to death. We definitely have an overabundance of deer in our area. They run in herds through the neighborhood, get hit by cars and eat down everyone’s garden. They are beautiful and we love to watch them graze the grasses in our back yard. But they need to be thinned each year.
I appreciate that the boys are archers, stealth sportsmen, who must become one with nature and who respect the animals they hunt and their habitats. This year, the fruit of their hard work, venison burgers and steaks, will be one way we can fight inflation.