Two days after returning from our trip to Tennessee the Kansas deer season opened. Now, I openly admit that I’ve become a nonchalant deer hunter in my old years. The reasons behind that nonchalance are multiple.
Start with, I no longer relish arising in the dark and sitting in the cold and dark for several hours in a deer blind. Second, I never was a big enthusiast of eating venison when the freezer was full of excellent beef, pork, lamb and chicken — and I’m less enthusiastic as the years roll on. Third, my stamina is such that going on multiple deer drives in a single day is pretty much out of the question. And, fourth, hanging a “big buck” ceased to be the goal years ago and my goal now is to harvest a little doe with tender meat and not much of it.
So, that sets the stage for this year’s deer hunt. On opening morning, I choose to arise at my normal time, around 7 a.m., and stay in the warm kitchen eating breakfast and drinking coffee. My deer hunting plan wuz to go sit in my deer stand that evening for about a half-hour before dark.
My plan wuz going to perfection. While eating breakfast I watched four does and fawns come from the south, cross my pond dam, and go north into a thicket to bed down for the day. “Perfect,” I thought. “They’ll come back south this evening and I might get one.”
Then, about 9 a.m., and on my third cup of coffee, I glanced out a kitchen window and, lo and behold, a nice mid-sized buck wuz standing on a pile of dirt between our house and the pond testing the wind for a doe in estrus with a curled lip. However, he wuz coming from the north, heading south. If he stayed on course, I quickly calculated that he’d walk about 150 yards from the house right out in the open.
That’s when my deer hunting plan changed. I quickly fetched my handy 25-06 Savage, stealthily opened the kitchen door and quietly slipped out and waited.
Right on cue, the buck started walking south, I settled in against a good brace, and when he wuz closest, I dropped him. As I stood there in my sweatshirt, sweatpants and slippers, I grinned to myself at my gift from the Deer Gods.
I leisurely dressed for the work ahead and went out with the tractor, put the buck on the gambrel and hoisted him airborne and drove to a comfortable spot near the chicken house that wuz in the mid-morning sun and out of the wind.
At that point, I called a venison-loving neighbor with way more mouths to feed than me and said he could have most of the meat if he helped me dress out the buck. I told him all I wanted wuz the tenderloins and the backstraps.
By the time he arrived, I had the buck gutted and the two of us made quick work of the skinning and quartering. We sliced out my choice cuts and took the rest to his home, where I’m sure every scrap of that buck will be enjoyed.
All in all, it wuz the perfect deer hunt for a lazy old-timer who’s not that fond of venison and it renewed in me the ancient holiday saying that it’s better to give than to receive.
While I’m on the subject of eating venison, I’ll mention that my preacher friend, ol’ Saul M. Reeder, put me on to a way to handle venison that eliminates much of the gamey taste and makes venison taste about like beef.
Before I wrapped and froze my tenderloins and backstraps, I soaked them in cold water for two days — changing the water twice a day until all the blood wuz soaked out. By the time I cut, wrapped and froze the meat, it wuz pale and barely red.
I’ve done that before and, if I roast and season that venison properly, I know it will taste almost like beef.
With my deer hunting done for the season within six hours of the opening bell, I had a lot of time to think about all the deer I’ve harvested. When I wuz growing up in southeast Kansas near Bronson and Moran, deer were nonexistent. I saw my first wild deer from a school bus window when I wuz a senior in high school.
I didn’t harvest my first deer until I wuz 31 and living near Pullman, Wash. The two years I lived there, I killed two little bucks and one doe. Then I moved back to Kansas and over the years got three small bucks and three big does. Then I moved to Iowa and killed one doe with a blackpowder rifle in the 13 years I lived there. (I hated deer hunting in Iowa because I prefer a high-powered rifle to a shotgun slug).
Since moving to the Flint Hills, I’ve harvested two little does and my “lucky buck” this year. By my count, I’ve reduced the U.S. deer population by a “lucky 13” — nothing to brag about, but not too bad either.
I’ll close now that I’ve whetted the appetites of carnivores, and offended vegans and PETA members, with a couple of apropos quotes about meat eating. Chef Julia Child said, “I think anyone who is a carnivore needs to understand that meat does not originally come in these neat little packages.” And wag John Cleese said, “If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did He make them out of meat?”
Good question. Now, go enjoy a good steak. ❖
“I think anyone who is a carnivore needs to understand that meat does not originally come in these neat little packages.”
~ Chef Julia Child