Saturday, November 14, 2009

deer camp weekend

Driving home past Wayside I had to shake my head and laugh. Outside the country store there were piles of cars and trucks with their drivers standing amongst them in the rain. Everyone was in high spirits though because in the back of those trucks were trophy bucks they took this morning. Today was the first day of rifle deer hunting in Vermont. It should be a state holiday.

I didn't notice it my first fall, but now that I know the culture of this place, I can see deer camp weekend signs like Audubon members can spot wood thrushes. DCW is the first weekend of hunting season. It's celebrated here as an all-out guys' retreat time. A hardcore brodown of blue and white collar crowds alike. The signs are subtle to the uninitiated, but now I see them clear as day. Three guys in line at the gas station with a 24-pack of Bud each: deer camp. The Wayside hot-foods section filled with only paper-wrapped burritos: deer camp. Trucks and ATVs parked along highways and in weird random wood lots: deer camp. Signs on the side of the road that say BUCK CUTTING HERE: deer camp. Baby Blue Toyota Avalons with a 70-pound buck strapped across the trunk: deer camp.

I make no judgments, just observations. I'm not a hunter but I respect anyone who has the gumption to eat local meat—Especially people who harvest it themselves. I do look at the whole first weekend of deer hunting fondly though. Seems the whole state's in a better mood. Vermont has this reputation of being all yoga and volvos, but the real Vermont is a lot more likely to buy deer urine at Cabelas. I say that with love.

Photo of hunters in the 1930s from vtliving.com

26 Comments:

Blogger Tara said...

I saw a man in the dollar store today in full mossy oak regalia. Deer season is HUGE here, and not just among the working class. I've known men who scheduled their weddings and, to the greatest extent possible, the births of their children around deer season. I do not make this up.

November 14, 2009 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger goatldi said...

Bambi, they are eating Bambi? O.K. too many Disney movies.

I don't think I could be a hunter on the front line. But I do eat the flesh of others and I think the key is to show respect. Like you with Chuck.

Whenever someone hits my mouth I always say "thanks for giving your life for me to eat".

November 14, 2009 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger mk said...

Wish I could share your bonhomie, and I would if the photo hadn't had the three cubs.

November 14, 2009 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

WOW, that picture really hit home with me...I have 2 pictures of my Grandfather with his brothers and friends, from Nov. 1950 at a Deer Camp. I had to dig the pics up, thanks for reminding me!

November 14, 2009 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger USMCmom said...

I have two sons that hunt. The deer season starts in early September with expanded archery season then there is archery season and now rifle season. Plus, this year my younger son (20 yrs old) was drawn for a moose permit which he successfully took in October. In five days the boys fly to Colorado for elk hunting. We use all the meat substituting it for beef. It's so much healtier. My house is strewn with camo from back door to front door and all downstairs for months at a time.

November 14, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Coley said...

I am a hunter widow this weekend. We live in michigan and the men in my family are deer hunters.

I've never shot any thing before besides a target. I heard a rumor that not much hunting get done.... Alot if drinking and sleeping in their tree stands..

Hahahaha I do love eating venison burgers. I'm secretly crossing my fingers in hope of a kill.

November 14, 2009 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Tomorrow is opening day here in Michigan and the same signs are everywhere that you've been seeing today. Even though I don't hunt, I would rather see deer being harvested for food then see so many laying by the side after being hit by a car.

November 14, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

it's not a blue collar thing here either, most of the high ranking guys at my office hunt deer, with gusto. I think the cliche is blue collar though, perhaps I should adjust it?

yeah, the cubs aren't a nice site to see, but it's how things were. I don't think a modern hunter would take a mother and cubs. I'd like to think they wouldn't....

November 14, 2009 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I don't know if taking mothers and cubs is even legal these days- at least it shouldn't be.

But hey- I'm all for bagging dinner, if that's what you're going to do with it.

I'm not sure guns and alcohol mix though, even though it's done all the time. Not sure I'd want to be out in the woods with a bunch of drunk guys with guns. I could see keeping a hip flask of whiskey, for the occasional nip to ward off the cold, but a cold beer? I would think that would be better with the venison burgers later....

November 14, 2009 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm with you Paula

November 14, 2009 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

Hunting is a favorite past-time here in rural Central New York. I grew up with it, watching the 'men' bond over such things as 'game night' where they all get together, roast, grill, and otherwise cook, all kinds of meat that was left in the freezer, while telling tall tales of how the meal was bagged. I feel pretty neutral about the hunting thing. Killing for sport only is wrong, but everyone I know uses the meat. I do know someone, however, that is deathly against hunting, but says that while chomping on a hamburger/meatball/porkchop...etc...I'm just sayin'

November 14, 2009 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Mancelona Woodswoman said...

Yes, in today's world, it is illegal to shoot a cub (less than a year old). It is also illegal to shoot a sow who is accompanied by a cub (or two, or three).

Deer season began today (Michigan). In our tiny, one-stoplight town, we have a "Buck Pole". It's where men and women, both young and old, can gather to admire their trophy. A gathering place where stories are told, accompanied by hot coffee and donuts.

Although we have deer on our 40 acres, we process our meat (lamb/pork/beef) quite unceremoniously, sans alcohol.

And like "Goatldi", I truly give thanks for their contribution to our well being.

November 15, 2009 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Tara's got it right on - even Thanksgiving dinner waits until the hunter comes home from the woods. Life goes on hold during black powder, rifle, and bow season.
I respect the tradition, having been inside the "hallowed halls" of a camp (but not during deer season because it's usually off-limits to women then). Hunting stops at sunset, so the men who stay at a camp will cook up a tremendous chili or stew, and play cards. That's when they open the beer.
For the responsible hunter, it's the male equivalent of a girls' night out. And every hunter that I knew in northern VT was responsible.

November 15, 2009 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Rachel B. said...

I live near state game lands that just thrive with people this time of year. I'll be on my way to work and see trucks lined up on the side of the road. My dad hunts. I never use to be squeamish about eating something off the land but of course the "you should only get meat from syrofoam cartons at the supermarket" idealism of the 21ist century kicked in. Last year, I took a bit of the first deer jerkey and listened to a story. Apperently, the person who killed the deer was not the person who origional shot it. It was injuried and running so they took him down. It was sad but made eating deer easier. Then I realized that it's a lot more humane to hunt then the way cattle are killed in factories.

November 15, 2009 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Amen to that, Rachel.

My husband has never been a hunter, which is funny because he has always been a marksman and gun enthusiast. He has just never been inclined to kill anything. He wants to take it up now, and I hope he does, because I'd LOVE to have the meat in my freezer. I also wish hunting wasn't such the boys club that it is. Between y'all and me, I think I'd be better at it than him. ;-)

(He's the better shot, no doubt, but I have stronger resolve.)

November 15, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Tara, I would like to hunt too someday.

November 15, 2009 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Check this out!
http://www.womenhunters.com/

November 15, 2009 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Linda's Kitchen said...

When I was a kid, I thought hunting was so wrong. How could anyone kill Bambi!

As I got older, I have realized the importance of keeping the deer and animal population in check. I have also realized that the meat gained is an important part of many people's diets.

I live on the edge of a large swamp, forest area. Each fall, I am always careful in my backyard because I know that the hunters are back there. I have no problem with them hunting there, I just don't want to be mistaken for a deer!

I have never been hunting and sometimes I think that maybe I would like to try. Maybe someday!

November 15, 2009 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Rexford Moose said...

I wish I could be as idealistic about hunting, but that has not been my experience. First in Michigan and now in Montana. In Michigan there would be a migration of hookers up north every fall and the amount of empty beer and liquor containers scattered thought the woods was disheartening to say the least. Here in Montana it's worse in a way. They subscibe to SSS which stands for SHOOT, SHOVEL, and SHUTUP. This is most often used in regard to wolves which people around here still have antiquated beliefs about. I would say 95% of the hunters I've ever known where far more interested in the size of the antlers then in the quality of the meat. I have found poached moose on my neighbors property where the head was taken and nothing else. I wish I could say different, but this has been my hunting season experiences for over 50 years.

November 15, 2009 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

To fully appreciate the wonder of man-bonding & hunting, you must listen to The Second Week of Deer Camp by Da Yoopers or Turty Point Buck by somebody whose name I forget. They're really funny.

November 16, 2009 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Woodsy Woman said...

For those of you ladies that expressed an interest in hunting someday, I strongly encourage you to look into it. My entire family hunts, including my mom and I. I'm very proud of the fact that I can provide meat for my family. Wild game is very healthy (low in fat and cholesterol) and (as long as it is not abused) is also a very sustainable source of protein. Also for those who may be opposed to shooting an animal, look into how wolves and other natural predators kill deer, moose and elk and a quick death from a bullet through the heart and lungs suddenly doesn't seem so cruel. If anyone wants to know more just send me an email, I'd be happy to try and point you in the right direction or at least share my experiences.

November 16, 2009 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Growing up, no one in my family hunted. My fiance hunts & now we never buy meat from the store - our freezer is full of deer, elk, & antelope. He's in it for the experience, not the kill. Even if he doesn't get an animal, he loves the experience of being in the thick of the mountains or prairies, watching the wildlife & experiencing nature at its most pristine. He's told stories of seeing a herd of 300 elk, hearing their calls & watching them move so quietly through the woods. Sadly, there are those that give hunters a bad name. I grew up in Montana & now live in Wyoming - I understand the frustration Rexford Moose experiences when seeing firsthand the complete disregard some "hunters" have for the land & the wildlife, whether they leave their garbage or poach an animal. We get our fair share of drunk, disorderly & disrespectful hunters - like the guy we heard about shooting his gun off toward a group of trees to scare the big game out (when he didn't even know if anyone or anything was in the group of trees)! Jackasses like that give hunting & hunters a bad name. Take heart knowing there are still true hunters out there - those that appreciate the wildlife, the experience, the beauty, & give thanks for every meal the animal provides his/her family.

After watching Food, Inc., I feel incredibly blessed to be able to feed our family with game meat, knowing where it came from & how it got to our table.

November 18, 2009 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Jenna love this post! I can relate, living in GA. Just yesterday I saw a jeep with a spare wheel that says "Black Buck Hunting Club" Stump jumper.
Truck pulling tiny camper: deer camp. Truck with an ATV in the bed: deer camp. Truck with an ATV in the bed and another being pulled by trailer: deer camp.

November 18, 2009 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

OH, and helping to process a deer in your garage? A woman much in love with her deer huntin' husband....

November 18, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
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