The Gun: The gun I use is a bolt-action .308 with a scope. It was my father's deer rifle, and might be the most common deer rifle used by big game hunters. Besides a little cleaning and a new sling (the old leather sling was ripping apart) it's the same gun he spent so much time in the forest with. It's an honor to use it.
The Tags: I have a doe tag, a buck tag, and a bear tag. I could take one of each, but honestly I am hoping to not even see a bear.
The Reason: I have been asked, not judgmentally, why hunt when you raise meat? This is a good question. I hunt because it is a part of my family tradition, my nation's tradition, and because it is an important job for us humans to regulate deer populations since we destroyed their natural predators. I also don't raise deer and venison is a favorite meat of mine, so amazing when cooked well. I also really enjoy it, hunting. I love stalking, waiting, hoping, and the chance of a hundred good meals in a warm house right farm my own backyard. It's why I farm, too.
I feel lucky to live in a time and country where as a woman I can stalk deer, practice my knitting, ride a horse, run for office, or cook my family and friends dinner. I plan on doing all of them (save running for office) this winter!
Advice: People have asked for beginner advice, how to get started. Many people reading this blog are interested in hunting but didn't grow up with it as part of their family history. My advice is pretty basic, find a mentor. Ask a hunting friend or relative if you could join them on a hunt. In New York I am encouraged to bring non hunting friends out with me as long as they stick to the binoculars and snacks and don't shoot or drive any wildlife. It's magic when someone to takes you under their wing. If that's not an option the best thing you can do is become your own mentor. Take a Hunters Safety course this summer (most states require proof of passing one to get your deer tags) and it will teach you so very much. My class included the book Beyond Fair Chase, on the ethics of hunting and it was amazing. And for total beginners just thinking about taking a HS course, pick up a copy of Jackson Landers Hunting Deer For Food. It is the PERFECT book for new hunters, expecting you to know nothing and covers everything from rifles to recipes. You can literally buy this book, a rifle, and take a hunter's safety course and be ready to bag a buck. Jackson is with you every step of the way.
P.S. I was asked about Monday. He is still here, and probably going to be next years breeding ram. Atlas comes back in December around Christmas to rejoin his old flock and breed them, and when he leaves to go back to the Adirondacks, Monday will join his flock.