Saturday, November 22, 2008

By the time you read this some Bambi’s mother will be dead.

John Ramsey Miller

I am writing this on Tuesday because when it runs Saturday I’ll be deer hunting in dear old Mother Mississippi, and by 7 AM EST I very likely will have knocked down at least one deer. I hunt in November and December with the same boys, now older men like myself, whom I’ve been hunting with for forty-two years. My family eats venison all year long. I love it, my wife loves it, my sons love it, and their children love it. Yum, yum. I have never killed a deer I didn’t eat and I guess I’ve killed two or three every year I’ve hunted. Venison makes the best chili meat, the best crock-pot roast, the best tenderloin medallions, the best ground hamburger. Aside from the possibility that they eat grass tainted with pesticides or fertilizers, they are grass fed, acorn tempted and pure. Game won’t add weight to you either. Game and fresh vegetables is the best diet there is if you ask me. Nobody in my family is fat, nor are any particularly wormy-looking.

I sometimes hunt wild hogs in Tennessee and although wild pork smells dreadful when you cook it (we do that outside on the grill) it makes the best spaghetti sauce I’ve ever tasted. I also love boar chops, wild pork tenderloin, and Bar-B-Q. Store-bought meat has nothing on game. Game is 100% natural with no harmful fat, antibiotics, steroids, or other drugs in their systems. It keeps better than store bought. My wife cans it or freezes it. It is apparent that God put game on the earth to feed man correctly, and every time I take a game animal I thank Him for supplying the food. I almost forgot. Another good thing is, because I write about deer hunting in some of my novels, I get to call it research.

We just harvested a whole bunch of meat chickens we raised from chicks, and after 8 weeks their dressed weight ranged from 4.5 to 6.8 lbs. We fed them organic feed that comes from a local feed mill where they grind everything themselves from quality ingredients.

Our laying hens eat only organic feed, free-range for bugs and plants two hours a day, and our eggs are at least twice as tasty as store bought. I have fourteen, but want fifty or more so I’m building new quarters for them. Those I will not kill. When they stop laying, I have a friend with a large farm and he will let them pasture there as long as they live.

I do not think it’s the end of the world yet, and I’m pulling for President Elect Obama, but even if the country doesn’t collapse with half the country out on the street, food riots and infected zombies roaming the countryside, I’m serious about surviving as close to the bone as I can during the next few uncertain months and years and part of that is feeding my family as best I can. The farming community around here sort of roll their eyes at us, and probably think we’re being secretly filmed as part of some kind of reality show, but that’s okay. We are trying, and having one heck of a good time.

I know some people are opposed to killing animals, and frankly I don’t enjoy that part of hunting or harvesting, but there’s no other practical way to separate animals from their meat.

Hunting and raising animals gives me a chance to enjoy nature and think about my life and what I want to write, and sometimes even if I intend to keep doing it at all. Not that I don’t love writing, because I do and it has been good to me over the years. I just keep thinking that I should start some kind of a family business that involves my sons and grandkids. Maybe we can manufacture some sort of widget nobody can figure out how to live without owning. I do know that it should be some sort of business that won’t fail miserably, but I just don’t know what that could be yet. Feel free to give me some sure-fire ideas.


  1. My stepfather used to take me deer hunting when I was little. Fortunately we never shot anything--I think I would have been upset if we had. I don't criticize hunting because everyone who is not a vegetarian eats animals that have been slaughtered. The older I get, though, the more animals are off my list for consumption. I'm basically down to fish and turkey right now. However, yesterday I got grossed out by that Sarah Palin segment where the turkeys were being slaughtered in the background--so I guess it'll be only fish and chips for me now!

  2. My father was a hunter as a younger man, and he got a deer more often than not. (The Pennsylvania limit is one per year.) You're right: venison is wonderful eating. I also about eating game in general. The meat has more taste to it (I had some buffalo this summer out west) and hardly any fat.

    I'm not a hunter myself, but I have no objection to anyone who kills something to eat it, and knows what he's doing so the animal doesn't suffer unduly. That's how we got to the top of the food chain. It's those who kill just to be killing something I have issue with.