I have a love/hate relationship with deer season.
During my senior year and my only year as a Doniphan R-1 student, it was a fun if odd school break. No deer meat had ever been on my plate and I could not fathom ever shooting one. And why did so many walk around in army clothes?
Later, back in Doniphan as a teacher, deer season was still a fun if odd break with a bit of frustration added; lesson planning was exasperating. What to start and finish before the return on the days before Thanksgiving when attendance would be greatly compromised. Extended breaks have solved that issue.
Deer meat still had not teased my taste buds and hunting was not on my bucket list. I did, however, get an introduction to hunting vocabulary 101 in the teachers’ lounge. Rut, scrape and rub were sprinkled throughout the baffling conversations. Army fatigues were fashionable even among the grown ups, and some of them female.
As a mother of a teenage son introduced to guns and hunting at an early age and new to farm life, I acquired an unexpected appreciation for the popular season. Reading and gardening made room for target practicing and tracking. I understood the rationale for the season and the need to control the deer population. Climbing onto a deer stand no longer panicked me, nor did walking to it in the dark before dawn. And I had camo gear hanging in my closet.
With a rather romanticized view of hunting camps, I hosted my first on the farm. Family, friends… and friends of friends… scattered to allotted sections of the farm as I scampered to my deer stand before sunup. I knew where and when I would see my first, and there it was, with a couple of pals. I raised the gun, centered the creature in my sight, heart racing, breathing shallow and rapid – and changed my mind. I could not pull that trigger.
I didn’t have to sit there much longer to hear the shot of one who could pull the trigger – my son. Later back at ‘camp’ some host responsibilities I was not aware of surfaced quickly. Supper – tenderloin -deep fried.
Still swallowing hard from dealing with the bloody mess in my kitchen sinks, I had to ask for help identifying the tenderloin. One hunter pointed it out, confidently assured me he would have another for deep frying by mealtime, to go ahead with my Frenchified concoction in my crockpot, and back to the woods they went.
My crockpot tenderloin rivaled the deep fried version. It was comical to watch those tough hunters reluctantly share the pot and tongs as they fished out the last of the tenderloin chunks.
My love/hate relationship resumed. That deer stand became a favorite spot to read or watch and listen to the wildlife on the farm. (Wish I had one to retreat to on the tiny plots I have now). To fit in around here I have a camo jacket and wear hunter orange now and then. I alter my routines so I am not hiking where hunters might be. Camera is handy. I love deer sausage and wouldn’t refuse a platter of deep-fried tenderloin.
School breaks and lesson plans are not part of my life now, but it’s easy to tell deer season is here with the increase of camo attire in area businesses and pickups pulling campers and ATVs monopolizing the traffic. Deer season is woven into Ripley County culture. Enjoy, be safe and pass it on.