Sunday, November 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

It's that time of year again. The time that many look forward to with breathless anticipation while others dread as if the plague has returned. Yep, you guess it,it is that magical time of year known as Hunting Season.
I myself grew up as a casual observer of this annual phenomenon. Once a year my father, grandfather and when he was old enough, my step brother would pack up the RV and head out for a week or two. They took guns, tons of food and came back smelling so badly that we knew that there was no way they had spent the time with other women. I vaguely recall them bring home some sort of dead animal once, but that is as far as it went.
It was with this background that I meet my husband. When he told me he hunted I thought I had a good bead on the concept. Boy was I wrong! Not only does my husband hunt, but so does his father, brothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, cousins and the stories of his mothers ability to shoot from horseback are legendary. And I was completely unprepared for the amount of time this venture could eat up. I once met a woman from the area at a Thanksgiving party and asked her to coffee. She told me that sometime around February would work as there was nothing "open" that month and her husband would be around to watch their children.
Much like the modern, overly extended "Holiday Season" that runs from four days after "back to school" through Valentine's day, Hunting Season lasts a number of months and includes various shorter seasons.
We begin in the late summer with archery season. Now, I for one do not understand how flinging a stick at a 800 pound animal is fun, but hey what do I know? Maybe it is the twelve hours of tracking the blood trail that adds to the appeal. Then we move on to early bird hunting followed by the riffle seasons for big game. There is nothing better than driving through town and seeing the severed head of a deer or elk in the back of a truck. One would think by the crowd gathered to oggle the kill and hear the story that this was a rare sight. But the men standing around the truck most likely have another such kill in the back of their own truck. Next comes the extremely popular water foul season. Men travel from all over the state to sit in near freezing water for hours waiting for the opportunity to lure ducks and geese to their death.
My own love affair with hunting was short lived. A few years ago I had the great idea to pack up the kids and spend the week at elk camp with my hubby. His brothers and cousins had not drawn tags for that season and I looked forward to the time with just the four of us. But as we drove miles and miles further from the nearest town, or even the closest house I began to feel I may have made a mistake. To make a long story short, my dream of quiet days knitting and reading while awaiting the love of my life's return did not quite pan out as planned. While my hubby hunted between the hours of 4am and noon, I quickly used up my entire supply of yarn. And when he returned to the field from 3pm until dark, I burned through the stack of books I brought at a rate I had not foreseen. By day three I was out of options and feeling the effects of cabin fever. As we packed up to head home early (day 4) I recounted my excursion into solitude and realized that having two emotional melt downs in four days may mean I am not cut out for homestead life.
But never fear hunting and I have made peace. Now on Saturday mornings the man and boy child head out sometime long before sunrise, while the girl child and I sleep in. They come home covered in mud and bearing birds to be cleaned. I stand at the window and watch my kids chase each other around the yard with duck feet as my husband makes sure that whatever meat comes into my house looks like it came from a butcher shop. I sip the Starbucks they picked up of me on the way home and hum to myself "It's the most wonderful time of the year"!

8 1/2 Buckaroo Marinade (the best thing to soak any game meat in, but don't use with chicken)

1 1/4 c salad oil
3/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c worchestershire sauce
2 tbls dry mustard
2 1/4 tsp salt
1tbls pepper
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dry parsley
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 c lemon juice

mix all together and soak meat (any red meat works well) and veggies for 12 hours. grill slowly so veggies don't burn.

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