Gratitude: It’s even on the side of the road

If you would have asked me in June what I’d be doing in the fall/early winter, I’d tell you hunting! I made up my mind months before the season started that this would be my year for deer! Then what happened? Life. Life happened.

The last part of my 2016 was full of extreme highs and lows. As soon as something mindblowingly awesome (made that word up) happened, something buttkickingly brutal (made that one up too) would follow. On the bright side, I was able to finish and launch my book 2 days before Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, just a couple of days later, I received the call that my grandma had died in the early morning hours, the day after Thanksgiving.

I’ve received a tremendous amount of love and support since this all happened, so I want to thank everyone who had a part in that! However, love and support doesn’t fill the freezer, even if Cher thinks it can pay the rent.

I poured over my calendar after returning home for the funeral, just looking for any openings. I needed a time to leave town, because most good hunting is at least a couple of hours from my home. Although many people score with rifles around here, bowhunters have better luck out west, or at least a couple of hours away from the city.

Nothing. My schedule was full.

Fast forward a bit…

It was the week before Christmas and my deer-less blues were in full swing. After a full day of repairing our house (we moved into a new place December 1st!) I decided to swing by the grocery store for some non-alcoholic eggnot. I thought, maybe I could drown my sorrows away with a half gallon of that stuff. Than I saw her, laying by the side of the road.

It was a large does, who appeared to be the victim of an automobile accident. As many people would say, she was roadkill.

I pulled over and checked her out. Her eyes were big and black, with no fading; a sure sign that she was a fresh kill. Her body was still limp. After gutting her and collecting a few internal organs for projects or eating, I placed her in the back of the truck.

I had dealt with deer before, but never a roadkill dear, so I decided to enlist the help of my friend Nicole via the interwebs. She had harvested many of these before, and knew what to look for. After a quick back-and-forth we determined that this was a great find, and she was very fresh!

After arriving home I hung the deer in my garage. I skinned it, keeping the hide for braintanning, and cut off bits of meat from various parts of the deer; back straps, leg, ribs, etc. I fried these pieces of meat, testing them for freshness. They were all good to go! After taking into account the parts that were damaged by the collision, I found that 70% of the meat was still good to eat. I spent the next few hours boning, and packaging the meat.

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Here’s where the story really gets interesting.

I picked up the doe about 200 feet from a large park that is on the very edge of the city, but not open to hunting at all. I have spent a lot of time in this park throughout my life. It’s one of the places where I teach kids about nature. I had seen this deer a few times, and she had seen me. It may sound strange, but I took special care of her meat. In a way, processing her body was my way of adding purpose to her, even after her final breath. I would eat the meat, and return all remains back to the forest to fertilize the ground or be eaten by other animals. I don’t want to sound too hippy-dippy here, but it was almost as if that deer knew my need and fulfilled it. Maybe she had even heard me talking to a friend about it.

Although it is still doubtful that deer speak English, I will always be grateful for this deer.

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