Deer season has come and gone for me, and I can’t say I’m sad to be done with it.
I spent my season like many others — bundled in layers atop a clunky seat strapped to a tree. With one pair of athletic thermal underwear, four of classic long johns, flannel-insulated jeans and the equivalent above-waist wear, I’m sure I looked like a cross between the little boy from “A Christmas Story” and a giant, radioactive marshmallow man. But for the first of many years, those layers didn’t quite cut it.
Atop my stand I saw one deer and promptly realized I hadn’t sighted in my rifle since last year. Luckily for the deer, it really needed to be sighted in. I also saw a veritable herd of tromping, stomping and leaf-rustling squirrels doing their best deer impressions you have ever heard.
On the down side, I didn’t get a deer. On the bright side, I didn’t kill anything. You see, I’m not fond of killing things, and I don’t like deer hunting. Why do I go? I’m glad I insinuated you asked.
I don’t like killing animals, but I like eating meat. So once a year I use hunting as a chance to reconnect with the added cost of being an omnivore.
The cost of hamburger goes far beyond the per-pound price you see at the grocery store. Think about it. Some farmer had to work hard to raise that beef. The animal had to die. Someone had to go through the gruesome process of processing it.
Buying meat from the grocery store allows you to ignore those costs — but not hunting.
Freezing my hind end off in a deer stand for an activity I don’t even like is my attempt at showing respect for that cost. A lot of animals die for my meals in the span of a year, and when you shoot a graceful animal simply walking through the woods, you are no longer separate from what that means. You see the dying, the possible suffering and the gore of it all.
I feel that it grounds me, and if I am ever unable to stomach the cost of bagging a deer, then I am unworthy of the cost suffered by the animals in the grocery store.
It is for this reason that I woke up two hours early every day of my vacation, packed on more layers than a Grands bun and froze in the woods rather than doing something I actually liked.
On top of that, my birthday has always landed during deer season, and this year I shot at a fat, broad-sided and slow-walking young buck not once, not twice, but three times — AND.MISSED.EVERY.TIME!
It could be worse. I could be chopped liver.