Here in Ontario we are nearing the end of good weather and the cold depths winter are slowly approaching. The days are shorter and the threat of a crisp frost is ever present. Its this time of year when the minds of most people start to drift southward to warm beaches and cool drinks. But, for some of us, our thoughts drift to colder climates full of tree stands, warm coffee, and a the prospect of the hunt.
For a few of the faithfull, it is time to sight in the rifles and shot guns, wash the camo clothes with scent-free soap and don the traditional blaze orange vest and hat. It is time for the great tradition of the Deer Hunt.
Its only been a few years since I have taken up hunting, and initially, I was only interested in birds. But as I expect happens to most, my culinary curiosity got the better of me and I soon found myself sitting in a stand 15 feet off the ground, freezing my b*lls off and feeling my heart jump at even the slightest rustle of leaves. How can I justify this you ask? If you have to ask, I am not even going to bother trying to explain. Words wouldn’t do it justice. The best I can do is recommend you tag along on a hunt with a friend and you’ll soon find out why so many Ontarians are crazy enough to take part in this tradition. But enough about “why”, lets move on to the more exciting topic of “how”.
This year I spent the first week of deer season in Bethany Ontario with two of my uncles, a cousin and a couple other gents.
I arrived at my Uncle’s house in Bethany on Sunday evening to go over the last few details and was in bed early in preparation for the next day. In hindsight, I am not sure why I go to bed early on nights like these. I rarely get any sleep since I am plagued by the anticipation and promise of the next day. this reminds me a lot of the night before bass opener!
After a sharp 4:45 wake up, breakfast, and a 5 minute drive to the hunting grounds, I found myself facing the view below (IPhones don’t do well in low light, my apologies). Quite the invigorating sight having the prospect of a week of this laying out before me. No computers. No bosses. Just me and nature.
My stand was located in a section of hardwoods with a stream bed running through it. Equipped with a slick 20 gauge BPS scoped shotgun I awaited my prey patiently although it was all I could do to contain myself with the excitement I was feeling.
(no pics of the BPS but I ended up using this 220 savage later in the week. What a marvel of modern technology!)
About 2 hours in, the stillness was broken by two series of shots that I was sure came from our group. After a flurry of text messages, I unloaded my gun, climbed out of the stand and was standing over the first deer of the season ( a young button buck shot by my Uncle).
Although small, it beat the tag sandwiches which we were forced to eat last season which made us very happy. After a moment spent admiring the animal and paying our respects, we dragged the buck out of a ravine and loaded in the awaiting truck. We then proceeded to the location of another group member and were tickled pink to find him standing proud as a peacock next to a beautiful doe he had shot around the same time. This was his first deer and he was positively beaming.
Two deer in one day? Yes please! I could already taste the venison sausage.
After field dressing, we transported the deer to a group members garage and proceeded to hang the beasts for processing later in the week. For those who don’t know, aging the deer improves the meat quality drastically but should only be done if temperatures permit (4 degrees or less).
Unfortunately, these were to be the only two deer we would shoot all week.
No matter, there were other tasks to keep me engaged including a crash course in reloading rifle cartridges by my Uncle. If you haven’t tried reloading, I recommend it. It will give you an appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of each gun and for the importance of finding the right load for your rifle/shotgun. I caution you though, be sure to find a knowledgeable instructor as reloading can be dangerous if not done correctly and accurately.
As I mentioned, no more deer were shot for the remainder of the week although we were provided with some amazing sunrises and sunsets.
Although the picture is once again of low quality, I am sure you can appreciate the beauty of the land we were hunting and still get a sense for the tranquility and peace of mind the sport of hunting offers.
But what of the deer we harvested? After all, this is for me, the most important part of the hunt.
The meat from these deer was used to make various sausages and meat pies as well as delicious steaks and roasts.
I chose to make my share into polish summer sausages that were smoked for 2 – 3 hours (to perfection I might add!). Take it from me, they taste as good as they look!
The best part? They will be used to feed my family over the winter in a truly responsible, organic and sustainable manner.
All though deer hunting is not for everyone, It is a richly rewarding experience, both for the mind and the body. If you haven’t already, give it a try. Ill warn you though, it can be very addictive.
Cheers from the Wild