Deer Season 2019

My deer seasons had settled into a routine. Constraints from the day job allowed for a week off each year. Family commitments and extracurriculars consistently put pressure on the time available for hunting and seemed to erode actual time in the woods.

Despite this alarming trend, this year would be different. I had accumulated 2 extra weeks of vacation and the plan was to hunt the full two weeks, preferably in multiple spots.

My regular group had recently made a decision to split up the hunt across both weeks, starting with the first three days and ending with the last 3 days. The hope was to disturb the woods less, give the dogs a break, and take advantage of all the groups around us pushing deer around.

The fist three days passed by in a blurr, with one buck down on the first day. Taken by a new hunter in our group with a .30-30. Coincidentally enough it was taken in the same location where I took my first buck. Quite the coincidence. No other deer were seen though and most in our group were glad for a bit of a break.

After the last hunt of the day on the Wednesday I moved on to my next leg of my two week journey. The hunt continued with my Uncle near Peterborough. I swapped out my rifles and the bawl of the hounds for a .50 cal muzzle-loader, a tree stand, and the peaceful serenity of some freshly fallen snow. Some of my first hunting experiences were here in Bethany, in the very same tree stand. With that in mind I pondered the difference between then and now. Life had changed dramatically, my approach to hunting had changed, as had my mentality. I can recall my first trips where I hadn’t seen anything, and couldn’t but help internalizing it. I felt like i was moving too much, had too strong a scent, or had done something wrong to scare away the deer. The reality was that I was merely impatient and didn’t understand that Deer hunting is often a game of chance encounters, especially when sitting in a tree stand.

The quiet provided a much need opportunity for some introspection and thought, and the setting provided the stimulation. It was pretty easy to get lost in this scenario, and as the snow built up on my camo and fire arm, I felt like I had become part of the woods.

On day three in the morning, my trip through this winter wonderland was abruptly halted by movement on the ridge in front of me. It seemed as though a buck had materialized out of nowhere and decided to meander towards our setup. He was in no hurry, and surprisingly, neither was I. Another change from my first years hunting.

After a time I levelled the muzzleloader, placed the reticle on the body and made the commitment. 200 Yards later and the second buck of the group was down.

You can talk in terms of points when referring to a deer. If that is the measure than this was a 10 point atypical with and extra 2 brow tines on one side. However, my preferred terms are those of lbs taken and freezer space occupied. In those terms it was a solid 190 and my portion filled my small stand-up freezer.

Well worth the two weeks.

Almost Ate a Tag Sandwich

After a long regular deer season and several days spent during the controlled hunt It was looking like id be eating a tag sandwich this year.  Things were so dire that my boss had to step in a set me up with this nice 10 pointer.

There might not be a lot of meat on it but I’m sure it will go well with any meal.


Pre Deer Season Contemplations

Its October 26 on a Monday, a week before the opening day of deer season in south eastern Ontario and here I sit, anxiously awaiting for the week to pass.  Sitting at my laptop, I can’t think of a single thing to do aside from scour the internet in search of pictures of big bucks or to Oogle the aerial imagery for the property I will be hunting in a week.  As if either task could provide any more insight to me than the 100 hours or so I’ve already spent or could somehow make the week disappear quicker.

Restless would be a good descriptor of my current condition, anxious too, but definitely restless.   Restlessness that will only be worsened by the score of photos making the internet rounds from all those lucky SOBs who archery hunt and by the numerous trail cam pictures that seem to be attracted to my Facebook feed like a hunter to an outdoors store.  Its a steady build up all weeklong, finally reaching its peak the night before opener making the prospect of sleep a cruel joke.  I tell you, the whole thing is enough to drive any sane person crazy.  But I guess that’s a good thing in a way.  After all you have to be crazy to don the customary camo and blaze orange at an hour that is ridiculously earlier than necessary just to sit in your car at a parking lot that serves as a meeting point only to wait for the normal deer hunters to arrive at a more civilized hour, all the while trying to sip a hot drink with shaky hands and sleep deprived nerves.

Funny though, I’m usually not alone in that parking lot spilling my coffee and hovering over my gear like a mother over her new born.  I’m not just talking about my buddy whom I usually pick up either.  In fact, if someone had the inclination to get up that early and walk by the decidedly rural location where we hunt, they would likely see a cluster of red taillights breaking the early morning darkness.  They would likely see the occasional blaze orange vest and ghostly outline of a hunter illuminated by the taillights as he checked his gear.  They would see the miniscule dot of light from two to or three of my fellow hunters cigarettes as they rhythmically jumped from waist height to mouth height in a desperate attempt to pass the time.  Intrigued, they might even move closer to hear the chit chat between us about our regular lives, or maybe the anxious rattle of the dogs in their cages where they sit mounted on the back of an old pickup. They would hear the jokes and hear us exchange stories like they we were long lost brothers all the while watching the last few “normal” folks arrive….late.

In our specific case, some of these members of our crew are brothers.  In fact, most of the members are related making me the interloper who had only met them for the first time last year on opening day.  As intimidating as that sounds, not knowing them didn’t seem to matter all that much.  It didn’t matter when, the stranger to the group (me), broke our cold streak and took down the first deer of the season, and my first deer ever.  They were more than happy to lend several sets of very experienced hands to extract the animal from the bush and to assist with the hard work that followed.   They seemed delighted to share the hard earned knowledge they accumulated over a lifetime of hunting.  Happier still, were they to provide a squelchy chorus of congratulations over the two way radio for the hunter who had broke the cold streak that season and who had claimed a nice 8 point for his first.  No matter where each had come from, these folks were brothers in arms and it showed.  Fellow hunters in search of the same 14 point dream that draws each of us to wake up each year at ungodly hours in pursuit.  Fellow hunters who would be just as happy for a brother to bag a buck as they would be if they were the ones to pull the trigger. Well maybe not just as happy, but damn close.

But why do we do it? Simple.  Its eloquent and honourable (at least in our group), yet visceral and primal.  Its a truly real experience in an increasingly more digital world.  Its totally analog and soaked in history and tradition.  An experience worthy of kings and accessible by the lowliest poor schmuck.  And above all else, the outcome tastes fantastic in just about any dish imaginable.

In case you weren’t counting down for some strange reason, it’s only 6 days, 23 hours, 9 minutes away….

Cheers from my desk,


The Passion of Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is a very personal and serious endeavour.  We all react differently to the feelings this primal pursuit brings.  Asks any hunter who is willing to break the silence of this very personal passion to describe what hunting is.  They will provide you with their own personal insight on the topic, and, dare I say a reflection of who they are at their core.

Many try to distill the ethereal experience of hunting into words, media, or an easy way to convey it to those who have never experienced it. or perhaps just a way to preserve the feeling for future reflection.  Many try, most fail.  So when someone comes along who is able to elegantly and accurately provide a glimpse at the profound experience that is hunting, I take notice.

Dare I say that the folks at Rockhouse Motion have put together a video that both inspires and touches the hearts of both hunters and non-hunters alike.

I must say, I have never seen the topic of hunting portayed so well in such perfect cultural, emotional and spiritual context.

Good Job Guys!

Now take a gander for yourself and enjoy!

Deer Fat Misconceptions

One of the things I have always been told about deer hunting is that the quality of meat if always directly proportional to how well you clean away the fat.  I can still hear the bellow of the senior hunters while processing of our game last year: “Who left so much fat on here? Don’t you know it will make the meat taste like garbage”.

As I am still a young hunter with much to learn I accepted this as gospel and moved on with other lessons. Truth be told, I have had bad venison experiences, and after trying “fat free” venison, I had no reason to doubt the previous advice. That is, until now.

Its no secret one of my inspirations in the field and in the kitchen, is the great american chef/hunter, Hank Shaw.  Hank is the brains behind several books and the website, hunter- Angler – Gardener – Cook.  A website dedicated to providing no nonsense guidance to harvesting wild food and to promoting the wild pursuits in general.  I eagerly read anything Hank writes and often employ his recipes following my own forrrays in the field.

So when a notification popped up on my Facebook feed titled “Demystifying Deer Fat” from Hank’s site I instantly delved into the article.

The article covers many of the misconceptions surrounding deer fat and gives detailed reasons for the various negative tastes people often report.  He also provided many alternatives for using deer fat and suggests that not all deer fat tastes horrible.  To date this is one of the best articles I have read on the matter.  So good in fact, it has me considering keeping a bit of deer fat around this season to test the theories presented in the article.

If your a hunter and you process your own meat, give it a read.

Hunting season approaches, so good luck to all who are taking part this year.

Cheers from my desk,


2013 Deer Hunting Season – An Ontario Tradition

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. Continue reading