The Great White Hunter Returns
OK. Laura Banks Lewis is discouraged from reading this post. So is everyone else who might be against hunting.
In Michael's defense he does not hunt for sport, he hunts to eat. He does enjoy grilled deer steak, and makes damn good chili with the ground deer meat.
Most of you heard the story of Michael's 8 point buck he shot last fall. He hadn't hunted in almost 20 years. He went out three times. The third time he went hunting, he came back in less than an hour with his kill. It took like an hour this time, but he got another 8 point buck.
This past Monday Michael and his dad went out hunting. Michael was fidgety after about 30 minutes. Last time he was alone, and brought a book (by Milton Friedman- you know, some light reading). He forgot to bring a book this time so he was quickly bored. When he was just beginning to wonder when he should give up and go home, he saw one in front of him off to his right. As he waited for a clearer shot, he noticed another one in front of him off to his left. Apparently deer have the ability to sneak up on people. Being the greedy bastard that he is, Michael was deliberating a strategy on how to get both. Then he came to his senses and decided to go for the one on the right- who was farther away but bigger (more buck for his bang-literally).
So he shoots the magnificent creature. It runs a little, but the other one just freezes in place. Since it is still within his firing range, he is still thinking "I could get both". You can see how hunting increases the testosterone, hence reason temporarily leaves the hunter. He turns back into the rational man I married and focuses on getting the big buck he has unknowingly already shot, and shoots him again. Then he and Robert signal each other and go over to him. He is dying but is not quite dead yet. Robert- being the cowboy (Mike's note - I would say he is a Mountain Man de la Escuela Vieja) that he is pull out his hand gun and ends Bambi's dad's misery with one shot to the head. (see picture above).
I asked Michael for the blow by blow of what follows this process. Bear with me- I found it a lot more interesting than the actual hunt.
He drags the animal to a clearing and gets the tractor to carry it all the way home. Once they are home they string the buck up by his hind legs (as seen above). This is when they skin him. You read right. It isn't easy either. Not like the Indians scalping their dead in movies with one clean sweep. No, it is a long and dirty job. You must be careful because you do not want hair on your meat now do you?
Robert grabbed the buck's testicles and asked Michael: "You don't want any mountain oysters, do ya?" and cut them off with one swipe of a knife (swoosh) and threw them in the pile with the rest of what was being discarded.
After the skinning comes the gutting. They cut a circle around the anus of the beast, because the anus is connected to the all the inner guts. They cut him open from bottom to top in the stomach area (remember he is strung up by his hind legs) at the same time keeping the guts inside him. Cutting him open is another thing that must be done carefully because if you cut too deep, you risk puncturing something and getting deer shit all over your meat. Yeah!
Then a bucket is placed underneath the beast so he can let all the insides drop into it. Then someone has to pull the anus out. I picture it making a popping sound... (BTW, I may be getting the exact order of this wrong) The head and front feet are cut off. Michael separated the antlers from the head and keeps them. For no purpose other than tradition. The other set from last year is still at the greenhouse waiting for Sandy to come pick them up. He says this new set might have a piece of brains attached to it...
They put the naked gutted deer in a cool room for the night. This keeps it fresh and allows the meat to harden ... I believe it's called rigor mortis. The spare parts are then buried underground, and thanks is given to the gods. (Not really)
The next day they chop him up to pieces. They cut some steaks off and the rest is grounded up in a meat grinder. Michael, his dad and Andy spent a couple of hours cutting it all up, grinding it and wrapping it up in butcher's paper. Then, they bury the carcass and thank the gods again. (Not really)
I asked Michael how long this whole process took. He said "Oh...about 13 man hours" taking into account that it was he and Robert, then he, Robert and Andy working the next day. That is a lot of work for 40 pounds of venison...
Mike's notes and economic justification for hunting -
Ground beef costs ~$3.00 per pound around here. If you value ground venison equally since it is a close substitute for beef, we got ~$120 worth of venison. I round up to $130 since some of the meat was in steaks not ground. At 13 man hours of work, we received on average $10 per hour for our labor in meat. Since my dad worked essentially for free, you can figure that Andy and I received around ~$15-16 per hour for our labor. Obviously, this isn't a way to get rich, but since we did this after work when we would usually be sitting around watching TV, it was a pretty good use of time. It is equivalent to taking a temporary, second job that paid ~$15-16 per hour.
Nuff said. Maybe next time I'll talk about how "frugal" Michael is.