Friday, January 18, 2008

Little Carnivores

This past year I posted to this blog about as much as I got out hunting. Which wasn't much. Sadly, my grouse dog of 10 years hunted birds just one day. That one woodcock didn't go too far at dinner! A little better was the duck hunting -- two mornings -- so Spy got a few swims in, and we had a few meals of duck.

The deer hunting was hard. Hunted a few days in Maine, probably out 6 or 7 times. Came so close to lining up on a buck, but it wasn't to be. After he snorted at me and was walking away, I pulled out a Primos doe bleat can and called him over. But he was just a little too nervous, and came to his senses about a nanosecond after an ear and antler came in sight... and he was gone. I even borrowed a black powder gun, bought a tag and tried that for a couple long days of steep snowshoing. That was fun, but did not see a deer, although sign was abundant.

I was able to get down to my folks' in CT twice during the fall. Usually it's deerville, but I did not even see a deer in 3 days during November and another two after xmas, which is unheard of. On the afternoon of the 6th day, a couple days after xmas, I settled down in a tree stand at the edge of the woods, overlooking an apple orchard (which had a liberal supply of apples still on the trees and more underneath). There was a pretty good covering of snow, and the temperature was comfortable in the upper 30s, west breeze. I had read maybe a couple articles in the Northwoods Sporting Journal when they appeared like a mirage. It was like the good old days -- deer were walking up out of the oak woods (and what an acorn year!) to the orchard. I counted one, two, three. Looked like a doe and two fawns. The fawns came first, and I let them pass at 70 yards up into the orchard. The doe stopped under a greening tree, facing me at 60 yards, head up. I placed a bullet high in her neck, reloading as the fawns jumped at the shot. They milled around a little, trying to sort things out. When one of them stepped clear of a tree limb, I threaded a bullet to his neck as well (I like the high neck shot, as the deer drop like a stone and the clean carcass makes the butcher very happy). That filled my tags, so I just watched the orpan. Finally it trotted down into the woods. A couple bleats from Primos, however, turned it around and it trotted to me, calling, right under my tree and up toward the orchard again looking for company.

There was much rejoicing that afternoon. Finally, after having to say No everytime Nolan would great me at the door with "Daddy, did you shoot a deer?", I was able to tell him yes. He told me several times over the next few days how happy he was that I shot 2 deer. When I was cutting up a carcass up on the kitchen table one day he walked in, asked what it was, and said "that looks like good meat". Little carnivores say the darnedest things.

The last day in CT I brought Nolan out for a short walk to look for bunnies. Sure enough we saw one sitting near its burrow. A crack of the .22 reduced it to possession, and again there was much rejoicing. So, what the hunting this past year lacked in quantity was made up for with a few precious memories and good meat.

And what kind of post would this be if no recipe were offered?
A favorite deer or moose dish at the Path Walker camp is "barbequed" ribs. We like to have a good rib feed right away, as the bones otherwise take up a bit of space in the freezer.
Trim up the ribs, cut to sizes that fit in your crockpot or stew pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil or nearly so, then let them simmer til the meat wants to fall off. Cool so the fat will solidify on top (especially important w/ deer). Then pick the meat, put in a casserole or baking dish, mix with Sweet Baby Ray's barbeque sauce flavor of your choice. Pop it in the oven at about 375 until it gets a little crusty on top. Serve over your favorite type of rice with a nice lager along side. Ribs of a fawn are probably good for one meal, an adult deer maybe two meals (if there are any leftovers you'll probably have to fight for them, or hide them).

Good luck in 08.


Dr. Dirt said...

Oh the little carnivores! Great memories, even if the hunts were limited. Great photos. Nolan likes to celebrate the kill. Keep him away from my daughter!

Jim Tantillo said...


awesome to hear from you, and congrats on bringing the little buggers up right. send some of that extra venison to T'burg--I went deerless this year, and it was for lack of trying.

KGT said...

Very nice write-up Andy!

It sounds like grouse camp may be in a woods near you next season--so I look forward to seeing you! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I tell you Mr. T, there is no extra venison with these kids in the house. We're always verging on Deer Deficit Disorder. There is temporary relief -- drawing a moose tag in the lottery... or the wife getting into deer hunting.
I rest easy knowing you'll be able to get by with summer time vineyard varmints.

Yeoman said...

Neat photos and story!

We just bought a .22 for my daughter, age 7. She's eager to try it out on rabbits.