Sunday, November 6, 2011

Deer Hunting, Part I

It is deer season in North Dakota, and on opening day, I went out hunting with four other men. Between the five or us, we got three deer, two does and a buck. Unfortunately, I was one of the two that did not shoot something. We simply ran out of time, as it got dark. I guess that is what next weekend is for! We saw two or three dozen deer during the day, and only two or three other hunters. That is the benefit of living in a geographically large state, with a very small population (670,000 people, about one third of whom live in Fargo).

It was a very good experience. After each kill, we had to field dress the carcass and carry it back to the truck. Since hunting was only allowed on opening day after 12 noon, and since it got dark at about 6:30 p.m., that was not a bad record. Each kill took time to deal with the dead animal. We cleaned the last one in the dark, using flashlights, and could hear the coyotes baying at the moon. I suspect they fed well that night, on all the dear guts left from the field dressing of each kill. This was my first time hunting (after going Paleo, I thought it would be a good thing to kill some of my own meat) and I expect to make it an annual event.

I grew up in Utah, and deer hunting there is very different, as two of my brothers who still live there assure me. For one thing, the deer in Utah are mule deer, and are considerably larger than the white tail deer we hunt in central/eastern North Dakota. But the biggest difference was that North Dakota is basically flat: no lugging deer carcasses up and down mountains. Lugging them back to the truck across flat terrain was hard enough. It gave me new respect for Mark Sisson's advice to move and lift heavy things on a regular basis.

Assuming I get my deer next week, I am very tempted to take up bow hunting as well. There is something deeply primal about stalking a deer with a bow, then having to chase the animal down after it is wounded.

The only problem with North Dakota deer: I am pretty sure these deer spent much of the last two months gorging on corn and other crops, as this is an agricultural state. So much for grass-fed deer.

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