Oh Deer!

*I will warn you some of the images below contain blood and dead animals.*

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I was raised a hunter.  My Dad was a hunter as was his dad before him.  It is a family tradition, and I am proud to be a part of it.  I spent this past weekend with my family hunting and enjoying an early Thanksgiving meal.  This is why I did not post on Saturday like normal.

I know that there are many people who are very against hunting, but let me show you why it is important for the environment and how it can be a healthy choice for your family.

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Hunting actually helps the deer herd, when it is done according to all the rules and regulations.  In Illinois, deer really don’t have any predators except for humans, so by harvesting some of the deer it keeps the herds at a manageable size.  This way there is a good ratio of deer to food and water supply.  Which makes for healthier deer.  When there are too many deer in one area and there is not enough food and water, the deer can get a chronic wasting disease which is spread from deer to deer because they in close proximity to each other.  It can wipe out whole herds of deer.  It has happened in the past in our country. Click here if you want to learn more about it https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/CWD/Pages/FAQs.aspx

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Another thing that makes hunting a good choice for your family is health. Venison (deer meat) is very lean, actually the butcher (or in my family, my dad) should remove almost all the fat when preparing it because it gives the meat a bad waxy taste. Also, you can’t get meat that is anymore organic and natural.  Deer mainly graze on grass and some corn or soybeans from farmers’ fields.  They are not given any hormones and they are free range.

One other reason hunting can be a good choice for your family is the cost effectiveness.  This is one of the main reason me and Brandon went hunting this year.  My Dad owns his own private land, so we can hunt there whenever we please.  Tags and a license only cost about $40 and my dad know how to cut up the meat himself, so this saves on having it processed.  Me and my family package and own a grinder to make burger.  A doe (female deer) about the size that we took this year will give us about 50 lbs. of meat. So, that is a little less than a dollar a pound.

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Hunting the right way has always been very important to my Dad.  When I was 11, I attended a hunter safety course.  It was a three day course with a test at the end.  It taught safe gun handling practices as well as IL regulations and rules.  Brandon completed this same course in September, and he was able to get his license to hunt for this year’s season.

This weekend Brandon and I went out hunting for the first time as a married couple.  We went out Saturday afternoon around noon and waited but didn’t see anything except a few squirrels.  Patience is one thing that hunting teaches you.  There is a lot of waiting and being very quiet and not moving.  Deer have a very good sense of sight, smell, and hearing. So, it is important to go unnoticed.

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We didn’t get a deer on Saturday, but we did come home that evening to a wonderful early thanksgiving meal.  My mom made a turkey, cranberries, stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes, her homemade crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls, my favorite scalloped corn, and green bean casserole.  I made a pumpkin pie. It was a lovely evening.  I’m so thankful for my family and all they still do for me and Brandon.

Sunday, we got up and went to my Mom’s church then came home to yummy leftovers for lunch and then back to the woods at 2 pm. Most of the day was pretty slow again, but Brandon, and I enjoyed our whisper conversations and the bag of candy that is a must have on a hunting trip. It was closing in on the last hour of hunting and still no deer in sight.  Brandon and I were just enjoying being with each other, when out of the corner of my eye I saw something move.  I slowing moved my head around the other side of Brandon and saw a nice mature doe standing in the field eating.  I told Brandon that there was a deer and to move slowly.  It had been so slow that he thought I was teasing him, but when he turned around we discovered that there was not one deer, but two.

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Brandon moved slowly over to the window and got the gun into position.  He pulled back the hammer and waited for a shot. He took aim and pulled the trigger. I watched as both deer jumped to the side, but were not hit.  His shot must have gone underneath its belly.  It is very hard when you take a shot at a living animal for the first time.  You get nervous and the adrenaline can cause you to not be as accurate.  Thankfully the deer stayed in the field, and I told Brandon to reload.  He got back into position, but the deer were not in his shooting range, so we tried to change places, but as soon as we did the deer moved back to where they had originally been.  So, we once more quietly changed places.  He once again got into position and cocked back the hammer.  He took his aim and BANG! It was a great shot right into the lungs and heart.  The doe jumped and ran just up the hill and laid down and was dead.

Brandon looked at me and asked if he hit it.  I said yes and that she was already down.  He looked at me with the biggest smile and asked how long we had to wait to go get it.  I thought he was going to jump out the window after it. I told him we needed to wait until legal shooting time was over because the second deer might come back. We waited and 2 minutes before legal shooting time the second doe came back.  I got into position, but wasn’t really able to make a good shot.  So we just decided to enjoy watching her eat the soybeans in the field.

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That is something that I think a lot of people don’t understand about hunters.  We really do love nature and animals.  Sometimes we don’t shoot, and we just enjoy the beautiful creatures that God created. Also, yes, we get excited when we have made a good shot, but it is still a sobering moment. You have just taken a living creatures life.  It is not to be taken lightly.  Me and Brandon even discussed how it was a little sad, but had to remind ourselves that it was a way of providing meat for our family.

About an hour after Brandon made his shot, my Dad met us and helped us gut the deer and Brandon and I tagged it and drug it back to the truck.  We took it back to the house and skinned it and cut the meat into smaller pieces and put it in a cooler of ice so it wouldn’t spoil.

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I hope this gives you a little insight into what hunting is like for my family.  I know there are hunters out there that don’t respect the laws or the animals like they should, but I am glad that my dad instilled in me a sense of good ethics when it comes to hunting the right way.  I hope to pass this tradition on to my children one day in the future.

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