The thrill of the hunt

Ann Swanson

These days you might say I am an armchair hunter. Actually, I never had a hunting license. I ate my breakfast with three deer watching. They watched me move about the kitchen preparing my breakfast, taking my vitamins, then eating. They stood grazing in the yard and did not move except to eat.

Deer in the yard is a regular sight around here. Often, I look out and see deer just lying in the yard seemingly taking a rest.

This morning there was one buck and two does. I think one of the does was young. The does were not the same color. One was a very dark brown while the other was light.

I wondered what they thought as they stood there. They were not frightened even though my dog had just been out in the yard.

The dog and the deer have a kind of stand-off. They each look at each other. I have an Invisible Fence which my dog very much respects so he knows his limits. At times the deer are in his territory. Even then he does not seem to mind.

I always wonder if deer think. In some ways, I believe they can. They find a secluded place to have their young. They care for them and allow the young to trail them as they grow.

They move from place to place to graze. It is not as if someone is going to feed them.

The sad fact is that often the deer population gets out of control. There are more per acre than can comfortably be sustained by the grass that grows there.

Keeping the deer population under control is the role of hunting. I remember my class and I often discussing hunting. I feel it is more humane to hunt the excess deer and use the meat. I do not condone hunting just for a trophy. The deer are around to feed us. The Bible mentions hunting and eating what they hunt.

Hunting is more than providing food. It is a great outdoor sport that provides a lot of exercise for those who hunt – except if you are the type of hunter who uses a four-wheeler.

The thrill of the hunt is in finding just the right spot for your chance to bag a doe or a buck. Exercise also comes in the form of dragging your deer out of the woods.

Hunters often spend hours or even days waiting and watching in the woods. They may see many of God’s creatures wander by as they wait. It is always a bonus if there is snow. That makes hunting easier.

A good hunter will track a deer that they hit with a bullet or arrow. They do not want the deer to suffer. Often, they are still tracking the deer as dusk overtakes the woods.

A good hunter finds a reliable person to harvest the meat that the deer contains. They make the most of what is there.

We used to let a lot of different people hunt on our land, but too many of them were not thoughtful of the landowners (us) and cut fences to get their deer out or in some other way destroyed property. One hunter asked what I needed to have done volunteering to help me. I told him, but that was the last I saw of him. Now, we do not give permission to hunt.

The family sometimes gets licenses. If they do, they hunt on our property.

We enjoy venison. I remember taking venison steaks to a faculty cookout. Many turned up their noses at our steaks, but we enjoyed them. They tasted so good grilled over the open flame.

My mother always said she would not eat venison so I always cooked some roast beef for her when I fixed venison.

One day she said to me, “I suppose I have eaten venison.” I told her she probably did because she always picked the lean pieces.

Caution: do not fix the ribs or the deer. There is little meat there. It is best trimmed off and ground.

How do I know this you ask? One Sunday early in our marriage I baked the ribs for dinner. They smelled wonderful, but when we went to eat them they were terrible. I am not sure what we ate that day.

Now, I prefer to watch the deer in the yard. If they happen to play, and they do, I watch as they run back and forth. If they happen to lay down to rest that is okay, too. I love it when I can see the fawns, newly born, getting their feet under them to walk beside their mothers.

If you take to the woods use caution. Often hunters are injured during hunting season. Our neighbor went into the woods with his family only to fall. Luckily my husband had a four-wheeler and could rescue him. The New York and Pennsylvania seasons coincide for one week. That means many people will be in the woods this week. Be sure you know where you are aiming and what is behind that might get hit.

Nature is a miracle! Take some time out of your busy schedule to watch Mother Nature and the wonderful show that she presents.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at