Meat and Potatoes

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  Lots of things have happened.  I’ll try to keep it brief…but…well…I’ll go ahead and apologize, this might be long.  I’ll keep it simple, no salad, no soup, just meat and potatoes.
I moved into a FEMA trailer so we could renovate the check station.  The war on mice began.  So far death toll is 3, sleepless nights 2.  I’ve discovered that Hooker shooting hogs out our bathroom window might not wake me up…but mice pitter pattering around my kitchen (or ON MY PILLOW) will.  Figure that one out.  I used glue traps for the first time.  After those two were used…I promptly switched back to snap traps.  So far, I’ve only managed to catch one mouse and Randy (HA!  He stepped on it one day during the hunt), but I have hopes that either the mice know this trailer is certain death for them, or that the remaining snap traps will do their duty.
Bow season opened. 
I drove all over the state in one weekend: dancing the night away in Athens on Friday, working on Ocmulgee on Saturday, and spending time with the beautiful family in Albany on Sunday.
We got a call about a road-kill bear in the middle of the night, I picked him up the next morning and hearse’d it up to Athens for Chamberlain’s necropsy class.  The vet running that particular lab opted not to necropsy the bear (apparently, dead bears are stinky), and insisted we take it to the vet school.  We then piled five people and a bear into my two-door, Chevy half-ton (I’ll let you figure out the seating arrangements) drove across campus, and necropsied that bear for three hours.  It.was.cool.  We out-lasted most of the vet students (it was cute to see them run away with their white coats over their noses), and collected all manner of samples…and jawbones…and claws…and then dispatched of the rest.  Rule number one of dealing with dead stuff (Yes, this is one of Hooker’s bear camp rules): if you’re going to puke, puke in the bait bucket.  Don’t ask, just do it.
Scott and Maggie got married in Jax the next weekend.  It was beautiful.  I love her and cannot wait to see them both at the next family gathering (hey, family who reads this…let’s not make it so long in between, okay?).  I also found out my outlaws read my blog.  It made my weekend!  It is so encouraging to hear that you enjoy reading about my adventures and misadventures.  It brings me joy to relay them to you, even though I cannot do so in person. 
Rifle season opened. 
Ocmulgee had their first check-in hunt of the season last weekend (Thursday-Saturday).  We cooked lunches out of my single wide and stuffed four DNR guys and myself in there around the hot coffee pot in the morning (PS, Daddy, thanks for teaching me how to make coffee with love.  It was much appreciated by all.).  We started cracking jokes as soon as the sun came up and didn’t quit until long after it went down.  They called me “one of the guys.”  That made my week! 
[Explanation: While to some women, it might be a slight to be called just one of the guys, those of us in male-dominated fields relish it.  It is tough to be a woman in a field where the men are used to talking about us without us hearing.  It is tough to be treated equally in a field where women aren’t always equal, and certainly haven’t even had a presence in the past.  It is tough to, well, be as rough and tough as they are, sometimes.  But we have two options: be porcelain-skinned like they expect, easily offended by off-color remarks, and squeamish about dirt…OR hit them right back with the pranks, jokes, spiderwebs, and slaps on the back.  I have found that to relax and revel in life with them is far more productive, meaningful, and fun in the long run.  Besides, as Randy says, “they don’t pay us enough for us to be miserable.”  We have to have fun somehow.]
I killed my first deer.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I shot a deer.  The girl who, in high school, was skeptical of all things camouflage, got fresh deer blood spread on her face last night (it’s a tradition, don’t knock it.  Just, don’t.).  I owe a big thank you to Randy: he gave me good instruction and let me use his land.  Those of you who are hunters know how much work goes into food plots and deer management, so you know how much of a gift that is to me.  For those of you who don’t know much about deer things…well…it’s close to letting someone in front of you at a huge shopping sale. 
I expect you hunters will want details (Anti-hunters, the paragraph below is the one you skip over.  If you have questions or concerns about deer hunting, PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask me.  I will answer.).
We were in a stand looking at a food plot about 200yds deep, and probably about that wide.  The stand was in the back-middle.  We got in it by about 5:30pm, and within five minutes saw our first doe-fawn pair, followed by a spike and a three pointer (it’s okay, he’ll grow into it…we hope).  They milled around and took the back exit out to another rectangular food plot (we had sat in that one a couple days before…upwind of ALL THE DEER…oops).  The doe-fawn pair came back, alerting us of more deer…another doe-fawn pair.  To our far right, there was a 4pointer, but no clear shot because of tree limbs.  He meandered off.  We decided it would be okay to take one of the does (about 100yds off), so we began the slo-mo process of moving the gun, sandbag, etc into a better position.  As soon as we got that settled…out pop two fawn-less does on the far right.  One meandered out of range and the other meandered into range.  SO we began the slo-mo process of moving everything to the opposite side of the stand…I pulled the safety, didn’t flip out…and double-lunged her at 60 yards.  She mule kicked, ran another 60 yards into the trees, and dropped.  (I’m SO thankful it was a clean shot and a quick death.  That has always and will always be my biggest concern about my hunting experiences.)  We tracked her (more for experience than need, we knew where she went) and then hauled her out.  It was pretty excellent.  Thankfully, my adrenaline dump waited until AFTER I pulled the trigger and not before.  I’ve heard buck fever is intense, but apparently I was pretty cool. 
Yes, the blood painting did happen.  And you know what?  I liked it.  In fact, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  To non-hunters, I guess that sounds disgusting.  But it’s like an initiation, a passage from the outside, in.  You’re marked for life, forever in the fraternity of those who have killed their own dinner.  I wore that paint proudly last night, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
That was a big update.  Simple, straightforward, not one of my more fanciful posts.  But sometimes, the most joy, the most peace, comes from the little things, the quiet days passing, the coworker mischief, the habituated activities, the comfort of things familiar. 
And, of course, always trying something new, like hunting for your meat, and growing your own potatoes.

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