My Deer Family

by in Family and Faith

I occasionally admit that I grew up on roadkill.

This is not entirely accurate, as I also ate venison procured by gun, and sometimes meat from a grocery store. But whenever we ate moose, it was death (or deadly injury) by truck or car.

I consider this highly resourceful.

In Maine, November is a month of fluorescent orange, of brown going down, of grotesque sights of deer in the back of pickups. To some this is offensive; to others, it’s simply odd.

To me, it’s normal.

To say I’m a fan of hunting season would be a stretch. When I was younger, my uncles and Dad and brother conspired against my sleep by “talking” to each other outside my door at 5 a.m. I would protest their volume. They would chuckle.

But beneath my rolling eyes was an appreciation for togetherness. Hunting, for me, wasn’t about the hunt; it was about my whole, loud family gathering in our house. It was about their stories, even though I suspect their slight exaggeration. It was about hot coffee and muffins and Al’s Pizza for lunch. It was about catching up and poking fun and being family.

Though my family failed to recruit me, even when my aunt and mom and cousin joined the ranks of camouflage clad chasers of deers, they recruited Ryan. And this past Saturday, it finally paid off. He shot his first deer – at 8 a.m. on opening day, as any good husband should do. Especially those with small children and a frazzled wife.

My freezer is full of frozen, locally grown, all-natural, hormone-free, grass-fed, lean meat. All for free. My uncle butchered it while my dad and mom and other uncle and aunt packaged it. A true family affair.

One of the things I appreciate most about Maine is the genuine way people live. Resourcefulness is a way of life. And before going green or buying local was a hip thing to do, Mainers steadily and consistently lived this way – growing their own vegetables, picking their own apples, catching their own fish, buying lobster from their neighbors and shooting a deer to feed the family through winter.

It’s also a place where people come together. Not many people will mill around in Maine just for socializing’s sake, but when there’s work to be done, everyone pulls together.

I learned this first from my deer family.

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