It’s that time of year again. The time when the leaves we’re not raking pile up all over the property. The remains of the plants in the garden we haven’t decommissioned slowly turn brown. The herbs we haven’t planted in the hoophouse don’t yield basil, thyme, or oregano. The tuna we haven’t caught swims in the ocean.
Time to go out in the woods and not shoot a deer!
We’re coming up on our third deer season and we have, thus far, nothing to show for our efforts. Unless you count red ink – we’ve got plenty of that. I can’t bring myself to add up what we’ve spent on guns, ammunition, clothing, and gear. Then there are license fees, travel expenses, and an endless supply of those little chemical handwarmers.
It’s an expensive hobby, if you don’t get a deer. It’s an expensive hobby even if you do get a deer, but a freezer full of venison makes it all worthwhile. So what if it comes out to $35 a pound?
Our first season, we hunted locally. We knew, going in, that our chances weren’t great, since Cape Cod has some 18,000 hunters pursuing its seven deer. I did manage to see a small doe, and I went so far as to point my gun at it, but I didn’t have confidence in the shot and I didn’t take it.
The second year, we traveled. To Vermont. Our friends Dave and Bonnie live at the foot of the Green Mountains, and we came to hunt their backyard. Turned out to be Vermont’s worst deer season since the Ice Age, and we were, once again, skunked.
This year, we’re trying Maine. We have friends – I use the term optimistically, since we just met them and they haven’t yet had time to discover our shortcomings – who have a piece of land in the southwest corner of the state that absolutely, positively, contains deer. This past weekend, Kevin and I went up for a reconnaissance trip.
It’s not every day that someone you just met invites you to come stay in her home and hunt her land, but Susan Tuveson, a fellow food professional (she writes for a new magazine called Northeast Flavor) I met at the Nantucket celebration of pork and beer that is Hogtoberfest, is unreasonably hospitable. Kevin and I got to talking to her at the event, and convinced her to stop by our place on her way off the Cape. We started a conversation that clearly needed to be continued, and she invited us to Maine.
And that’s how Kevin and I ended up hiking through the Maine woods with Susan and her husband, Ron, this past Saturday, eyes to the ground. We were looking for three things: acorns (for the pigs), mushrooms (for us), and deer poop (for the good of the enterprise). We found all three.
Which is why, this week, we are in the market for a treestand built for two, red ink be damned. If you’re in for $35. venison, you might as well be in for $38. venison. So, if any of you with treestand-buying experience have tips, I’d appreciate them
Maine’s firearm season opens next week. Maybe the third year’s the charm.