The Rabbit Died

I am not actually opposed to hunting. (Unless it is purely for sport)

I’m not a vegetarian.

I feel that there is a certain price we pay for taking a life. Of any kind. So, to me, if you are going to be a meat eater, it is more authentic to kill it yourself and pay the price yourself, then it is to transfer the cost to someone else and get your non-animal shaped meat packages delivered to you.

I think it’s very easy in this society to be completely removed from our food sources. I think many people are able to disconnect the hamburger in the store or in the restaurant from the cow in the field.

Having said that, I don’t follow my own code. I am not going to kill my own meat to eat. I get upset when birds, mice, squirrels, dart out to hit my car when I’m driving. By my own code I should, therefore, not eat meat. I do, at least, try to be mindful of it.

I married a mountain man, a warrior, a hunter. A man who can and has lived off the land completely. These days he may physically not be the mountain man he once was, but mentally he hasn’t changed much from the young man roaming the mountains of Wyoming.

So I struggle with how much hunting stuff my son gets to do. I’m sure that my husband thinks I’m just a big buzzkill on this issue. But if were only up to me, my innocent little boy could go his entire life without ever having hunted. Obviously, it is not only up to me. So things go too fast for me and too slow for them and we muddle in the middle where most of life happens.

This week we passed a milestone on our hunting journey. The Dudeling shot his first rabbit. He is so proud and I am proud for him. I am also sad. Because the rabbit died. And he’s the one who killed it.

On his path to becoming a man. He has provided food for the family table now. Because we eat what we kill. If it’s big enough to eat. So Daddy helped him dress it so we can cook him up. Speaking of which….any good rabbit recipes out there?

Hunting Season Is Upon Us

So today is the first day of hunting season around here.

While I personally don’t prefer to hunt, I have always respected my husband’s right to enjoy things that I don’t, especially since I feel like he has a strong respect for the animals and isn’t only hunting trophies.

But I have to say that after last year’s hunting “adventure” as well as three separate trips back to the same location to try to retrieve our camp gear which resulted in his truck getting stuck all three times in the same non cell phone signal area thus rendering him unable to even text me that he was okay without a good hike out to a spot with a signal. I am tired of hunting and all of the accompanying drama that we have been “enjoying” of late.

Next year he hopes to go hunting with his brother. Which will ease my mind quite a bit, since we all know that we’re supposed to use the buddy system, especially out in the wilderness.

But this year…

This year, I’m pleased to say that he is (as a concession to the rest of us) going hunting with a friend and a bit more locally. Hopefully that means he will be in touch more. Of course, I won’t hold my breath.

I wish him quick success. Because the quicker we get our deer, the quicker hunting season will be over.

The Story I Wish Was Made Up

My husband was hunting elk in the mountains. We had been having communication problems, due both to spotty cell signal and his being intent on his hunt. That morning we talked to him and told him he didn’t have to come down for Thanksgiving dinner. That we would let him hunt and do something when he got back. He let me know that his battery was very low and he would be turning it off until he could get it charged up when he returned to camp.

There were several feet of snow and it was freezing cold. His horse, Vegas, tripped when trying to step over a log and they both fell and were injured. He was pretty banged up and had dislocated his shoulder. The horse had hit her head and was favoring her hind right leg a lot. He determined that with her injuries there was no way they could make it back up in the direction of his camp. So they would head downward and hopefully make it to the main forestry road before the hunting season ended and all the hunters left the forest.

He relocated his shoulder. But it still only had limited function. He had minimal gear. What little water he had froze before he could drink it. He had a small bag of jerky, but it too was frozen so solidly that he couldn’t soften it enough to eat it.

That was Thursday.

Thanksgiving.

For 4 days and 3 nights he made his way. Leading his horse because she could not yet carry his weight without risk of injuring her further. The temperatures were in the negative numbers. -16? -20? The wind was howling like crazy. Turning the -16 temperatures into -30 or 40.

During the day they kept moving. He chewed on pine needles when he could find them. He squeezed snow in his hand to melt the water out to drink. Eating snow is a fast way to lower your body temperature.

At night he would find some sheltering trees for the horse and use the snow built up around the bottom of the trees to shelter himself.

He is, you might say, particularly qualified to survive an ordeal like this. Much of his career in the Marine Corps was spent as a winter survival instructor at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Curled in a fetal ball to try to conserve heat, he would make up rhythms and rhymes to keep himself focused on continually moving his body parts to keep blood flowing to them.

wiggle your nose

wiggle your toes

wiggle your fingers

wiggle your toes

On the third day he felt  that Vegas could safely carry him. He climbed on and they continued their descent. He rode her for as long as he could because he knew that he needed to cover ground if he was going to get to that road before it was too late. This was probably the most uncomfortable ride of his life. He takes medications daily for pain and nerve issues. These are one more thing he was without for the length of this ordeal.

Eventually they reached a small creek and Vegas decided she had had enough and would not cross it.

So he tied her loosely to a small tree so she could get free if she needed to in case of an attack and continued on without her.

Late Sunday afternoon two hunters were driving down a forest service road when they spotted a flash of red near the side of the road. They stopped to see what it was. It was Alan.

He had made it.

They had found him.