In early November, after the close of modern firearm deer season, a nice three point buck wandered through the farm. It was like a dream, watching him wander across the pond earth berm, posing briefly in perfect broad side stance while I watched, knowing I would not get the the camera in time so I stood drinking him in. Then as he took off over the hill, I ran for my camera and sought out the buck as he moved through the landscape.
He was on the east side of the land, browsing his way through the blackberry towards a trail through the fence line into a neighbor’s forest. He knew I was stalking him and froze in the tree line to see what I would do, then ghosted away into the trees as I moved closer. It was a wonderful experience, stalking a deer on the land, knowing I had the change to “shoot” him with the camera, like the picture above.
A few weeks ago during deer season, I did stalk up on a buck at another location, then harvested my venison for the year. The modest, two point black tail buck was grazing lazily in a clear cut at Campbell Global Forest, where I have a recreational pass for wild harvest, firewood cutting, and hunting. His blond alters stuck out from the surrounding brush and made the deer easy to spot. It was a blessing to receive wild meat again for the third year in a row. I am so thankful for the mentoring and support which had brought me this success. I also want to thank the deer nation for gifting me meat to share with my community this winter. The wild food nurtures us in a special way, as do wild mushrooms, plants, and herbs.
The meat from this animal hangs in my cooler with the pork to be butchered up over the next few weeks as space becomes available in the freezers. It’s a modest animal, smaller than the buck I got last year, but no less nutritious and wild. Again, I am grateful for the lessons I receive in every hunting experience, and the success to provide healthy food to those I care about. I’ve also begun sharing my hunting knowledge, not only as a volunteer hunter education instructor for The State of Washington, but also in one on one mentoring with a few friends who are committed to intentional wild game harvesting to nurture themselves and those around them in a good way.
May the people remember their own wildness and seek out such places for better connection in themselves and the world around them. May the intensional hunter who asks with humility of the deer nation receive sustenance. May that bounty be shared openly with those in community who seek wildness in food and soul. May this heritage be passed from generation to generation, with understanding that hunting is a privilege, not a sport. May the deer nation continue to thrive alongside the people, and nurture one another as they have now for thousands of years.