Sunday was a long day. The phone stayed silent and I refused to make the call. I was waiting to hear from my Father to hear the final word on our luck for the week. I knew that the longer I didn`t hear from him, the better. A call by noon would almost positively mean that they had nothing down – there would just be too much work to do to get out that early.
So I refused to call and decided to wait.
Four or five years ago this would have been less of a concern. It would have meant that I had less variety in my kitchen while now it means that I will have decidedly less meat. We don`t buy like we used to and the investment in the hunt ideally supplies considerably more than 50% of our meat for the year. Failing to harvest will result in the outright removal of that source and it won`t be replaced. On the bright side, we will learn more styles of cooking.
Coming home empty-handed is also tremendously disappointing. There`s been more than 3 months of preparation for this single week and 14 of us worked the woods for 6 days. There is a tremendous amount of effort – and build-up – in getting ready for the hunt. Being `skunked` is tough to take as a team – and as one of the leaders. It`s a feeling that will stick around for at least a year and I`ll replay many parts of the hunt over in my head until we harvest our next animal. I`ll try to learn more about hunting in the rain.
There`s also a bitter reminder about my own independence and ability to provide for my family. failure would have been disastrous to our family 100 years ago. I know of some people who still depend on the hunt for sustenance and they don`t have the safety nets we do (i.e. local year-round farmers market and the economic ability to participate). It`s humbling and does hit some of my confidence.
The phone doesn`t ring until after 5:00PM. The late call is a good sign – it`s enough time for them to have gone to a butcher, cleaned up and head home. It could also just be a sign of a call later in the day – and it was. I`m told very quickly that the hunt ended without success. The guys had a great day – 3 of them even got a look at moose (the better weather had them moving around a lot easier) but they didn`t get a good enough look to know the age and gender.
This brings moose sightings to 12 in total with 4 guys seeing them. Add the single bear and we had 13 legitimate opportunities to fill the freezer. There were multiple deer sightings as well but they weren`t in season so they don`t count. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that hunting can be like this and that it`s not an all-you-can-kill-buffet. We`ve come painfully close and haven`t had the chance to take a single shot. The 6-day season is over and we`ll have to wait for another year.
In the days following the hunt, I reflect on options. The guys are going deer hunting and I had thought of getting into camp for a few days; a plan that fell through when an unplanned business trip popped up. Dad is hunting for 2 weeks and will share any deer he gets (I really want to make jerky). I have an invite for bow hunting in November (which I`ve never done) for a day which I`d like to try to make happen. We also have some moose left over from last year which I`ll spread out.
Of course there`s also diversifying our menu at home and learning new meat-free or reduced-meat meals which is the thing silver lining.
And that`s how hunting goes. I don`t regret the week and I`m very excited to get out here again in a year – though I`m thinking I need to do a bit more small game hunting in the fall in case we end up empty-handed again. But ending up empty-handed can`t be an option two-years in a row.
Thank you all who`ve stayed with this series. The last 10 days has been almost 14,000 words of posting; the length of the posts and the topic are enough to significantly lower our visits to the site – these posts have cut our traffic in half each of the last 3 years. I hope you`ve enjoyed them, learned something or found something worth sharing. We`ll be back to `regular programming` tomorrow.
This is the final post in this series. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.