Sunday is, in some ways, the longest day of the week.
There`s a lot of time to kill and you can`t hunt. You also don`t want to party too hard as tomorrow morning will come every earlier than yesterday or today. There`s a bit of an excited tension weaving it`s way through camp and we`ll do some light tasks to get ready; most of them are just to keep us busy and help the time pass.
The first order of the day had me working on an h`ors derves to serve later in the day. We often feast on Pork Hocks for a Sunday afternoon treat which is often served around a campfire. I decided to mix things up this year and purchased a pig`s head from our local farmer who was pleased to provide me with a part that is often discarded. There could – and will be – an entire post about how to cook such a thing, why and how to eat it but we`ll keep that for after the hunting pieces. It did take about 10-12 hours to slowly roast on a barbecue at about 225 degrees.
My principal task for the day was to try to get our TV working. The first television came to our cabin in the id 1980s and has been there (during the hunt) ever since. It provides updates on weather and a connection to the outside world (to use a phone we have to hike or drive to a rock that is on high ground and provides the only cellphone signal for miles around) and allows for a neutral distraction through the week. It`s not essential but it`s a nice to have when 14 guys are living in fairly tight space for a week. It runs on a gas generator, as does the rest of our cabin (we alternate between this and a system of propane lights and stoves).
I have been trying to establish a satellite signal at the camp for 3 years and today was the day I needed to end the struggle once and for all.
I am sure, for many, that it sounds like a TV would be a disconnect with this excursion – and that adding a few hundred channels would add to that discord. There`s two reasons why I wanted the satellite to work:
- We have an antenna that received a few channels now. The antenna normally gets shut down after dinner and replaced by a DVD. The lights go low, volume goes up and we tend to watch a few movies in near silence as each of us slowly drop into slumber and skulk to bed. It’s tough to stay awake through a movie when you’ve been in fresh air all day; the warmth of the fire and comfort of the cabin quickly lull me into theater of the mind.
- Baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays won 2 World Series when I was younger. I watched all of the games with my Father – except when he hunted and he watched them at the cabin with the guys. By the time I became a Full-Time hunter, baseball had become the domain of private networks and we couldn`t see the games at the cabin. I`ve often imagined watching the games with all of the guys, each of us with varying interest (I haven`t wwatched a baseball game in years) and levels of engagement. Lights would stay on, there would be side conversations and general merriment and when a big play happened we`d all be drawn to the screen like a fly to light. Baseball would take us from a dark room of individual experience and turn our evenings back to a shared experience. That`s how it works in my imagination at any rate.
I ended up having to drive to town again today. It was a very quick stop to an electronics store to purchase a signal finder which would help with the job. The transaction featured a strained conversation with a store clerk who easily picked up that I was a hunter based on the time of year and my purchase. He had recently moved from England and I tried to avoid a barrage of questions he had for me; most of which had a pretty sharp edge to them. He ended our conversation by stating he couldn`t wish me luck but he wasn`t oposed to what we were doing. I am empathetic to his stance – was more excited to get back to the bush than anything else.
It took us 4 or 5 hours but a small team did get the satellite going and we will have baseball this year. It`s an exciting day – one t«t I believe will change not only wat we watch but how we interact.
The day also had some formal business. We had a safety meeting, planned strategy and conducted our memorial targeting championship that is named after a friend and former member who passed away a few years back. Each of us had two shots at a target and we would name the `sharp shooter`amongst us. It`s a silly contest that`s more about bragging rights than skill building but it was a good time. My Father took top honours; he`s always had the gift of a sharp eye and there were several comments that it was fitting that he would win because he was so close to the friend we were honouring.
We also formalized duties of our sub-teams. We divide the camp into two groups and split chores – one group has to do inside duties (cooking, cleaning dishes, tend fire) and the other has the outside (sauna, campfire, wood) for a day and the next day duties flip. It`s a way of splitting up work and making sure guys get the opportunity to rest and that work still gets done.
It`s been decided that I`ll be watching tomorrow. In some ways I am excited (watchers have a better chance, in theory, to see something) but I am also a little disappointed because I want to be out there with the dog (who will be with my Father tomorrow). There`s lots of week left and I will get my chances to dog so the best path of resolution is to apply patience. We`re also having lunch in the woods tomorrow – it will be a long day.
We`re charging radios, checking batteries, unpacking whistles, compasses and maps. Anticipation is definitely building.
Eating the Pig`s head was a fascinating experience – one that I`m sure many Social Scientists would have adored observing. There we were, a room full of men in the middle of the woods with the purpose of harvesting (i.e. killing) animals and there was an unease about what sat before us on the table (including with me). I have eaten like this once before (and consumed parts of the entrée without being served like this several times) and I still found it somewhat confounding. I knew I`d have to be first. I showed how to cut a piece, laid it on a piece of pumpernickel bread lined with cheese and bit it. I had a combination of hot crackling and fat that was similar to butter. It was rich, hot, a little uncomfortable and fabulous. As I stepped back another stepped forward and tried. Soon almost everyone was digging it.
I don`t know why it`s tough for me to think about eating the face of an animal when many of us salivate over it`s back, ribs or butt. It is a fascinating experience and most of the entire serving was consumed in 20 or 30 minutes. Not all partook and there was no pressure to do so. I can understand why some didn`t or couldn`t partake and how most of the rest struggled at times but can`t find words for it.
The day finished with a quick sauna (more on that later) and shower. I feel like a new guy and am ready for the week ahead.
The alarm is set for 5:00AM. It will be dark and a touch cold and it will feel earlier than is proper. It`s time to search for darkness and the comfort of my bed.
This is the second post of 9-straight which chronicle my 2010 Ontario moose hunt which began 1 week ago today. The 9 days will be posted through this week and next weekend and will try to capture the essence of my experiences hunting for local food. The link above will reveal all the posts which have been published so far – as well as the complete series from last year. Last years series emphasized a lot of my personal struggle with hunting.
Every comment that adds to the conversation on hunting (i.e. you don’t have to agree with any of our views – but comments that are exceptionally short or ‘attack’ people aren’t eligible) will count as a ballot in our Food Matters Contest (full rules and explanation here). We hope to create dialogue over hunting and consciousness of what we eat and will listen to all with open ears and open hearts, willing to listen and share with all points of view).