WellPreserved Goes Moose Hunting – Day 1 – Running in Quicksand

I am certain there`s a million better writers who have lamented about the reasons why time flies when you need it to crawl and why it dithers when you need to find the accelerator but you`re reading this and you`re stuck with me.  And I fought time as hard as I could today.  Needless to say, when you`re fighting an eternal entity and you`re a mortal, you`re bound to lose.  Each step closer to leaving for camp put me somehow one step further behind; I`m sure you`ve been there.

Today started late – I slept longer than I had planned and that bled into my final tasks for work which both started later and took longer to complete than planned and the cycle continued through to blog posts and then errands.  There just always seemed to be ‘one more thing’ to do before I’d be free to head in to camp.

I’m sure the weather hasn’t helped; it’s been raining grey today.  You know that special kind of gloominess – grey clouds lurk overhead and stretch to the skyline where they kiss their own reflection before plodding a dismal path to your feet and the reflection of the puddle you stand in.  You could swear that the moisture licking at your exposed skin are pieces of that very gloomy sky as opposed to water just completing another cycle from land to sky and back.

Despite my personal frustration that leaving for camp seemed to be an eternal quest, the truth is that it was a lovely start to the day.  I had a chance to gather my thoughts, complete the things that needed doing and once certain I could leave it behind I was able to put my wheels on the dirt trail that would take me to camp.  But let’s back up and talk a bit more about the time I had while running through town, dusting off the final pieces of a check list that would take me into the depths of the Ontario forest for the week ahead.

I popped by the local butcher, realizing I had forgotten to prepare or bring any type of hors d’oerves (an annual tradition that each hunter joins in on).  The butcher shop was postered with sentences like “Do you know where your meat comes from? We do…” and this tongue-in-cheek phrase:

WellPreserved Goes Moose Hunting – Day 1   Running in Quicksand wellpreservedmoosehunt2011 October

It was a blatant reminder that many of the critics of the local food movement who claim it is a urban-upper class and exclusive movement haven’t stepped out of the city themselves.  I know more preservers and local food people in the country than I do in the city – albeit many wouldn’t know (and would chuckle to hear about) any form of a ‘movement’; it’s simply how they live.  I spent a few years (ages 2-5) growing up in such an environment and perhaps that’s the root of my strong sentiment around it.

When I entered the butcher shop, I realized I’d made a mistake.  What they had been lovely – but it was also tremendously scarce.  They apologized (needlessly) and began to explain but I knew exactly what was happening.  Any butcher in Ontario can process wild meat – but must empty their shop of all domestic meat, perform a thorough cleaning and then bring in the game.  It must all be exited from the business before domestic product is returned.

I’m skeptical of the reasons (‘health’) although not nearly enough of an expert to be qualified to be so.  I find it unfortunate that butchers can’t make a living selling to regular customers during this time (and since it is illegal to sell game, regular customers must go elsewhere for the month that is moose and deer season) and it prevents us from ageing game more than a few days.  I sometimes (often) dream of having a place I could age game for 20-40 days…

Town was full of Hunter Orange.  It was clear that there are lots of people around for the same reasons we are.  Many knowing nods are exchanged and I find myself so curious to know what the stories of these other camps are.  There’s more than 40 years of history to ours and surely there are similar stories  all around.

My truck hit the dirt around 1:45.  I was kind of surprised that I was only 2 or 3 hours behind my ‘best case.’  As soon as the wheels hit the dirt, time became irrelevant and I laughed at how uptight I had been about it in the previous hour.  It was nice to be on the way.

‘Dirt’ means 45-60 minutes of rough driving on abandoned logging roads.  To give you the idea, I shot two short videos of the drive in (one facing me as I drove slowly across the road and a second facing the road). I’m driving about 10 km per hour (5-6 miles per hour) and am not on a proper road which is why I filmed (I wouldn’t do this on a highway):

a video by Well Preserved on Flickr.

a video by Well Preserved on Flickr.

After an hour of that, our ‘driveway’ is less than a kilometer of extremely rough roads (it’s actually a logging road that’s existed since this place was forested with horses).  Here’s a sample:

a video by Well Preserved on Flickr.

It was great to get to camp – as you’ll see in the last video, Schaeffer was doing just fine and excited to see me – the audio is somewhat humbling so if you’d like to watch it on mute, I’d be indebted really. WellPreserved Goes Moose Hunting – Day 1   Running in Quicksand wellpreservedmoosehunt2011 October

a video by Well Preserved on Flickr.

The rest of the day was delightfully slow.  The hunt doesn’t begin until Monday so Saturday devolves into quite the party.

I made two garlic-herb breads to go with our preserved tomato sauce that made for an awesome dinner:

And all was going smooth…

The last of the crew pulled in around 8:00PM.  My Father and I were told, along with others, to have a seat in the kitchen as there was a surprise awaiting us.  I grabbed a seat and the door opened…

Our surprise was my second-cousin Steve.  I hadn’t seen him in years and he hadn’t hunted with us in more than 10 years – and he came to join us for the week (we had an extra bunk this year so there was plenty of room for a 14th guy).  A fantastic celebration followed and the party lasted late into the evening…

That concludes what I’m sharing of the first official day in camp – more to come tomorrow!  To see all of the posts in this series, click here (a new post will be published every day through Sunday, November 6, 2011).


  1. Come on, Joel. As I’m rolling through your hood on the queen east streetcar reading this, the beer writer in me wants to know: What beer does one take on one’s hunt? What beverage celebrated this prodigal hunter?!

  2. That’s really interesting about not being able to sell meat and process game at the same time. I don’t think that’s the case here, although I’m not sure how they keep it all separate. I suppose I can see reasons why….

  3. Around here, there are fewer and fewer butchers to process game every year…they can’t legally do it in their regular shops. Most of the gun clubs have a cutting room, and hire someone to come in. I have no idea what people who aren’t part of a club do…

    Enjoying your series – I don’t hunt, but have no problem with those who do. First hand accounts like yours could go a long way towards teaching the anti-crowd a thing or two…

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