An Interview with a Hunter

Hunting is something that has pretty well horrified me since childhood.  Throughout history the entire world has subsisted on wild foods and hunting, and then agriculture.  I understand this, and I know that the taking of one life to feed a family for most of a year compared to the life of a factory farmed animal is a much more humane option.  I doubt I will ever don a rifle and go hunting, but I wanted to hear first hand from a hunter.  So, while we were out fishing, Bret answered some of my questions.

He first went pheasant hunting when he was six years old with his grandpa.  His family are avid hunters.  I asked how he felt when he first saw an animal be shot.  He didn’t think anything of it.  He had been raised around it.  This made me think about my Uncle Jim who told me stories about slaughtering pigs.  I gave him a squished up face and said I could never do that.  He said if I lived at that time I could and I would!  So Bret never really thought anything of it.

His favorite is hunting doves.  He and his friends go every September.  By the time the small birds are dressed, they are but appetizers, tiny morsels with a jalapeno tucked in and wrapped in bacon.  They are apparently quite delicious.  I have read that many homesteaders dine on blackbird and pigeon.  They are very common birds.

I asked about hunting mammals.  He shot a mouflan sheep before in Texas.  They are everywhere, he said.  I asked if he felt bad.  Again, no.  He explained to me that the vast majority of hunters are not new to guns and shooting.  They practice, they aim, the animal rarely feels any suffering at all.  If they do run, it is from adrenaline and then they drop.  Most of the time, they die immediately.

Bret is not a fan of trophy hunting.  He also feels that it is a terrible waste of meat to kill a deer just for sport.  “That is eighty pounds of natural, organic meat that can feed your family,” he said.

“Far better than factory farmed and much healthier too, I imagine,” I added.

“And it tastes better,” he said.

He told me how the Department of Wildlife has done an amazing job at increasing animal populations.  Hunters and the DOW work together for conservation.  If there are not enough deer in an area, there will be no hunting.  If there are too many (they will end up on the roads or starving), a certain amount of tags go out for that area.

I asked if he has ever gotten an elk, as he goes out hunting for his birthday every year.

“No,” he replied, “It’s really about the experience.”

Glittering Grace

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” Across the plains of glittering grace,

behold Winter’s beautiful face”

“…But all along the Rockies you can feel it in the air
From Telluride to Boulder down below
The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere
Is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow…” Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

“Country Roads Take Me Home…” John Denver

The deer pictures were taken from my front door.  The rest were taken driving to see our daughter.  Colorado is certainly a beautiful place to live and we are lucky to see all the seasons in all their glory.

Winter Delights

Outside the sliding glass doors, under the clothes line he stood.  Regal and great.  Large antlers he held with grace and the snow on his thick fur glittered in morning light.  A young doe lay near.  Under the pine tree she held her gentle face to the sun.  I watched them from the window in calming awe.

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We readied for work and walked out of the house and turned to walk down the long snow packed driveway.  There we startled four fluffy young deer.  They stood still for a moment then hopped away in their comical rabbit-like impersonation.  Their bouncing feet stirring the light snow as they quickly adjourned down the pasture.

Last night under the full moon we drove slowly up the driveway basking in the moonlight and there they were again.  Four youth and the doe.  They greeted us and huddled closer.  So enchanting.

Is it possible that one doe could have four infants?  They are the very same size and seeming age.  I was always under the impression that deer generally only birthed one infant.  Do you think she is mother of quadruplets or did she adopt these young babies?

Either way I feel blessed to see them.  To be near them.  To share this beautiful earth with them.

May this beautiful season bring with it great blessings, tidings from friends, and memories of joy and laughter for all of you. 

Ten Things You Should Know When Moving to a Small Town

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We  live in a small town in Colorado.  Actually three small towns act as one community out here.  Elizabeth is the first town where our shop was and where the most stores are.  More and more hoity toity houses are being built on the outskirts but the town is still holding its own charm and friendliness.  Head seven miles east and you will find our quaint town of Kiowa which has more friendly people than Santa’s Workshop.  Population 750.  A lot of that population lives in the mobile home park lovingly referred to as the Trailer Park.  No one cares where you live out here.  No one looks down on you, whether you live in a trailer, forty acres, or a cute rental on 2/3 of an acre.  Nine miles south of us is Elbert.  Another tiny town full of nice folks.  I could not imagine moving back to Denver where I grew up.  Small towns are the way to go.  Everyone knows your business, but they also know where your kids are at all times, if you need help, and are often your best cheerleaders.  Now if you are ready to move to a small town (or if you already live here, you can just read and nod your head) here are some things you should know.

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1. If an oncoming car flashes their lights at you it doesn’t necessarily mean that a speed trap is ahead, it usually means there are deer about to or crossing the road.  Slow the truck down.

2. Chickens outnumber squirrels here.

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3. A rooster crowing is lovely ambience.  Do not move here and complain about people having livestock.  We all moved to the country so we can have farm animals.

4. Do plan an extra hour per errand.  It is fun going into the bank, the library, or the grocery store and stopping in each aisle to chat with folks you know.

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5. When I first moved here, my only viewing of a gun was the one that I saw on my dad’s hip before heading to work (he is a sheriff).  Here, you might trip over one in the kitchen at the neighbor’s house, or have to move one out of the way to put your drink down, or find a few rifles lined up in their kid’s room.  (I’ll never forget when I saw my future son-in-law, Bret, carrying a ginormous black shotgun (or some kind of big gun).  “Is that real??” I exclaimed.  The look he gave me was of concern as he nodded yes and wondered if I lived under a rock or something.  I don’t think Maryjane is going to have many boyfriends.)

6. As a long, long time vegetarian (who may have recently slipped) be prepared for your friend’s cute little animals to possibly make an appearance on the table.  It takes a bit of getting used to.

7. Be prepared to know everyone at church.  Lots of people are religious here, but no one will try to convert you. You can do what you want.

8. Some of my friends really do drive around with a beer in the console.  This is probably not recommended though.

9. Be prepared to meet the best people you could imagine and have better relationships and connections once you get out of the city.  Be prepared to listen to old timer’s fascinating stories in the local saloon about what the town used to be like.

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10. Because it is Christmas time, I’d like to add a footnote.  If you intend to move to a small town in Colorado, don’t expect snow everywhere (unless you are in the mountains).  There are a lot of misconceptions out there like Denver is in the mountains (not true) and that we wade through snow all year.  We have roughly a handful of snows and they melt the next day.  We rarely have a white Christmas but rejoice when we do!

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Saying Merry Christmas in a small town is not only acceptable but encouraged.  So Merry Christmas Y’all.  Thanks for reading!

Wildlife Lover

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Living with wildlife is part of the beauty of the lifestyle we have chosen.  Others may call them pests, but we call them animals.  The picture I snapped from this side of the window last night at dusk was of a young deer eating the rest of the birdseed.  Naughty?  Yes, but Santa had already come so there is plenty of time to make up for it next year.  The sky was so blissfully brushed rose and the stars were just coming out.  The chickens were snug in their coop, the cats under the tree, and the dogs on their beds, the whole world was sweetly humming Christmas songs, and the snow was such a joyous sight.  Such a vision of this sweet deer and her sister and baby resting in my yard on their journey made me sigh and be thankful.

When we first moved out here every deer we saw had us pulling over to the side of the road with our heads hanging out the window blowing kisses and waving.  (I am actually not kidding about that.) We still slow to see families of deer, hope for their safety, and blow a few kisses.  To provide a safe place for them to rest and be is part of our reason for homesteading and wanting a larger homestead, more sanctuary….for them and for us.

The key is distraction.  We have posts around the garden perimeter and clear fishing line strung every foot all the way around.  They cannot see it, it spooks them when they run into it, and it kept all manner of animals out of the garden.  They have since recently figured it out so I will come up with another distraction for next year.  Birdseed is the same.  Bumble, the mighty farm dog, keeps most animals out of the fenced part of the yard but I let this one slip.  The deer usually hang out in the unfenced yard, eat the compost buffet by the garden and rest under the large tree.

Katie and Baby

Katie and Baby

Inside the fenced yard, Scamper the squirrel waits for Bumble to go inside.  He does love himself a birdseed snack.  To remedy his acrobatic feats, trapezing from feeder to feeder, he gets his own bowl on the outdoor table.  Lots of peanuts and a nice blend just for him.  It does the trick, he knows where it is, and would rather get the easy snack then worry about Bumble catching him by the feeders.  At our old house, outside our bedroom window, the squirrel there would actually start chirping and yelling and would throw his bowl when it was empty.  Not so great with manners, that one, but really funny to watch!

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Here at this homestead, I have watched Scamper grow up this year.  His brother is the one I am holding in the picture.  He fell from the nest and Doug swooped him out of the street so not to watch him get hit by a car.  He died of internal bleeding later that day.  His mother was hit last week.  Because of the fleeting lifespan of these adorable creatures, why not spoil them a little while they are here?

Coyotes have a right to live, we are in their space after all, just pen up the chickies.  Raccoons and Foxes are a fun sight as well.  I just don’t want them all in the chicken coop for Half Price Chicken Wednesday.  But live and let live.  They have a right to live as much as we do.  I love seeing them cross the field yonder.

I am enthralled by the Sparrows and the Mountain Jays, their calls and their antics.  I love all the wildlife.  I could never go back to the city.  Not enough life for me!