The Process

Hunting.  The natives call it making meat. For me it's a process.  The kill has always been secondary.  For some that's all it is.  Pity.

Years ago, I'd take weeks of vacation to pursue elk.  I often hoped that I wouldn't be successful, just so I could continue the hunt. Hiking, climbing, sitting, waiting.  Alternating between sweating and freezing.  All, part of the process.  Most days I returned to the car with clean fingernails and a light pack.  But I was happy.  I could go out again.

Then I burned out.  I quit hunting.  My rifle was replaced with a fly rod and camera.

I uncased my rifle a couple of weeks ago.  Just out of curiosity.  Was a flame rekindled?  I wondered how I'd react when I saw game?  Better, how would my back respond if I completed the task?  I saw a few elk, some deer.  A buck.  Interesting.  When I got home, I left my gear in the car. A sign.

Two days later I went again.  I saw no game. Got soaked.  Again, the gear stayed in the car.  Well now.

Another two days passed.  I went again.  At first light I saw deer, antlers.  My pulse quickened. The thrill was still there. There was no denying of instinct.

A moment later there was work to do.  Initially, I was greatly saddened.  I immediately swore this would be the last time my finger touched a trigger.  But then I started the process. Making meat. Skinning.  Quartering.  Carefully stowing it into cloth bags.  And then, packing.  Two trips.  I learned long ago that dragging game is, quite literally, a drag.  So, I packed it out on my back, that's the only way I know.  An old familiar sensation, my legs burned, back tightened.

At home, the process continued.  I carefully trimmed the meat, then cut it into distinct portions. A couple of roasts, some steaks. Odds and ends went into the burger tote.  I ground the meat, mixed it with beef fat.  Then, there was wrapping and labeling.  The result?  A freezer of meat for the winter.  I knew where it came from.

So, the process had resumed. I felt the old dormant satisfaction. Maybe next year I'll continue.


  1. Lester
    Great post, funny how old habits are hard to break. The same can be said for my quail hunting. The only way I can still quail hunt here is preserve hunting, which can be expensive. Thanks for sharing

    1. Bill, you're right, preserve hunting can be expensive. We usually do a hunt or two each winter for pheasants. Believe it or not, after figuring the cost of gas, motels, food, etc. it's probably cheaper than loading up and driving hundreds of miles. And, it's usually a pretty sure thing that the dogs will get to work a few birds. Sadly, I can't imagine that there are many opportunities for a quality public land hunt for wild quail. Heck, even out here the wild birds get quite a bit of pressure.

  2. The process seems instinctive, Les, and, as you know, if done correctly is rewarding in multiple ways. Heck, if most hunters acknowledged the process as you do, and didn't just shoot for the kill, it's possible I'd still be a hunter, too. The way I see it, I've rerouted the hunting instinct into pastimes such as fishing, hiking, birding, etc., but that's a personal preference now that, sadly, doesn't put meat on the table. It's good to see you there in the thick of it.

    1. Walt, first off, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I didn't know that you once hunted too. It's good that we have other pastimes or useful vices to divert our interests and instincts. In that regard we're kindred spirits, and there are many like us. Cheers! And, here's to that new fly rod!


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