Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

I was over at my favorite local butcher shop today to pick up my 1/4 beef that my cattle-running friends left for me today. (One of the perks of being a rural NE Missourian is easy accessiblity to home-grown meat, where you know exactly how it lived on the hoof and what it ate...I have not bought "store beef" except in rare instances in the six years since I've returned home. We have a joke here that goes, "You know you're from the country when you know your hamburger by name.") By the way, if you are looking for tasty carnivorous treats for the holidays, I'm sure Sam and his crew would be glad to assist.

Anyway, since this is the first day of firearms deer season, they are quite busy with deer processing. Sam told me he expects between 150 and 200 to be brought in today. Since now in Missouri, there is no limit on antlerless deer (does and button bucks) in most counties, a lot of these will be donated to needy families. He was a little surprised I was not out in the deer woods today. As I was hauling out my three boxes of frozen beef, I just laughed and told him, "Ya know, there's nothing like a freezer full of meat to make a fair weather hunter out of a person."

It got me to thinking on the way home. I obviously do not have a personal issue with hunting. In my childhood, since my dad did seasonal work, there were a lot of winters where what came out of the woods or the river was what we had for supper. In the days where my income was pretty spotty, it was a cheap way to put meat in my own freezer and I literally lived for deer season. But now that I have a more comfortable lifestyle, it's just not as important. I also confess to being an absolute minimalist when it comes to deer hunting. No four wheeler. No high dollar rifle with a super duper scope. No group hunting with "roundups." Just me, my Winchester 1894 .30-.30 lever action with iron sights, the deer, and the woods. I know this sounds crazy but I want the opportunity to fail. I don't mind if the deer "win" now and then. Some years, when I go out, I get one, some years I don't. It's all good. The ones I've gotten, I've dragged their carcasses out by hand, solo, put them in the truck, and that's that. I've enjoyed it for the combination of my skill and a little luck. If I leave empty-handed, with the deer sticking their tongues out at me, so what? It won't scar me.

But it brings up the fact we should be good stewards of our land. Right now the Missouri deer population is somewhat of a problem. After the Depression, we hardly had any. The Missouri Dept. of Conservation began aggressive management, and by the 1960's most counties had enough to harvest. In the subsequent decades, their numbers literally have exploded.
Since their natural predators are long gone, they flourished under management...and with this explosion has come an explosion of deer ticks (and the tick borne disease Erlichiosis), along with the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (a disease in hooved mammals similar to Jakob-Creutzfeld disease in humans.) It has also made rural Missouri highways a dangerous place around dusk because the deer are thick as flies. In fact, you may not even qualify as a "real" northeast Missourian if you have never hit a deer on the road.

Hunters want the big bucks, but you can't get enough of them to take does. Deer can be fairly destructive when kept unchecked. So sometimes I wonder if our "stewardship" got a little lax in the name of just getting the deer numbers up to attract out of state hunters, to put a "blip" in the local economies of towns who are sorely in need of more of a "real" economy. A lot of woods in Adair County are increasingly being owned by city folk or leased by city folk specifically for deer season. These folks come to our neck of the woods for two weeks a year, spend their money, then go back home and not worry about how we all make a living the other 50 weeks of the year.

Don't get me wrong, I still think venison tenderloin is still one of Earth's greatest delicacies, but it still makes me want to question the meaning of "stewardship."

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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