This is Part 2 in my series What Would Jesus Eat? I continue to lay on the therapist’s couch with you and delve into my past to uncover the roots of my own relationship to food.
Growing up in rural Texas hunting is like a rite of passage. It was something everyone I knew participated in at some point. It was a topic of conversation at school, who had gotten the biggest buck. Photos of prize trophies are featured prominently in the local paper. Somewhere out there is an incriminating photograph of me with my one and only kill.
Hunting deer involves getting up very early in the morning, going out in the woods somewhere in a deer blind in the middle of winter. Now, you might say “It’s Texas how cold does it get?” Well, all I can say is it was usually cold enough for this junior high kid to choose sleeping in and watching cartoons over freezing my nuts off in a deer blind. I was always saying I was going to go hunting with my dad, but crapping out when I actually had to wake up.
Finally, I went through with it. I don’t remember all the details of this trip. I remember sitting out there for a while doing nothing. Then a deer appeared in view. My dad told me to get ready. I sighted the .22 directly behind the deer’s front leg, where it would hopefully go straight through its heart. I breathed in, held my breath and squeezed the trigger. Honestly I don’t remember what happened after that. I knew my shot was true, but the deer had disappeared.
I definitely remember how pissed my dad was when he tracked it to the creek. Apparently it had enough left to run into the creek before it died. Dragging a dead deer out of a creek in freezing temperatures was not my dad’s idea of fun. By the time we got it out of there our fingers were completely numb. My dad took his knife and opened up the torso to gut the deer. “Stick your hands in.” Are you serious? Yes, he was. And I have to say warm deer blood never felt so good.
I remember helping out with making deer sausage and jerky on numerous occasions. I’m sure I helped out with this one. My Opa had a hand turned meat grinder. We turned the grinder while one person put the cuts of meat into the grinder and it came out in a “casing” (aka intestines). Then they were hung up in my Opa’s garage to smoke.
There’s something I definitely appreciate about hunting. It gets you out of the comfortable indoors. It was something to do with my dad and there was nothing better than hot chocolate in a freezing deer blind. In Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma he spends a good amount of time talking about philosophies of hunting and animal rights as he prepares for his first hunting trip for boar. I can’t say how much hunters in Texas reflect philosophically about what they’re doing. There’s definitely lots of trophy hunting, which is antithetical to what I find admirable about hunting.
Share your experiences with hunting or thoughts on killing your own food.
Next up… How I Got Over Myself and Learned to Love Tofu