Recoil|Carnivore #4
Retelling Tales of the Hunt
Howard Mee

The old man’s face was wrinkled and weathered, born of a hard life in Montana. With a spark of excitement glinting in his eyes, he leaned against the bed of the well-used and rusted-out 1986 Chevy. Bright orange suspenders over his plaid work shirt wouldn’t pass as acceptable fashion today, but they somehow seemed to pair together perfectly then. He held a can of cheap beer in one hand and a roll-your-own cigarette burned between tar-stained fingers.

My whitetail deer lay in the back of the pickup. Together, we hung on every word as we listened to my dad retelling the story of my hunt from earlier that day. I felt proud. I stood tall. I knew we were going to eat this deer, and that knowledge brought about a powerful sense of accomplishment. I was somehow more than just a kid sitting in the back of a pickup. I was a provider. My mom cued in on my sense of achievement, and miraculously, every venison meal that we ate that winter somehow came from “my” deer. There’s a powerful change that takes place somewhere deep within us as we begin to understand the connection between the animals we hunt and the food they provide.

Decades have passed since those early days of my hunting journey. Smoking has passed into history, and while we may drive pickups that rattle less and get better gas mileage, some things never seem to change. We still hunt. We still love to retell the storiesto anyone willing to listen. We still cherish the meat that we share with our family and friends. I love to see the pride in the eyes of my children as they share the food that they’ve provided.

This last spring, my youngest son, Ryan, was able to hunt for the first time. When the season opened, my brother-in-law and I loaded up a pile of kids and headed out into the turkey woods. The first day was a bust. There was a lot of walking. There was a lot of wind and an occasional nap in the warm April sun. The second morning, we broke into groups. Ryan and I slowly walked west as we called our way through a thin strip of timber along the southern edge of the field. It was a slow start to the day. No gobbles were heard. As we walked, I whispered and talked about all the things that I could think to say, “Stay in the shadows. Walk quietly. Look and listen. Always be ready.”


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Carnivore #4