My husband and I moved out of Houston while we were still in the dating phase. I had come from a smaller town, and really wanted to get back to small town life. To be honest, I left Houston first, in hopes that he would soon follow, and although there were a few moments when I was sure he’d ever leave the big city, he finally did later that year and we have lived in a small Texas town ever since…
Now, you know what they say, when in Rome…. Here’s what I can tell you about small town Texans. Recycled pickle jars house the buckets of sweet tea that are served with every meal. Going fishing is often times an essential step in party planning. Report cards are an unnecessary formality, as you are likely to see your sons football coach aka history teacher in line at Wal-Mart right after you pass his science teacher in the crafts department. And the golden rule, husbands are rarely seen from Halloween til mid-January. That’s right, hunting season takes precedence over all other activities, barring the few hours on Thanksgiving when they stuff their bellies and watch football. Now luckily, my husband loves Christmas as much as a small child does so he sticks around for those 48 hours before running off to spend his annual vacation that is wedged between Christmas and New Year’s chasing after some tail… white-tailed deer to be specific.
With these guys a stocking stuffed with tackle and deer corn under the Christmas tree are must haves and words like redneck or hillbilly just don’t offend them. When I first left the concrete world of pollution and sky scrapers I was determined to never be completely submerged in this world of garden growers and moonshine drinkers. But my husband had grown up going hunting with his dad, who had passed away at a pretty young age, and therefore hunting was the first thing Sean wanted to get back to. I tried to fight it. I put up my best pouty faces, let the tears flow freely when pleading my case for all the Bambi lovers of the world who didn’t want to eat deer meat, and for many years, my husband only ventured out a time or two.
But the older we got, the more I realized it’s not so bad when Daddy goes hunting! He hunts, I shop! (And I have a t-shirt with those exact words, and it’s camouflage at that!) I finally quit begging him not to leave home, and realized some time apart wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to us. However, I still cried a many times at the thought of some beautiful doe, standing in the woods, grazing corn, only to become a hood ornament on our pick-up truck. So for several years, he went out to the woods, marked himself a spot, sat there, and found himself so in awe of their beauty that he could not bring himself to fire that gun! Yep, I was winning the battle of the deer meat.
Then last year came, with 4 extra mouths to feed, my husband decided it was time to bring home the bacon, well, the venison. He shot a deer so puny it left his cousins reeling from laughter. It was what they call a “spike” which I take it means “barely big enough to shoot”. Embarrassed and determined, my hubby went back with my oldest son, and together they picked out the spot where one of the biggest deer ever seen around those parts just happened to cross his path. This was the maiden voyage into the woods for Dylan (aka Dyl Pickles), and apparently he’s a lucky tag-along because he is the one who actually scouted their spot. Daddy came home with the prized trophy, much to the chagrin of his many friends and cousins who had witnessed his many fruitless trips to the woods over the years. He’d been hunting a good 15 times without EVER bringing home the bacon! Oops, I meant venison…
Now it was some combination of God telling me to shut my mouth up, and Sean’s cousin Ben- who is a professional butcher, (and processed our meat really well) that made it possible for me to finally give the deer meat a chance. No, it doesn’t take just like chicken (although I hear everything else, from frog legs to squirrel does!) It was very similar to ground beef, and turned out like a very lean version of hamburger meat. I made deer chili, deer enchiladas, deer spaghetti, deer-burger helper… you name it, we cooked it with deer meat. We even made Chinese food out of it… and this picky girl who does not even eat shrimp managed to eat it, and even more shockingly, I liked it.
(NO, I do not eat shrimp! I refuse to eat something that is known as a “filter feeder”. Ever heard that saying ‘you are what you eat?’, well I am not eating a FILTER!)
Now, I will rarely admit this, especially in print, but it seems as though Daddy was right. Deer meat is good, and better for you than ground beef, and all that meat in the freezer got us through several months. So this year, when hunting season rolled around, I decided not to bother with the crocodile tears or my lengthy speeches about killing God’s creatures. I mean, there is something to be said for living off the land, and going out in the woods to find food for your family, right?
But here it is, hunting season is nearing the end, and Daddy has been gone almost every weekend since Halloween. He’s getting quite antsy since he has yet to get a deer. He has gotten so impatient that twice on the back roads he has pulled over and wondered if it would be so bad if we “accidentally” hit one with our car… I’ve taken to teasing him quite relentlessly about it. Last week, on our disaster road trip, I snuck his phone into my hands, and texted his friends “I suck at hunting.” I told him I was going to buy an old Wendy’s T-shirt that said “Where’s the Beef?” and then I was going to cross out BEEF and write DEER instead.
Christmas night we were driving, and saw deer everywhere, and he slowed down to look at them and Kailynn hollers out “shoot it Daddy, shoot it!” Oh no! She’s going to want pink camouflage, isn’t she? She’s only 3, she is not supposed to say things like that! I had Blondie well-trained that we could not take part in any kind of hunting expeditions, and suddenly, I see the Princess wanting her own bb gun before too long. This can’t be my life! Surely we haven’t become “country girls”…. No no no NO!
So I find myself ALONE on New Year’s Eve. No wild parties, no gathered friends, no kiss at midnight. Just me, the zoo crew, and some happy meals, and I decided the least I should have is a laugh or two, so driving home from visiting a family member at the hospital, I phoned Daddy, and had a little fun!
“Blondie was driving down the hill, and I had told her to slow down, but she wasn’t listening to me she ran right into this big doe! I don’t know what to do!!”
“Get it, put it in the car, that’s good meat, I will come home and process it.”
“No, I’m scared, it’s so big… and it’s tongue is hanging out… what if it bites me? I think it’s still alive…. ”
“Get your Dad, get Dyl Pickles to load it up. That’s good meat for our family…”
“I’m too scared to touch it, I don’t think she’s dead yet… I can’t do it…”
This dialogue went on for a good 5 or 6 minutes… I had it on speaker phone and the kids started joining in. “Daddy, I didn’t mean to hit it, Daddy I am so sorry.” Blondie says. Then Tucker says “Daddy I could help put it in the van but Mom won’t let me touch it…” My husband is in HiDefinition mode, talking a hundred miles an hour about how I have to go back and get it, he is telling his cousins we just hit a deer, he doesn’t even pause to ask about the car (and he’s a body man, he always asks about the car), all he wants is for me, the girl who prefers the mall to camping, to get out and load a dead deer in the same van my kids are riding in… when finally, I cannot take another second… “Gotcha… I’m just kidding!” I confessed.
Thirty minutes later, my phone lights up… “You got me good honey, my cousins are still laughing!”
I love you too, see ya when hunting season ends….