The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Sweet potato fed venison

Mark's gun

"We're going to have to do something about the deer," I told Mark over lunch.  "They're getting in the garden again."

Fast forward ahead an hour and I hear a gunshot that sounds awfully close.  I run outside --- "Honey, are you okay?!"

"I killed it!" my husband crows.

It turns out he hadn't quite killed it, though he had knocked it off its feet.  Mark had to rush inside and reload before putting the anterless buck out of its misery.  But then he was the king of the farm for the next two days, having saved the garden and killed his first deer.  By local standards, Mark had also beaten my record from two years ago since my first (and only) kill had been a doe.

I can be awfully competitive, though.  Two days later, as I talked to Daddy on the phone, I saw a deer walking right down the garden path as if headed for our front door.  "I've got to go," I told my father.  "There's a deer in the garden."  "Kill it!" he replied.

Cutting up a deerI crept down the hall and picked up the loaded rifle.  Slipping off the safety, I eased open the front door and steadied the gun against the door frame.  As Mark likes to say, he could see the deer fall to the ground right outside his window --- my shot had severed its spine and the youngster died almost instantly.  Once we dressed them both out, my antlerless buck was just a hair bigger than my long-suffering husband's.  I told him he was just going to have to get another deer to even the score.

Which is all a long way of saying --- this week's lunchtime series is all about venison.  Is it cost effective to hunt your own?  How do you butcher it?  How do you eat it?  Stay tuned for the answers, including a special guest post on chimney top smoking.

(If you're a vegetarian, or just disgusted by pictures of meat on the hoof, I apologize in advance.  You might want to steer clear, at least until we reach the kitchen on Thursday.)

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with poop.

This post is part of our Venison lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Looks like we were up to the same tasks this weekend. I posted some stuff about the deer we processed as well, though I'll save pictures and tutorials until next time. This is my second one and I don't feel like ready to give processing tips yet, other than - take your time and let it cool first.

It sure is a process isn't it? Kill, field dress (e.g. gut), drag, hang, skin, cool, carve, dispose of carcass, trim cuts, grind the rest, bag, freeze, cook up scraps for dogs, take a hot shower. Whew!!! You certainly can't do that on a weekday over lunch. :-)

Congrats on your two kills. You'd pay a lot of money for that antibiotic-free, hormone-free, natural, free range meat at the healthfood store! And all it cost was a single rifle shell. :-)

Comment by Everett Mon Nov 21 12:28:45 2011

Congratulations on your deer! It sounds like it wasn't your first one?

I'm mostly posting a lunchtime series in hopes we'll get a bunch of tips from more experienced hunters. We're raw newbies and would like to get better. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 14:10:13 2011
What's Mark's loadout in the picture?
Comment by BeninMA Mon Nov 21 14:10:44 2011
I'm terrible at slang --- are you asking what kind of gun he's using? It's a Highpoint 40 caliber carbine rifle.
Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 14:15:24 2011
Anna: Lol, sorry -- yes, I was using a bit of "tacticool" slang I picked up (I’m not much of a gun person). I didn’t know those Highpoints were good for deer. Is that a light on the front? Thanks!
Comment by BeninMA Mon Nov 21 14:34:11 2011

Drat! I wish I was tacticool! :-)

It's a laser. I think, with 20/20 hindsight, that we might have been better of spending a bit more money on a scope rather than using a laser. When we got it, I didn't understand ballistics enough, and thought that if the light was hitting what I want to hit, that's where the bullet would go when I pulled the trigger. (Yes, I should know better, having taken physics in high school, but I guess I forgot...)

We're both raw beginners in terms of gun ownership, but a gun loving friend of Mark's recommended this rifle, and it has served us well.

Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 14:52:05 2011
That is a pretty cool shot of Mark, but my understanding is that "tacticool" would demand night vision... and a bayonet to finish-off bambi ;)
Comment by BeninMA Mon Nov 21 16:16:58 2011
Night vision would be awesome --- probably more helpful than a laser or scope for deer. Sometimes I'll wake up and think I hear deer in the garden, but no way am I going to shoot if I can't see what I'm shooting at!
Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 16:34:31 2011
Congrats on the two deer! (now if you could come over and shoot some wild boars in my garden that would be great)
Comment by Eric in Japan Mon Nov 21 18:52:29 2011
Sounds like you need to apply for one of those difficult to get hunting permits. :-) I'd think wild boar would be a lot like pork.
Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 19:39:26 2011
Welcome to the world of venison hunters and consumers! If the wild game flavor is strong on your "buck" try soaking it in milk overnight then cook it up. We use it in everything....and I mean everything. We grind our own sausages (breakfast, italian, mexican chorizo, andouille, spicy cheddar...use bacon, ham, or boston butt depending on whatever's available or cheapest when you grind) Also use it like hamburger, just grind it with some bacon for the fat and a little flavor. If you've got any question about anything deer hunting ive been doing it since I was 13 so Ill help you all I can!
Comment by David Z Mon Nov 21 20:02:14 2011
I was hoping you'd chime in! I'll have some questions in later posts (especially tomorrow's), so I hope you'll check back and answer away. :-)
Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 20:14:12 2011
yay! I've had my eye on a band of deer that grazed my garden through out the year, hopefully I'll bag one soon. I've occasionally hunted years past but never thought about just planting a garden and letting them come to me :D
Comment by Phil Mon Nov 21 20:37:50 2011
I assure you, we didn't plan it that way. :-) But, in the long run, I figure we got the better end of the deal --- more calories from those two deer than I would have gotten from the plants they munched.
Comment by anna Tue Nov 22 07:33:48 2011

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