My cousin taught Ivy and I how to make deer hunter candy this weekend.
Only handed out to deer hunters during the gun season, the recipe is simple: equal parts of four ingredients, covered in chocolate, cut into slices and wrapped in wax paper.
We made the traditional treat together laughing and snitching bits as we did so and then, of course, we had to sample the final product. We wouldn’t want to give all those cold hunters a sub-par product.
I ate a few pieces but I still remember Grandma telling me I wasn’t to take any candy, it was only for the hunters. She didn’t reprimand often and her corrections stuck. I still had a twinge of guilt when popping a piece into my mouth and it came with memories of Grandma’s scolding so vivid I could taste them on my tongue.
Some people scoff at tradition but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who tasted memories when we handed out that peanut butter treat.
I was able to run away from home for a week of bird hunting in Montana this October.
And after the last few grey mornings here I’m longing for one of these still frosty Montana mornings.
Which sounds odd because I’m not at all a morning person. But I have found thatI’m much less grumpy if I get to spend sunrise in a field with my dogs rather than in the kitchen with my kids.
What can I say?
The dogs are always happy to be up and running and they never, ever, complain about their breakfast.
A Friday ritual.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week (or last).
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
I’ve got a dog with drive.
In pointing dog speak that means that when I take him out looking for birds, he is willing to hunt every bit of the cover we are in and beyond.
It means that when he is out in the field with his nose to the wind, it doesn’t matter how tired he is or how long we’ve been out. He still flies over the ground with enthusiasm.
It means that when a bird goes down running, he runs after it.
It means he never quits.
In everyday-life-speak that means that he digs holes like he means to go to China.
And it means that when his paws don’t work, he uses his teeth.
Yup, I’ve got a dog with drive.
I’ve been completely negligent.
My eldest daughter did something she’s never ever done before and I didn’t even mention it… for weeks.
Ivy shot her first deer!
My brother Tyler was her mentor and the two of them had a great time together getting ready for the season. Tyler says it’s the most excited he has been for deer hunting in years. And then Ivy shot her first deer, using a crossbow, with her uncle by her side coaching her through it.
It’s a bit of a surreal mothering experience. As much as I’ve been around and about deer hunting and as much as I’ve shot guns and gone bird hunting and butchered deer, I’ve never been an actual deer hunter. But I can tell you it’s a proud moment to watch a kid go off and do something you’ve never done. Especially when they come back full of grins, a cooler of food for the freezer (Thanks again for that Tyler!) and announcing that they want a “real” bow for next year.
When your legs are short sometimes you just need a little ride.
Deer hunting is a great time of year to have children experience the joy that comes with survival.
Taking a two-hour hike through the woods, falling in a freezing swamp, possibly getting lost but getting back on track. Finally arriving at the house with boots full of swamp water, soaked and shivering to jump straight into the sauna. And then, once thawed, telling stories of deer jumping up out of the bushes closer than they’d ever seen, helping the hunters find a down deer, and the pride that came with knowing they helped the hunt.
Sure, it was cold, and hard and painful but they did it and that comes with it’s own special joy
Don’t believe me?
Ask them about helping on the deer drive. They’ll start talking a mile a minute about the terrors of the hike – but they’ll be smiling.
Also we processed the six deer from yesterday’s drive today and I didn’t include a single dead deer or meat picture in this post.