Family Time

Here in Wisconsin we’ve survived another ten days of a family gatherings and deer hunting, culminating in our big Thanksgiving meal.

It can run you through the wringer, a week of that.

While spending time with family is always pleasant, it can sometimes be a bit bemusing…


A night of human foosball can leave you feeling like this in the morning…Ivy pretending to sleep

There are always some great times…John with spike buck

But there is this thing about spending time with family. Sometimes, no matter how much you love them, they can be a bit like… well… a bit like having someone take a drill to your head.Clara "drilling" Johnny

Hope your holiday was great and that your “drill moments” came with as big of smiles as ours did!


Good Jeans*

Someone once told me that there are people who can jump out of bed and right into rational thought. But they told me about these so called “people” early in the morning and I was unable to determine over the course of the conversation  if this is in fact true or just some fairy tale to further confuse those of us who have an extra hard time in the morning.

Today my foolish morning brain said, “Self you don’t want to wear your good jeans*, put on those old holey ones instead.” Had my afternoon brain been available it would have replied, “Dude, what are you nuts! I’m going bird hunting on the edges of a marshy mess known for it’s terribly thick cover that I will no doubt want to dive into because that’s where everyone else will have chased the birds to. Lets put on the good jeans*!”

Sadly my afternoon brain was sound asleep.

I wore the jeans with no knees.

Hours later I was doing my best human bulldozer impression. Having already become fed up with the terribly thick cover catching my hat, whistle, shock collar remote, game vest, sunglasses, shirt, neck, face and bare knees I was now pushing backwards, through the forest of ten foot tall, dried out plants. Each time I stepped back I would feel the tug of the 3/4 inch round stems, as their 60 grit sandpaper coating caught on my game vest and then I’d watch at my feet as they pulled out of the ground, each connected to a four inch plug of mud. Sometimes I’d get lucky and they’d snap off and stab me, occasionally I would tangle my feet and slowly, supported on all sides by the forest of stalks, sink to the ground in an undignified, swearing heap.

The vegetation behind my dog in no way resembles what I walked though. The vegetation behind the dog is like a golf course in comparison. In fact the only thing that is similar between this picture and the experience above is that my dog is still running and the sky is still blue.

The vegetation behind my dog in no way resembles what I walked though. The vegetation behind my dog is like a golf course in comparison. In fact the only things that are similar between this picture and the experience above is that my dog is running and the sky was just as blue and beautiful.

Today was my first bird hunt of the year and I feel the dogs, the gun and I have left ourselves wide open for improvement. The dogs- will not wander off in the midst of a horrid forest of sandpaper stalks. The gun – will stay in one piece when I shoot it. And I –  I will find my hunting clothes the night before.

* “Good” in this case has nothing to do with fit, wear or stains, only the absence of very large holes.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpectedbutchering deer in greenhouse

We just discovered an unexpected perk to the greenhouse.

It’s the perfect place to process deer.

I have helped turn an ugly carcass into nice little white packages to put into the freezer in many dark basements. I have boned shoulders in very cold garages. And I have even attempted not to make a mess of a few kitchens while completing the final packaging.

But until today I have never, ever done any of it in the sunlight.

Possibly only those of you who have stood on the solid block of ice that is masquerading as a cement floor, tried not to lose a finger as you felt your way though the process in the dim light or ran buckets of water back and forth from the house, inevitably spilling some on your already frozen toes, can understand the luxury of it all.  Plenty of counter space, hot running water, hooks in the ceiling for the gambrel, sunlight, and then when the sun when down and it got a bit chilly- a nice big heater to keep it above freezing.

Unexpected and delightful- I’m never setting up shop in the garage again!


I look at the following picture and think- “Mmm, loins on the grill, meatloaf, pot roast, tacos, bacon wrapped tenderloin and a handsome man!”

It’s possible you may look at the picture and think- “Ick, dead deer and a guy dressed as a pumpkin.”John with two does

There’s no accounting for taste.

It’s True

The rumors are true. We went bird hunting in North Dakota for our tenth anniversary.

I know there are a fair amount of you reading this who think that’s grand- you’re probably related to me. I also know that there are a fair amount of you reading this who think I’m nuts. I know this because I’d been telling all sorts of people about our plans before we left.  And while only a few were so bold enough to say such things as “Do you hunt?” and “Why?” the rest of them had it in their eyes.

The first question is an easy yes.

As for why we chose North Dakota over some place with sand and drinks with little umbrellas, well…

There are few times that I will willing get up before the sun rises just for fun. DSCN5481-(sm)

Very few times.

But if you don’t get up early enough to get some breakfast, get the dogs ready to go and get to the field, you just don’t make it in time to see mornings like these.DSCN5482-(sm)

Mornings in a field of grass that stretches as far as you can see, where you are just as likely to flush an owl or a deer as the pheasant the dogs are searching for. DSCN5486-(sm)

Mornings so still and clear you can hear the dogs running and sniffing through the field ahead of you.DSCN5492-(2sm)Or the cold mornings where the frost on the grass bursts off as the dogs run through it, leaving streaming trails of glitter in the sunlight as they hunt for birds. DSCN5597-(sm) As the morning wears on, the birds move out of the easy cover and become harder to find. The dogs get tired.DSCN5670-(sm) I get tired.DSCN5513-(sm) But there are always more field to explore.DSCN5506-(2sm) And you can’t stop yet, because there are probably birds, just over the next hill.  And yes the hill might be a mile away but the dogs are looking birdy so you can’t stop now.  And when you think about it, you find you no longer even want to. DSCN5431-(2sm) Suddenly the birds will be coming back into the heavy cover for the night, the dogs will be pointing left and right and when it seems far to early to be done for the day, the sun will go down.DSCN5680-(2sm) Invariably I will be astonished that the day’s hunt is over, exhausted, yet still filled with plans of places we can go, fields we can try and combinations of dogs we can run – tomorrow.DSCN5684-(sm)

And, if it’s been an exceptionally good day, there just might be a bit of extra weight on my back.

A bit of weight in a bundle of feathers that holds both the promise of a delicious dinner and the story of following a dog through a sea of grass to see what happens next.