Deal­ing with the high steaks of pre­par­ing veni­son

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

AMONG THE MEM­O­RIES THAT haunt me most is the im­age of a big buck hang­ing in my cousin’s barn about 25 years ago. My brother had shot it and it was the only deer taken in a deer-scarce sea­son. My cousin, my brother and I were to split the an­i­mal since we hunted as a party for it.

Hav­ing just hung it from the rafters, we were in the barn­yard hav­ing a beer when my brother looked to­wards the barn and said, “Why is that deer swing­ing so hard from the rafters?”

It took all of us about two sec­onds to re­al­ize that King, my cousin’s mis­chievous Ger­man shep­herd, was not in sight. By the time we raced over to the buck, King, in a re­mark­able feat of speed eat­ing and glut­tony, had con­sumed the bet­ter part of that buck’s hind quar­ters – or, as it was known there­after, my cousin’s share of the deer. I’m con­vinced he would have con­sumed it, antlers and all, had we pro­vided

a step stool and two more min­utes.

I only men­tion this hor­rific in­ci­dent to ex­plain why I can never sleep well at night when I have a deer hang­ing in the yard – as I do now. For those who do not know, you hang an an­i­mal to ten­der­ize the meat. For my buck, this is day three of a four-day hang­ing pe­riod.

I have done ev­ery­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble to en­sure that the deer does not get eaten be­fore its time by some crit­ter that did not buy a tag or put in the time and ef­fort. I have hung it fairly high off the ground. I have tarps all around it. I have the lights on dur­ing the night.

The buck also hangs near the back door where my dogs sleep (though they do not have ac­cess to it) so they will alert me if any in­trud­ers come near it in the night. It’s also within sight of my home of­fice win­dow so I check on it about ev­ery 30 sec­onds. Most im­por­tantly, I do not own a glut­tonous Ger­man shep­herd.

If all goes well, as it does ev­ery year, I’ll be able to butcher that ten­der, young buck to­mor­row and sleep well that night know­ing that the freezer is full and some thiev­ing an­i­mal is not.

I know what you are think­ing. I should hang the deer in a shed, barn or garage. That’s true, but I don’t have a suit­able shed or any other out­build­ing on our prop­erty. So, in­stead, I hang it below our up­per back deck which makes my anx­i­ety worse be­cause any pass­ing an­i­mal with­out a con­science could be tempted.

Thus far, I’ve only had to shoo off a few ravens who gath­ered in the sur­round­ing trees. They left for good af­ter I stepped out on the back deck with an un­loaded shot­gun. Ravens are smart that way.

In the mean time, I will get up about half a dozen times tonight and shine a light on the an­i­mal to make sure it is not be­ing con­sumed by some night vis­i­tor. And to­mor­row, as I men­tioned, I will skin it, cut in into man­age­able pieces and butcher it so I have many de­li­cious, bone­less pack­ages of veni­son in our freezer.

All this is worth it be­cause veni­son, in my opin­ion, is the one of the finest meats a per­son can con­sume. In fact, you wouldn’t be ly­ing if you said some­times it is a meal fit for a King.

Trust me on that.

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