Friday, November 17, 2006

Hunting Season - Rite of Passage

This weekend is the opening of deer season in Mississippi. Today hunters arrived at their camps with provisions. Rifles were zeroed in at the firing range. Tonight campfires will blaze, grills will cook pork roasts, hamburgers, hotdogs, polish sausage, and just maybe some wild hog. Talk will be about where they're going to hunt tomorrow . Deer stands are popular and the game quota strictly enforced.

In the Midwest we mostly work. Second homes/camps are unusual. In the South, most any weekend will find the guys at their second home Fri. thru Sunday. During hunting season no one gets married, and you better not die. One hunter said he's been hunting since he was a little boy. It meant everything to him. He was so excited he couldn't sleep the night before. By the size of the membership, and it isn't cheap, it still means everything to a lot of them.

Bagging the first deer is a milestone for hunters. Traditionally five fingers are dipped in its blood and spread on the hunter's face. All who see him know what he or she has accomplished. Other hunters look up to him/her. We saw a forty-four year old man so proud he glowed.

At age nine, John L. made his first kill. When he was twelve he bagged a nine point with fourteen and a half inch spread, a buck of about two and a half years. "I used a 30-30 Winchester zeroed in at 150 yards. It was a long shot at 170 yards, but I made it." He grinned. "Not only did the local paper do a feature story, it was mounted for free as the largest in its class. It is something that will always go with me, and people will talk about it for a long time. "

John's family splits the tenderloin down the center, puts in chopped bell peppers, onions, and cajun spice. Hickory smoked dry rub is spread on the outside with salt, pepper, and seasoned salt. Sealed in foil, it's placed on the grill to roast or in the oven.

We like our venison run through the tenderizer and soaked in either milk or coca cola to remove any gamey taste. We season it with worcesteshire sauce, salt and pepper, and bread each piece with milk, beaten eggs and flour and fry. Purple-hulled peas, greens and cornbread round out the meal.

They'll go out before daylight to get in their stands, wait patiently for hours, then come back cold and hungry for biscuits and gravy. There will be lots of talk about where they heard a shot come from and did they get anything. The story is the same every year. It's what they live for.

copyright 2006 Red Convertible Travel Series

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