As I sit here and wonder how the next hunting season will play out, I can’t help reminiscing about the past. Both the fruitful seasons and the ones that just didn’t live up to expectations cause me to question how this year will stack up.
Last winter we purchased a brand new freezer and spent a lot of time, money and effort filling it up. As a former professional chef and a current hunter, angler, micro-farmer, and forager I take a lot of pride in feeding my family and our friends. We had stored a bunch of wild game, half of a hog, a side of grass-fed beef, a variety of vegetables from our garden, some stingray fillets, etc. Unfortunately, while on summer vacation a faulty defrost timer shut down the freezer and cost us everything that we had in storage.
Talk about a depressing and painful turn of events!
Instead of wallowing in self-pity or laying down and giving up, I’ve decided to double down and work even harder this year to restock my freezer. I find it very satisfying to take advantage of the edible bounty in the world around me. My sights are set on refilling the freezer.
Most of the animals I intend to hunt spark ideas for a potential meal. Finding wild greens or mushrooms is always exciting. I have an organic garden and greenhouse that help me feed my family throughout the year. I’ve pressed to increase the output from our garden. So far so good. I’ve been able to make a few gallons of marinara sauce from our tomato harvest. My wife made sixteen quarts of her amazingly delicious spicy dill pickles. We will have a few pounds of pesto, a bunch of dried herbs and plenty of seeds for next year.
In the field, I’ve spent extra time setting trail cameras and I’ve added mineral usage to my deer hunting spot. I’ve also been checking weather patterns, sighting frequencies. categorizing the deer herd by body size, rack size, age, and possible harvesting potential. I’ve also been keeping an eye on the does. A healthy, happy and thriving herd will produce great deer.
My foraging trips have been infrequent, but prosperous so far. I collected a bunch of wild berries and was even able to get a nice haul of mushrooms. The waterfowl hunting options that I have seem like a good chance to add a different protein and let’s not forget small game. There is nothing like going in the field and coming home with something that feeds your family.
Setbacks happen for us all, but even with the loss of my food stores I truly consider myself to be very fortunate. I get to do something that I love and help provide for those that I love even more.
For me, this is the way that I want to live.