Sitting on the couch late in the evening, drowsiness coming on when a nearby gunshot pierces the air. The dogs go on alert and I am up on my feet. Probably neighbor poachers, but I need to have a look around anyway. My nearest neighbor is more than half mile away. The road is several hundred yards from the house, so I don’t get a lot of extraneous noise. Walking out onto the front porch I see the lights from three police cars lined up along the highway about 100 yards apart. Spotlights and flashlights were scanning the area, both toward and away from me. Weird stuff happens and I seem to be a magnet for crazy so my first thought was some sort of manhunt. Very awake now, I drive up the driveway toward the police. It would normally be a walk but I didn’t think it wise to come out of the dark toward a bunch of cops in the grass.
Luckily, I was completely wrong. It turned out that two cars traveling in the same direction simultaneously hit two bucks crossing the highway. The gunshot I heard was an injured buck being put down. The spotlights and police were looking for other possible injured deer. When I got to the road, one of the officers recognized me and said the magic words, “would you like one of these deer?” The only right answer is “hell yes, let me get a knife.” I was tired, it was late, but even a damaged deer is a gift of food.
I don’t like to butcher beat up meat. And this was the first road kill I did on my own. A cleanly killed animal is much easier to disassemble as you don’t have to work around bruising and broken bones. That stuff is edible but not very good. Survival food only for me.
However, dogs aren’t picky. They like it nasty. Good dog food is expensive so I decided to harvest as much meat that I couldn’t butcher cleanly into stew meat for the dogs. They love me.
Now the bad part was that I had to work my day job and the light is still a bit short this time of year. I worked as I could, letting the carcass hang about 15 hours before butchering. In the end, we maybe got 30 good pounds of human food including two beautiful tenderloins, a few small roasts, and a lot of stew meat. As a bonus, the hide was in excellent condition and I was able to pull it off with only a few small cuts at the neck, legs, and tail. Although not large, the antlers are beautiful so I sawed off the top of the skull to deal with them later.
I am of the school of thought that it is everyone’s right to make his or her best effort to feed themselves and family. Due to many reasons, including the stupid human factor, this needs to be regulated in the modern world. This makes it difficult to hunt, especially in places like New Mexico with less than easy hunting regulations. After living on either home-grown cow or wild game for quite some time, the last few years have been a let down, having to buy commercial meat. I’ve seen the feed lots and I don’t want to contribute to those companies any more. Luckily, some free food came our way last week.