Deer Camp–Part II

L-R: Wayne, Dennis, Marsha, Sam

This past week I’ve been furiously typing away at the chapter, trying to get as much on the page before the details fade. Writing prose is a challenge for me–it’s a completely different mindset and process than poetry. But it’s a good switch. I’ve been waking up “early” (I’m a grad student, so my early isn’t exactly early for most people) at 6:45 or 7 am and writing for two hours straight. The goal is two pages a day (on weekdays) and so far I’ve been able to do that. Looking at the 10 pages of a draft that I’ve got thus far (and I’m not even half way through what I want to write), I’m realizing that this book is really going to happen–and that it’s going to be long.

Today I drove back out to North Creek Campground to catch Dennis and company before they packed out. They told me to arrive around noon and when I did they were in the process of sorting out all the packed equipment and figuring out which trucks or trailers to load it all in. Although they’d been working for three hours by the time I arrived, I was impressed with the sheer organizing skill it must have taken to get to the point they were at. The canvas tents with their mess hall and sleeping quarters, the pop-up RV, all the clothes and guns–everything was sorted and packed into bags and large plastic totes.

The two eight point deer

Thanks to the rain (we had another 48 hours this past week) and Sam’s accident which sent him home to the hospital to for x-rays to see if he broke his foot (he didn’t, but strained some ligaments–ouch), the group only shot three deer the three weeks they were there. If I’m remembering correctly, the first two were eight pointers and the the third one was a six pointer. The heads of the first two had been submerged in the creek to keep them slightly preserved (they smelled something awful even so) and the third was just the antlers.

Although they only keep the backstrap and shoulders of the deer, they do butcher them themselves. Apparently when you send a deer to a butcher, the butcher tends to cut the bone in process which lets the bone marrow out into the meat, giving the meat that gamey, wild taste that most people find offensive. Dennis explained that when he butchers it himself, he’s able to cut the fat and the bone out without spilling the marrow and thus keeping a more clean taste.

Top row (L-R): Wayne, Dennis, Marsha, Sam; Bottom row: me

It was just a quick visit, but I’m really going to miss driving up there every weekend day–I’m a creature of habit, I guess, but I also just loved chatting with everyone and listening to their stories. I have some younger contacts to meet (a couple in their late 20s who hunt) and hopefully at some point I’ll be able to get out and hunt alongside someone (well, or go with them since I don’t have a license). The Virginia apprentice license is cheap and what I’d be interested in, but I’m not sure how residency works for that since I’ve only been here three months and I haven’t switched over my drivers license yet. In either case, I’m hoping to spend a day out in the woods when season opens up again in December and then, hopefully, learn how to break a deer down and then cook some venison. Deer camp–it’s been good, but I’ve got more to do.

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