“We Can Skin A Buck…” Country Boy Survival Mode

Editorial-Opinion December 2022

Daryl Kirby | November 28, 2022

Is it just me, or does it seem like nothing works quite as well as it did five or so years ago? From something as simple as ordering a meal and expecting to get what you ordered, to something big, like expecting the service department of a car dealership to actually fix your car. 

I’ll try to make a long story short… the check-engine light came on, so my wife took her car to a dealership in Athens. The service department said nothing was wrong—the computer didn’t show any codes. 

The next day she was driving on an interstate when the car shut down. My wife is a very, very smart lady, so she was driving in the right-hand lane because of that check-engine light the day before. She was able to get over, just barely, off the highway. Luckily… we thought… we had spent money on a towing service. Ninety minutes and three calls later, the dispatcher admitted no tow-truck driver was coming. Meanwhile, my wife is a nervous wreck. There’s an endless stream of cars racing by so close that her car is shaking as they pass. So she also called for a HERO unit—that’s the Highway Emergency Response Operators, a ‘service’ that is supposed to help when someone has trouble on an interstate. The HERO dispatcher told my wife they couldn’t come unless she had a flat tire or was out of gas. I’m not kidding. They told her to call 911—you can guess what that operator told her.  

Truth is, I shouldn’t blame the service department of an Athens car dealership, or the towing service, or anyone else. The cascade of nothing working like it should is my fault. 

If I had been smart like my brother back in high school, I’d have popped the hood on my wife’s car and figured it out myself. While I was chasing girls and fishing every day, my brother was chasing girls taking apart an old Ford Bronco engine piece by piece—and putting it back together. Successfully. 

Instead of figuring it out myself, my wife had to take the car to Athens, and it started a scenario that’s going to cost us a small fortune and could have cost our family something far more serious than money when that car shut down on I-20 near downtown Atlanta.

I should have spent a summer with my grandpa fixing cars at his country store and one-bay service station in rural Mississippi. I should have spent the next summer at my other grandpa’s house learning how to be a plumber.

Kids don’t realize this stuff at the time, what’s important, especially teenaged boys. At least I didn’t. 

What does all this have to do with the outdoors? One of the most-read pages at the past few weeks is our deer cooler list. Lots of hunters are looking for a deer cooler these days because when they pull up to their tried-and-true processor, the gate is closed and the sign says “Full. Not Taking Deer.”

You know what one of the other most-viewed things on right now is? It’s a video that my buddy Scott Hodges made last year showing how he skins and takes down a deer on the tailgate. All you need is a knife and a cooler.

The convenience of taking a deer to a processor is pretty dang nice. Pull up, tell ’em how you want it cut, go back in a few weeks and pick up a box or two of packaged venison. A lot of hunters have taken that convenience to the next level—they’re not even field-dressing the deer. Pay an extra $10 or $20, and the folks at the deer cooler will do it for you. 

There’s is absolutely nothing wrong with a hunter using a deer processor—I have a deer at one right now. But the next deer I shoot won’t go to the processor, and it’s not just because every deer cooler within 60 miles is slap full and isn’t taking deer right now.

Thankfully, growing up I watched—probably because my dad and grandpa made me—as the deer we killed were hung and skinned in that old service station bay. 

Skinning a deer, taking out those backstraps and inner loin yourself, getting those shoulders and hindquarters in a cooler, spending hours working pieces of meat through a cheap grinder. That’s good stuff. 

At least I learned something worthwhile and valuable.  

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