Harvest More Deer To Feed A Teenager
On The Back Page With Daryl Gay
Heard that there’s a plan to increase deer harvest numbers once again. What’s it up to now, about 97 per hunter?
I remember when we didn’t have 97 deer in the state. But then I also remember when DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb was the fastest deer-undresser, with a regular old kitchen-type butcher knife, you’d ever be amazed by. I’ve seen him unzip one of those little Sapelo bucks like skinning a squirrel. This was when the man was quite a bit lower in the ranks, but brother, was he fast with a knife. And as a brief aside, a great guy, too. Follows perfectly in the lineage of such as David Waller and Leon Kirkland, and company just don’t come no better than that.
Yep, Ol’ Noel and his boys will do just fine. And I know why they keep pushing the limit on this deer harvest. But it’s not at all what you’re thinking.
It’s teenagers. And to carry it one step further, teenage boys. I know, because I just acquired one. Dylan hit the big one-three a few weeks back, and after hearing war stories from all sides, I was prepared to take a boat paddle to him as soon as he turned into the dreaded “teen.” But then I remembered: I once were one, too.
So despite the fact that he had been sneaking up on this red-letter day for, well, 13 years, I kinda decided to treat it like any other and see if his head would suddenly swell or maybe begin spinning around on his shoulders. Nope. Nothing. Well, except maybe a little, GASP!, maturity. For instance…
My boys are baseball players. That’s what they do. And in the past, we’ve done birthdays up big by taking as many as 20 teammates to a Braves game. OK; figure a ticket apiece and maybe a hot dog and Coke at Turner Field and you have the down payment on a plantation in Uruguay. Far as I’m concerned, Ted can keep his field, but you know as well as I that nothing is too good for your kids…
So Lucky 13 rolls around, and what do we do? Well, last year we stumbled into a little patch of ground in Johnson County: couple of ponds, camphouse, bird field, deer woods, creek, dirt roads. My notion of paradise, especially when compared with The Ted and its surroundings.
So, Dylan, what do you want to do for your 13th birthday?
“Take a few of my friends down to the camphouse and spend the weekend fishing and hunting.”
Terrible kid, just terrible. Don’t know where I went wrong. Work day and night like a slave, raise ’em as best you can, and when they hit 13, the whole world just…
“You want to WHAT?”
“Yeah, we could just stay at the farm. You could cook us some venison, or we could fish and you could cook them on the pond bank. You always say that’s the best way to eat fish.”
“I do, don’t I?
“You don’t want to go to Atlanta or maybe see the Bulldogs in Athens (another favorite and much cheaper trip)?”
“Naw. I want some of that deerburger on the grill and some fish in the cooker. And to ride the four-wheeler and the golf cart and the tractor…”
So instead of spending my weekend wrassling with bankers for a loan to cover the cost and then heading on to downtown Atlanta, I’ll be chaperoning what turns out to be five teenagers in the middle of nowhere. Just like deer camp, except these guys don’t snore!
In preparation, into the freezer I go. This, by the way, is the freezer with the hairy bear paw wrapped in the plastic bag. Take my advice: you do not ever want your wife unwrapping such “just to see what it was…”
It bounced off the ceiling, two walls, the top of the freezer, hit the washing machine and dryer before reaching the floor and she STILL didn’t know what it was. Other than hairy…
Let’s see, last season Dylan popped a fine 8-pointer, and there are a good many tubes of fine ground venison ready for the grilling. Figuring each 13-year-old will eat roughly as much as a starving alpha male wolf, I remove a total of 16 pounds for the six of us. Later, at the camphouse, this will be mixed with four raw eggs, woostershoosterbooster sauce, two slices of wet white bread, garlic salt and black pepper into a mound roughly resembling a medicine ball. In more ways than one. We have fished on the afternoon, keeping another 15 or so pounds of bass and bream. But tonight, it’s deerburger.
Oh, and snacks. I forgot to mention the snacks. My little wife is big on making sure the guys aren’t going to die from my cooking. To that end, there are honey buns, boxes of chocolate-chip cookies and doughnuts, bags and bags of exotic chips, on and on. I like meat. But boys like sugar. And I notice one of them, the 194-lb. one, as he walks to load up on the golf cart for a whiz down the dirt road. This kid is carrying a double handful of honey buns, at least a dozen of those big cookies and two bags of potato chips!
“Y’all running away?”
“No sir, I’m just having a snack before supper.”
“Snack? That’s my sugar intake for a year. I eat what you’re holding and we’re talking instant diabetic. But hey, have a good time. If you want it, eat it.”
And he did, too, right down to the crumbs off the golf cart seat!
An hour later, the burgers are perfect and I round the troops up, knowing we’ve wasted a lot of precious venison. After all, there’s no way they can eat after all those snacks. They come barging in, though, scooping one of my man-size burgers directly onto a bun, doing the mustard and ketchup thing and heading inside to grab a drink. The first one is back in three minutes.
“Got any more deer?”
This one is a city boy; I kinda figured him for queasy on wild things.
“The rest will be back in a minute,” he says. “You gonna eat anything?”
Hope there’s enough…”
Maybe I should have brought the whole deer… And while I thought I was going to have to go ahead and cook those fish I had cleaned and iced for the next day, the last burger sated the final appetite. At least for an hour, and then they were back into the honey buns and doughnuts…
So now you know where this proposed increase in deer harvest comes from. Can’t say for sure, but I’ll just about bet you there’s a teenager involved somewhere…