Planting Venison Seeds

Daryl Gay's Back Page, January 2020

Daryl Gay | January 2, 2020

We have at last and duly arrived at the time of year during which I truly enjoy watching deer.

Fall down.

Not that it’s unenjoyable at any moment throughout the October-January season. It’s just that within the final couple of weeks, there are debts owed. Of various types.

I have a few non-hunting buddies—believe it or not—who don’t seem to crave crawling from under the covers, driving  bleary-eyed through pre-dawn darkness, stumbling into the woods, climbing a frozen tree, then watching deer simply stroll past.

The concept they fail to grasp is “A” deer. “ONE” deer. “THE” deer.

Too, they’ve heard rumors that a whitetail has to be shot, dragged, hung, skinned, gutted and butchered—that they don’t walk around neatly pre-packaged. But I assured them that no, that is certainly not truthful. 

Those pink, paper-wrapped, two-pound, would-be venison feasts all grow from seeds sown right in the bottom of my freezer!

The lone requirement is for one to grow to two-pound maturity before plucking. I have venison sausage seeds, cube steak seeds, burger, jerky, a wide variety, ready to plant. 

And yeah, it’s a big freezer. (I ain’t giving up my rights to the aforementioned fun stuff. Whacking whitetails into chunks is an enjoyable part of the process. I prefer to perpetuate ignorant bliss…)

So when Bubba and Goober get hongry and ask if my freezer has been properly fertilized, I go check and see. Only to discover that it is indeed January—and time to go watch deer.

Strangely enough, I can’t see the seed on the bottom, hidden by mature meat on top. But this is my freezer, not theirs. And while they may not know whitetail from blacktail, they are absolute masters of devouring venison.

OK, so that’s one reason to crawl from under the covers…

Another is the whitetail itself.

Cussed, uncooperative creature. Consider: all I want is A deer. ONE. THE. And I know exactly where he hangs out.

All night.

His brethren and sistren do, too. And they figure the coast is clear for them; yeah, they can ramble around me daylight til dusk without fear of any sudden tree-side thunderclaps. Because I’m holding out.

Which is pretty much the rule. But then, as we all know and whitetails don’t seem to, every rule has exceptions.

Take, for instance, the big 8-pointer that came cruising in the second week of last month.

I did.

He might not have been THE deer, but on the other hand, I was testing a theory that I’ve only proven  about a hundred times over the years, so the jury’s still out: bucks visit scrapes.

Think so? Well, I’ve seen it happen before, and since there had been a female hanging out and peeing in this particular paw mark for 20 minutes, my chances looked pretty good. She appeared to be a right smart of a hussy, so with no roses or candy or nothing, he popped out of the gallberries, striding right up with apparently dishonorable intentions. 

Problem is, my rifle is old and prudish, despairing of witnessing X-rated activity no matter how deep in the woods we happen to be.

The buck fell IN the scrape. That  has been factored into my study.

The doe? About Oregon by now.

Exception No. 2: shut up.

The week following the 8-point encounter, 10 a.m. on the dot and about to start easing my climber down, I glanced downward to snap in the rifle strap bottom. Directly under my boots, a flop-eared old nanny walked out. She might as well have sprung up out of the ground! If you dropped a plumb line, it would have hit her right in the brainbox, but neither of us knew the other was in the world until that instant. Twenty feet behind me is a creek; where she came from, I will never know. Never heard or saw her. But that’s who whitetails are, and that’s what they do. Fascinating…

She walked out into the brilliant sun and glowed like a new penny, browsing on acorns for maybe 10 minutes before easing out of the picture. It was one that will stay with me for years. You understand.

As gorgeous as she was, I still haven’t figured out why there wasn’t some wide-racked boyfriend hot on her heels. Guess they go for the hussies…

Scenes like that are why I tend not to shoot does before December. But every season there seems to be that one ornery old gal…

Want to walk away and never even know I was up that tree? 

Do. Not. Blow. At. Me.

OK, so you busted me. Big deal. Your kinfolk have been doing that on this place for 30 years. The smart ones knew to simply drop the subject and slip on about their business.

Then there was your lineage: stomp like a marching band leader at halftime, and accompany it with the whistling wheeze of a 400-lb. tuba player who smokes Camels!

I got some excellent cough drops for that wheeze. 165 grain. Guaranteed. And if you want a dose right between the nostrils, just keep it up. By the way, I ain’t forgot that little 5-pointer from last year that pulled the same stunt. I was sitting on a thick, fallen tree, and he slipped in from behind. Let everything in three counties know the whole deal. Saw him this year, but he still ain’t worth burning a tag over. Unless he blows again; if so, I got seed to plant.


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