Monday, November 28, 2005

Deer season in Buckingham 

It is deer season in Virginia (and elsewhere I suppose). I've read numerous articles about the decline in hunting across the country. If you were driving around Buckingham County this weekend there was little evidence that this pastime is in danger of fading away in Central Virginia. Every bend in the road revealed parked pickups along the edge of the woods, often accompanied by men in blaze orange holding their rifles.

I am not a hunter myself, but have granted permission to a local hunting club to hunt deer in my acreage. My grandmother started this practice in her late 80s, when she was approached by representives of the self-dubbed Bellroad Boys. She granted permission on the reasoning that developing a good relationship with the local hunters might be a good idea for an 87 year old woman living alone in the woods. It was a decision that paid her many dividends, as the Bellroad Boys made themselves available to her anytime she needed work done around the house (and kept her supplied with venison).

I remember when a large tree began leaning and threatening her barn. One quick call produced four truck loads of men wielding axes and chainsaws. One of them climbed the tree and attached a rope that allowed them the guide the tree's fall so it missed the barn by about 25 feet. Within an hour the tree had been cut up and split into firewood and the brush hauled off to the burn pile.

I maintained the arrangement after she died, partly on the same logic, but also because I was then the absentee owner of a vacant house and appreciated having the local "boys" (ranging in age from 15 to 66) keeping an eye on my place. And, frankly, I think everyone is better served if the deer herd is culled with guns rather than cars. I've never had any problems with the group, who treat the woods with respect. From time to time I am graced with small gifts, which in addition to venison have included mason jars of moonshine, occasional labor, and when my grandmother died, a poinsettia and a bag of fried chicken.

We were down at the house over the weekend. Friday night we ate venison chile which I had prepared and frozen from last year's contribution, and shortly after finishing it up we were surprised by headlights in the drive. I went out back and it was one of the Bellroad Boys with five pounds of fresh tenderloin, which I gratefully accepted.

The meat will go into the freezer for now. There is more than enough to make more chile, but we'll be working on some other recipes as well. There are many interesting recipes to be found on line, such as this one (below). Of course if anyone out there has any favorites, bring them on!

Spicy Hearty Venison Stew

1 pound venison, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 can chicken broth
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, cut into chunks with liquid
1/2 large bell pepper, diced
8 medium mushrooms, cut into quarters
3 medium onions, cut into wedges
2 medium carrots, cut into bite size chunks
1 small rutabaga or parsnip, diced
1/4 teaspoon gumbo file
2 medium bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Brown venison in dutch oven with olive oil, Tabasco, worcestershire and garlic. When browned, add vegetable and other ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. Serve in bowls over steamed or buttered noodles. This is an excellent pick-me-up, warming meal, for cold winter days.


By Blogger Frank Borger, at Mon Nov 28, 12:14:00 PM:

I now reside in the far se of Wisconsin, (just north of the Illinois line.)

In this area, close encounters of the herd kind are quite common, to the point that there are roads I try to avoid at dawn and dusk. I'd much rather have human hunters replace the now gone predators, rather that vehicles. (Those dang deer never stop for stop signs, never signal their turns, and even Rudolph never has his lights on.)

I'd also suggest looking up recipies for venison chili. Yum!  

By Blogger Solomon2, at Mon Nov 28, 04:04:00 PM:

I live in Montgomery County, Md., and I wish we could have more hunters in my area. But they would have to be very skilled shots, because it's all ¼- to ½-acre lots!  

By Blogger viking kaj, at Tue Nov 29, 03:45:00 AM:

Good thing you don't live in Princeton township. When they had a hearing several years ago the PETA people showed up to complain about the supervisor's plan to cull the herd with snipers. If we recall correctly there were something like 900 car deer accidents a year due to the lack of hunters in NJ. Seems PETA thinks that a sure shot with swift bullet is less ethical than a potentially crippling encounter with a toyota camry. Go figure.  

By Anonymous BIRDZILLA, at Tue Nov 29, 04:29:00 PM:

All the deer hunting realy upsets the holywood freaks and animal rights wussies becuase it to them is killing bambi what a buch of idiots i mean venison is great stuff just ask TED NUGENT he and his wife have come out with agreat gookbook KILL IT AND GRILL IT  

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