A Preamble to Venison Stew

Following any good recipe for stew, make a stew.  Use venison instead of some other meat.  Properly aged tender cuts are preferable over gristle and bone.

Unless you are a complete idiot or hopeless infidel, make some cornbread to serve with the stew.  People who do not eat cornbread will not go to Heaven.  Do not put sugar in the cornmeal: use buttermilk.

You can purchase the vegetable ingredients for stew at a grocery store.  The mix can vary, but without potatoes, onions, carrots and celery, you might want to name the dish something other than “stew”.

Instead of a store, you can sometimes get the vegetables fresh from your garden seasonally.  Sometimes, you can get your venison there, too.  I’ve never had such luck.

For the benefit of novices, here is an account of how I harvested my venison this season:

Last Thursday morning in a patch of woods isolated in rural South Georgia several miles past where sane people go, a group of deer walked into a small clearing near my stand without making a sound.  The sound of my snoring didn’t seem to bother them. They were so quiet, it’s a wonder I even woke up at all!

They were all standing upright on all fours; not crawling on their bellies like they do down in the Florida Keys.  Had they been crawling, or doing some other kind of Ninja crap, they might’ve gotten by me altogether.

Now, both left handed and right handed hunters know that deer always come out on the side opposite from the easy shot.  It must be some kind of a law.  Being left handed, my rifle points naturally to the right.  The deer, of course, came out on my far left side.  I had been forewarned of that.

The stand belonged to a friend of mine who spends a lot of time in those woods, and knew exactly where the deer were likely to cross the path.  He has studied it.  He has studied many things, and holds more degrees than a thermometer.  After he explained the setting, I knew the deer were gonna come at me from the wrong side, but I didn’t complain: I didn’t want to seem ungrateful to my host.

I’ve observed him, and he seldom uses his left hand for anything unless he has severely injured the right one.  Over the years, he has injured both hands many times due to a sincere love of ladders and carpentry.

Well, the deer were on my wrong side, so I tried to swivel around enough to take aim.  It is fair to say, that kind of flexibility left me years ago.  Risking movement that might spook them, I finally stood up in the stand (which validates the name: “stand”.  Heretofore, I was just sitting on it).  Trying not to curse too loudly or lose balance and fall to my certain death, I stood facing the tree in order to have any kind of a shot at all.

Timing is crucial.  Those of you my age or older will understand that it is at these very moments your body announces it is overdue for a trip to the bathroom.  Only the stalwart and strong of character like me will be able to overcome the squirming and discomfort; others should stay at home.

Well, there were several deer out there, and I knew I didn’t have much time to be selective.  Any moment, they would spot me and disappear just as quickly as they had appeared, or else I would wet myself.  Finally, one of the does politely stepped a quarter turn forward and raised her hand when I yelled out:

“Hey!  Who’s turn is it?”

Since the others didn’t argue, I let her have her turn.  In spite of my well-placed shot, she ran over 300 yards through vines, thicket, bramble, and cat-claw briers covering well traveled deer trails I could barely crawl through, much less go in on a 4-wheeler.  Her path took me deeper into the woods, and further away from the truck as you might have guessed.  The U.S. Marines should study the stamina & tactics of these animals!  Parris Island certainly has the landscape for it.

After a lot of huffing, and grunting, and puffing, I was able to drag her to a more comfortable spot for her autopsy and funeral.  She was no small thing–quite mature and weighed at least as much as I did.  She had the thickest fat I’ve ever seen on a deer–no doubt she’d been in somebody’s corn, soybeans, and/or peanuts–white acorns don’t make you that fat.  If she’d weighed another pound, I think I would’ve just built a fire and eaten her where I found her!

After dragging her the length of a few football fields, I was too winded to give her a long eulogy.  Luckily, my knife was sharp enough, and my host helped me-doing most of the work himself, so it didn’t take too long.  It would’ve been even quicker if I can ever learn to focus more on cutting the deer than cutting my fingers!  My host watched me cut myself, but didn’t protest having no moral ground to stand on in his own history.

Earlier, I made the comparison of distances referencing to football fields.  That calls for the comparison of my hunt to the game of football itself.  The white tailed deer outran me by significant yardage, but the final score during the last game of the season was:

Me  —one; Deer—nothing.

The rest of the season was completely scoreless without highlights, except for me sitting in a tree snoring while deer stacked up yardage but no points.  I suspect it has limited appeal as a spectator sport.  The strategy is to not let your opponents even know you are on the field, then hit ‘em when they are not looking!  Kinda reminds me of politics.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by R & K on January 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

    (From e-mail) Enjoyed. You do a good job of telling a story. Don’t kill anymore deer. Take a picture.


  2. Posted by WDP(F on January 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    (From e-mail) Good story, van


  3. Posted by Mason Brown on January 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I’m glad you had some fun bonding time with your friend. Sad someone had to die though.


  4. Posted by Betty on January 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Think I’ll have a “deerburger” for supper!


  5. Posted by Big Pine Mick on January 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

    I’ll give you an A on th cornbread statement, an A on the stew recipe, now, as for Key deer crawling on their bellies like reptiles, no, no , no -they swim from island to island using the basic crawl stroke, but they walk and run and do other things that deer do just like their more northern cousins, they enjoy feasting on hibiscus flowers, prefer red over other colors, if one were to have a notion of “harvesting” a Key deer, one would not need a stand, perhaps a bat or a hammer and a handful of flowers – however, it must me noted that taking a Key deer is about the same as blaspheming Allah in Iran/Iraq or any of those places where women wear masks and men wear old rags on their heads- so Be Careful!!!


  6. Posted by RVB on January 12, 2011 at 1:11 am

    (From e-mail) You should add a comment that says, “Actual animals were harmed in the making of this story.” It’s very anti-politically correct. I like that.


  7. Posted by David Alexander on January 12, 2011 at 3:12 am

    “Instead of a store, you can sometimes get the vegetables fresh from your garden seasonally. Sometimes, you can get your venison there, too.” If you have not had the pleasure of living in the country and also attempting to grow vegetables there, you cannot truly appreciate the significance of these lines. I remember one old-timer back home in upstate New York explaining with a very thick German accent how he, after attempting to scare a deer from his garden, had to conceal incriminating evidence in his freezer because his shotgun had inadvertently been loaded with slugs instead of birdshot. Great story, Van.


  8. Posted by Wayne Casasanta on January 13, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Van, my grandfather took me on a Big Game Hunt for rabbits and squirls, when I was a young teenager, but since then, my “hunting” has been primarily done at the Beacon. You have to be very quiet, while sneaking up on a hash sandwich. However, your account of your hunting experience causes me to recommend for you to consider a career as the “expert” hunter on a televised Outdoor Big Game show. Your commentary and insight of the professional hunters’ techniques would be much more entertaining that the current shows of that kind. Also, you could have Depends as your sponsor and introduce the camouflage Depends, as an important part of your clothing.


  9. Posted by Marlene Humberd on November 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    LOL , Mr. Brown – Twain! Our yard guy and a former student of mine called the other day and said, ” Don’t be surprised if you see me wandering through your fields in a little while .” Seems he shot a deer on the farm behind us where he has a stand ( no hunting allowed on our place ) , and the deer ran away towards our farm . He was gonna hike over and look for it , but first he was going over to Ocoee Dam Deli to eat breakfast . Now , that’s a dedicated hunter! LOL !~ Just give me the taters and cornbread , Van … can’t eat Bambi ! ; )


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