Once upon a time before we decided to move to Vermont and I decided that I wanted to hunt my own deer, my husband and I used to drive about five hours north of where we lived in southeastern Michigan so he could hunt on his family’s rural property. This property was purchased by his grandfather back when his dad was a kid and it was the place in northern Michigan that he visited throughout his entire childhood.
One morning, I was drinking coffee, waiting for either the sound of his rifle (meaning he got his deer) or the crunch of his footsteps as he walked up the path to the cabin door so we could eat breakfast. I’d brought a book up with me, but finished it the night before, and was looking around the cabin for something to read. Countless hunting magazines were piled on one side of the coffee table and an ancient copy of Thoreau’s Walden was wedged beside the small lamp on the bedside table, but neither caught my interest. Instead, I picked up the handy field dressing guide that sat squarely on the kitchen counter and proceeded to have my own form of education — one that was quite vivid for me at that time as I was a recovering vegetarian and only just getting into eating the wild game that my husband hunted.
Flash forward to today when I brought this story up with my husband while our almost 6-year-old sat beside us at breakfast (must be a breakfast sort of topic), and she asked, “What does it mean to field dress?” Luckily, I know that field dressing is important to help lower body temperature in order to preserve meat and prevent bacteria as well as maintain the overall quality of the meat. And luckily, my daughter seems to have a fairly good understanding of where food comes from, so she accepted this explanation and we all returned to the eggs we were eating (courtesy of our own chickens!).
The irony is that now I hope that I get that far into this adventure that field dressing is a task that I do myself (all right, along with the help of my knowledgeable husband) because it means that I GOT A DEER. Maybe field dressing isn’t pretty, but it’s necessary. I’ve come a long way from that morning in a small cabin in Northern Michigan.
And so far, it’s been such a fun and educating experience.
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