March 20 marked spring equinox. That’s defined as the day when the hours of daylight and nighttime are approximately equal. Strangely enough, that same equilibrium holds true for my freezer. There’s as much empty space now as there is full. That’s typical around here in March.
A quick inventory showed that my freezer contains two grouse, a fair bit of venison, as well as a few wood ducks and mallards harvested last fall. There are also seven packages of bear sausage and half a turkey breast taken from hunts last spring. The lake trout was finished last week.
There’s still plenty there, but our wild game stock is starting to decline. From here on in, the empty spaces will get larger, unless, of course, the hunting and fishing that starts this spring changes that.
The contents of a hunter’s freezer cycles with the seasons. For me, and perhaps you too, there’s a certain pride that accompanies that thought. There’s also a comfort in knowing that you hunted the food you consume. Each bite seasoned with the memory of good places; each meal made more special by the effort that brought it home.
Of course, we do not do this because we have to. In fact, we often augment our wild game with some chicken, seafood, and pork to vary our diet a bit more. It’s a concession to my family’s wishes – I could do without.
But, for the most part, we eat wild meat far more often than not. As a result I can literally say it is part of who I am. I feel blessed to be able to say that.
In a little over a month, I’ll be sitting in the turkey woods once again with call in hand, shotgun across my lap, and hope pulsating through this joyous, middle-aged heart. After that there will be time in a bear stand, where the thoughts are solemn and the silence profound.
Scattered between those two experiences will be a few days where I get to stand waist deep in a relentless river and high-stick nymphs or swing streamers to lively brook trout. Oh, I’ve scheduled time for a canoe trip too with days that will end in magical campfires, brilliant stars, cool nights and warm sleeping bags.
If all these things work out as planned, I’ll begin to fill the freezer once again or at least have a good time trying.
I love the cycle of the seasons. I’m a hunter – it’s in my blood.