Hunting and Gathering

I grew up in South Arkansas where hunting wasn’t just recreational, it was a way of life. I remember getting up in the cold dark of early morning and watching my Dad pull on his camo and bright orange over long johns, his gun laying across the couch. (Although Mom put a kibosh on him hunting on holidays when one Thanksgiving dinner sat cold and uneaten for SEVERAL hours while a deer was cleaned.) When he got his first kill every deer season, he would come pull my sisters and I out of class to see it, laying in the back of his truck (inevitably with it’s tongue sticking out).  It was not uncommon for a deer to be hanging from the rafters of his workshop in the backyard. And yes, I have had deer blood on me. Not often – I helped skin squirrels more often than I helped clean deer (and skinning squirrels? Is GROSS. I’d much rather clean a deer). But it was just a part of life. Dad hunted in the fall/winter, we ate venison year round.

Hunting is a pretty big deal around here too. My husband grew up here. And he’s comfortable with guns; in fact, he’s an excellent shot. But he was not a  hunter. Until this year. He jumped through all the hoops and joined some friends for a 5 day camping/hunting trip. I was excited that he had the opportunity to go…not so much because he was hunting but because he has some good solid friends in his life and I like that he has the opportunity to spend time with them. It doesn’t seem that close friendships are necessarily common with men. And I know that those relationships look nothing like the close friendships of women. Seriously. Men are strange creatures. But I’m happy to encourage those positive relationships in his life when I can. So I mentioned a few times that I didn’t care if he came home with a deer or not. I just wanted him to have fun. And I meant it 110%.

And then this happened:

firstkill

He called me Friday to let me know he’d gotten his deer and I was SO RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED for him. He sounded so tired but happy and the phone call just made my entire weekend. A couple of the guys came home early so Sunday before mine got home, I was talking to one of them that helped spot Jon’s kill and carry it out. He excitedly told me the story from his point of view, exclaiming that my husband made the perfect shot. And I was suddenly swelling with pride. I KNOW my husband is a good shot. But there’s something about using that skill to drop an animal and put meat on the table that is very appealing.

This is now one of my favorite pictures. For one – I love that grin. I would not have been at all disappointed if he didn’t get anything. I would have been perfectly happy if he just had a good week with friends. But I don’t know. There’s something very sexy about my hunter man.

(I understand not everyone will understand the appeal of this and some might find it downright disgusting and/or offensive. But it is so completely normal to me. The hunts are controlled and seriously, we will be eating this meat for most of a year.)

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