My husband, Daniel, had a busy week. After putting in 12-hour days in his shop, he eagerly anticipated opening morning of shotgun season. To those of you who are not deer hunters and don’t care for hunting stories, hang in there; I am not a deer hunter either. But I look at this as a great opportunity to spend quality time with my husband.
With us running low on venison, our main source of meat, we were anxious to see if he could fill his deer tags. As you may remember from my column a couple of weeks ago, Daniel did land one buck but we gave the meat to someone in our church who needed it. Now the hunting was focused on replenishing our meat supply.
We have a family tradition of us ladies joining our husbands on the first morning of deer season. A big “thank you” to my mother who babysits for us so we can have this time together.
The morning dawn was cool and crisp with temperatures dropping into the 30s. Our two-mile journey to the woods where we planned to hunt was chilly, yet beautiful, as stars twinkled by the millions.
As we neared our destination, Daniel noticed, of all things, a truck parked exactly where we were going to go. Hmmmm, what now? Likely this other person also had permission to hunt on this property.
“We don’t want to upset him,” Daniel said, turning around and heading back out the driveway.
“What are we going to do now?” I queried.
“We have two other options,” Daniel responded. “But I don’t know which one to choose. Let’s stop and pause for a moment of prayer to ask God for direction. After prayer, I am going to hold out my right and left hand. They both represent a different hunting spot. Then we’ll just go with the one you pick.”
Immediately after prayer, I reached for his left hand, which turned out to be the “west location.” We didn’t have a clue as to how our day would turn out but were positive God was in control.
Upon arriving at our destination, we hurriedly got ready for our trek through the woods. Daniel helped me slip a climber tree stand onto my back and, with Daniel carrying his gun, we stealthily made our way to a nice straight tree which seemed practical for our climbers. For those who might wonder, I wore my traditional Amish dress while going out into the woods, which makes it a bit challenging to go through the tall weeds and briars. Daniel’s denim is perfect for that — it goes right through — but a dress is more challenging.
Using a climber was a first for me. Daniel did a great job assisting me and soon we were both settled into our climbers side by side. Thanks to my husband being an early bird and our various delays, we still had seven minutes before the season opened.
Daylight was fast approaching when I urgently whispered: “There’s a deer! It’s over there on the edge of the woods near the oil pump!”
Daniel scanned the area. His eyes are normally quick to pick up wildlife, but he simply couldn’t see the deer.
“Are you sure it’s deer?” he asked.
“Yes, there’s one or maybe even two!” I said excitedly.
A few minutes later, I began doubting my eyes. Now wait a minute … oh … maybe it’s not a deer after all. I was aghast at my misjudgment. I had seen the shape of a deer’s head moving along with other movement right behind it. A closer look proved the “deer” to only be part of the oil well.
“That’s OK,” he patiently told me.
An hour passed. I was getting ready to snack on our mixed nuts and pumpkin latte we had brought along. We had a wonderful time together as we snacked and reminisced of past opening mornings spent together.
Several more hours passed and it seemed there couldn’t possibly be any deer in our neck of the woods when Daniel turned to the right and whispered, “Over here!” Sure enough, a nice-sized buck was ambling in our direction.
“Let me know before you shoot,” I whispered.
“I’m going to shoot if I get a chance,” Daniel replied.
I plugged my ears with my fingers. I simply don’t care for loud, surprise shots at all.
“This is crazy,” I thought. “If Daniel whispers something to me, I’ll never hear him.”
So I put my hands down and several seconds later there was a mighty boom and the buck fell with a single shot.
“Praise the Lord,” we both cheered, grateful that we would be able to stock up on homemade deer bologna and deer hamburger.
We helped one another drag it to the trailer and load it up. Together we made excellent memories once more.
It was 11 a.m. when we returned to Mom’s. I almost couldn’t wait to see 12-month-old Austin. Being a stay-at-home mom, this was the first time I had left him with a babysitter for that long. As of now, it is 3:20 p.m. and I am still at Mom and Dad’s, stretched out on the couch writing about our day.
Tonight we’ll be here for our traditional “first day of shotgun season supper.” Everyone takes their turn relating their deer stories as we sit around the table enjoying a meal of apple dumplings and deer heart. I need to get started with the apple dumplings. Have you ever tried any? They require only basic ingredients.
2 cups of flour
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup Crisco (I use lard)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
¼ cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Mix first four ingredients until crumbly. Beat milk and egg together and pour needed amount in flour mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together.
Roll dough out onto a floured surface and cut into six squares. Place a peeled and cored apple half onto a dough square. Fill cavity of apples with cinnamon mixture. Wrap apple half with dough and pinch shut. Place into a cake pan. Pour caramel sauce over the top and bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until apples are tender.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write to Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish, go to www.amish365.com.