Thursday, December 03, 2015

deer yard

* * *

So Jim Daher is the husband of my friend, YA writer Anita Daher. I've spent time with Jimmy over the last few years because spouses now get invited along to what had been a small group of women writers who went regularly for dim sum.

So the first thing I learned about Jim was that he was good a sulking over missed dim sum. Over time, I learned that Jimmy also likes physics, bourbon, and deerhunting. I've been at their house and had Jim's excellent moosemeat chili and deer sausage.

And so, when I decided to try to walk the forest only on its deerpaths last week for an essay I'm writing, I thought it might be useful to bring Jim along. He'd just returned from his annual deer hunt a week or so before and had been posting bloody pictures from the hunt and the post-hunt process of making deer into neat packages of meat to FB.

I told him to wear what he'd normally have on to hunt. "Face paint and everything??" he replied.

I said that that might be a bit too far. When he showed up at Assiniboine Forest, a few days later, he'd chosen not to wear his orange vest either, but everything else was from his hunting kit.

He held out his hands: "Look, my gloves still have deer blood on them."

We tramped around for two hours, following deer paths, both new and well-used. Which meant lots of up-and-over fallen logs, plowing through tall grasses, and making our way between trees in dense patches of woods.

We talked about how deer use space. We talked about how he uses that information to hunt them. We talked about how he fills and empties his freezer every year with deer meat. About what he's not interested in hunting.

We didn't see a single other person on our walk, but we did find deerbeds, piles of pellets, and then, two does and a buck, munching on grasses. We got very close to the deer: probably the closest I've ever been. (Jim muttered that it was a four-point buck and something about kill shots....)

The most surprising thing in that space was the large number 'rabbit highways,' as Jim called them, narrow but well-used paths. (Considering it had just snowed the night before, these were especially surprising...)

As we made our way back to our cars, we followed the well-established deer path that parallels Grant Avenue, the deer waiting to cross the street or even just avoiding traffic.

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