I confess to growing wearisome of the same ol’ store-bought meats. I was raised in a hunting and fishing family, and I learned about the wonderful variety of meats available to hunters but not generally available to nonhunters. It’s time to take to the field and bring home some variety for the dining table.
Our game species are carefully managed to maintain balanced and sustainable populations. Too many critters, and a predation problem develops. Too few, and a species needs our help to recover. Hunting is a tool used by game managers to keep the balance of nature healthy. Hunting is also a tradition of camaraderie, and teaches us good lessons by getting us up close and personal with the natural order.
Some lessons just have to be learned the hard way. I recall taking a good-size buck and lugging it back to camp. I thought I was going to die! I had considered the problems involved and decided to hunt at a higher elevation than camp, since it was going to be hard work to get a buck back to camp.
The problem is, deer hunting is most often done in areas where there are lots of canyons and ridges. While the net elevation difference seemed reasonable because I took the buck only 500 feet higher than our camp, the reality was that I and a hunting companion had many ridges to haul that buck over. We could have halved or quartered it and made multiple trips, but I guess we were just too stubborn.
Problems tend to balance out, though, because while enjoying many fine meals of roasts, steaks, venison stew and sausage, we had opportunities to tell the stories over and over again. The telling of those stories made our travails seem worthy and worthwhile.
Cottontail rabbit season has been open for a while, and bird seasons are opening, as are deer and other various seasons. This is the time of year that hundreds of hunters in our community and many more hundreds of their family members wait for eagerly.
We have some culinary variety to anticipate, some great times to share with other hunters, good stories to tell, and best of all, the opportunity to go out in nature and appreciate it all. Perhaps the most rewarding of all is to pass on the lore, skills and knowledge to the next generation.
Before heading out on a great hunting adventure, be sure to carefully check your weapons and hunting gear. Stop by a local gun shop for supplies and advice. Maybe take a drive to a range to get in some practice shots. It is also wise to stop by or call the Forest Service headquarters to find out about current firearms closure areas and emergency closures because of fire hazard. We have a lot of burnable fuel out there this year because of the big rains we got earlier, so extra precautions are appropriate.
Before a hunting license can be obtained, it is necessary to take a California hunter safety course. My daddy was a hunter safety course instructor, so I was fortunate to have plenty of training. These course instructors do a great job of helping people understand the importance of safety in the field.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.