It was just a week before opening day of Deer Season 2010 when Summer Volunteers Patrick McCune and Brian Jensen got the “OK” from Marvin McNew, (Interpretive Specialist for the Upper Wabash Interpretive Services) to prepare and serve the traditional, annual breakfast/lunch (brunch) to the deer hunters located at 9214 W. Lost Bridge West, Andrews, Indiana, commonly known as the Salamonie Reservoir Nature Center.
Marvin started the tradition many years ago and it has been a popular event for the cold hungry deer hunters in the area to come out of the woods, grab a bite to eat (free), use an indoor restroom, and go back out into the wilds in pursuit of the wary whitetail.
Sometimes the meal might be ham, beans, & cornbread, or like this time, all you could eat pancakes, butter, syrup, link sausages, coffee, tea, cocoa, and juice. Though the meal is advertised to be free, there is always a donation can in case a hunter would like to help the nature center defray the cost of the meal. Even at a dollar or two donation, an ALYCE meal is a bargain AND like I always say, “I don’t have to do any cookin’.”
Pat and Brian were assisted by Pat’s brother Michael McCune, who got roped into mixing and cooking ‘lots’ of delicious, light pancakes after he said, “Let me know if I can help.” Needless to say, these three generous volunteers missed opening day of deer season 2010 just to prepare the meal and to make sure the annual tradition did not die due to lack of volunteer participants. In 2009 the center served over 75 hungry hunters. This year the count was 40-plus hunters but the count was low due to the fact that brochures and announcements were only posted about a week before opening day and not a month or two in advance like in the past. Next year the plan is to get the word out early through announcements in such publications as The Gad-A-Bout outdoor magazine, MidWest Outdoors magazine, The Waynedale News, and bulletin boards in local trading posts and bait shops in the area.
I want to congratulate and thank these three guys not only because they volunteered their hunting time to prepare and serve this delicious meal for the cold hungry hunters but for (as Paul Harvey would say) “THE REST OF THE STORY.”
I got up early that morning, got in my Chevy Blazer, drove to the nearest check-in station, signed in, and headed for my favorite area to hunt.
I parked in the area parking lot, walked to my favorite tree, raked away this last year’s accumulation of leaves down to the bare earth, put my hunting bucket beside the tree, sat down, and nibbled on a candy bar for breakfast. I took a drink of water to wash it down, wishing it were coffee, even cold coffee, and then I settled down for that long wait. Deer hunting has been described as long boring periods of waiting interrupted by seconds of heart pounding shear terror known as buck fever when you aim your weapon for that kill.
My moment came and I killed my first buck in 7 years of what I call dry hunting. It was a clean, one shot in the neck kill; I dropped the 9-point buck at 50 yards with my Mossberg 12-gauge using a Remington (3-inch magnum) rifled slug. I waited for 20-minutes like always to make sure he wasn’t just unconscious and not dead. There is nothing worse than walking up to a downed deer and have it get up and charge you or take off in the opposite direction showing you his famous white flag; I call this getting deer mooned and it’s a bad, sad feeling.
Back to the rest of the story; I looked at my watch; it was 9:00 o’clock. I called my son Patrick from my cell phone and said, “I’ve got a 10-point down.” I had guessed the size of the rack; I was a little shaken to be specific). Since he knew what area I hunt in, he said, “We’ll be there shortly.” I didn’t argue since they think that after 70 years I needed help to get the deer out of the woods; I appreciated it.
I dragged the buck over to the access road, sat down on my bucket, took a drink of water, and waited. All three of them had come, stopped at my Blazer, got my 2-wheeled deer cart, and headed to where I was waiting. They strapped the deer on the cart and headed for the parking lot. They even carried my gun and bucket out for me. They knew how to help the ‘old man’ who I tell everyone, “. . . has to show them how it’s done from time to time.”
These guys did this ‘before’ they had to prepare and serve breakfast, which was to start at 11:00 AM. They just made it in time. I checked the deer in at D & J’s Grocery at the corner of 9 and 124 and then drove to Deer Track (our private campground), hung the buck on the tripod meat pole in back of the shed, gutted it, took the gut pile out into the field for the coyotes, washed up, and headed to get my breakfast and some hot coffee at the nature center. It was a good morning, yessir, a very good morning.
I hope you had a good and successful hunting season. I have some good recipes for the deer meat I just put in the freezer and I’m sharing a couple of then with you in my Kampfire Kookin’ column located elsewhere on this page.