Thursday, November 17, 2005


I hated the notion of deer hunting, but had no choice but to participate. My choices were limited by my age and general unwillingness to confront my father about such things. They were also limited because our family relied upon venison to eat throughout the long Michigan winters.

A bricklayer in Michigan, during the recession hit economies of the 70's, did not get much work in the winters. My father scraped together some "inside" work, such as the building of the occasional stone fireplace, but most of the family's income came from running snowplows to clear driveways, parking lots, and the like. This meant that an icebox full of venison was not only desired, but necessary. With a family our size, this meant that more than one deer would be needed to get through the winter, especially when some variation of venison was served for dinner each and every day of the week. I mention this not to claim that our family suffered, but to emphasize that the avoidance of deer hunting was not an option, at least not under those circumstances.

I am not a vegetarian, nor am I anti-hunting. I was not and am not, however, temperamentally suited to hunting. I hunted only begrudgingly, because that was what was expected, and I managed to keep my ill-formed and adolescent opinions on this subject to myself. I may not be anti-hunting, but I can confirm that I am anti-venison. I haven't tasted venison in roughly 25 years, nor do I ever (willingly) plan to do so.

All of which makes more ironic the fact that the most poignant memories I have of my father involve the thick woods and crackling autumn leaves that blanketed his favorite deer hunting stands--including, it turns out, the very last time we were ever together.