December 23, 2011 § 5 Comments

On Monday I spotted a road-killed deer along Interstate 91. I knew I should pass it by; it was 8:00 AM, and I was headed to Massachusetts to do some interviews for a magazine story I’m working on. I knew the deer would be in the car for at least a dozen hours, and I knew that Penny’s parents were arriving early the next afternoon for a three day visit, and I knew that the house was a disaster of epic proportions and I knew that I would arrive home that night road-weary and grumpy. I knew it would be stupid to pick up that deer.

Naturally, I hit the brakes.

It was a nice deer, a doe carrying a winter’s worth of back fat on her slender legs, all four of which had been shattered by the impact. I pried and wedged her into the back of the Subaru; a few miles down the road, I stopped for a couple bags of ice and then continued on my way. Every so often, I’d glance in the rear view mirror and see her feet protruding over the backseat headrests. For some reason, this sight confirmed to me that I’d made the right decision.

The next morning, we let the boys go at the deer. They’d been wanting to butcher a large animal, having paid their dues on squirrels and chickens aplenty, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I hung the deer from the bucket of the tractor, sharpened the butchering knives, and left them to the task. They built a small fire over which to warm themselves and roast bits of meat and stayed at it for nearly three hours straight. By the time they drove off with Penny to retrieve their grandparents at the bus station, the deer had been reduced to primal cuts, and I was left with only the final processing and cleanup.

In the big picture, I suspect it doesn’t matter a bit whether or not I made use of that deer. It could just as easily have been left to rot at the side of the road, another victim of our culture’s self-serving choice in transportation. It would have fed a few birds, rather than us, and one could argue that this would have been a more appropriate use of its gifts. After all, we don’t particularly need the meat, though we’ll find ways to share it with those that do. To the deer, struck dead by two tons of metal and rubber, there is no preference. Everything that mattered – abundant browse, surviving winter, a fawn by its side come spring – ceased upon impact.

So I’m left with the inescapable conclusion that my satisfaction in having pulled that deer from the frozen shoulder of the interstate, in watching my boys apply themselves so completely, enthusiastically, and skillfully to the task of dressing it, in slipping the packages of venison in the freezer, in the smell of the simmering bone broth that wafted through the house for the next two days, is both self-serving and naively righteous.

But then again: When is it ever different?








Tagged: , , ,

§ 5 Responses to Satisfaction

  • Vonnie says:

    I’d of not wanted to pass it up, either…waste not, want not! Happy Holidays to you and your family, Ben. I hope the new year brings you more happiness and a new book deal. ~Vonnie

  • Jean says:

    Bravo! I agree, waste not, want not. ~Jean

  • The thrill of the hunt for my youngest (8 or 9 at the time) was the privilege of donating his shoelace to “tie off the pooper” for field dressing. Your children are far more advanced than mine at that age. They could dress out a rabbit or goose but never had a chance to do anything as large as a deer.

    This was a shocking story to read. In Washington State we would have been fined big money and possibly lost our guns and maybe the vehicle the animal was hauled in for taking it without a proper tag and license. In addition we would probably be banned from hunting. Washington deer belong to the state and you must pay your fee to the queen to even think about taking one of her creatures.

    Vermont has it right… then again we have a bad poaching problem.
    Great story!

  • WAIT…..did you also take her across a state line and not get in trouble? I am impressed.

  • chad says:

    Yea, I too, am wondering about the legality of this. I would do this countless times here in rural Alberta, Canada, if it weren’t for fear of some type of prosecution.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Satisfaction at Ben Hewitt.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 890 other followers