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29th of September

The Rut and the Pumpkin Guns


‘Tis the season for fall hunting . . .

Fla la la la la . . .

La la la . . .


The talk has begun.

In the grocery line Thursday, Judy VanderVelst tells me with a sigh how she’s about to become a widow.  Not that she’s planning on killing her husband or anything.  It’s just that up here in Wisconsin, we women become widows during hunting season where even kids are permitted a mass exodus from school in order to grab their guns and go “nort” (that’s the way many pronounce one of the cardinal points  around here.  I am not from here so I still end the word with a proper /th/).

I learned about the Wisconsin mass male exodus real fast in 1996 when we moved N-O-R-T-H from the land of civilization, Chicago, and was aghast to see six big bucks hanging from a ladder propped up against a tree, bleeding out on the grass—a mass killing, no doubt, since I’ve learned one cannot possibly get that many deer tags in one season.  Then, on our way to church, I glanced to my right from the passenger seat and, no kidding, a buck was hanging from some kid’s basketball hoop with a garbage can underneath to catch “the flow”! Nauseating.

The night before, I had an elegant dinner of what was supposed to be stuffed and roasted capon.  (That’s right—a castrated rooster!  And how does one castrate a rooster anyway?  I shiver.)  However, the trip to the local butcher left me wide-eyed.  All the meat cases were empty!  NO CAPONS!  Are you KIDDING me!  I have COMPANY coming in THREE hours!  I need a fresh CAPON and I need it NOW!  The butcher stared at me unsympathetically.  Like really, lady, where ARE you from?  Well, sir, I thought in my head, OBVIOUSLY I’m NOT from HERE—this land of cave men hunters who probably leave all the gathering of the finer things in life like raspberries and garden grown tomatoes and a zillion other vegetables to their women they drag around by their hair.  I get great satisfaction from all my inner dialog.

I was told by the butcher, rather matter-of-factly, that no place processing dead deer (a.k.a venison, because the name sounds more humane—and gourmet) can keep fresh meat in their cases, so says the USFDA.  The butcher directed me to the freezers with a flippant point of his index finger but there were no frozen capons either—just regular chickens.  (I wonder if they even know what a capon is here in Wisconsin.)

I drove home a bit bewildered, wondering what to make on the fly for my company coming.  I think we had pork, the other white meat, which was plentiful in my home freezer, neatly packaged in cellophane, as all good meat should be.

So anyway, this is the time of year all the hunters ‘round here, including two dudes in my family, start getting itchy with glee.  Some start roaming the streets in the dark of the night with their windows rolled down, shining obnoxious spot lights from their Dodge Ram flatbeds.  Like a fast moving moon, they survey the fields, probably salivating if they get a sighting of anything with more than four antler points.  Our particular country neighborhood is being scoped since we live in the most deer-populated part of Ozaukee county, I do believe.  And on our own farm yesterday, we’re taking this nice relaxing, Sunday stroll on our trails and the two he-men are talking about the best place to set up their camouflage blind so they can whack Bambi’s mother and father.  Meanwhile, I practice complete mental dissociation because the thought of Bambi’s parents being whacked could downright bring me to tears if I think too long.  How did a sensitive sort like me end up here in this place of annual carnage?  A mystery I still haven’t solved.


Meanwhile, a friend we let bow hunt here, he tells me he’s seen rubbings on the willows ‘round our pond.  He’s getting itchy too.  The rut has begun!  Wants to set up his stand pronto.  Wants to know if I’ve seen . . . “the big one”.  I know exactly what he’s talking about . . .


The big twelve-pointer.

That’s what they all want.

Like they’re really going to eat all those antlers!

I don’t know who has more testosterone this time of year, man or buck.


I know for a fact that my yellow lab is hoping for that big buck to get whacked right here on our property so she can have a shot at those antlers, a delicacy for dogs.  That’s the deal on our property, established by MOI (that’s “ME” in French.  Sounds much less narcissistic, doesn’t it?).  I let you hunt here, if you’re nice to me and you don’t get into some hormone-induced, name-calling shouting match with male neighbors where the word that rhymes with “buck” flies faster than the geese flapping their way south.  I never heard this word uttered so much in my whole life as having moved to rural Wisconsin.  Even my former tattooed, ripped, cowboy boot-wearin’, straight, male hair stylist managed to slip that word into every other sentence, or a variation of it with an “‘er” or an “ing”.  Nice guy.  Gave me a horse.  So, I’m guessing the language is just part of red-neck subculture?  I’m digressing.  So back to the deer . . .

The deal here is, you shoot a deer, I get half the meat AND the antlers.

No wonder they only go for the does. (That’s DOHS, the plural of DOE, not DUZ, for those who don’t know what a doe is.  Sorry, but I lived most of my adult life in downtown Chicago where I’m quite sure half the population has never seen a live doe OR a buck.)

Anyway . . .

I don’t understand why guys get up before dawn to sit still in a tree, or a blind, for HOURS, waiting for the chance to prove their manliness.  And, I know for a fact, that farting is allowed and encouraged in the blinds, although that’s the ONLY sound allowed . . .

What is it with guys and their gas?  I do believe it’s the human form of territory marking and feeling damn proud of it.


Did I just type the word “damn”?


We’re talking testosterone here—and men—and that word “DAMN”?

Well—that’s a MANLY word!

Whoo!  I’m feeling stronger by the moment!  Wait a minute here while I fan myself back into a feminine state . . .


I’m back.

So, I have a better idea for hunters around here.  Do what I did a couple years ago . . .

At a Teen Challenge fundraising dinner, I bought a convertible.  That’s right.  A car with a retractable roof.  She was shiny and apple-red and oh, so, sexy.  And the fact that females also have testosterone running through our veins became quite clear to me that night when I found myself in a bidding war with another female who wanted my sexy car.  I must have had more testosterone running.

I won.

And I drove that baby home—that night—right off the exhibition hall floor, full of ultra-leaded testosterone, all 45 minutes north—in the DARK—with the top UP.  (Remember?  I live in Wisconsin now.  Convertibles don’t get a whole lot of drive time here with their tops down.  Neither do females.  Huh-hum!  Flannel is sexy in some states.)

Poor girl.  She didn’t last a year.  The car, that is.

When the rut came, my HUSBAND promptly broad-sided two does (that’s DOHS, remember?) right near our driveway.  Totaled my baby!  She was sacrificed for parts.  Given back to Teen Challenge for their profit and our tax deduction.


My dear husband didn’t pick up the dead animals and bring them home like most true hunters would do.  Or maybe road-kill is considered a wimpy way of stocking your freezer?  But I think road-kill is much better way to get your two DOHS every year.  Cruise down a country road about 9 PM each night, real slow, till you see one of them pop out from the fields as they do routinely, especially during the rut.  Then, put your pedal-to-the-metal and ram ‘em dead!  Seems more humane to me than a less-than-clean shot that keeps ‘em running till they fall over dead, finally.  And you don’t have to go tracking them for hours in the cold either.  You can just scoop ’em off the side of the road and throw ’em up on your flatbed—or in your trunk, if you’re like me.

So with all the hunting about to go on around here?  I don’t have a problem killing ‘em and eatin’ ‘em.  I just want it done RIGHT!  So I personally think cars are better than guns.  (Now, my favorite radio talk -show host/Pinterest follower Vicki McKenna on 1130 WISN would undoubtedly debate me on this, if ever we should have a chance meeting—all 4’11” of her gun-packing, liberal-turned-conservative self who loves to hunt with them there guns!).

As for me?

Well, I’m a sharp shooter myself and I love my .380 and 9 mm handguns and our 22 and 20 gauge shotguns.   I remember so clearly that Thanksgiving day, just last year when we brought out the artillery.

It’s a family tradition, here on our 44 acres of bliss.  We grow pumpkins.  And we don’t grow ‘em to eat ‘em.  We grow ‘em to SHOOT ‘em.  You know, target practice and all.

So every Thanksgiving, we eat our turkey and stuffing till we’re stuffed about too much to move.  And then we move our overly stuffed bodies out south of the house where we’ve lined up all them pumpkins we grew over the summer.  Ear protection in place, one-by-one, we raise our guns, and we shoot the squash.  Or at least, some of us do.


The females who are not so bothered by such testosterone pumping—that would be Anna and me—we managed to blow those squash away in the first shot—both of us—with our estrogen-steadied, gun-bearing hands.

That’s right!

We Annie Oakleys done did ‘em in, shootin’ all their squashy innards out with one bullet.

She and I tried not to gloat—too much—and then we all came inside to eat the pumpkin pie I made out of CANNED Libby’s pumpkin, which tastes EXACTLY like fresh pumpkin!  Believe me.  I’ve done it both ways!  So much easier and faster, using a can opener instead of a knife.  (And yes, I DID make my own best-in-the-world-pie crust from scratch!  And NO, I did NOT use canned whipped cream or Cool-Whip.  I whipped it myself!  From fresh cream. Honestly!  I now live in Wisconsin—the dairy state—and there’s only so far I will stoop.)

So what’s the moral of this story?

I don’t know, actually.

I just had fun writing it.

But give me enough time and I’m sure I’ll find some profound spiritual significance that will elevate me just a bit higher toward heaven.

Till that time, I’m just having fun clicking these keys, reliving my past, anticipating my deer-hunting near-future, and hoping I give at least one other person on this planet a much-needed laugh.

Now, I think I’ll plan my own huntin’ trip . . .

I’m thinking Chicago—the Magnificent Mile.

Shall I charter a bus?


Categories:  humor

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