Wednesday, November 30, 2011


On Saturday, Hunter Man and I were driving to a store.  He had been talking about Metal Detecting (the hunting that he can do anytime, almost anywhere that there is a park, parking lot, or beach).  When, all of a sudden, he said, “I printed 35 of those maps today.”
What maps?  I found out that he printed the maps of all of the newly designated hunting units in the state of Utah so that he could start studying them to determine where the hunters would be applying for permits to hunt next October.  (It is November right now!)
He never stops thinking about it.  Never.  And he can start talking about it at the spur of the moment, shocked to find that I wasn’t thinking about the same thing at the same time!
Well, I have been thinking about the few times that I really carried a shotgun and gave hunting the old college try. 
We were living in Illinois at the time.  We moved to Illinois about 6 months after we got married.  We lived in southern Illinois and central Illinois for about 10 years, and spent another year or so in the middle of that time period living in eastern Virginia.

Hunter Man in Illinois
 If you think H.M. loved hunting while we lived in Utah, you probably won’t be shocked to know that he absolutely reveled in hunting while we lived in the Midwest and on the east coast.  Whitetail deer hunting lasted for about 3 months, and included tags for shotgun hunting and archery hunting.  And, a person could practically hunt right out their back door.  There were cornfields and woods surrounding almost every area. 
I remember his first hunting season in Illinois.  We lived in a trailer in a little town called Mascoutah.  (Funny that we were from Utah and moved to a town with Utah in the name)!  He came home one night after hunting and said that he had shot a deer right before sundown and couldn’t find it.  He enlisted his dad and me to go help him look for the deer.  We were out in the woods, in the dark, trying to follow a blood trail with flashlights.  I did not like the parts where we had to walk through the swampy areas and cross streams.  I was sure that a water moccasin snake was just waiting to bite me.  It wasn’t just my imagination though--H.M. actually warned me that it was a possibility.  Luckily, nothing bad happened and he found his deer the next morning. 
I just kept thinking the whole time, “This is so crazy, this is so crazy, why am I doing this?”  I guess it was because we were still newlyweds and I would do anything for my Hunter Man.
That is how I ended up giving real hunting a try—being willing to do anything for him.  Of course at that point, we had been married for about 4 or 5 years, but I still wanted to make him happy and he wanted me to do this so much that I gave it a shot.  Gave it a shot!
One year, the hunt began with sleeping in a motel in the same room with Hunter Man, his little brother, and his Dad.  I love H.M.’s Dad.  But, he usually snores like a chain saw with a stuck motor.  It was “clap-on, clap-off” all night long.  Even H.M., who has been known to snore himself, could not sleep.  So, he would clap his hands twice every time the snoring got really loud.  Then, Dad would stop for a few minutes.  It got to be hysterically funny as the night went on.  Clap-on, clap-off!”  All night long.
Then, we got up really early.  (Of course).  And walked through the woods in the dark with as little help from flashlights as possible.  Because we wouldn’t want the deer to be frightened away by the lights.  Better that I was afraid of tripping and falling!
And when the sun came up, I was amazed to see that my orange camouflage jacket was covered with black soot.  Apparently, we had walked in through a previously burned out area.  Nice. 

Then, I had to climb a tree with a tree stand.  Of course, I performed that feat in the dark, too!  And, I doubt that I was all that quiet about it.  So much for not scaring the deer away!  The tree stand is a 2 piece climbing/sitting apparatus.  The first moved up the tree hooked to my feet and then I used my arms to move the 2nd part up the tree.  So, I proceeded to raise the upper part as far up the tree as I could, followed by raising my feet with the lower portion up the tree as far as I could.  I did this until I was about 50 feet off the ground.  Not really.  I probably was about 6 feet off the ground.  But, it certainly felt like I had just climbed a tree that high.  Then, I had to secure the top portion around the tree so that I could magically turn around and sit on it without falling off the foot platform. 
Looking sexy in my 14 layers of coats and jackets!
The whole time I was accomplishing this daunting task, H.M. was standing below the tree watching, giving instructions, and encouragement.  I wished he could have just done all that work for me, instead of just watching me look like an uncoordinated--camouflage wearing--chimpanzee in a tree.  He didn’t really think I looked foolish.  He was proud of me when I reached my destination and was all strapped to the tree safe and sound. 

But, then, as soon as I was ready—he left me there, alone.  He went about a mile away to sit in his own tree.  Well, not really a mile, but far enough away that I couldn’t see him and he probably wouldn’t have been able to hear me if I called out to him.  Not that I would have called out to him.  That would have alerted the deer to my presence high above them in the trees.
As I sat there in that tree in the dark, early in the morning, it was surprisingly easy to fall asleep.  So I did.  Thank goodness I had my seatbelt on!  I had never slept wearing soot covered camouflage, strapped to a tree stand high above the ground before.  I was surprised that I was able to do it.  But, then again, I didn’t get much sleep the night before (remember the snoring!!)
I woke up to noises right under me and my tree stand.  I looked down and there were several deer just hanging out down there.  They all looked like does, but I thought I should get my shotgun ready just in case a buck decided to join them. 
Then the weirdest thing happened and I swear I do not know how it did.  The shotgun shells fell out of my gun onto the ground and scared the deer away.  It was so strange and unexpected.  But, then again—I loaded my gun in the dark after a strenuous tree climbing experience.  Not to mention the fact that I was not all that familiar with guns as it was.
Later, H.M. thought he should come to check on me.  He asked me if I had seen any deer and I said yes.  He was excited about that even though I told him they were all does.  Then, I asked him if he could look for my shotgun shells down there on the ground somewhere.
“You dropped your shells?  How did you drop your shells?”  Oh, I felt like I had committed the hugest hunting mistake—accidentally dropping the ammo out of my gun.  I was sure he thought I must have sort of dropped my shells on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to shoot a deer.
No, I would never do that!
Another time we were walking around looking for deer when I saw a nice buck almost right in front of us.  I whispered to H.M., “There’s one!”  He didn’t see it and told me to I should have just shot it, instead of telling him about it.  By then, it was too late.  I just didn’t have the right thought process.  I was used to just pointing out deer to him, not shooting them!

Dad with a Crab Orchard deer

Once, H.M. was walking through the woods trying to scare deer toward me and his Dad who were walking down a dirt road.  Then, we would be able to shoot them as they ran right in front of us.  Good plan.  Miraculously a buck really ran right across the road in front of us.  I wasn’t expecting it to actually happen.  But, when it did, Dad thought I should be the one to shoot it.  So, he and my brother-in-law both started chanting, “Shoot it, shoot it!”
Right.  By the time I raised my gun, did whatever I thought I had to do to get ready to shoot it without ejecting the shotgun shells, and tried to point it at the deer, it was looooonnnnnngggggg gone.  They couldn’t believe that I just let that buck get away. 
Ha ha.  Whatever.  I really didn’t let it get away.  It got away because they seriously thought I would be able to shoot it with one second’s notice.  It was nice of everyone to have such faith in me, but I would have rather just had Dad shoot the deer anyway.     
Dad, Little Brother, and Hunter Man
The last crazy thing that happened at Crab Orchard did not happen because I was supposed to be trying to shoot a deer.  H.M. had shot one.  I had to help him drag it across a plowed up corn field.  The ground was so uneven that every step I took made my ankle pop out.  (I had an ankle that needed surgery to tie my ligaments together to hold the bones in place).  I had to reach down and pop it back into place over and over again.  I seriously wanted H.M. to leave the deer there and carry ME across the field.  I was in tears by the time we made it the 5 miles that it took to cross that field (another exaggeration of course!)
The things I do..
This is what I liked about the times I spent not shooting deer at the Wildlife Refuge:  THE WILDLIFE!
There were thousands of geese there.  They would take off from the lake in the morning all at the same time, or land on the lake in the evening in large groups.  It was awesome to see and hear!  I really enjoyed it and could have watched those events over and over again.
I saw a beautiful eagle flying right above me.  A red fox ran right past me.  And one of the most interesting things I saw was a group of deer jumping into the lake and swimming across it to an island near the other side.  I had never seen anything like that before and probably never would see anything like that again.
Those things made all of the disappointing, crazy, and funny things that happened to me while hunting, worth it. 
Hunter Man with our little boy in 1987
And I hoped that H.M. knew how hard I tried to make hunting work out for me so that we could share his hobby together. 
He still wishes that I would hunt with him.
But, I don’t.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Today was Black Friday.  I looked through the ads last night and saw something that I wanted to get for a family member for Christmas.  It was at the local sporting goods store.  I told Hunter Man that if we were going to get that particular present, he would have to get up early to go the 5 hour sale and get it for me.

He was more than happy for an excuse to go to the sporting goods store.  Of course it was lucky for him that the fly fishing waders that he has been wanting for quite awhile were on sale too.  I told him that he could get them for himself for Christmas if he wanted to.  Saves me some shopping and some worry about what to get him, even though that is not what I even had in mind for him.

Now that’s my kind of Black Friday shopping.  He gets up early, stands in line in the cold, fights the crowds, and I sleep until 10:30! 

Although, please don’t tell the Hunter Man this, but, I get nervous when he goes shopping at the sporting goods store at this time of the year.  There are several occasions that might make him want to buy me a present:  first it is my birthday, then our anniversary, and then Christmas.  I hate to admit it but, many, many of his gifts to me have been purchased at the sporting goods store.  Itchy wool slippers, fleece jackets and pullovers, shirts with deer on them, sweaters, leather slippers, etc.  I will admit that I did like the sweater and I do wear the shirt with the deer on it occasionally.  But, usually, I just smile and act like I love the gift and hope that it is too big or too small so that I can take it back!

He says, “I have the hardest time shopping for you.  I just don’t ever know what you would like.”

I know it’s the thought that counts and I do love and appreciate him for all that he does, but I always think to myself, “Your first clue would be to shop somewhere besides Cabela’s, Sports Authority, or Sportsman’s Warehouse!”

So, when I gave him some money for Black Friday today, I specifically said, “Don’t buy ANYTHING else!”

I think that it worked today, but who knows what he will do when Christmas Eve rolls around and it is crunch time! 

The suspense will be killing me!

Christmas is coming soon.

But for now--Happy Black Friday!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

28 years later

This is how I go deer hunting now.

We own an acre of recreational property in a beautiful valley surrounded by tall cliffs called pinnacles where we have our own big camping trailer with a canopy and deck built above and around it.  We have running water and electricity.   We spend as much time as we can there in the summer, “camping”, being lazy, spending time with family and extended family (who stay at our Grandpa’s cabin a half mile down the road), fishing, tubing down the river, hiking, riding ATV’s, and sometimes working on the upkeep of our property (my Hunter Man does most of that stuff!).  This is where we stay for the deer hunt.

These are my kids (and grandson).  All the boys hunted this year.  And the two girls gave them their support by going out on the mountain with them.  

I am still amazed at the planning and preparation that takes place the night before.  They still plan their orange and camouflage wardrobes.  They still make sandwiches and pack their backpacks the night before, placing them in the truck so that everything is ready early in the morning.  They look at maps and talk about  the different areas that they have pre-scouted, trying to make a decision on where to hunt the next morning.  They confer about what time to get up and what time to leave.  Then, my Hunter Man seriously sets at least 3 different alarm clocks to make sure that he gets up on time!

A few hours later, when the alarm clocks go off, I do my best to stay as asleep as possible.

Everyone else slowly gets moving, gets dressed, and whispers goodbye to me and I got back to sleep until about 10:00 a.m.

That’s how I hunt now.

While everyone is gone, I read, watch my favorite movies, scrapbook, play with my grandson, take pictures, go on walks, talk to relatives who are at Grandpa’s cabin, and prepare something for dinner.   I like to make food that can just simmer in the crock pot all day long—ready to eat whenever the hunters get back that night.
I have a lot of fun going deer hunting this way.  I usually stay warm and dry, and I love, love, love not getting up early. 

A lot has changed since that first hunt 28 years ago.

Hunting Potluck Meal Recipe from 2011

This year I made what I call “Illinois White Chicken Chili”.  I learned how to make this after I took a trip to Illinois to visit my best friend a few years ago.  We went to a “Meat Shoot” at one of her friend’s houses.  This was something that I had heard about many times when we lived in Illinois, but had never seen.

People bought tickets and then entered shooting contests for different cuts of meat.  Whoever hit the target the closest would win the meat—turkeys, hams, pork loins, sausages, etc.  The funny thing to me was the growing pile of empty beer cans next to the shooting area.  I kept thinking to myself, “How does this even seem like a safe, good idea?”  Drinking and shooting shouldn’t be a good mix.   It made me laugh (nervously). 

I was glad that my friend and I had gone to the store and bought our own Pepsi’s and Sprites before we went to the meat shoot.  BYO non-alcoholic beverage!

And then there was the food.  A delicious pork loin roasting on a spit over a fire and a huge cauldron of White Chicken Chili simmering over charcoal. The chili was amazing.

One of the first things that I did when I got home from that trip was figure out how to make it.  I had a verbal recipe from the person who made it at the meat shoot that I started with.   But, her recipe included a package of White Chicken Chili mix that I could not find at any store in my area, so I thought it was one of those things that is only available in certain areas like Illinois.  (I have found it occasionally in Utah and when I do, I throw a few tablespoons of it in my chili).  I googled the recipe and then took everyone’s ideas and made my own recipe.

I am not a professional cook and I do not like big pieces of onions, peppers, garlic, or celery in anything, so when I cook I use a lot of spices.   I also just add things until I like how it tastes.

Here is my recipe.

Illinois White Chicken Chili

2 large potatoes, cubed
20 mini carrots cut into little pieces

Boil potatoes and carrots until soft.  When potatoes and carrots are soft, do not drain.  The liquid will form the base for the chili.

Add the following ingredients:

3 c. cooked, cubed chicken or turkey                      
2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained                
1 – 14 ounce can chicken broth                      
1 T onion powder                        
2 ½ t. cumin
1 ½ t. chili powder
½ t. cayenne pepper
½ t. pepper
3 t. minced garlic paste                        
2 t. dried oregano                       
1 – 7 ounce can diced green chilies (which
   I puree in the blender)                      
½ can peas
1 c. cooked brown rice
2 T lime juice
3 T white chicken chili seasoning, if available

Simmer in the crock pot for 6 hours on medium (300 degrees). 

Add ½ c. fat free half and half cream
And ½ c. fat free sour cream about 20 minutes before serving.

If it seems like the chili is not thick enough, add about ¼ cup at a time of instant potatoes.  Or, if it is too thick, add a little bit more half and half or milk.

This chili is good served with grated cheese, saltine crackers, tortilla chips, or Fritos chips sprinkled on top.  I also love to have corn bread with it.

I like to buy a rotisserie chicken to use for my cubed chicken.  Sometimes I use Schwans’s frozen chicken chunks if I am making it and don’t want to go to the store to buy a chicken.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

Monday, November 14, 2011



My husband lives and breathes for it. 

I had no idea. 

Right before we got married, it was the annual deer hunt.  We went with his family.  We stayed in a cabin.  We were engaged.  Our wedding was going to take place in just over a month.  How fun and romantic to go stay in a cabin together for the deer hunt.


I obviously did not know what hunting was like.

Spending the entire evening getting ready to go hunting the next morning.  Getting the warm, orange wardrobe all set up.  Packing the back packs and making sandwiches.  Going to bed early.

Going to bed  early?  While staying in a cabin?  What about sitting in front of the fire and snuggling while roasting marshmallows or something?

While I was asleep, I rolled over and thought I heard a horse whinny.  I knew that we had to get up early and when I heard the horse whinny in my very sleepy state of mind, I thought that someone else in the cabin  area must be getting their horses ready to take up on the mountain.  Then, I went back to sleep.

It felt like I only slept for about half an hour more before my Hunter Man woke me up.  Was he kidding me?  It was still dark.  It had to be just barely four o'clock in the morning!  I still needed at least 4 more hours of sleep!  I am  a little bit grouchy in the morning and I am even more grouchy when I get woken up to go deer hunting way too early. 

Then, after driving to the hunting area, we hiked and walked and stalked.  All day long.

And, my Hunter Man actually shot a deer, only to have it taken away from him by some other hunters.  We were tracking the deer, heard another shot, and then when we came upon his deer—two other hunters were there.  They were very threatening and since it was just my Hunter Man and I there at the time, he thought it would probably be better not to protest. 

But, he was very upset.  I felt bad for him.  I could not believe that hunters would actually steal a deer from another hunter.
We had a good story to tell his family when we got back to the cabin.

I thought that when the weekend was over, the hunt was over until the next October. 

After all, the next big thing was our wedding. 

But, he talked about the deer hunt for the next few weeks to anyone who hadn’t heard about it yet.

And then we got married.  All of that was very wonderful.  

We began our lives together.  And so began my realization that hunting was not just a weekend or two in October.

It was hunting magazines and hunting proclamations.  It was talking about hunting at family gatherings.  It was planning for next October’s deer hunt. 

It was duck hunting, goose hunting, pheasant hunting, dove hunting, fishing, elk hunting……..

He hunts and I have a crazy life.

(Oh, and the middle of the night whinnying sound?  My Hunter Man’s younger brother and sisters, blew up a whoopee cushion and placed it between my bed’s mattress and box spring.  When I rolled over just right—I deflated the whoopee cushion!  Nice.)