Thursday, December 6, 2012

Field Trip #1
Grouse Hunting: Hiking with Guns

Back in November I went hunting for the first time with my former housemates Corey and Patrick. We got up bright and early, made some snacks and hit the road by 6am. We witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises on the way up as Corey and Patrick recounted old hunting stories. As we got closer, my fears began to bubble up; I was afraid that I would get shot or that I would accidentally shoot one of my friends. I made the Corey look up the nearest hospital on his smartphone.
When we got to Solanas State Park we put on our blaze orange and began gun safety 101. Both Corey and Patrick are certified in firearm safety which means I can hunt with a gas station license under their supervision. A lot of gun safety is common sense, like never point the gun at somebody, but I learned that you shouldn't point the gun at the ground, you must say if the gun is loaded or unloaded when passing a gun to someone else, and whether the safety is on or off.
Then we got the the fun part: shooting practice! Before scouting out the grouse, we practiced shooting clay pigeons. I was nervous and seriously afraid the gun would kick back on my shoulder and I would accidentally drop the gun and shoot a friend. But then I shot it and there was definitely a kick but it was more of a satisfying kick, it felt good especially when I hit one of the clay pigeons.

When we'd had enough fun shooting clay pigeons, we started looking for the grouse. Hunting is basically just hiking with guns. We hiked for a few hours, stoping every once in a while to listen or teach each other things about nature.

On our way back, we saw a grouse. The experience seemed like it happend in slow motion, but it probably happened really fast. When we saw her we froze for an instant and without saying anything we told Corey with our eyes that he should go for it. When the flapping settled down I put my hand on her breast, soft and warm I felt the life slowly leave her body and I said thank you.
We cleaned the grouse keeping the breast and liver. There wasn't much meat elsewhere. When we got home I roasted some root vegetables I had grown and cooked the grouse in a skillet with some fresh rosemary.
The grouse meat tasted just like chicken with a slightly earthier taste and the liver tasted like an olive. It was really satisfying to end the day sharing a meal with ingredients we had gathered from our land. 

Both Corey and Patrick are really into hunting and fishing so it was cool to see them in their element. The whole experience made me feel like this is a tradition I want to be a part of and one I want to have in my family someday. It made me really realize that to sustain our lives, we depend on other lifeforms and we should be grateful and respectful of those lifeforms.

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