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9. Do Not Feed the Bears

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Nine

Do Not Feed the Bears

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Archy the Cockroach, from Don Marquis, Archy and Mehitabel, 1927

Weeks later, as fall draws near, the morning sun means that John and I will be bushwhacking up the mountain in back of the Big House. The reason is to look for moose and deer sign, because this is what hunters do. Its also just to get to the top of the mountain, because its there, and its a beautiful day. Dressed in hiking gear and ready to go, I start filling water bottles to stuff into our daypacks as John sits at the chair by the door and starts lacing on hiking boots.

Just so you know, Don says laconically to John from his lounger in the living room, the McKennas were back there, setting up bear bait.

(... bear bait?)

They quit hunting bears, Don continues. Now they run a little guide business for tourists who want to see bears. But dont be surprised if you smell something.

(... smell something?)

Err, I say, raising my hand to object.

Not likely youll find yourself in the same spot, Don drawls, pointedly ignoring the surprised look on my face, but no need to worry. Bears get timid as soon as the bait comes out because they know the seasons starting. Theyll just run away from you.

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15. A Long Winter’s Nap

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Fifteen

A Long Winters Nap

If skill could be gained by watching, every dog would become a butcher.

Turkish proverb

Home butchering makes a lot of sense if youre committed to understanding the nature of meat. It means that you know exactly what odds and ends go into the grinds used for burgers, and every bit of usable meat gets taken, according to your time and inclination. It also means you can take the other bits of the deer that have odd but practical uses, such as strips of membrane for bowstrings and the tarsal glands off the legs to use as scent lures. I want to take the intestines for natural casings. It can be done. Its just the unpleasantness of dealing with yards of entrails, the idea of which is off-putting because human beings have strained relationships with their own guts.

Deer hunting season begins at the start of winter during the rut, so the bucks are padded with fat. Its too early for them to be starving to death. The hunger phase doesnt begin until February, after the earth is buried beneath snow and theyve stripped all the bark and buds off the dormant trees. The external fat is a mixture of oily fatthe alluring, sexy kind you see on the rinds of T-bone beefsteaksand suet, which is fat so hard and crumbly it looks and feels like dried spackle. Suet can be made into tallow, baked into British puddings, or stuck in a bird feeder to plump up the chickadees. When a deer dies in the forest, even songbirds join the feast. Compared to a domestic cow or pig, a whitetail doesnt have a lot of suet. But its there. It sticks to everything, smearing your fingers with a tacky layer of grease that coats the knife, gumming up the blade, prompting that awful wiping motion across stained pants legs.

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14. Blood and Guts

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Fourteen

Blood and Guts

Lawyer Amanda Bonner: And after you shot your husband... how did you feel?

Defendant Doris Attinger: Hungry!

Adams Rib, 1949

Patrick lost another one in the dark and rain. He was very high up the mountain, where the terrain is steep and treacherous. Hed been tracking a buck and took a shot. The hit was fatal, but the kill wasnt instantaneous. Running after it, Patrick found bone, blood, and hair before the pounding rain washed the trace away. A weaker animal would have dropped in its tracks. Five friends came out the next morning to look for it, and all they found was the gut pile left by a stranger whod stumbled across it.

Is it poaching to take another mans quarry? Its not unusual for hunters to lose their animals in the forest. Humans stand out. Animals blend in. Within seconds, the wildlife can vanish, even if you know exactly where they are going. So if a hunter stumbles across a buck felled by another mans bullet, the right thing to do is to dress and hang the carcass, alert the game warden, and have a nice day. To walk off with the deer violates an unwritten code. Its the hunters version of the girl crush. A nice girl never steals a boy that her girlfriend likes. A tramp would hit on him just for fun, and steal him if she could. Its one of the ways you know shes a tramp. Sure, alls fair in love and warbut in real life, its not exactly true.

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17. Ham Supper for 227

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Seventeen

Ham Supper for 227

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

Sir Winston Churchill

Ow, Patrick announces, as everyone sits down to Sunday supper at the Big House. I just bit on something.

Buckshot, John says calmly.

But Im eating potatoes, Patrick protests.

Buckshot, John repeats, and reaches for another serving of venison chop suey.

So tell me about the wedding! I prod Patrick.

We got married, Patrick shrugs, still chewing with a slightly puzzled expression on his face. Then we fished at the lake.

Thats it?

Yep.

You still doing the pig roast?

Yep.

What about the pig? I poke him. Have you got one yet?

Nope, he replies. If I bring a pig home early, Christy will start cooing over it and before you know it, it will be another Bucky. And then Ill just have to get another pig to roast.

Just to be clear, Bucky wasnt a pig. He was a dog stuck in the body of a goat.

It is a truism of animal husbandry that certain animals come in pairs. The dove is one of them. The goat is another. Even if herds of other friendly animals are around, a single goat will not do well on its own. The specifics of the pair dont matter: It can be girl-girl, boy-boy, boy-girl, old-young, big-small, or black-white. They just both have to be goats, preferably two of the same kind, and not an Archy and Mehitabel kind of pair (a cockroach and an alley cat, in case you were wondering). Bucky thought he was a dog. So did all his friends. Wagging his tail, Bucky followed Patrick wherever he went. Begging to be petted, Bucky lived inside the house and shed on the couch. But one day, while nobody was home and he was all alone, he died. Death deprived him of his amazing powers of mind control, and behold! Bucky was returned back to being a goat. It was very upsetting.

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2. Hustle

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Two

Hustle

In good cookeries, all raisins should be stoned.

Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796

On my way back from the Bon March to my studio apartment, Id often make a detour through the Luxembourg Gardens, where children would play with the toy sailboats in the central fountain. Each child would get a short stick and a boat with a numbered sail. Theyd poke their boat with the stick, and off it would float across the rippled surface of the large circular pool. Eventually, their boat would drift back to the edge, coming close enough so they could poke it again. This activity involved a lot of waiting and chasing, because it was impossible to predict when or where your boat would return to the edge. The children were always trying to poke the wrong boat, just because it had drifted close to them.

This is how I feel about romantic relationships. We begin by coveting what we see every day, Hannibal Lecter purred to FBI agent Clarice Starling, whod been visiting him at a prison for the criminally insane. He was correct, but who takes romantic advice from a cannibal serial killer, even if he is a doctor with great teeth? Studies have shown that people tend to date inside a ten mile radius, because theyd rather pretend that proximity is destiny instead of fessing up to being lazy. What happens when the boys go after a girl who accidently drifted within poking range? They take a stab at her, and the girl floats away. The process repeats itself until the pokers get bored and leave.

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