About seven years ago was when I killed my last animal. A dove or a rabbit, I forget. I didn't eat it and started the dry spell that ended this Sunday.
Last Tuesday I went shooting with my friend. We set up in a field that will not be available to us long due to the property being sold. After the day of running and gunning in full kit, we wound down and started drinking and playing with our night vision rigs. When we go shooting, it's rarely a small affair; we get dirty, we get hurt, we get tired, and we have a lot of fun.
Shooting camp for the big day.
After I finished my last twelve shots of whiskey and three beers and my friend had his Jaeger and beers, we headed off in the black of night, him with his rifle, and me with my pistol and flashlight, to clear the area of imaginary feds and a lynx. There are no lynx in Texas, but there are when you're very drunk and needing an excuse for a two mile inebriated hike at midnight.
Early in the walk, we came upon two whitetail does walking out of a treeline across the field about 20 yards from us. Perfect 90° side presentation; we could have each taken one with a perfect shot. But we were drunk and getting drunker, and decided we didn't want to clean two deer drunk and tired in the dark, so we just watched them move along.
Sunday morning, on the phone with my same friend, I saw a squirrel. Last year was a huge year for acorns, and this year there's a boom in the squirrel population. I told my friend I had to go hunt a squirrel and hung up the phone.
I keep my pellet gun by the door in case of something like this.
When I first saw the squirrel, he was on a limb on our neighbor's side, and he was headed closer to me. He saw me and watched me load the pellet gun, posed well on the trunk of our only red oak tree. My first shot missed, and spooked the squirrel. He ran around the other side of the trunk and froze. I reloaded and repositioned and missed my second shot as well. The squirrel moved again, far up the tree, but still visible for me to miss my third shot. After that he came down lower but I didn't have a shot at him and couldn't move to where I could. After a little waiting, he poked his head around the tree and I took my fourth shot.
I connected right under his ear and he was dead when he hit the ground. The hunt was about fifteen minutes from sight to final shot. This was a smart animal, and quick on his feet. A young male, but his inexperience was even greater than mine.
Nothing wasted. The squirrel's inedible organs, feet, head, and tail were placed in the corn rows, back to soil. I saved the heart, kidneys, lungs, and liver to eat later, and the fur was saved til I have more that I can use.
I fried the meat in leftover bacon grease, rolled in a batter of egg, flour, and seasoning. It came out really good actually.
I consider myself a conscious omnivore, to copy the term coined by Daniel Vitalis. In my diet, I consume organ meats and use as much of an animal as I can, to keep a life from being wasted. Nature is an omnivore, and wastes nothing. When our diet isn't natural, much is wasted. This animal is not wasted in any way. What I didn't directly eat feeds the soul in my garden, which will later feed me.
Come fall, I expect I'll eat quite a few more squirrels. They interfere with garden harvests, and to modify Jack Spirko's words, "if you have a lot of squirrels in your garden, your garden grows squirrels!." It's important to be part of your ecosystem, not just consuming from it, but contributing to the nutrient cycle.
It's an honor to have been able to meet and use this animal and to now be literally comprised of it. I hope to learn from it and grow more from it, using what I learn to be a better contributor to my ecosystem.
Much love from Texas,