Venison has a particular smell.
I can’t describe it, really – a meaty smell that’s so much more intense than grocery store beef.
I keep smelling it now, though it’s nowhere near me. I’m smelling it in my head, I guess.
The past several days have been filled venison, mostly in a rather whole state.
He shot him on a Saturday morning, spent the next several hours dragging a buck that weighed more than he does through the woods. A passing hunter joined the effort; passersby on the road stopped to admire the rack, snap pictures on cell phones.
Sunday he strung the animal up outside our bedroom window, on a hook left presumably for that purpose by the previous owner (a hunter himself). And while the baby and I worked on one of many Christmas presents, he and his dad and brother skinned and divided the buck into pieces.
And starting Sunday afternoon, into Monday and then all day long on Tuesday – a vacation day I took while he went out again into the woods – I’ve been cutting meat from bone and fighting with slippery silver-skin membranes and reducing leg quarters into neat white packages labeled ‘roast’ or ‘stew’ or grind.’
The baby played on her mat by the table, newly aware of her hands. She stared at the bright-yellow giraffe and reached out a fist but can’t do much more than bat at it, even that is iffy. She tried for 40 minutes while I listened to the radio and processed venison.
Today it’s mostly done. There are two pieces of leg bone left and I have to decide whether any of the meat is worth struggling for. And he might go out once more on Saturday, try for a doe.
But one way or another, we once again have a year’s supply of venison in our freezer — for the cost of a hunting license and hours of processing. I’ll make stock from the bones. We’ll eat well for a long time thanks to these few days of effort.
It might just be a while before I can enjoy it again.