What is one of the best things to do in western PA? Hunt!
Some people are all about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Money, but in our house, it’s all about Antlered Deer Monday!
Things to do in Western PA: Hunt!
The first Monday after Thanksgiving is always the first day of rifle season in Pennsylvania. It has become tradition for my husband and I to partake.
We get everything ready Sunday night: rifles, bullets, binoculars, knives, camo pants, jackets, boots, and gloves, florescent orange hats and vests, snacks, drinks, etc. Then, our kiddos go to my husband’s parent’s house after dinner. Finally, we get to bed early, and wake up early Monday morning (well before dawn).
Coffee brewed, we dress quickly and efficiently, and hop in our UTV. We arrive at our hunting shack, about ¼ mile away from our house, with the first glimmer of sun far off on the horizon. Our hunting shack stands 28 feet to the floor (whoa), towering high above a reclaimed strip job.
Over the summer, my husband uses a farm tractor and brush hog to mow about 8 hunting lanes in a star-like pattern. Each arm of the star began at our hunting shack. Perched in the hunting shack, we can easily see at least 500 yards in every direction.
As the sun rises and life begins to stir, we patiently wait and hope to see horns.
As hunters, outdoors enthusiasts, and as homesteaders, we see the all-encompassing value in harvesting our own meat.
It saves money. It saves time. It’s healthy.
Venison is a money saver.
Let’s start with the supplies.
A hunting license costs us $20 each.
Luckily, my husband and I are both good shots. As a result, bullets cost us about $25/box, but last us a long time, which is a money saver.
Our rifles have been bought and paid for a long time ago. Mine is a Savage .308 and his is a Savage 30.06. We bought higher power rifles that we could also use to hunt larger animals like elk, bear, or moose, also a money saver.
Our hunting clothing has been bought and paid for a long time ago. Thankfully, we are both the same size as we were when we bought it all, so it has continued to fit for all these years and for many years to come (hopefully).
Finally, we butcher our own venison instead of taking them to the butcher (huge money saver). Yes, we must invest in good knives, freezer tape, freezer paper, and a folding table, but good knives and a folding table will last forever, while freezer tape and paper don’t cost much at all.
One deer will easily provide 80-100 pounds of fresh meat, and, after the initial investment of rifles and clothing, only costs about $50 (license, bullets, freezer paper, and freezer tape).
Venison is a time-saver.
It’s field to table or field to freezer in just a few hours.
Because my husband has hunted for about 20 years, he has become very efficient at field-dressing a deer which is a huge time-saver.
We let the dressed and skinned carcass hang by the hind legs for a few days (if the outdoor temperature permits it, of course). This allows the carcass’s muscles to relax, the body to cool completely, and makes butchering much easier.
After the carcass has been butchered, wrapped, and put in the freezer I can save time by not needing to run to the butcher or the grocery store for meat. I can just go to the freezer and pull our venison steaks, burger, or roasts.
Venison is very healthy.
Venison has less calories and less grams of fat than beef.
Additionally, venison has more vitamins and minerals than beef.
It has no added growth hormones or antibiotics.
It’s raised in nature, free, with wonderful living conditions.
Most importantly, we harvest them humanely and quickly (with an accurate kill shot).
My buck from 2016.^
My husband’s buck from 2017^.
The Hard Truth
So, this is the hard truth about it all.
We eat meat, and because we eat meat we believe we have a responsibility to fill.
In order to eat meat, animals must die, get cut up, and processed: canned, cooked, frozen, dried, etc.
Meat that comes from a grocery store is not at all the same as harvesting your own venison, beef, chicken, pig, etc.
Animals don’t just show up in a grocery store.
They typically live in poor conditions, have terrible lives, and die in horrific ways.
Although harvesting an animal can be sad, it feels good knowing that this buck lived its life near our farm, eating and breeding its way into oblivion, living its best life possible: free.
It died quickly on a beautiful autumn day.
It was respected, and will feed our family of 4 for months.
Props to my husband for harvesting such a beautiful creature this year, and in such a humane way. It’s something our ancestors have done for generations before us on this very land. It is clean why hunting is one of the best things to do in Western PA.
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Happy Homesteading! (:
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