Minnesota’s famed rifle deer hunt begins tomorrow morning at dawn. Indications suggest a strong deer population for the shootin.’
The deer hunt is one of those cultural touchstones one must learn to embrace or at least tolerate to succeed in northern Minnesota. In this place, all men are asked if they hunt and those who do not must provide a serviceable reason why they don’t.
For instance, I don’t hunt. I don’t own a gun, but I don’t say that. I don’t want to shoot animals unless I have to, but I don’t say that. I don’t want to field dress a still-warm animal in the woods unless I have to, but I don’t say that either.
It is OK for me to say that I’m too lazy to hunt when I can afford hamburger at the store (Ha-ha!). It is OK for me to say that my family hunts so much that someone has to keep a job through the season (Ha-ha!). It is OK for me to say that I kill deer with my car, which is true (and, thus, Ha-Ha!).
Women don’t have to answer the same way. For instance, they’re allowed to have compassion for the deer and still be OK. But they do need to do answer for the hunting or non-hunting of their male partners. More women are hunting now, so there is some variation on the gender norms, but mostly the whole enterprise is an immovable glacial stone from a time when many families in the region lived off venison through the winter. Now some hunters spend more on Slim Jims and grill steaks than they do on ammo.
The most important thing you need to know is that everything that’s about to happen this weekend is OK. Happy hunting. Everything is fine. We go back to normal in time for Thanksgiving.