The way out here

Nicks, ticks, and archery sticks

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 10/27/21

Anyone else feeling a little beat up? I jest, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said I felt a little like a flaming train skidding into the station as we approach year’s end. So many things …

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The way out here

Nicks, ticks, and archery sticks

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Anyone else feeling a little beat up? I jest, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said I felt a little like a flaming train skidding into the station as we approach year’s end. So many things have happened this year already and to keep up the pace of all the change in the air, I recently left my day job and took a step toward that future in farming you all know I’ve been chasing.

To be honest I’ve been working on a plan to exit the office setting and start getting my hands dirty for a while. As of a few months ago it was still a distant plan, but with the recent federal mandates, I began talking with my father-in-law a little bit more seriously about my options, and long story short, I’m now leading a fulfilling 8 to 5 as the new butcher at my wife’s family farm.

If you’ve read my articles much in the past, you’ll know that butchering itself isn’t new to me, and I’ve been helping with it for quite some time. That doesn’t exclude the possibility of my making mistakes. As I write this, in fact, I am slightly hobbled with a stiffened finger, which is currently adorned with paper towels, electrical tape and a cutoff finger of a nitrile glove.

For the record, I didn’t cut myself while butchering. I was washing the knives and pulled the blade the wrong way through my hand while attempting to scrub the handle clean. Hey, it comes with the territory.

As it happens, the knife I cut myself on was the proverbial “bad luck” knife which has claimed incisions on my father-in-law and his assistant within recent weeks as well. Perhaps I’m safe now that I’ve had my mishap; who knows?

I’m still having a great time practicing a tangible trade that quite literally puts food on the table, not just for myself but others.

On the subject of dangerous jobs, I had the opportunity to help my father with some guided hunts over the weekend. It’s that season when he has a lot of them and I had the pleasure of guiding a handful of gentlemen with him in the high fence preserve he runs. While bouncing between clients and field dressing their quarry, I got to use a new knife I received from one of the hunters as a tip for my services. I collect knives, and this particular client happened to make them professionally. Although it was spectacularly sharp, I managed to make it through the day without cutting myself with the new addition to my collection.

I didn’t make it out of the woods entirely unscathed, however; to my utter displeasure, I discovered a small tick on my stomach later that evening. It apparently made a series of bites trying to latch on because there were two other bite marks that initially brought my attention to it via their inherent irritation. As if to affirm their prevalence, I heard from several of my hunter friends that they had been gathering quite a handful of ticks themselves as they were out enjoying the first few weeks of archery season in PA.

Speaking of ticks, I was reminded I had yet to purchase my hunting license for this year, let alone submit for doe tags. After doing so online this week though, I fear I may be too late to apply for a doe tag. Since the PA licenses switched to their new website this year, tracking tag availability seems to be harder than in years prior. If not for my persistence, I might not have been able to complete my purchase at all due to the functionality of the new website. Thankfully my patience prevailed, and I am now legal for the remainder of the 2021-2022 year.

Seeming to operate on intuition, my sister called the same day and asked for my help purchasing a new bow for her husband. After providing my advice and some resources, it wasn’t a day before he reached out, excited to go shooting together. What can I say; I’m anxious to shoot as well. All work and no hunting makes for a poor life balance.

The way out here we are apt to occasionally draw our own blood; sometimes nature draws some too, and for us butchers and hunters, we seek to draw a little back from nature. Nicks, ticks, and archery sticks. Funny how much of life out here revolves around blood.

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