The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 20, 2008

From the Publisher's Desk: Opening day offers a unique experience


This past Saturday, I was running around town doing errands, and on the radio came a song that cracks me up every time I hear it _ "Thirty Point Buck."

This year was no different, but I did experience a first in my life on hunting's opening day.

Living in the Northeast, every year I transition to studded snow tires right about this time.

So, over the hills I rode with my brother to Tony's Body Shop to swap out my all-seasons for the noisy but reassuring grippers before the shop got bombarded with folks after the first heavy snowfall.

By the way, I wasn't there just to watch. Brother Mark instructed me to replace the lug nuts, and after he tightened them with the air gun, he handed me the torque wrench and said have at it.

Luckily, his friend Marcus was there to show me how to use it, and I proceeded to finish each tire off.

Saturday was the perfect opportunity to get in and out of the shop because Marcus was out hunting, looking to tag the biggest rack he could. To our surprise, at about 9 a.m., Marcus pulled his pickup down the long drive and came into the shop proudly exclaiming that his seven-pointer was in the bed of the truck.

Now, I can understand and appreciate that most local hunters depend on the kill to feed their families. Many others donate the meat to area organizations such as the Conservation Alliance of New York Venison Program, of which this company is a proud supporter.

My husband even gets out in the wee hours of the morning to walk the perimeter in hopes of raising his rifle for that perfect specimen. But, to his dismay, he has come home scoreless for the past several years.

I personally dislike seeing these beautiful animals lying lifeless in trucks that pass by, although I know population control is necessary and one fewer roaming deer means the chance one will jump out in front of my vehicle (knock on wood) decrease.

That said, I did something I never thought I would do. I helped hang my first deer. I guess it was payment for being able to use the garage to change over my tires.

Marcus asked my brother to help with the task, so he grabbed some latex gloves from the shelf and handed me a pair. I asked what they were for.

Mark's wicked smile appeared as he announced, "So you don't get blood on your hands."

I adamantly exclaimed, "No way," to which my big brother simply replied, "Come on," in that suck-it-up-buttercup sort of way. Reluctantly, I put the gloves on and headed out back.

Marcus backed the truck up to the beam where the deer would hang. He cut slices into the deer's legs where the steel post would enter. Using his dull knife, it seemed to take an eternity (by the way, whoever took his spanking new sharp one, he would like it back!).

From a far and safe distance, I watched him climb the ladder and prepare to hoist the carcass.

About halfway through the process after the deer had cleared the truck bed, I had reason to believe my assistance would not be required. That thought and hope came too soon. Mark looked up and yelled out to Marcus that the top of the racket strap was not hooked, so the deer had to come back down.

They hollered for me to grab one side. Whether it was knowing my brother was about to have the entire weight of the animal to hold or the thought of it plummeting to the ground, I went over and grabbed one side.

The smell was unbearable as I turned my head away so I did not have to look at the kill. Marcus secured the strap and started pulling it up and I got the go-ahead to let go. When I did, the deer swung, hitting my body as I ran away screeching.

The task was done. Mark asked if I got any blood on me, which I thought a little odd, then I looked down and saw the red on my sneakers. As we washed it off with a hose, the realization of what I just did hit home. It is an experience I won't soon forget.

As I continue on my journey to quit smoking with no real update other than I am holding steady, I now have Chantix information (thanks Barb!), so I can make an informed decision about whether it is the added boost I need to quit entirely. I will keep you posted.

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Tanya Shalor is publisher of The Daily Star and may be reached at (607) 432-1000, ext. 214, or tshalor@thedailystar.com. Her column appears every other week.