The white tailed deer population in Minnesota is around 1 million strong. Typically around 200,000 of these animals are harvested each season by some 700,000 hunters. The tradition of the fall hunt goes back to times before recorded history. The fall hunt was a very important event for Native Americans and that tradition extended from generation to generation.
Even in times long past, the hunt was a family affair, as Native American hunters traveled to the hunting area. The whole family helped to process and preserve the meat for winter. Today, groups of family and friends gather at the favorite hunting areas and follow the traditions of their predecessors. Many folks still gather after the hunt to skin the deer and cut up the meat for later consumption. For many, the late fall tradition of “making meat” also includes butchering domestic animals as well. Many types of sausage and other smoked and cured delicacies are still made.
Bound, not so much by necessity anymore, but by tradition and taste many folks in flyover country still take charge of their own food by putting meat into their freezers. Somehow the neat packages of wholesome protein look very nice next to all those colorful vegetables that we put aside from last summer’s garden. The idea of eating local food encourages gardening and going to farmers markets for produce, and it should also include the local venison that is harvested and enjoyed from the fields and forests right in our own backyards.