Goose Hunting

Hunters brush snow off of goose decoys in late January along the North Platte River.

Christine Peterson, Star-Tribune

For the past decade, my freezer has been full of game meat. At first it was strange, then a novelty, then an expectation.Some years it came from animals my husband shot, sometimes from his family — an elk his dad killed, or a mixture of antelope harvested by him, his dad or his brother. Sharing lessened the pressure on any one hunter.

I learned to cook the red meat with little to no fat that lived in Wyoming’s forests and in the plains. It smelled a different than beef, sure, but by the time the hamburger was seasoned or steaks marinated, I couldn’t tell the difference.

There’s a connection with the Earth that’s hard to achieve until you realize the meat (or vegetables) you’re eating you harvested yourself. I felt a sense of pride in our family that the meat we cooked came from animals we shot, cleaned, cut up, ground, packaged and froze ourselves. It was the food web in its purest form.

But I was never the one pulling the trigger. With the exception of an occasional pheasant that rested packaged along with those from my husband, I wasn’t the one completing the circle.

Until one Sunday morning in late January.

I left husband and toddler at home to go goose hunting the day after a blizzard. I laid in wait in blinds and pulled the trigger.

I brought the birds home, removed the breasts and legs, cleaned them in the sink and wrapped them in saran wrap and freezer paper, just as I have for so many years on animals my husband brought home.

The first batch of breasts went into our crock pot the next day along with juice from a few limes, a jar of salsa and some taco seasoning. The house filled with rich aromas, and eight hours later I pulled the pieces apart with a fork.

The meat that filled burritos that night was mine. It took me a minute to process the pride I felt as my 18-month old ate the food I brought home.

Sure, most of the meat in our freezer is from my husband’s bull elk. But for that night – and a few more to come – I’ll know I can provide for us. I joined in nature’s cycle in the most primitive way.

Follow managing editor Christine Peterson on Twitter @PetersonOutside

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Managing Editor

A Casper native, Christine Peterson started as a Star-Tribune intern in 2002. She has covered outdoor recreation, the environment and wildlife since 2010, and became managing editor in 2015. If not tracking bears or elk on assignment, she's chasing trout.

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