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Phil Junker, Outdoors Columnist
Modern gun deer season began last weekend, and Thanksgiving is celebrated next week.
So what does one have to do with the other besides dates that coincide? Thanksgiving means hunting to me. That is Thanksgiving morning. And it is a time to be especially thankful for our country and nature’s bounty.
I’ve always associated Thanksgiving with a time to be thankful for my good fortune. It was on Thanksgiving morning that I shot my first rabbit.
Although a number of men of the family traditionally hunted on Thanksgiving morning, it wasn’t for meat for the table. It was a male thing to get out of the house.
Being of German heritage, my wife Phyllis and her sisters usually work till mid-afternoon preparing a big meal. Any effort to scale down their menu and effort goes to no avail. Cooking, baking and catching up on family news is all part of it. They won’t have it any other way.
Part of my Thanksgiving tradition was a morning hunt. Sometimes for rabbits, some times for quail. It didn’t really matter. Whether we came home with any game didn’t matter. It is just the tradition of getting out in the field for a few hours while the women do their thing in the kitchen.
In my younger years, there weren’t enough deer around to hunt on Thanksgiving. Rabbits and quail were just fine.
One of the first hunts I recall was when I probably was 10. I didn’t yet have a rifle, but I had a Red Ryder BB gun. After breakfast at my grandparents’, the guys decided to hunt a cornfield on the small Illinois farm. We hoped to scare up a rabbit or two nestled in the downed cornstalks amid the remnants of an early snow.
The men and older boys humored me and let me tag along with my Red Ryder. An ample supply of BBs had been purchased with my allowance at the Western Auto Store.
We hadn’t walked far when up jumped a startled cottontail. Guess I was the first to see him, and I quickly raised my trusty Red Ryder and squeezed the trigger for a shot.
No one told me I couldn’t kill a rabbit with a BB gun. So, much to the guys’ surprise, I did.
The BB hit the cottontail in the head and dropped it in its tracks. It was the only rabbit we shot that Thanksgiving morning.
This Thanksgiving won’t involve a hunt. As we gather at the home of my daughter-in-law, I may have to settle for a walk in the woods. But I’ll still remember those traditional hunts.
Deer modern gun season will continue through Nov. 28 in much of Kentucky, however it ends earlier in two zones, including Taylor County where it concludes Nov. 22. Bow and later muzzleloading season continue throughout the state.
DEER CHILI — If you are lucky enough to already have harvested a deer, a crock pot of venison chili makes a good entree for the evening before Thanksgiving.
Here are the suggested ingredients and recipe: 3 1/2 pounds. deer chuck roast, 1 (1 lb.) can tomatoes, 1 c. chopped onion, 1 can chili beans, 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 large can tomato juice, 1/2 c. diced green pepper, Rice
Cut meat into one-inch strips. (You call can use deer burger) Roll strips in flour and brown in skillet. Put in slow cooker or crock pot. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, onion, chili powder, soup, chili beans and green pepper. Set on low to low-medium heat setting for about 6 hours. Serve with rice, or with crackers, cheese and pickles, or whatever you prefer.