The Antlers in my current centerpiece are from a brave and honorable deer from Nimmo, Arkansas. I cried the first time my hubs brought a dead, bloody deer home in the back of his truck. I was shocked, I suppose.
We had been married only 7 short months, but I’ll never forget the quizzical, confused facial expression when he asked me, “Have I done something wrong?”
Oh, I had seen a few pheasants and a rabbit who had been shot by my father or my brother, but I never actually paid attention to what they did to those noble creatures slain by family members.
I told Mike I wanted the antlers, I NEEDED to have the antlers… Needed something of the poor, innocent creature that gave his life so men could have venison jerky and sausages. My husband just laughed. I wondered what kind of person I had married.
I have kept those very same antlers in honor of that first buck, for whom I wept so pitifully as a young bride!
How I have changed! It did not take long for me to adjust my thinking. You see, we made our home on the edge of the Wildlife Game Refuge off the famous Little Red River in Arkansas at the time. Our first home was a tiny homestead in the Village of Nimmo, which had been a Native American campground years ago.
Not only that, but I was surrounded by little hunting cottages and shacks, and every weekend, dozens of eager hunters arrived in four-wheel-drive trucks, with gun in hand. My morning alarm was the sound of gunshot in the woods at 5:30 am, and the proud killers of wildlife (in my mind, that was how I thought of them) were transformed (over time) into competitive, silly grown men in camouflage.
But those men were kind of sweet, and they were patient with me. Over time, my husband’s hunting buddies would offer me a taste of their home-made deer sausage, duck dressing, or bear jerky. At first I refused, but not to be rejected, I decided to give it a whirl and try a bite. Before I knew it, I was trading recipes for Deer Chili, Duck Gumbo, and Pheasant Stew. My conversation changed from “How is your wife? ” to “Is that white pepper I taste in your gumbo?” I realized that I had completely converted to “savage” when I eagerly volunteered to make Rabbit Stew for my son’s 2nd grade class when they were studying the frontier life in History class.
Funny how life changes a person. But I still revere that first slain deer when I see those lovely antlers in my living room. I’ve heard it saidthat every end is a new beginning. Somehow that makes more sense when I think of that poor creature whose life ended so that I could have these antlers.