It was a week ago today that we landed the newest hunter/angler in Team Walgamott, Kiran Sky.
Our baby boy came into the world early in the afternoon at just over 8 1/2 pounds and 21 inches long. He and Momma are both doing quite well and are at home.
His first name is Hindi for “ray of light,” a meaning that Amy really liked. She again shot down my old-New Englandey choices of Herkimer, Roscoe, Mortimer and Eldred — I don’t know why! — but did compromise on Sky. It, of course, refers to Puget Sound’s Skykomish, one of my favorite steelhead and salmon streams.
MOMMA AND KIRAN REST AFTER BIRTH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
Now, whether Kiran does take up rod and reel remains to be seen. Last spring, when I took his older brother, River, then 22 months old, to a local pond for bass, bluegill, carp or whatever else swum in it, things didn’t go quite the way I imagined they would.
Things never do with youngsters, though, I’m learning.
And that’s part of the fun with them, I’m also learning. Give River an ice cream cone — and stand back, because those chocolate or vanilla scoops will end up all over him and maybe you. But don’t lose it, just enjoy the moment. And take lots of pics.
Amy’s a big scrapbooker, does some cool stuff with the images we take and paper and scripts she buys. She’s also bought those baby books to record Juniors 1 and 2’s first days, months and years. On one of the pages you’re supposed to tape on headlines and other news of The Big Day, so we bought the November 25th issues of the Seattle Times and New York Times.
It wasn’t until we got home from the hospital, though, that I was able to read them. And I was quite surprised — and pleased — to find a hunting piece on the front page of the Dining & Wine section of the NYT: “The Urban Deerslayer.”
The article is not really about hunting behind the strip mall for deer. Rather, it’s about city-slickin’ -06 acolytes heading afield for their vittles.
Writes author Sean Patrick Farrell:
The call to forge deeper connections with the food we eat has pulled thousands to the nation’s farmers’ markets, sprouted a million backyard seedlings and jump-started an interest in scratch baking, canning and other county-fair pursuits.
Now add hunting to the list. Novice urban hunters are forming classes and clubs to learn skills that a few generations ago were often passed down from parent to child.
Jackson Landers, an insurance broker by day, teaches a course (in Charlottesville, Va.,) called Deer Hunting for Locavores. Mr. Landers, 31, started the classes earlier this year for largely urban adults who, like him, did not grow up stalking prey but have gravitated to harvesting and cooking their own game.
Farrell details the ordinary backgrounds of some of those newby hunters enrolled in Landers’ class — a 77-year-old man tired of whitetails competing for his salad greens; a 16-year-old boy; a 31-year-old male project manager for a Internet development outfit.
“This class was the chance of a lifetime,” Nina Burke, a 50-year-old female systems administrator also in the group, told Farrell. “I always thought that the only way I would get a deer was with my car.”
Another hunting/dining group has sprung up in San Francisco, he reports.
A 4-minute video with the article features outtakes of Landers’ class, from target practice to gutting to butchering in the kitchen to fully cooked beer-braised backstraps — delicious!
“It’s free range, hormone-free .The animal leads a good natural life in the wild, and then it has one bad day,” Landers explains in the video.
As for why they’re in the class, one man likens knowing how to hunt for “all that free meat running around” to being able to fix your own car. We do not have to surrender these things to distant meat-packing plants or microchip-checking mechanics just because society says those skills are old fashioned.
Online, there are at least 36 comments on the article, illustrating a variety of views on hunting, some quite negative, others positive.
Unlike this small new corps of townie game trackers, hunting in my family has been passed down to me by my dad from his dad.
Amy’s milk and Kiran are being strengthened with venison from the buck I shot in mid-October. (River loves salmon, steelhead, trout and halibut, though was a little more hesitant on the deer summer sausage we pulled out to celebrate his brother’s birth.)
The quality and nutrition of wild game and fish is something sportsmen have known about forever, but seemingly has been lost to the general public in recent decades as our food supply has become more and more industrialized.
But articles like Farrell’s — and books like Don Thomas’ How Sportsmen Saved the World — give me hope that hunting will remain socially acceptable and better understood by the time my boys (if they choose to, of course) take up their great-grandpas’, grandpas, great-uncles’ and father’s sport.
Right now Kiran’s got the whole move-slowly thing down perfectly — River most assuredly will have to relearn that — though both boys may need a little help on the staying-quiet part of hunting.
And while we’re all definitely urban deer hunters, they’ll have me and Dad to learn those skills from — not some class — when they’re ready.
POSTSCRIPT: It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I’d been wandering around the office all day in a shirt with at least three noticeable spit-up stains on the left shoulder. Yeah, I need more sleep.