Who doesn’t love autumn?
I guess there are some among us who hate the thought of saying goodbye to summer for an extended period. I get pretty excited about the change of seasons. As an avid hunter, this is generally when you get to head to the woods to begin scouting for the biggest buck in the area where you hunt. You check the ground and low hanging branches for any sign of rutting activity. Pick the best spot for your tree stand or ground blind.
Another fun activity is glassing the ridges and tree tops in hopes of spotting a plump squirrel or two. It certainly isn’t all about hunting because even if you don’t spot a single critter …..it’s just about being out there.
The forest floor gives off an amazing scent this time of year. Leaves have fallen and begin to decay and you get this fresh, organic smell of peat. When you are in that environment, the smell is intense and it takes you back to many previous trips to the deer woods where there is no shortage of gratitude for each experience. It ALL comes back. I’m reminded of another fall tradition from my boyhood.
Have you ever heard of Burgoo? Yes, Burgoo. What is it? I’m told that it originated in Kentucky.
It was the means by which rural families would gather and share the bounty of the harvest. Our church adopted this practice as an annual fundraiser. Here’s how it worked. We had these huge copper kettles. Everyone would bring game to share. The kettles would be filled half way with water. One by one, a hunter would walk past and add a couple packages of venison. Next, a duck hunter would stroll over and plop in 4 or five ducks. Before long, the squirrel hunters would contribute. You see what is developing here don’t you? It takes two days to make Burgoo. After the meat is braised all day, we’d cover it at night and let the fire underneath, expire. Beverages were enjoyed throughout the day and evening.
The next morning, the fat was skimmed from the top. The fire is reignited and using paddles that resembled canoe oars, we’d begin to troll for and remove bones. By mid-day, the meat was fall apart tender. This is where you add pounds of chopped vegetables and re-season. I used to have a 15-gallon cast iron rendering kettle for this purpose. Multiple cross country moves leave its whereabouts a mystery. But at this very moment I can almost smell the luscious stew and the accompanying wood smoke in the air.
Happy autumn my friend!