The Obligation: Feed Deer to Your Kids

For a long time--­almost too long--I made the mistake of treating venison as something special. Backstraps were saved for company. Roasts were relegated to holidays. All that changed when the kids came along.

My family of four will eat three whitetails a year, and I've learned to treat venison as no big deal. Today, it's the meat in the soup and in the stew. It's the meat on the shish kebabs and in the pasta salad. When my kids' friends are over for dinner, we don't have "wild-game nights." We have supper. You want meat? Then it's a wild-game night. What's the big deal? (The big deal is that most of their friends rave over "Bambi Spaghetti" and don't even know it's venison until later. Which my kids think is hilarious.)

I'm not saying I don't make a big deal out of a few special meals from each special animal. But by and large, deer meat has become an ordinary part of my kids' lives, a routine expression of our family's reliance on the harvest of the woods. I'd argue that that's a pretty big deal in its own way.