Minnesota, Morris Wedlands Management District, Ringneck Pheasant
A broken wing meant fewer birds in my freezer this year, and led to a new year's resolution. USFWSmidwest via Flickr

So, there have been a few silver linings to breaking my arm on November 3 (yeah, that happened*). For instance, since I haven’t been able to hunt, I no longer obsess and fret over the weather. It does what it does outside. I stay inside, work, and could care less how hard the wind is blowing. I have been far more agreeable than I usually am about attending to anything during daylight hours this time of year that doesn’t involve a shotgun (Christmas shopping, housework, my work, meetings, appointments, and so on). Many years, I have sent my wife flowers the day after the season ends. This year, that won’t be necessary.

The biggest benefit, though, is that there hasn’t been the usual influx of late-season pheasants, quail, ducks, and geese to my larder. As we keep working through the game I still have on hand, I can see the bottom of my freezer for the first time in years. When the 2018 season starts, the freezer will be completely empty, as it should be.

Which brings me to a New Year’s resolution: The freezer needs to be empty every year before hunting season starts again. There are only two of us at home now. We eat game several times a week and still have trouble keeping up. Not that it’s a chore or anything, mind you, but still, game can pile up the way National Geographics used to, and it doesn’t age as well. Eating wild game should be a pleasure, not an obligation.

My resolution is to better share the bounty of the hunt. It’s not as easy as just giving it to people though. A lot of folks you give game to don’t really want it. Personally, I’d as soon not kill something as give it to someone who will bury in their freezer for a while, then toss it. Most landowners I bring end-of-the-season gifts to prefer beer, salamis and cheeses, jams and jellies or, in one case, Diet Pepsi, over game, so that’s what I give them.

I need more locavore friends, I guess (I lost my favorite to cancer a few years ago), who will prize the game I give them as much as I do. Or maybe I need to have a big-game dinner, or to work really hard at cooking birds for my non-game-eating friends until they become game-eating friends. Whatever solution I come up with should have good unintended consequences, too. Hunting less is not the answer, nor, I am here to tell you, is breaking a bone and not hunting at all.

Happy New Year.

*Going too quickly + downhill slope + feet tangling in the grass = short flight through the air + proximal humerus fracture. I was hunting alone but conveniently managed to injure myself about a hundred yards from the truck. And, since I was only 10 minutes from home, I could drive myself back to the house, surprise my wife before she left for work—“Hi, honey. I’m home early. I think I hurt my arm.”—and get her to take me to the emergency room.