Red Stag

If you know me, then you know Matt, and you probably think I’m talking about whiskey when I say Red Stag. I am not; however, I will say this: Red Stag bourbon is pretty good. I don’t really like whiskey at all, though.

What I’m talking about is the actual red stag deer. Despite living in places where deer are common sights, like Virginia, I have never seen a deer with antlers in the living wild (other than the ones Matt used to have hanging on our wood paneled walls).

european red stag gloriousness

Ok, I lied, I have seen one and it’s a relevant story that I can tell now:

Halloween, 2009. I went hunting with Matt for the second time. I haven’t been since then, but we do this thing together now called “nature watching” which I do like. For some crazy-ass reason, I decided that I’d like to wake up with him at 4am, put on an ungodly amount of layers fashioned out of random camouflage (all of which is too big for me because I am not a 6’6” man), and head out to a farm in BFE middle Virginia to climb a tree stand – you read that right, a tree stand –  and sit around for 6 hours with my boyfriend.

I don’t hunt. I don’t like death. I like organic meat and if Matt’s hunting serves a purpose (like thinning the amount of destructive deer in this area) then I’m fine if he does it. I’m certain the ONLY reason I wanted to go was the promise of a Wawa sub breakfast (do NOT knock it until you try it) and a warm Starbucks treat afterward. Food-related, but you know that about me by now.

We arrived at the farm and walked into the middle of a thick forest in pitch black darkness (insanity). Then Matt pointed up at the tree stand and told me to climb.

Ah, now, what the… No. I’m not climbing that. Will that even hold me? Or BOTH of us? Oh my god. Can I go home now?

With nervous trepidation I climbed up, did a pathetic turn to sit, and held my breath for what I figured was imminent death just sitting on a flimsy piece of metal strapped to a tree. Then Matt got up there, and we were together and not falling.

This is where the silent “hunt” begins. (Or rather it should’ve started immediately after parking the car…but, well, I was there.) Not even 6am, still pitch black, still hungry, and still scared, I realize….

It’s Mother Effing Halloween and I’m sitting in a dark forest with no one around for miles FOR NO GOOD REASON. Then we heard a gun shot.

I thought it was bow-season?!?!?! Matt reassured me muzzle-loader season started that day. Unsettling, still, because the people behind those muzzle-loaders are men and I’m a feminist and not a hunter and the rest should explain itself.

Did I mention we were on the grounds of a Civil War battlefield. Yeah. YEAH.

Halloween + darkness + haunted battlefield = INSANITY.

After a while I tried to just get into a nature-watching groove. I learned that squirrels sound like bigger animals and even as time goes by, it doesn’t get any more fun sitting in a tree stand. Matt told me to tap him on the knee if I should spot a deer. I thought it’d be unlikely that I’d see one before him because he can spot them from miles away in Wyoming and I’m cross-eyed anyway.

Then nothing happened and I realized it was only 6:05am and we’d have to be here until at least 10am or something like that. So, I did what any rational girlfriend in a tree stand on Halloween morning would do: I prayed. Please God, send us a deer so we can go home. 

THEN GOD DID JUST THAT. And Matt, the big oaf, didn’t even see it. I’m practically screaming on the inside as this horse-creature walks up, and Matt’s looking at the sky or somewhere deer would never be. So, I tap and he’s all like, “Hmm?” and I’m like (with my eyes) “Hello you idiot a deer! Do you’re job!” Matt stands up to harvest it, and the deer walks around the tree and the entire time I’m making eye-contact with it thinking it was something spiritual and right to do…or whatever. Matt finally got a good shot, sat down to let the deer run away and expire, and then I revealed to him the moment the deer and I were having and he told me that was bad. Or weird. Or whatever.

Long story long, we got a deer on Halloween morning. It was a buck after all, but it was young so he had little stubs for antlers. Button Buck, them hunters call them. I call it, My Deer. I also call it The Last Time I Ever Go Hunting.

You’re welcome Matthew.

So, that leads us to this weekend, before Halloween 2012, I told Matt to drive our chariot toward Kisa because I’ve never seen that area of Sweden before. It was a lovely drive and the leaves were getting to that nice burnt orange color, and it was a gorgeous sunny day. Kisa might be a cute little town, but it was a Sunday and if you know anything about Sweden, you know all the Swedes are not outside and nothing is open. Because they’re in church. Ha! That’s a lie, Swedes don’t go to church. But a cold Sunday leaves a town abandoned.

On our drive home we spotted a MASSIVE herd of big ol’ deer. DEER WITH BIG OL’ ANTLERS. We did what any irresponsible foreign drivers do, whip the car around on a 2-lane highway a couple of times to try to find a good spot to pull over and look at them.

The pictures might’ve been better if two hound dogs who shall remain nameless weren’t barking at an ear-splitting volume, scaring the entire herd away despite the fact that we were very far away to begin with.

Someone tell Matt to upgrade his wife with a nice telephoto lens. Tell him it’ll be for nature shots of Scandinavian wildlife. It might convince him.

Anyway, these stags were AMAZING and majestic and I had my face pressed up against the car window like a kid at a candy shop. Big antlers are my fave. Matt said they were getting into ‘rut’ and that’s why they were all hanging out together, males and females. Those two big bucks did the job of checking us out while the others stayed further away. Like they were responsible, protective men. Like Matt would do for me in a potentially dangerous situation, tee hee 🙂

Matt’s good friend from home harvested a monster buck last night and sent us a picture. I guess it’s a big deer, but now that I’ve seen these guys…those American deer just can’t compare. I like my bucks like I like my man: the taller the stature, the closer to God. Of course.

 

first picture of red stag via

and “harvest” is a nice way of saying killed. it’s also a fall season-appropriate word.

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