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Where was my venison?

In Kansas, where'd I'd traveled last deer hunting season, venison is a staple. Here in the Bay Area, it's a delicacy. So almost from the moment I stepped off my return flight at SFO, I started fantasizing about the dinners my gourmet friends would prepare featuring my soon-to-be-arriving venison.

Two months after my return, however, my deer was still in a freezer in Kansas. Clearly it was time to call my hunting guide, Steve, and find out what the delay was.

Now I'm a city guy, whereas Steve's spent his entire life hunting and farming in rural Kansas. Whatever he lacks in cosmopolitan finish, however, he makes up for in sophistication. On my trip, Steve introduced me to dry land farming, limestone hydrology, the burning characteristics of local hardwoods, deer food preferences and rural health care delivery, to name just a few topics, and somehow tied them all together. He was affable, open, and engaged, like a favorite college professor -- only armed and in camouflage.

On the phone Steve sounded friendly but tired. He told me my venison was all ready, and he'd ship it out next week. I wondered what was keeping Steve too busy to make it to UPS, so I asked him what he'd been up to lately. Steve said he'd been out the last few nights: 10:30 pm to 7:30 am, in minus 13 degree weather, rescuing newborn calves. He was getting ready to head back out that night. 


We talked for a while about calves, and winter storms, and how cattle survive a Kansas winter. Steve told me a funny story about staying up all night drying a newborn calf with a blow dryer so it wouldn't freeze to death. He described how he'd had to cut the hide off of a dead calf and drape it over another calf to fool a mother cow into accepting the calf as her own. It worked.

Somewhere during my seminar on calving season, I started feeling silly for worrying about the venison. I was thinking on city time, but Steve was working on country time. I don't know when meat-shipping season is, but I bet Steve does. And when it rolls around, Steve will send me my venison.

With a Perspective, I'm Evan Sagerman.