Clise’s Cornucopia– Thanksgiving, Deer Hunting and How I Rough It

Me in 2011 sitting on the steps of the Historic Lewis County Courthouse with my then girlfriend, and now wife Rebecca, behind the camera lens. She always makes me smile. I was hospitalized with viral meningitis a few days later. I lost like 25 pounds in a couple of a weeks. Next column I’ll use a different picture from the past decade with the full story. behind it.

By John Clise

Happy Thanksgiving a little bit early. Soon we’ll be up to our elbows in turkey, stuffing, potatoes of all sorts, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, salads of all sorts, biscuits, corn bread, rolls, yams, colored greens, casseroles, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, boiled eggs, squash, cooked carrots, deviled eggs, Brussel sprouts, all sorts of fruits and vegetables, gravies, fruit salad, chick peas, black eyed peas, and most definitely, sweet tea. And likely so many other dishes, side dishes, snacks, and beverages that I couldn’t list them all.

Now there are the desserts… where to even start… I love squash pie, sweet potato pie, and strawberry pie. Let me know your favorite dessert in the comments. I might have to try something new this year.

I’ll be carving the turkey this year with my Grandpap’s electric carving knife. It’s a relic from the 1970s. He let me have it a few years before he passed in 1998.

It plugs into the wall. It’s incredibly loud, hard to control… and amazingly sharp for being 45 years old or so. It cuts through turkey like a lightsaber or a chainsaw. Pap was a very organized guy. The warranty and directions came with the box when he have it to me. I didn’t really need the instructions because I had hands on training from the turkey master himself.

I wouldn’t mind another Thanksgiving watching Pap work his magic on a 25 pound bird. Seeing him smile and hearing his laugh as joked with us all. He always had this sweet twinkle in his eyes.

Deer season comes the same week of Thanksgiving. Soon people will be flooding into our state to stalk the mighty deer. Three days of no showering; wearing the same clothes; eating beans; drinking beer; staying in shacks, tents, and RVs. Those are all things that I’m just not into at all. Probably just the opposite.

I mean I’ve been hunting. I’ve spent cold nights in a make shift shanty that I remembered how to build from childhood memory. As kids we were always building some structure or another. We once built an underground fort complete with working fireplace.

I still carry a chainsaw in my trunk. I carry a few other tools and supplies just in case there is an incident that requires, shelter, food, warmth, water… basic survival. To be honest, I’m suspect of people who don’t carry a chainsaw in the trunk just in case.

My nephew asked for advice when he started hunting. I told him the best advice I could give him was that turkeys can indeed fly for short, explosive, surprising distance. And his first time out he learned that turkeys can indeed fly, and will when frightened by a youngster paying more attention to leaves and moss than what was in front of him. He’s 40 years old now. I’m not sure the poor guy has recovered yet.

Once while hunting on family property, I sat down against a tree and fell asleep. I woke up two hours later (and this true) to find a squirrel sitting just above my knee looking a bit baffled. He walked up to my upper thigh and put his hands on my jacket. He jumped off and tried to get behind my back. I got up, and ran inside a hole at the base of the tree. Apparently, I was blocking the door to his house.

Let’s get back to how I like to rough it. It is most definitely not in a tent or a shanty or a one room cabin with an outhouse for facilities. Keep in mind in my mid 20s I lived in a barn with an outhouse for facilities. I’ve done my time in that adventure.

I like a nice four star hotel with comfortable beds and room service. 1 p.m. check outs help, too. It’s not that I’m soft. I’m not. I’ve done that stuff already. I’m at a point in life, and have been for many years, where I just want to sleep in a warm, comfortable bed with nice pillows, soft sheets, and a warm comforter.

hey, that’s just me. Plenty of people like spending their Thanksgiving week freezing, wet, dirty, nibbling jerky, and waiting for the big one to come along. I’ll be inside toasty warm, dry and probably napping on and off.

If you are in West Virginia, check out Hunters Helping the Hungry if you aren’t sure what to do with your harvested deer. Check out Hunters Helping the Hungry here if you are located in another state.


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