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Division Of Labor


I am a modern feminist. Until I send my husband out hunting.

I do not particularly like to hunt. I’m a bad shot and my husband is practically a sharpshooter. It makes no sense for me to take a swipe at a deer when he could kill it clean with his first bullet.

And so, I send him off to hunt and wait at home. But there’s something so primal about sending your spouse out for a winter’s worth of meat that whiplashes me straight into 1950s gender roles. I get up with him at 5:30, turning the coffee pot on. “Eggs and bacon okay?” I ask as he pulls on his canvas hunting pants.

I’d normally only cook breakfast for my man if I happened to want some too. He has opposable thumbs, he can get his own breakfast if he wants it. Something, though, on hunt day, just feels different.

Maybe it just feels like I should be helping. Like this should be communal. What he’ll haul back on his broad shoulders will be our meat—will stock our freezer and weigh heavy on our table. Since I want to do something, I cook. Eggs and bacon before he leaves, and pasta tossed with herbs, bread crumb, lemon and cheese when he returns. It feels so silly and housewife-y, but it also feels right.

About noon I get the call. He’s got a buck. A good size one. As promised, a single bullet took him down on the spot.

I hate this part. It’s tedious and exhausting, pulling the skin off and butchering the animal into usable bits. I love this part, because it’s the part I do. We pull the skin off. I grab my knife and tie my hair back. I am not a good shot. I am not strong enough to carry a dead deer all by myself. I can, however, do this. Blood up to my elbows, I work, cutting, separating and handing pieces off for vacuum sealing. The tenderloins come out perfectly. The backstrap is carved without missing an ounce. We will eat well in January.

At the end of the day equal in our labor, neither of us will cook tonight. Which is good because we are both beat. Instead, praise God, there are leftovers.

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