My Quebec - Two hillbillies and me

Cedric and his nephew, Bruno

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The first thing you’ll notice about Part-4 is that I’ve dropped the second person BS that I used, to try ta make it look it like the protagonist was someone other than me. Hey it was me, I want ta be me from now. So, lets begin.

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It’s over. Hunting season has shut down for the year.

Of course, you can still go out and get some coyotes or rabbits. For coyotes, there are no stipulated bag limits in the Montérégie where I live and so, a couple of years back when I came up empty handed at the end of the season – no kills, I went on a rampage.

I offed at least 20 coyotes that December. I didn’t eat ‘em of course. Interestingly, we kill coyotes but never think of eating ‘em. Sure, coyote meat is kinda rubbery, like horse meat or bear meat, but we eat bears and horses. Then how come we wrinkle our noses when it comes to the coyotes?

Simon, next door, tells me this is one of those conundrums, but I think it’s the stigma attached to coyotes – bullies in a pack but wimpy cowards when alone, streaked with dirt, fur always messed up with flecks of blood from the numerous daily skirmishes over scraps of kill left over by hunters – that scavenging, sniveling persona that has grown round them.

The last coyote I killed was a female, a magnificent specimen the size of a full grown German Shepherd, encased in long, thick, fluffy, dirty grey fur. She was barely breathing when I came upon her, the round having passed right through her chest. Startling blue eyes stared up at me, unwavering and cold, the acceptance of the suddenness of life’s twists and turns writ large in them. At some other time and setting, I might have hugged her, but after you are out hunting a while, you learn not ta get carried away with wild animals if you want ta stay alive. Coyotes are dogs without the love gene.

In Canada, all farm-owners are hunters and trappers too, since their farms invariably teem with wildlife of all sorts, throughout the year. If you own a medium sized farm in Canada of say twennie acres, you’ll never have ta buy even a single pound of meat at the grocery store as long as you live. You’ll be dining on fresh venison, turkey, partridge, duck, rabbit – all year long.

I hunt at Cedric’s 100-acre spread that abuts a massive wild life reserve known as Parc Omega, in Montebello, just over an hour from where I live. Cedric and I have known each ever since, one stormy February night in 2010, I had stopped on the 20-East and pulled out his unconscious wife from a Jeep Cherokee that had skidded into a ditch and was about to be completely swallowed up by snow. I had dragged Gina’s limp body across 100 feet of asphalt and laid her across the back seat and covered her with my jacket and driven her to the Valleyfield Emergency, calling 911 ahead so they’d be ready for her.

They are very different – the Provenchers. Barely literate deep rust belt, 200% Trump constituency, living practically cut off from the outside world. Historically these folks are virulently bigoted and if you stop at a village they’ll be nice if you don’t stay too long. But me – I am family now. Nothing happens at the Provencher household that they don’t make sure I am a part of. When he found out I was an avid hunter, he took me out and swept his arms over the dense forest land that I could make out over the horizon and said, ‘From now, this is your land to hunt, come and go as you like.’

As word of Gina’s miraculous escape spread through neighboring farms, a little old brown Bengali from a hick town named Durgapur in Eastern India became one of the most beloved human beings in the region. Christmas now is at the Provencher spread every year. Gina’s twin, Sophia, a spinster who has a kind of ethereal beauty, has learned how ta make tandoori chicken and its funny how Gina finds ways for Sophia and me ta end up sitting side by side at the dinner table every time.

Of course, the secret of a friendship is give and take. I never fail to share my kills with Cedric. This time too, I let him have the coyotes. He in turn would probably sell the fur to Canada Goose, Kanuk or other high end parka places at around eighty a piece. You buy that same parka fur for upwards of 400 a piece.

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But killing coyotes is not my style. Large game hunting (bear, deer, moose) is and that’s off limits by the end of November.

Funny, but the large game (especially the whitetail) somehow sense that the hunting season has ended and that it is okay now to be swaggering around, with not a care in the world, with no need to wait until dark. Post-season, if the whitetail could use their hooves to thumb their nostrils at you, they would.

There is a small town of four hundred souls on the Quebec-Ontario border named Duhamel, a stone’s throw from the Provencher spread – as pretty a town as you can ever find anywhere on God’s earth. Local farmers like Cedric ride into town on their pick-up trucks once a month and stock up on non-perishables like toilet paper and shampoo – anything that they are unable ta grow.

When the hunting season draws to a close, Duhamel begins ta look like Times Square for whitetail. There are more deer than humans in that town then. The town folk are okay with it. You keep your kitchen door ajar in Duhamel and go take a shower and when you come back down, there might be a whitetail taking a peek inside your fridge for yummy stuff.

Post-season, everybody in Duhamel makes nice. Almost every home in Duhamel acquires a pet whitetail and every home has mountain-sized sacks of carrots and apples to feed them. Off season, like Robert DeNiro’s Don Lino in ‘Shark Tale’ every Duhamel citizen says ‘deer are our friends, we shouldn’t eat deer’.

Until the next hunting season – when those very same Don Linos turn blood thirsty just like in the movie and all those pet whitetails that had been prancing around town disappear from view, now looked at as juicy venison cuts and steaks. Cool.

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(to be continued…)

Ps: Don’t miss Part-5. That’s where the real hunt for Zorba begins

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