Thursday, January 23, 2014

Possessing and Consuming Eagle Jerky

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an imaginary post, located in a more perfect world, where we are free to feast on eagles. In our current non-imaginary world, of course, at least in countries where the eagle is the national bird, such freedom does not exist, although it should. It stands to reason. I've heard it said, "The freedom of your fist ends where my face begins." Meaning, if an eagle is clenched by the neck in my fist, I'm free to do what I will as long as neither my fingernails or its talons scratch your face.

I love eagle jerky. I just love it! Most people do, even if they're not good at making it. In fact, most of the eagle, like the hog, is good for something. Like with hogs, you use everything but the squeal, so with the eagle, you use everything but the squawk.

I watched my dear old Dad make eagle jerky many times. The whole process has a delicious fragrance, from the first gutting of the bird, to the delight of dogs eating the innards, right up to the cooking. I remember Dad carefully separating out the talons, the skin, the meat, the feathers, and even the beak. Then he went through all the steps and made the world's best jerky. Or, depending on how close it was to Thanksgiving, we'd roast a few birds for the meal.

Now Dad's gone ... and Mom ... both to the scourge of cancer, giving me something to think about as to my own physical disposition ... which is neither here nor there ... although I had the opportunity to buy cancer insurance when I was 30 and didn't. I could probably be cashing in in a few years.

Now Dad's gone ... and when I want an eagle I have to go over to the lake and get one myself. Sometimes with other guys, hunting by the old "storming the tree" method and filling them full of buckshot. We split up the haul and discard any eaglets that may have been hit. Even the dogs are repulsed at eating an eaglet.

Is it sad to kill an eaglet? Yeah, sure, a little, because that's one that won't grow up to be harvested later. Still, we rationalize it away like this, that the eagle is a big bird, a bully in the wild, so if we kill a few young it helps the other species. It's the same rationale for not allowing too many big people to live, giving the rest of us more wiggle room.

As for me, when I get my fill of eagle meat -- and mostly I dream about the jerky around a roaring fireplace in the winter, a big blanket on my legs -- I like to fool around with the rest of the bird. Especially the feathers. I arrange them in my own religious ceremonies and pray. I also make hand fans and dreamcatchers for craft sales. There's a lot of little old ladies who are unable to hunt eagles, but that doesn't mean they don't crave them as much as anyone.

I'd love to raise the little boogers, for fun and profit. I still have Grandpa's old chinchilla cages from the '60s. How hard could it be?

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