Making Berries Out of Lemons


Today is the last day of doe season. I’ve tried, repeatedly, to get a deer this year. I had two chances. One was the time I was walking and came up on one on my farm. I lined it up in my sights and pulled the trigger. Only I’d forgotten that I’d left the safety on. Because I’m a moron. By the time I figured out what my problem was, the buck had figured out me and was outta there. Another time, I took a shot at a doe on my cousin’s farm, but I missed. It was really too far away for me, but hey, I tried. Other than that, I have not even seen a deer. They scoff at me with their antler scrapes on my trees and their poop on my paths.

They’re out there.


Especially that one buck. When they’re nesting down in the woods behind my fields, he says, “Don’t worry, boys, we’re all going to live to be twelve points. SHE CAN’T EVEN TAKE THE SAFETY OFF.”

This morning, it was very cold. Windy. I was sitting out on a rock overlooking a ravine.
As I sat there freezing to death, I kept looking at the very pretty blue berries near the edge of the cliff.
By the way, I’m always afraid I’m going to slip and fall off a cliff when I’m hunting because I’m such a klutz. However, the colder I got and the longer I sat, the more enchanted I was with the pretty blue berries. I put my shotgun down and scrambled over there on my hands and knees. The berries were caught up in briars, but I pulled a knife out of my pocket and I disentangled and cut them out.

I hadn’t seen a deer, but I wasn’t going to leave with nothing. I could have pretty blue berries!

I’m easily distracted, in case I haven’t mentioned it.

Once I had berries, of course I needed some accompaniment. Some interesting sticks and pods and things I can’t name. The berries called for an entire arrangement.

By the time I made it back to the main path, my shotgun over my shoulder and my fists full of wild wonder, I couldn’t have taken out a deer if it had sat down in front of me and asked me for the time. Like I was going to put down my berries after risking my life to obtain them!

With the last doe season ending, so are my chances. If I’d shot a deer, I would have proudly posted a photo of me with my prize. But I still came away with a prize, didn’t I? In the spirit of making lemonade (or berries) out of lemons, here I am with my prize!
My wild winter bouquet!
I didn’t even have to field dress it.


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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 31, 2013  

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25 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-31

    I have to admit, I am much happier seeing pods and berries and such than a dead deer! :fairy:

  2. 12-31

    I love it! How pretty :-)

  3. 12-31

    Nicely done, I must say I agree with cabynfever. I went out yesterday and cut some branches fron our curly willow to make some winter arangements. There really is beauty in the Winter foliage if we just look.

  4. 12-31

    My roses, shrubs, berry bushes, saplings I’ve started from butternut, walnut, hickory and others cannot be kept save from the things. You name it and I have tried it to keep them at bay. Shooting them does no good. The blame things are to numerous.
    Coming spring an electric fence is going up. I figure 2 joules worth of current will send them packing. Each dead deer I have dragged across the field to the riverbank where Turkey Vultures have a fine feast. Once counted 33 out there politely dining on venison.
    I also shot at one. A eight point buck in the middle of some rose bushes. My rifle was sighted for 400′ and the deer was maybe 50′ away. How could I miss? Well I did, twice. chuckles kiddo. Wishing you and yours a wonderful upcoming year. :sun: :reindeer:

  5. 12-31

    LOL, maybe next year! Are you going back out tonight? Putting out a salt lick or regularly tossing a little corn will help bring them in to a predictable location. I don’t know that I’d want to drag one out of that ravine anyways. :no:

    Those berries look to be Smilax, aka. Greenbriar. Not edible, but great for arrangements. The tender green tips of the vine in the spring are edible and can be eaten like asparagus. Don’t toss them in your yard when you’re done with them or you’ll have them popping up everywhere and the prickly vines are next to impossible to root out. I’ve got one stuck in my lilac bush that I have to keep after with the pruning shears. They’re very prickly!

  6. 12-31

    I’m the same way hunting, so easily distracted. I just can’t sit still for hours waiting for a deer to walk in front of me -how boring!!!!! I have to walk and enjoy such a glorious fall day :) I am contemplating bear hunting this upcoming early fall… Though that involves sitting in a stand & Idk if I could stand it! But bear meat is sooooo good! We will see I guess.

    Happy new year :)

  7. 12-31

    How do you keep your indoor cats off the table? My cat can’t stand to see anything on the table, she will knock it over and eat it and then knock it completly off the table. This happens usually during the night. Needless to say I remove everything off the table at night.

  8. 12-31

    Let me clear that up a bit. this is
    my dinning room table that my cat gets on, She has never attempted to get on my kitchen table.

  9. 12-31

    Who says I keep my cats off the table?

  10. 12-31

    Aren’t you afraid they will eat the poisenous berries?

  11. 12-31

    They never mess with stuff like that. I have one that really likes to sleep on my dining room table. I try to discourage this, but he’s persistent!

  12. 12-31

    “I pulled a knife out of my pocket and I disentangled and cut them out”…
    Good for you for having a knife handy! You’re a real hunter now!
    Love the floral arrangement, by the way. (Better than deer guts on your knife.)
    Happy New Year to you and all your family!

  13. 12-31

    Sounds like my kind of winter adventure! Just be careful where you toss the berries once you’re finished with them. If they’re the same kind of briers we have, you don’t want them sprouting in a flower or garden bed. They’re impossible to get rid of once they get started.

  14. 1-1

    Hmmm… we share the same distraction issues. My husband forgets that I have “ADD” and frequently loses me in stores because I get distracted. My daughter puts it this way–“Ooooo, shiny object,” and she’s off task. I call it a happy life. Congratulations on your successful hunt. Happy New Year to you, Suzanne, and your family.
    Pat in Eastern NC

  15. 1-1

    I think those are grapes. Wild grapes. Heritage grapes.

  16. 1-1

    I feel encouraged to do a little tripping around my woods after reading this. I have not put away the Christmas decorations yet, but will need to put some cheer back in the house once all the holiday stuff is in totes. I think winter woods are very interesting with all the texture. Plus ticks are not a problem!

  17. 1-1

    Oh I also have animals on my table, but they are parakeets!

  18. 1-1

    A very Happy New Year to you, Suzanne, and may I also add a belated Merry Christmas. Sorry you didn’t get a deer this year, but just experiencing the wonderful woods should be rewarding enough. At least it would be for me. Besides, you didn’t come away empty handed. On the bright side, at least you don’t have to worry about your arrangement dying.

  19. 1-1

    Happy New Year! Sorry about the venison. Maybe some hunter will give you some. Love the story about the bouquet of wildness. I guess I would be hard pressed to sit still and wait out a deer or other animal that I wanted to shoot.

  20. 1-1

    If Journey11is right and the plant with the blueblack berries is Smilax or Greenbrier or Catbrier OR Sarsaparilla–the plant whose roots make root beer! It grows all over the US in wet areas. The young stems are edible, the berries aren’t poisonous but not really edible (and beloved of birds) but the roots are interesting.

    I’ve only seen them dried. Folks used to add them to water, some corn, sweetener, and other flavorings such as sassafaras or wintergreen leaves and maybe some licorice root. Others used in place of the corn some other source of yeast. Country folks has a lot of recipes for fermented root beer. My husband’s family used to mix up a batch, bottle it and put it in the cellar of their old Chicago home to cure. Now and then a bottle with explode with a loud bang–too much fermentation–according to family stories about various people’s reactions, etc. etc.

    Anyone know a recipe? It might be fun for you, Suzanne, to give it a try. Anyone know if it can be made from fresh rather than dried root?

  21. 1-1

    Very pretty! I hope you have a wonderful 2014.

  22. 1-1

    Suzanne! You inspired me. My kids and I went walking today looking for a winter bouquet. I now have milk glass pieces displayed on top of my cupboards with lovely winter bouquets! Thank you :-)

  23. 1-1

    The arrangement is beautiful Suzanne! Happy New Year~

  24. 1-7

    Do you remember where you got it? Would you be willing to hike up there next spring or summer so we can see the plant with the leaves on? If it is sarsaparilla I think we all need to know and learn to recognize it. You could tell yourself its recognizance for 2014 deer hunting! :yes:

  25. 1-14

    So pretty! I’m currently making one too. I have short, stickery nubbin cattail things. I have my eye on long, black cattails to go with it, but it’s too muddy (on steep hill) right now. There’s some red stuff growing too, that I want to add.

    PS – Cats get on my table too. My gramma’s table that I inherited. Annoying.

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