Monday, November 14, 2011

Because I Have To

This is a post I never intended to write, it is about something I have done for many years for reasons of my own and until recently very few knew about. This week I was asked again by my buddy Ben from the UK to tell others and I gave in. I finally decided to talk about it not because I want people to know about it and then tell me what a good person I am but in hopes that others will follow suit.

For many years I have grown a garden far bigger than I need, kept more fish than I can eat and taken enough deer each year to feed a large family. Many times I have heard about how good I was on the lake or in the woods which might be the case but only because I have had years of practice. People would tell me how good it was to have a full freezer with fish, game and vegetables I provided myself. All true enough but the real reason behind the numbers I kept and the size of my garden is I provide food to needy families in my area. I only had help one year in memory of my brother when some generous people sent some money to expand the garden for one season, which I did. After that year I have made it larger in hopes of having more to give but never accepted any further help and won’t again.

Part of what I brought home on a trip this year. I am still sharing them.

This one doe went to help three families.

This is how it works, I find families in my area that are having a tough time and make a list, as food in available I take it to each family in turn. They don’t know most of the time I am doing this and many times I simply leave vegetables on their porch by the bag full, as I have more I take it to the next family. The fish and game I take to them when they are home so I know it won’t ruin but they never know it is coming. I do the same in winter with frozen vegetables when I have them. If at all possible I will do it so that I can leave without them ever having a chance to say thanks or being embarrassed by needing help, I don’t do it for the thanks or praise. I don’t know how many families I have given food to over the years I only know it was no where near enough.

Why do I do it? Simple. I’ve been hungry. I’ve been poor. I’ve been broke. I’ve sat dejected wondering how I would eat that day. I have lived on a dollar or less a day for food and sometimes didn’t have that. I still have very little in the way of money after three years without a job, I don’t care, I scraped up money to buy seeds and plants, I struggled to buy my license this year, I planted my garden, I fished, I am hunting and I am helping feed people. I don’t care one bit about praise or acknowledgements about what I do, in fact, I would rather have continued doing it without anyone knowing since it was a private and personal act. The people that asked me to write about it had a point, if I would tell others maybe they would do the same. Fair enough. Just as my online name implies I tend to stay out of sight on a personal level but this is not about me but about people that need our help.

If you hunt, fish, grow a garden, whatever then you have the means to do what I do. I know all about the big organizations that provide food on an impersonal level to people but I refuse to work with them. I don’t need some group that doesn’t care who I am to do what I can do on my own. I have no trouble finding people that need help as close as my own neighbors.

So here is what I want to ask for all those people that are right down the street from you, help out. If you are mainly a catch and release fisherman, please, take a few home now and then to clean and help feed someone. When you harvest a deer take a ham or backstrap to a family going hungry. Plant an extra row in your garden then take what you have leave it on a doorstep. Freeze what you can to hand out during the winter when the need is even greater. Do it yourself not through some food bank or organization. Know where your food is going and see the results, it is a hands on experience not a drop it off and forget it one.

Please take a bit of time to think about this post, a few fish or a couple of pounds of venison will mean that someone gets to eat tonight that might not otherwise. Vegetables fresh from your garden might be the only good food they get for days. The money they save on food might be needed to keep their lights on, water running or gas in their car. I have been on that end and believe me when I say it is a miserable end to be on. We, as outdoors folks have the ability to help easier than others and I hope my friends that read this join in my quiet mission to help where I can.


Albert Quackenbush said...

Well said, Tommy. I also know first hand what it can be like with nothing. My mom taught us how to garden. With my brother and I helping we grew an insanely huge garden. Even though we didn't have much we always shared our veggies with others. My dad taught me to hunt to help feed our family, too. It didn't take long that we would get two or three deer and started sharing with families that needed it. Something I still do to this day. Thanks for sharing this post. I hope other follow and help others in need, too.

Will Jenkins said...

Great Post Tommy! You're doing a great thing. That's another thing most people don't know about hunters/fishermen how much they give just on their own and how many families are helped by them on a personal level that don't hunt themselves. Great post and great motivation for me to plant a big garden next year!

LB @ Bullets And Biscuits said...

Excellent post! I think it is great that you shared this post so others will be inclined to follow.

Rambob and I also give to folks in our community. We gave (5) deer away last year to (5)seperate families that otherwise would not have had meat for the winter. Every Sunday throughout the winter, I make a HUGE pot of soup and pass it out to (3) older and widowed gentlemen to eat. They usually get about 6 meals out of the soup each. In the summer, we have a large garden but I don't give much fresh veggies away. I usually end up canning or freezing it. Then I can use it for when I make my soups or give away jars already prepared.

We don't do this for the thank you's either. It makes us feel good to help others which is enough for us.

Ant Lynn said...

My hat's off to you! You've inspired me to make better use of the extra apples we have each year.

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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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