When you were growing up, did you have a paper route? Get paid to mow the lawn? Have parents that gave you an allowance without asking for a chore in return? Lucky you! Me? I earned my weekly coin skinning muskrats. In the overall scheme of household duties, it wasn't actually that bad. See, my dad hunted, trapped and fished. The animal pelts were sold for income, and the meat was featured at the dinner table. I don't remember a time there wasn't some animal being processed.
My favorite picture of my dad is from the late 70's, when we were living in Alaska. He's bent over our kitchen table, lit cigarette dangling from his lips, butchering a moose he'd shot with a handgun. Bare chested, wearing faded denim cut offs, he's a skinny, baby-faced version of the conservative I grew up with. Even with the shaggy blonde hair curling around his shoulders, he looks like a total bad ass. Hell yes, I'm proud to call him my dad.
No surprise my favorite picture from my childhood also involves a dead animal. It's from the early 80's. We had just moved to Michigan. I know, because the picture is set in my grandparent's basement, where we lived while my parents house hunted. I'm all of four years old, wearing an orange knit hunting cap over my white blonde bob one of my dad's ran hunting vests hangs from my shoulders to my ankles. In one hand, I'm propping up a hunting rifle. In the other hand, I'm holding a pheasant, a trophy from a hunt my dad let me tag along on my arm is stretched as high up as I could reach because the pheasant was as long as I was tall. Blue eyes sparkling, I'm sporting the biggest smile as I show off for the camera. This is the home I was raised in.