El Dorado, Arkansas, where this tale originates, consists of some 18,400 people who populate the Union County seat located 90 miles east of Texarkana and just a country mile or two north of the Louisiana border.
A boomtown back in the 1920s, when oil was discovered in the region, El Dorado boasts a number of distinguished sons and daughters, including baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, famously traded away by the Chicago Cubs in 1964 for a washed-up pitcher and a case of Cracker Jacks; and pioneering singer-songwriter and Country Music Hall of Famer Lefty Frizzell, whose unique honky tonk stylings in the 1950s greatly influenced such future country stars as George Jones, Roy Orbison and Merle Haggard.
It might be time to add another name to the town’s honor roll: an area resident named Katie Meade.
Who’s she? you ask. Without knowing a whole lot about her, I’ll admit I’ve become a big fan, with great admiration for three things: her writing talents, her hunting prowess and her skills in applying camouflage before heading out into the woods (see photo).
Or maybe that’s her goin’-to-town look. Either way, it’s awesome.
Meade authored a first-person piece published last week in the El Dorado News-Times titled, “Do not allow good meat to go to waste,” and while the headline suggests a screed about food waste, the article’s anything but.
Here’s just a sample of the lead:
“After celebrating my birthday last Thursday, I was lucky enough to hit the woods Friday afternoon for an evening hunt to finish out my perfect birthday celebration.
“Being able to enjoy the cold front that rolled in … made for a wonderful hunt, [and] I wound up seeing two small bucks, two spikes and five does. I also had a sow coon with her four offspring attempt to play with the zippers on my blind. Had they been successful, I would have let them have the blind. A mama raccoon with her fuzzy little babies is not anything that you want to experience.”
I’m guessing she’s had that experience.
‘A quick boom, and a cloud of smoke’
Meade went on to detail the next day’s hunt, noting that “The morning was crisp and cold, with a bit of wind coming right out of the North.” She said she saw a lot of “deer activity,” and was excited to witness “two young bucks lock horns and fight just 15 yards from me.”
Granted, you can see the human version of that scenario any weekend you like in local bars, but from there, the hunting story got real interesting.
“I could see something large and dark emerge from the tall grass,” she wrote, “a large hog standing in the lane at about 65 yards. I checked in the scope and saw it was a boar. I knew he needed to be taken out and was hoping he was traveling with a sow, because I would prefer to shoot her.”
Keep in mind that in Arkansas, and throughout much of the South, feral hogs are a huge problem, as they destroy farm fields and ruin the habitat for other wildlife.
The story continued: “I waited a few moments, and it was obvious he was traveling alone. I raised my muzzleloader and got him in the crosshairs. I squeezed the trigger and a quick boom, accompanied by a cloud of blue smoke, filled the air.
“I consider it stress relief and aromatherapy all in one.”
You gotta love that description.
Now for the don’t waste meat part.
First come, first shared
Meade recounted that she had to put up with the “horrible aroma of a boar hog.” Nevertheless, she dragged the 90-pound boar back up the hill to a dirt road. She wrote that while she wanted to give him to someone, “He smelled horrible, and the fact that he ran and had an adrenaline rush before he crashed guaranteed that the meat would be nasty and tough.”
The next day, however, Meade returned to the same area and soon spotted what she described as “a massive pig,” which later proved to be a 200-pound sow. She wrote, “I put the crosshairs on her midsection so that the hams and shoulders would remain intact, squeezed the trigger and waited on the cloud to clear.
“I followed the heavy blood trail and found her. I slit her throat to begin draining blood off the meat [but] had to drag her out of the thick brush, because my four-wheeler couldn’t go into the thicket.”
She realized that the sow wasn’t nursing or pregnant, so she posted on Facebook that she’d just killed a 200-pound sow, and if anyone wanted it to contact her.
“I had immediate response from seven people,” she wrote, “and I gave it to the person that messaged me first. I found a home for a good, organic, free-range, antibiotic- and steroid-free pig.”
Meade concluded her tale by noting that while she didn’t bag a deer, she did fill someone’s freezer with meat, “and that’s always a plus,” she wrote.
“As a hunter, there is nothing that makes me more upset than to see people kill a deer, a hog or a few ducks, and toss them in a ditch to waste,” she wrote. “I promise you that there are so many people in this world that would gladly take any meat that you do not want to keep. It takes no time to take the hide off of a deer or hog, remove the guts and deliver it to someone in need.
“If you hunt just for something to hang on the wall, then you hunt for the wrong reasons. A trophy is fine and dandy, but the meat can do more for you than a rack of horns.”
Couldn’t have said it any better.
And certainly couldn’t have brought down a 200-pound sow, dragged it out of the brush, field dressed it and delivered the meat to someone who appreciated it, and probably needed it.
Just glad there are folks like Katie Meade out there who can — and do. □
Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.