College Survival Food

College and survival are pretty much of the same family, at least in my experience.  Trying to work your way through four or more years of college, get good grades and keep fed with a roof over head was definitely an advanced survival course.     

      Most of my money went for tuition, books, rent, gasoline, car repairs, dating, tires, etc. and if you had any extra, haha- it went for food. All us roommates would pool six dollars apiece each week for groceries.  That was $30.00 a week for five hungry guys. One or two of us would be elected to S-T-R-E-T-C-H that money as far as we could when we were sent grocery shopping.  Up until college I was unaware of the fact that there was such a thing as “imitation Bologna”, it was cheaper of course than “real” bologna and that’s what we always bought. It was like buying imitation imitation food.  But like I said it was survival time. I can remember my roommate elatedly and in a very ecstatic surprised voice declaring “JUICE” when he realized he was actually drinking “REAL” orange juice one time for breakfast. From then on we all would copy him anytime we felt we were actually eating or drinking as normal people do. That incident, well both the imitation imitation and real juice happened at BYU in Provo, Utah. I can remember eating “porcupine” one of my roommates killed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t roadkill, I don’t think we ever got “that” desperate. I hunted, and deer meat was big time and good time stuff.  Two other roommates hunted as well. 

            When I was at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, duck meat was a regular in our apartment. We hunted ducks at what was called the “Texas Jim Slough”. Mallards were pretty plentiful out there, and it was a good break from studies. Our big break, food wise, happened in the latter end of November. I borrowed my Dad’s “Scout” 4-wheel drive and Bill and Dick Bohman, my two roommates from Alaska, and myself went looking for venison in the hills east of Moody. It was a beautiful sunshiny day, some snow on the ground and no classes since it was Saturday.

            We hunted all day in different places. In the afternoon Dick and I heard a gunshot off in Bill’s direction. One shot could be a good sign we said, more than several shots—at least we hoped so. Food was getting pretty scarce at our abode and money was too, school and rent etc. were taking care of all our money. What we needed badly was a lot of good venison to get us through the winter. Bill worked part time for a farmer and he supplied Bill with all the potatoes we needed, so now if we could “make meat” we’d be in pretty good shape.

            After a while, Bill showed up and sure enough his hands said good news, we were all pretty stoked, especially when he told us how big this buck was. He led us to the edge of a canyon, then down into it through a dark patch of timber to the bottom of a draw. There lay a “MONSTER” buck nine points on one side, twelve points on the other side. It had been with a harem of does, he jumped them from their beds and made a good shot, or good enough until he tracked it to where it lay.

            Dragging it back uphill through the timber to the top of the canyon where we could drive to it would be very difficult, it was so heavy. I think it was at least 200 pounds, probably more, and that was field dressed weight. Bill thought I could drive the scout around to a road that was on the other side of the canyon, then make my way down a fence line that intersected with the draw we were in, and they could drag the buck downhill to a place he thought I could get to in the scout, then we’d load the buck and get out before dark. Sounded doable, at least it’s the only real thing that made much sense at that point. So I hot footed it back up through the timber to the top of the canyon then over to the scout and drove the prescribed route till I hit what I thought had to be the road Bill was talking about...

When I came to the supposed fence line Bill mentioned I drove off the road down into the canyon toward Bill and Dick. It was a steep side hill and made me pretty nervous leaning at that angle—not much more and we’re talking tipping over sideways. But I kept going and finally found the guys and the big buck waiting at the point of rendezvous.

         By this time, it was dusk. We decided to load the buck on the top of the roof of the scout because there was a stout luggage rack up there and we could lash the buck on the uphill side of it to give us a counter weight or ballast to keep us from rolling over on the trip back up that steep side hill. Bill and Dick would stand on the running boards on the uphill side as well for added counter balance. The late afternoon sun had warmed that side hill and some of the snow had melted and it was somewhat soft and muddy at this point, even though the sun had been down for a while. Bill and Dick were adventurous guys, raised in Alaska and used to dangerous stuff.  It was all high adventure to them. I was a little more cautious, especially because it was my Dad’s vehicle, and if the scout rolled they could jump off but I’d go with the vehicle. Not a fun thought. So we got all ready, I’m pretty sure we said a prayer to God- and I got in, put it in compound low and we started up out of the bottom of the draw on to that muddy steep side hill. 

          We moved along slow and easy for a while till we came to a slide where there was hardly any brush or grass.  This was where we would have the greatest chance of a slide. We decided our best chance was a fast run across it going at an uphill angle and Katy bar the door. We got all ready, Bill was laughing that crazy Alaskan laugh like “we may live or we may die, but it’s gonna be a heck of a ride”.  I was at near ten pucker factor. We got all ready and I gunned her. We raced across the slide, till about half way, and we started to slide downhill toward the fence.  “Give her all you got” I heard the guys yell.  I was tryin’ my best but we slammed into the barbed wire fence, which helped me get better purchase and we careened off it and continued up.  We banged into it again, Bill was laughing to beat the band. Again we ricocheted a bit and then a third time. The buck was tryin’ hard to roll to the downhill side of the roof- but we had lashed it pretty tight, it was holdin’ so far. I don’t think we could have afforded another clash with the fence, we would have lodged against it and spun out. But at that point my front tires came off the slide onto the grass and sage where they got a grip and we snaked our way to the right a little away from the fence. Then the rear tires got into the sage and gave us an even better grip on things and we climbed away from the fence and bounced along until we came to the road. Bill and Dick were hollering, and whistling and laughin’ given me “atta boys”. We made it, and just in time, the buck had slid down quite a ways and his head and neck flopped across the windshield blocking my view to a large extent. Getting back on the road so we weren’t tipping precariously, we stopped and re-tied and re-adjusted our load up top.  Bill and Dick got in and we headed for Rexburg.

            By the time we got into town we were wanting to show off our trophy, so we pulled into every gas station and store in town where we could attract a crowd. He was a “BIG” buck. It was fun talking to people as they gathered round to gawk and palaver. After all the bragging and good time, we headed back to the apartment at the “Queen Bee” restaurant. I decided I’d drive all the way to Idaho Falls (only 30 miles) and unload the buck in Dad’s garage where it could hang for about a week to “age” properly then we’d come down and cut it up hopefully with Dad’s help. Dad was sure pleased and was surprised at the size of that buck and we had more storytelling to do. He wasn’t real happy about the scratches on the scout and a dent or two, but he was happy we were all ok. I told Dad I’d pay the damages, but he said no it would be all right.  He just let me off the hook plain and simple. I was pretty foolish about a lot of things and shouldn’t have even borrowed the scout, but Dad was big hearted and generous and I knew it and took advantage of it when I should not have. It would have cost me a bundle for the repairs.  Being a Dad and Grandad now I realize that you have to take quite a bit in stride when it comes to raising a family- you can’t really expect that you won’t. It would be nice but not really a high probability I’m very grateful for the generosity of my parents, very grateful.  I had left my car at Dad’s so we drove back to Rexburg in my Jalopy, a ’43? Ford Sedan that cost me $50.00. I bought it from Brother Tom after my mission.

            A week later my Dad showed up at our apartment with two or three big cardboard boxes of cut and wrapped venison, another generous gift from my Dad. We now had a good supply of meat for the winter and along with all those good Idaho potatoes Bill got for free from his boss- we were basically set to do well. We would definitely survive in style. I had feared that the meat might be real wild tasting, as it was a rutting buck, but it was mild flavored, very unusual and tender to boot. We couldn’t have asked for more. The Lord certainly heard and answered our prayers.