The other thing is that when you're pumped full of adrenaline and hunting endorphins -- I call them savage hormones -- you can enter a primal, wild space where you sometimes do things you might not normally do, like squeeze turds between your fingers to see how fresh they are. When you're cutting up an animal, your adrenaline is still peaking from the hunt, and the carnage can turn you into more of an animal than you already are. Many hunters encourage newbies to eat the raw heart of their first kill. Thanks to savage hormones, they often do.
Combine savage hormones with my burgeoning interest in comparative milk, then put me in front of a leaky deer and, well, I decided it was time for a snack. By the light of my cell phone I could see that the milk was pure white, not pink with blood. I leaned in and took a slurp from the lacerated udder. It was good. Really good. Even better than sheep's milk, which was previously my favorite. It was so good that I collected some in a clean Ziploc bag to take home for the kid.
(The next day, after my savage hormones wore off, taking deer milk home to my human baby began to seem strange, not to mention dangerous. And I had little doubt that his mom would veto the treat, so I tossed the bag.)
Many readers will find my field experiment disgusting, weird, and perhaps barbaric. But if you think milk from dairy factories is any less disgusting, weird, or barbaric, then you probably don't know much about where milk comes from. You've probably never heard the cries of a mother cow and calf when they're separated. The mom, her udder activated by pregnancy, is carted off to live out her biological prime in slavery, her body turned into a milk machine. When she's done producing, she gets turned into hamburger meat. The calf, depending on its sex, will either become a milk-machine like mom, or fattened into beef. Compare that scenario to the mother and fawn that lived wild, free lives, both spared the grief of losing one another. To me there's no comparison.
There are no easy answers when it comes to animal products. Our dualistic relationship with animals, especially cows, as both milk and meat providers, has proven especially hard to reconcile through the ages.
Jewish dietary laws have long forbidden the simultaneous cooking and/or consumption of milk and meat. Though nobody knows the logic behind this prohibition, it's generally considered to be based on a line in Exodus forbidding the cooking of a kid goat in his mother's milk. From there, it's just a few conceptual steps to a ban on cheeseburgers and separate dinnerware for milk and meat.
Perhaps the adjacency of milk and meat brings the inherent tragedy of consuming animals too close to home. It forces us to confront the fact that the animal murdered for burger once suckled a mother's breast. Maybe the segregation of milk and blood is meant to keep empathy out of the kitchen and help us preserve a measure of sanity as we eat our tasty, nutritious, mammalian neighbors.