Why I’m Always on the Lookout for a Good Set of Deer Lungs

You never forget your first pair

Emily Kingsley
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readNov 29, 2021
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

In the fall, many New Englanders dress in camouflage and skip scented products like soap and deodorant. They’re getting up early to climb up into a tree with a gun or a bow in the hopes that they can shoot a deer.

I am not one of these people. But I grew up around them, so what they do kind of makes sense to me. I don’t like guns that are secretly tucked into someone’s waistband in a restaurant or carried illegally under the seat of an SUV with dark windows, but hunting rifles don’t bother me. Maybe it’s illogical, but if a lone, cold, smelly person wants to hike into the woods and sit still for nine hours in the hopes that they’ll have the chance to fire off one round, and feed their family for six months, I’m kind of okay with it.

It’s okay if you’re gasping in horror. I know some people hate hunting under any circumstance. And it’s not that I’m pro-animal-killing, it’s just that I can only get worked up about so many things.

I got my first set of deer lungs about five years ago from a student in my high school biology class. She walked into my classroom and set a red Igloo cooler down on my desk. She was poker-faced and pretended she wasn’t excited about the contents. When I cracked it open, I saw a shiny white and pink mass glistening inside a plastic grocery store bag.

At the moment, I pretended they were a surprise, but in all honestly, she had texted me a photo of them over the weekend and asked if I wanted her to bring them in. I was teaching about the circulatory system, and her dad had killed a deer. So somehow she and her dad connected the dots and figured I could work the lungs into my lesson planning for the week.

A lung is an interesting thing. Most people know we have them and have a vague idea of what they do. But very few people have had the opportunity to see or touch a lung, excluding the ones that they own and use.

We have much more experience with other parts of the body. We know what muscle tissue looks like because it’s meat, and bones are what dogs chew. You might think it’s gross, but intestines are what sausages are squeezed into and we all know about…



Emily Kingsley
Human Parts

Always polishing the flip side of the coin. Live updates from the middle class. She/her.