Hunt. Gather. Forage. The ethics of a lifestyle.
On most weekdays, I appear to the general public as a young professional, a girly-girl of sorts, a very organized person with OCD and a killer manicure. Without the camo, it is difficult to assume that I hunt. That's why, when I tell people it's one of my favorite hobbies, they are often surprised. Those who are not familiar with hunting, or who view it as a barbaric act, always have a lot of questions for me.
"You're okay with shooting and killing an animal?"
"Don't you feel bad for taking an animal's life?"
"Why would you want to harm mother nature?"
One of my favorite hunting idols, Steven Rinella, directed a film titled "Stars in the Sky, A Hunting Story", and it is without a doubt, one of my favorite films that discusses the story of hunters and the ethics of what we do. There are so many amazing quotes from that film -- Rinella has a magical way of saying things for all to connect with and understand. A key discussion he focusses on is the fact that not hunting for our food is relatively new to mankind. For centuries, we had to hunt and farm our own meat to survive -- having mass produced food for consumption has only been an option for humans for the last few hundred years. Before that, as a species, humans had to work for their food.
We have fast food restaurants on nearly every street corner and supermarkets stacked high with food for purchase. It's true that we no longer need to grow and slaughter our own food, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't.
One could argue that hunting for your own meat is more ethical because you know exactly how it was taken and from where. When you bite into a cheeseburger at a restaurant, can you even be sure that what you're eating is all beef? Do you know when it was slaughtered? Do you know the diet of the animal it came from? Do you know if it suffered in its captive life? Do you know the process its body went through before it arrived on your plate?
From a health perspective, eating wild game - the ultimate free-range version of meat - is, in my mind, as healthy as you can get. Eating on wild grasses, shrubs, and berries, these animals are a pure product of the Earth. No mass-produced corn or grain, no genetically modified diet, no antibiotics or chemicals injected into their bodies, and no cages or fences to stunt their growth or hinder them from being wild. I'll always choose wild game over highly processed meat, always.
I also think our society has lost sight of the value of food because of its availability. Frozen TV dinners and drive-through chicken nuggets make eating food an instant act. Before its over-production, food was part of a survival process. People had to cook and bake all of their meals. They knew what ingredients went into each dish because they had to grow or gather or butcher for each piece. Nowadays, very few people still cook the majority of their meals. Humans want convenience and speed over quality and whole ingredients.
Unless you're a vegan or a vegetarian, your meat comes from the process of an animal dying. If you eat meat that you yourself did not harvest, then you cannot be sure of where it was raised, what it ate, how it was killed, and how the body was processed.
When you cook a delicious meal from scratch, there is a sense of accomplishment and pride when you serve your meal. Perhaps you made homemade pasta dough and used tomatoes from your garden to make the spaghetti sauce. You have a much stronger connection to that food than you do when you buy it processed from a store. You put a lot of time and effort into getting all of the ingredients and making it happen in your kitchen. I think you'll enjoy your meal so much more knowing your hard work is what helped you produce that meal.
Now imagine to prepare a similar meal: you hiked for ten miles; waited for seven plus hours; practiced your shot over a hundred times; executed a kill; gutted and broke down a large animal; strapped it to your back; hiked it out of the wilderness and back to your home where you spent a whole day harvesting the meat and bones and hide -- all of which will provide you and your family with meals for the greater part of a year. You saw the sage brush it was munching on before it fell, and you watched it race across the mountainside in your pursuit. What better food to consume than that which the Earth provides and not what a factory slaps together.
Work for your food - not just to provide the means to buy it - but in the sense that you actively participated in the circle of life and engaged with nature, don't just observe it from
Pheasant pot pie with a garden salad.
Rabbit ragu sauce.