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Hunting is a foreign concept to most people. Actively seeking the food that will grace your plate isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s something that takes a lot of deep contemplation.
As humans with our empathy and intelligent thought, actively taking the life of another living creature that we find cute, majestic, serene and innocent is a difficult task. If you think that it’s easy for someone to let go of that bow string or pull the trigger, it isn’t. If you think that doing so makes us less human… it doesn’t.
In fact, it makes us more human. And it makes us less wasteful.
We’ve become a society that is completely detached from our food. Whether we eat meat or not. Many of us have no idea where it came from, how it was grown, how it was harvested, or even what it looked like prior to processing and being trucked to the store and put on the shelves.
We don’t know if our food, plant or meat, was healthy. We don’t know who grew it, how it was treated, or what it was fed.
We mindlessly pick up food that was grown somewhere else by someone else at the grocery store. Complain about modern day woes and try to find the answers to our problems by ridding our world of livestock farms.
Yet as hunters, we know exactly where our food came from. We become intimately close to our food. We know what it likes to eat, how it spends its time, where it enjoys eating. Instead of seeing the innocent, cute creature that society has portrayed we see another living, breathing, creature. And taking its life is not something we take lightly.
However, death is inevitable. It’s necessary. And animals die in order for us to eat. Whether you’re an omnivore or a vegan or somewhere in between.
Yes, I’m saying that not a one of us, regardless of our dietary choices, gets a free pass on killing. We all have blood on our hands.
What we eat, how we eat it, and how it is harvested all has an impact on everything around us. Our very existence all has an impact.
Animals are no better than their habitat and their habitats are constantly destroyed by deforestation for cropland. New developments. Roadways. And other human activities. Animals are killed to protect agricultural crops or killed by the farmers plow. Meat and vegetables are trucked in from all over the globe and animals fall prey to the shipping processes. Roughly 18 million acres of forest per year are lost to urbanization and other uses.
Those forests were once animal habitats. And we were all part of the problem. The food on the grocery store shelves is part of the problem.
Hunting provides an intimate relationship with your food that cannot be duplicated.
I never thought I would be the person I am today. Never thought I would be comfortable with being so close to my food supply. I much preferred being ignorant and unaware. But, I’m just not that person anymore. I want to know where my food came from. I want to be less and less dependent on the grocery store and live more sustainably. And I don’t want to be wasteful.
When we hunt, we are able to take responsibility for some of the death we cause. We are able to teach our children the sacrifices made to provide us with sustenance.
We learn so much about nature when we’re out in it. And when we learn more about nature, by default we learn more about ourselves. Society isn’t just detached from its food sources, but nature itself. There is so much she can teach us if only we get out, explore and listen.
The “Hunting is a leisure activity” Argument
The other day, I was having a heated debate about hunting rights. A comment was made that they didn’t think it was necessary or important to give people rights to a “leisure activity.” Let me tell ya, hunting is not a leisure activity.
For the sake of this argument, I am not talking about trophy hunters. While there are trophy hunters that hunt here in the United States, they don’t make up a large percentage of the total hunting population. I am talking about people like me who hunt for food, for survival, not for sport.
So, hunting as a leisure activity… nope. Not going to agree with that. It’s not a leisure activity. Hunting is hard. You’re out in the elements, sometimes for hours (even days on backcountry hunts), waiting on a good shot. You hunt in rain, snow, hot, cold, you name it. You hike, you wait, you aim, you shoot, you follow blood trails, you harvest.
You hope you harvest. See, that’s the thing about hunting, you don’t always harvest. That’s why it’s called hunting, it’s not a guarantee. A couple years ago after all the time spent out in the elements, we didn’t harvest one single deer.
You bring that harvest home and the real work begins. It is not simple, easy, or for the lighthearted to not only kill an animal, but to process it so you can eat it. All of this… hunting is a necessary life skill. Not everyone has the ability, the funding, or the desire to live off grocery stores and conventional food.
I already touched on the killing to eat portion of the aforementioned debate. However, I want to remind you, we all have blood on our hands. My way of humanely harvesting a deer is much better than cutting down an animals habitat for the sake of progress. What happens when we remove that habitat? The animals die off, they are stuck in urbanized areas and hit with cars or they starve, their populations suffer tremendously. What happens to all of that meat? Sadly, most of the time it’s wasted on the side of the road.
When we harvest an animal, we find it, bring it home, and use it. We can eat the meat, use the fur, use the bones, even the antlers. It isn’t going to waste on the side of the highway, it’s being used to sustain our family in more ways than filling our bellies.
This is why we hunt, this is why I believe hunting is important. It’s fine if you don’t eat animal products, perfectly ok with that. However, don’t be so quick to judge or think you get to take the high road. We’re all guilty of causing death to animals, each and every one of us. Living in denial doesn’t make it untrue, it doesn’t make it go away.
Just remember, the animals I harvest are nourishing my growing family, and I thank God for that.