Article Contributed by Field Staff Writer G. Ford.
On regular occasion during conversation with friends, co-workers, new friends, or anyone I meet, the fact I am a hunter comes up. Perhaps because it is so much a part of the person I am, and how I relate to the world, it is inevitable to come up during the Monday morning conversations of “hey, how was your weekend?” To give a benchmark on how much the hunting lifestyle means to me, I explain to folks that I don’t buy any meat at the grocery store. It is not an exclamation of superiority, but a relay of just how good they could have it, if they wanted it as bad as I do.
For me, the two main angles of reasoning behind my motivation to only eat wild game at home are 1) physical health benefits and 2) experience of an honest method of food acquisition and the strength of character that ensues.
Wild game is significantly healthier than agriculturally-raised livestock. Deer and elk, in particular, are significantly lower in fat and cholesterol per serving than beef and pork. The nutritional values of common game animals have been well documented.
Whether it has a stamp on it or not, you can bet the Wood Ducks in my freezer are more free-range, organic, and humanely harvested than any mystery meat that you can get by driving up to window and giving a person a few dollars. I get excited and happy when I eat wild game, because I know I am putting into my body the purest source of protein available anywhere.
Stories of the hunting travails and excursions to bring home wild game are worth just as much sentimentally as the meat is nutritionally. A nice deer steak or burger will come and go, and hopefully be replaced next season. However, the fables and tales of the tasks and labor it took to bring that game home will last forever. These are the experiences I live for. They strengthen bonds with friends, family, and loved ones. This strengthening occurs by bringing you closer together through the efforts of acquiring the game in which you have been in pursuit. But, it also brings you together around the table to share in love and appreciation for what it took to get it there and that you are able to share it together.
Embarking into wild, natural, and adventurous landscapes is what it takes to find wild game. And even on outings where not a shot is fired or arrow is flung, immersion in beautiful settings cleanses the soul and restores the spirit. These places of adventure demand skills and knowledge to be attained through challenges faced in the natural world. Learning the ways of your prey and how they fit into the vast landscape requires dedication to the craft of hunting. This is unequivocally harder than cruising down the meat section at the supermarket and picking up a pack of plastic-wrapped protein. However, the sense of accomplishment when you meet your prey on their own terms and have mastered the abilities required to be successful in killing them is magnificent and enlightening.
If you want to survive, something has to die. It is the simple, brutal truth. At the end of the day, everyone has blood on their hands. I have blood on my hands in a very literal, unadulterated sense. I come face-to-face with living, breathing lives, and I take them from this world. Bringing home meat that will keep me and my loved ones alive means so much more when I know exactly where that food came from. It took a lot of commitment to get it. Choosing to live this way has built a sense of gratitude and respect; not only for that animal, but the system as a whole. When this occurs, it all clicks and makes sense in such a deep manner. At times, it is ethereal and surreal. At the same time I also realize “this is the way it was always meant to be.”
This all sheds a spotlight on the hypocrisy and horror that is the way a vast majority of meat is produced and acquired in the U.S. Without a connection to the source, we are robbing ourselves of knowledge and reverence that makes a person and society stronger .