Women’s Profile: Carly McCallister
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CORAM NY – Carly McCallister is a provider, led by a primal urge to provide her family with the highest quality sustenance she could. This yearning led the Long Island based handcrafted soap-maker to start hunting.
“We try to keep it hyper-local and organic in our house,” McCallister said. “I work at the farmer’s market and bring all our vegetables home from local farms. Hunting was just a natural extension of that for me, bringing back my own meat.”
She wants her children to comprehend where their food comes from. While purchasing eggs from a local farmer, the farmer warned her of a hanging pig that was slaughtered for a pig roast. She did not shield her daughter from it. McCallister wants her to understand what it takes to have meat on the plate.
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“It’s important for a child to understand if you’re going to eat an animal, you have to be responsible for that animal’s life,” she said. “I would never shelter them from that.”
McCallister believes that a lot of the stigma that is attached to hunting comes from people who are ignorant of, or do not give serious thought to the food supply process.
“People are so out of touch with the food chain,” she said. “They get chicken handed to them at a restaurant and they don’t understand that someone had to raise that chicken, feed that chicken, care for that chicken, and cull it when it was time to be culled, pluck the feathers and clean it. They have this really big disconnect from an animal and how it gets on your plate.”
Her favorite wild game so far is venison and goose. She enjoys trying new recipes and learning new ways to prepare game.
Her first introduction to hunting came at an all-women hunting education class on Shelter Island. While there, she signed up for a full Becoming An Outdoors Woman (BOW) program, which she attended a few months later in Lake George. The experience was life-changing for her.
“It’s so special because everyone is coming together to share their expertise. The BOW instructors are the most amazing women,” she said. “They are so willing to help people on their journey. A lot of them are very educated, knowledgeable women and it’s very inspiring.”
McCallister is a member of Long Island Babes and Bucks, a group of women that brings together females who have a passion for hunting and fishing, with the goal to educate and connect.
She has experienced plenty of backlash from posting online about her hunting adventures.
“I always try to respond by educating people,” she said. “We are hunting responsibly. We are hunting legally. We are making sure that the animal doesn’t suffer and we are using every part of that animal. It’s feeding my family. That’s what is important to me.”
On Long Island, where McCallister lives, whitetail deer are vastly overpopulated. Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 deer live there, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which is much more than what the region’s resources can sustain.
“The deer here literally starve to death because there are so many of them,” she said. “I tell people, ‘would you rather I eat the deer or the deer starve to death?’ It’s almost merciful.”
Networking with local hunters has been instrumental for McCallister. She has connected with groups and mentors that have answered questions and provided feedback to help her learn more and fine-tune her craft. Now, she’s stirred her husband to become interested in hunting.
“The first question I always get asked is ‘does your husband hunt?” she said. “My husband has never shot a gun. He does not hunt. He’s just starting his hunter education now. I inspired him, instead of vice versa.”