I am a hunter. I don’t apologize for that. I eat meat. I love to eat meat. And I love to hunt. I also love to shoot guns. So I found a sport that allows me to shoot my own food. That said, I hunt for food in various ways. From picking chanterelle and morel mushrooms, to fishing for fresh salmon, to upland bird hunting, to local mule deer and elk, bear and cougar, to the more far flung critters in Southern Africa, and Alaska. To those of you who abhor, dislike, absolutely hate hunting and hunters, take a moment and read a perspective you don’t understand, dislike or hate…maybe you will understand us a little better . . .
I enjoy eating. I am a foodie. I love to cook, to create a meal that will be remembered. From a simple lunch to an elaborate dinner, I like to surprise and watch as you enjoy my culinary concoctions.
Meat is a primary source of protein that I consume. I use a rifle as the most efficient way to turn wild game into meat destined for my freezer and my stomach.
If you have never tasted fresh backstrap for breakfast along with your eggs, and potatoes, I feel sorry for you. But that’s just me. Some hunters are selfish and won’t share that delectable moment in time. I not only share, but I’ll cook it for you, too.
I have been fortunate to be able to hunt a variety of critters from rabbit, to Cape buffalo. I have to admit, rabbit turned me off to potato chips for a while, and I can’t tell you why. Something about the taste.
I’ve enjoyed rattle snake, dove, quail, pigeon, pheasant, chukar, squirrel, turtle, antelope, deer, elk, bear, and several species of South African game.
Just look at the size of those ribs. And the ribeye steaks from this eland bull? It weighed a bit over 2,000 pounds. It fed about 50 people for a time during my first trip to Africa. This was the entire staff of the hunting concession, their spouses and their children, and of course us hunters. The meat went all over the place. Nothing went to waste.
I’m starting to drool a bit as I write this, remembering some fine meals, eating healthy drug- and antibiotic-free food.
Besides filling my freezer with protein in seal-a-meal bags, the hunt in general, the boots hitting the ground, is memorable in its own right. Can I make it to the top of that ridge and back to camp by nightfall? Seeing unmolested new ground. Unmolested, that is, until you look closer. I’ve seen petroglyphs in northern Nevada, some type of ink drawings in eastern Oregon and found arrowheads in desolate canyons in Utah. Seems someone is always ahead of me.
But the point is being out in the wilderness, enjoying a hike with benefits with a hunting partner or two.
Perma-grin! This was taken in the middle of a 16-mile hike for elk last fall. How else can you get a view like that unless you put one foot in front of the other? It’s a healthy activity.
Another part of the hunt, I find immensely enjoyable is the evening around a camp fire. Sharing stories of past hunts, discussing strategy, talking and arguing ballistics or, in this case, a bit of music.
Sure, you can do these things without pulling a trigger on a scary gun. You can get away and unplug from the rigors of job and a harried life without some heartless person with an evil black rifle. You can go out and enjoy the outdoors without killing an animal.
But (yes, there is almost always a but) for those of you who think meat only comes from a grocery store, I’ve got news for you. First the animal – let’s call it a cow – gets fed. A lot. Then it’s given all sorts of medicine to prevent diseases and sickness. Then it’s fed some more. Then maybe it’s given a bunch of steroids to bulk up faster.
Then it heads to a slaughter house. Its brain gets plugged by a large hunk of steel and it tips over dead. It’s then gutted and skinned. Then the various parts are carved up by man and machine to get packaged up into those little cellophane and styrofoam packages with the Kotex rag under the piece of meat to absorb any unsightly blood. You buy it and happily take it home while the bones are ground up for fertilizer. The intestines are washed and used as sausage casing, and all the other parts are ground up for dog and cat food. The skin is used to make belts, shoes, car seats, coats, and assless chaps.
As you cook up your hamburger to make bolognese, you sit in front of your computer and “friend” a local animal rights group. Maybe sign a petition to stop the horrible hunting of an animal you didn’t even know existed until the mainstream media told you it did. And – gasp – it even had a name! And a GPS tracking collar that no one has a picture of. And you’re mortified that someone who makes more money than you do paid a year’s average salary to “kill” a poor defenseless pet.
Pardon me while I begin canning my own meat. Meat that has no drugs infused into it. Meat that has roamed freely and eaten natural foods and will keep in my pantry for a few years.
It didn’t have a name that I know of. It was just a deer. It felt nothing as the 168 grain bullet dropped it in its tracks. I left the gut pile in the woods to fertilize the trees. You know…the ones that need carbon credits to live so they can exhale oxygen? Of course I kept the liver. Fried with onions it’s really tasty.
And there you have it. A guy who likes to collect meat and other food in a way that has worked for a few thousand years.
Is it fall hunting season yet?