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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.

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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.

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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?

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  1. Awesome. I don’t hunt but love to shoot handguns and scary black rifles, sometimes competitively. This is one of the best pro hunting articles I’ve read. I’m salivating as i write this.

    What time’s breakfast?

  2. Thank you for helping to keep thousands of Africans employed. That part of the African hunters story is not spoken. Just as thousands of Americans are employed by the hunting outdoor industry in the USA.

      • I believe the anti hunters are as racist as the KKK when it comes to Africans creating wealth from the hunting business. They live in a part of the world where the animals are as valuable as gold. Outsiders don’t like black people controlling their own lives using the resources they have. Those resources are the animals themselves. The greatest friend of the Africans are the white hunters who pay a kings ransom to hunt animals who have become a danger to black people and other animals.

  3. Tom, don’t waste your breath by trying to make the PETA droids, animal rights clowns and “lions are people too” nitwits understand that which they are incapable of understanding. You hunt, while PETA kills thousands upon thousands of pet animals every year and the jackasses who think “Cecil” was a kitty cat try to hound a dentist to death. You owe that vermin nothing by way of explanation.

    But you do owe us more articles!

    • “But you do owe us more articles!”

      And you owe us some classic movie reviews.

      The original Terminator would be a nice start…

      Or Dirty Harry…


  4. I haven’t had the pleasure of hunting (yet) but I come from a long line of hunters. Due to various reasons, I never got to hunt with my grandfather or my father. My half brother is willing to take me if I can make the trek to South Carolina during deer season… one of these years.

    All that being said, whenever I hear an anti-hunter bemoaning the cruel sadistic death of Bambi by being shot and eaten- I always ask them: “How do you imagine Bambi dies in the forest? In a bed, of extreme old age surrounded by his loving family, who shed tears of sorrow as he shuffles off this mortal coil? “

  5. Good post Tom. The dentist did in fact poach willfully a bear to let all others know he is a stud hunter. No excuse on that. I am with all fellow legal hunters, but those who break the rules for vanity, I have no sympathy for.

  6. You eat cougars?

    Carnivores tend to taste like kerosene; good luck with that.

    Also, while there’s nothing wrong with hunting food, it’s not a sport. If you win, the animal dies, whereas if it wins it has gained nothing; the playing field is therefore hardly level. Further, noone ever explained the rules to the prey.

    Call it what it is; predation. There’s nothing wrong with predation, but there’s plenty wrong with calling it “sport.”

    • Salmon- and berry-fed, non-baited Alaskan black bear is damned good…especially if you didn’t bring enough food and the plane may not be back for three days.
      I think I over-cooked it. Too many warnings about trichinosis. It’s unlikely there’ll be a “next time,” but if so I would cook it only slightly more than venison. Ya gotta die of something. Also someone in our party drank all the wine for marinating.

      P.S. As Earnest Hemingway didn’t say, “There are only three sports: bull fighting, auto racing, and mountain climbing. The rest are little boys’ games.”

      • The unknown author of that quote was saying there must be a chance of dying for it to be a sport. I’ve never been mountain climbing, but I have wrestled black angus into the trailer (Redneck Bullfighting?) and raced for more than a dozen years.

    • Thet is a place here in Sacramento, CA that serves burgers made with lion meat. I’m told it was somewhat sweet, but I did not try it myself as I didn’t realize it was made from lion until after I had received something else.

    • I agree. If one categorizes hunting with “sport” then one puts it on the par with ball games and such frivolous activities.. Hunting is err, ahh, wella….. hunting is like Robert DeNiro’s character Mike described it in the cinema classic The Deer Hunter when he held up a rifle cartridge to his not-so-dedicated hunting companions and said: “YOU SEE THIS? THIS IS THIS; THIS AIN’T SOMETHING ELSE. THIS IS THIS.” You can betchass, Russ, hunting is in a class of human competition far and away removed from any spectator “sport.” In fact one of America’s most revered conservationists, Aldo Leopold, said: (paraphrased) “Unlike other endeavors the hunter conducts himself away from the critique of adoring crowds. Most of the time what he does he does largely alone and is its only witness other than his Creator and the Creator of the life he takes and the environment both live on.

  7. Damn, you have awakened an urge I have not felt since I left the Northeast.- Been a long time since I rock and roll, Been a long time, been a long time,been a long time since I………..hunt./-as heard in my mental led zeppelin vision.

  8. Great article Tom! Can you ship a sample of said backstraps to PA? Ha-ha, unfortunately I’m out and whitetail rifle season isn’t for another 3 months.

    • I feel your pain. I’m down to my last back straps and 5 pounds of elk burger.
      I drew a great tag this year, so I’m really looking forward to the hunt!

  9. I don’t hunt – no time, and never really had the opportunity to go out with someone experienced.

    What’s interesting to me is that a few of the quasi-hippie types that I went to school with have now gotten into hunting (ain’t Facebook great). They are guys and gals who left the big city and moved to more rural areas and are big into the organic food thing, so hunting their own drug-free meat makes sense to them. It doesn’t hurt that they tend to live in areas teeming with deer, so even the greenest greenie can figure out that some apex predation is actually good for mother nature.

  10. Well, some young liberal was on TV in San Francisco stating that if God intended you to eat something, it would be prepackaged and laying on the ground, ready to eat.
    What this is, I have no idea. Maybe the guy eats dog turds, I dunno.
    Anybody eat a groundhog?

    • you asked if anybody ate a ground hog, yes, but i don’t recommend killing the little rascal with a shotgun and #8 shot as this young 14 year old did, many years ago. spent more time picking out shot that eating him. he had excavated under my uncle’s outhouse, and we were trying to dig him up as he tunneled around the yard. when cornered, he did not surrender peacefully.

  11. Thanks again, Tom.
    “the Kotex rag under the piece of meat to absorb any unsightly blood”
    – that may be the biggest laugh I’ve ever had from TTAG.

    Thank you for this story, and for understanding how the circle of life actually works. (please don’t tell the media that the trees actually need CO2.) This is why I love TTAG: when I feel like a stranger in the day-to-day of news outlets, I can always come here for normalcy.

  12. I think if you eat meat, it’s a good exercise to occasionally kill, clean, and cook an animal yourself to remind you of what you usually pay someone else to do.

  13. Great post. I also love to hunt. Don’t get as much time to get out in the woods as I’d like, but I savor every minute of it.

    My only problem is with the term assless chaps. All chaps are assless; otherwise they’d be pants.

  14. I grew up fishing, hunting came in adult life. Either way, it’s immensely satisfying to catch/kill and prepare your own meat. As is growing your own veg.

    My first successful dove hunt was with a new to me ’54 Sweet Sixteen. Cleaned em and cooked em at camp over coals with pineapple tucked into the breast and wrapped in bacon. That was fine living right there.

  15. I just got to say it – LOVE article photo!!!!

    Also good on you for meat to others as well as yourself

  16. Good stuff, buddy! I’ll be working overtime to pay for my annual out of state whitetail deer hunt in WI.

  17. But it is season. Bear opened in Washington on August 1st. and bow dear season starts in early September. I am already having a hard time getting to sleep I am so excited.

  18. Damned this commie government making us hunt on their time and pay for the right to feed our kin. Can you grow a carrot at only one time of year, and have to be in a lottery to eat it! Vegan commies! We didn’t put down Hitler and Showa for this. Hunting season should be when and what I feel like.

  19. I argued hunting vs. veganism with a budding vegan. (Rather than doing this again, I would chose to eat a live weasel.)
    She: Vegan is natural, chemical-free and renewable.
    Hunter. Venison is natural (the Cherokee ate it), chemical free, and we have so many they’re considered pests.
    She: Animals raised for meat are locked in tiny chambers and can see the sun.
    Hunter: Deer spend their lives frolicking freely on Interstate 385 after dark. The also frolic when it’s 10 degrees and sleeting. They have the opportunity to mate, if you think that’s important.
    She: Deer suffer from gunshot wound.
    Hunter: Not if you hit ’em in the C4 vertebrae. (I don’t like tracking.)
    She: Venison has lead from the bullet.
    Hunter: See answer above.

  20. People now days have the anti opinions because they are insulated from the facts. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind. If they compared the way the meats they eat were raised and terminated they’d see the more humane taking by the Hunter. We have a weak ignorant population. Organizations like PETA would do well to expose the facts of the hunter rather than support the cruel reality of the faceless mass meat industry.

  21. This guy didn’t hunt for meat, he hunted for a head on his wall. The lions carcass was left to rot, not harvested for meat. This hunt also does not keep thousands of africans employed. Where are you getting that factoid from? This was a piss poor article.

    • Says the person who supports his incoherent statements with absolutely zero data or information. Nice try- go back to PETA and report your failure.

  22. When your freezer can’t hold any more send the extra my way. Thanks for not wasting any of it. I will ban meat that has been treated with hormones. I headed this the other day. Cows that eat naturally growing MARIJUANA get the munchies and eat more and in general get fat on natural cow food. I will legalize marijuana and what people do with it is their business.

  23. Just wanted to clairify something…. that metal rod that gets pushed into the cows brain? Rarely does that kill them… incapacitates, yes….

    Most often the cow (or whatever) is still alive as it is hooked and hung in the air, and probably sees it’s own guts hit the floor in the second before its death….

  24. It was a nice article, made me want to try trout and eggs for breakfast again (haven’t had the chance yet). But I just posted to say to whoever is responsible that I saved that header pic–LOL!

    • Trout and eggs is good. But I got to take TIO to task for part of this article.

      Liver. Yuck. Nuff said.

    • Fresh caught trout, throw some butter in the gut cavity, wrap it in foil and set it right on the campfire coals. This while diced potatoes with bell peppers, onions, fresh mushrooms, butter and EVO, get the same treatment…
      Oh yeah!

  25. I’ve only been hunting once, and it was with a bunch of dogs and a large knife, not a firearm. But I’ve wanted to start hunting more and more as I get older, so I feel like it’s time to reach out to the family members I know could get me started. That boar was certainly delicious.

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