Strange Times - A Sportsman's Thoughts on COVID-19

by Josh Mills, Hunt to Eat Ambassador

 

We are in some strange times, aren’t we?

The prospect of severe alteration of the daily schedule had me staring at the familiar Costco sign and wondering if I had the gumption to go in and brave the crowds that most certainly were inside.  Everyone’s been subject to the stories seen on social media.  Hysteria over toilet paper.   People grappling over everyday goods like pasta, chicken and again, toilet paper. 

Seriously, why the fixation on TP?  I don’t get it.

I was really there to stock up on items I knew I would likely need.  You know, the essentials…Bourbon, beer, and a couple of bottles of wine. School was canceled for 6 weeks and the parents of Washington were being forced into a new career of home school parents. Courage we all need.

With that I found myself walking the store just observing, and eventually in the meat aisle. In front of the rotisserie chickens, a good 20 people anxiously waited for dinner to be pulled off the rack and put in their cart when it hit me hard…

Thank god I’m a hunter and an angler.

The line between dependent and independent was laid bare.   Back at home, I am fortunate to have a modest lineup of fish, fowl, and beast sitting in my freezer, a bank of security in the midst of what I am starting to feel is a generational event that we’ve never experienced in my life.   The anxiety that I felt around the store that day was palpable. 

I take great joy in the experience that is time afield and in the river where a lot of the time the goal is centered in the harvest.   When the dogs work the field, we take great joy when a rooster hits the ground and is added to the game bag.  We marvel at the accomplishment of a successful shot on a bull elk after months of preparation and how about the high fives exchanged when a salmon hits the net and goes into the cooler??  We collectively spend way more than the worth of the meat in the act of hunting and fishing…but knowing when the chips are down the notion that you can bring home the bacon when needed is a thing of beauty.

Maybe some of that excitement is in knowing that you’re depositing checks into your family’s food bank of security?  Knowing that we’re going to eat, regardless of a food delivery schedule to a supermarket is a calming feeling.

There’s no judgment on the other shoppers that I watched in Costco that day.  We’re living in a scary moment in history.  To say that I could unplug my family from the industrial food chain that we live in right now is false, but at least fractionally there’s less dependence on it when it comes to protein for our families.

We won't be fighting over the last steak in the grocery aisle…I can promise you that.

So what’s next?  How to proceed?

I’d say there’s a hell of a lot of opportunity in being a resource to the greater community as a whole.

First, let’s be honest.  There are a lot of super-successful hunters and anglers out there with more in their freezer than they can ever eat in a year.  To borrow a Rinella line, this is the best time ever to practice venison diplomacy and offer up the bounty to those in need.  It could be the hard-up family down the street, a senior that can't get out to shop for themselves or a hundred other people in your life that could possibly use the gift of game.  You can spare that package of burger, smoked trout or pheasant.  You really can.

Second, take the opportunity to engage interested parties in hunting and fishing.  So many people are likely open to the food side of hunting and taking a modest piece of control of their food supply back.  There’s a great deal of money being spent on the R3 initiatives (Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation) and this may be the grandest opportunity to get people excited about the outdoors, hunting and fishing we’ve ever seen.  Ever.   

The Covid-19 outbreak is a trying time for everyone involved.  There won't be an aspect of society that won’t be affected.  It’s a generational event that will cause shifts in our society for decades, possibly generations to come.  Some bad, but the glass half full perspective that I have to adhere to tells me that a lot of proactive and positive changes will be brought about.  Let's examine again how we get our food, and in turn remind each other that while hunting and fishing are sports, they’re really about food and security.