“Woah!” They start. “What do you even do with it?”
With a puzzled look on his face he responds, “It’s meat, sir.”
This is an excerpt from an interview I heard on the radio months ago where the Host was interviewing John Mayer. John had mentioned eating elk that his friend had shot in Montana and was met with a flabbergasted reaction. This hit home with me and was reminiscent of any time that I have ever cooked, or even talked about cooking wild game, with someone unfamiliar with it. The truth is, wild game carries a sort of mystique.
Over the years, Man has lost its connection with the natural world. In the now, food is literally available at the press of the button. You are never more than a block or two away from a meal. While this is great in terms of having food available for all, the convenience has caused us as humans to underappreciate our food. I’d venture to say the majority of people eat their food without even so much as a passing thought to the backstory. The reality is, the burger or chicken breast you are eating came from an animal, and one that you will likely never know how it was treated, raised, or handled.
Herein lies the problem.
As consumers of meat, we are complicit in the treatment of that animal in which we have eaten, whether we choose to think about it or not. When we choose to consume that product, we make the choice to join the chain.
When you hunt for your food, you are making a conscious decision to break free from this chain. You are making the decision to enter into the wild, the animal’s home field, to attempt to outsmart a truly wild creature (a creature that has spent its life free to roam wherever it pleases), in hopes of completing a swift and painless kill. I can assure you that if you are lucky enough to have success, you will never have more gratitude for that animal than in that moment. You’ll be compelled to use every part of that animal and take pride every time you serve it. And plus, you will be eating some of the finest table fare you will ever lay your hands on, and much healthier, too. A 3-ounce piece of venison contains half the number of calories, more protein, and about an eighth the amount of fat when compared to a piece of beef of the same proportion.
Additionally, the Department of Agriculture predicted for 2018 that Americans would eat a record amount of meat and poultry: 222.2 pounds per person, on average.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in their 2016 report found there were 39.6 million active hunters and/or anglers in the U.S.
That’s a lot of meat consumption, the majority of which is not being hunted.
But don’t fret, I have great news. Hunting opportunities abound in this country and I think you will find the hunting community is an incredibly welcoming community, and is more than willing to introduce you to their world.
As a hunter, you are not only responsibly seeking your next meal, but you are contributing huge money towards conservation in the process. All the money spent on licenses, tags, etc., goes directly back into conserving habitat and wildlife. You are making a difference. It won’t be easy. There will be times of failure. There will be defeat. There will be times that are downright grueling. But out of these experiences will come something so great, so fulfilling, the result will be beyond worth it. Memories that are irreplaceable and freezers that are full. If you are on the fence about hunting, I urge you to take the leap. Regain your connection to your wild side that lies within. You won’t regret it!