Dear Bambi, no hard feelings.
Before I met my husband I hadn’t a clue about the world of hunting. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s were not part of my shopping repertoire. That all changed on our first date. I spied a hunting video amongst the movies on his book shelf. His eyes lit up with red neck love as he told me about Mega Bucks 11. This I had to see. Three and a half hours of pure hunting pleasure; men whispering from their perches above the ground about the white tails they spotted and the breathy thrill of the kill when they got their shot off. It didn’t bother me. Watching this beautiful creature fall to the arrow. One hunter softly exclaimed, “That one thudded.” I remember finding this hilarious. I was a meat eater after all. I go to the grocery store and buy bloody slabs from the shelves. Until our first date I had never had venison. He served me venison chili that he had “caught” (as I jokingly call it) and made. It was delicious. I am sure the fact that I was immediately smitten with my husband helped with the flavour but I truly enjoyed it.
When people ask me about my husband’s red neck ways I am proud to respond. He has such respect for the white tail deer. Any kill he makes he butchers himself artfully. There is no greater meal to him than one of his own.
So why are some bothered by this? I have had people, meat eaters, tell me that they think it is cruel to hunt. That they need to know where their meat is coming from. Yes, that’s right. They need to know where there meat is coming from. Dumbest statement ever. I would argue that even the road kill, and yes I’ve had it, is purer and cleaner than the slaughterhouse, antibiotic ridden, adrenaline filled cow, swine or other such sinew that you buy from the local grocery store. One doesn’t have to read The China Study or Skinny Bitch, both great, to know that there is a serious problem with our food supply. The rise in cancers, countless salmonella outbreaks, and girls getting their periods at an alarmingly young age bears testament to that. If you are saying to yourself, “That’s why I eat organic,” then please get thee to a bookstore otherwise I hope we can agree that our food source is not exactly clean.
I have not always been a carnivore. I was a vegetarian for seven years and I attempted a vegan lifestyle for a year but gee whiz, that is dedication to one’s body. I chose to go veggie because I do find weight in the argument that our bodies were not meant to consume flesh. As a veggie, I felt better. I had more energy and found it easier to keep weight off. So how did my veggie/poor man’s attempt at a vegan self wind up back at the butcher shop married to a hunter no less? Easy, I like meat and I see nothing wrong with indulging here and there.
If we as consumer’s are going to get all high and mighty about something, let’s turn our bony fingers to the cattle & produce farmer’s who consider profit margin’s to be more important than the consumer’s health. Farmer’s feilds are soaked in pesticides. Cattle are fed hormone infused diets from birth to slaughter. The bow hunter who spends hundreds of hours studying his prey waiting for that one clean shot has to be more humane than the farmer who moves his overcrowded inventory about with a cattle prod to keep them eating and getting fat.
For a bow hunter the objective is a clean shot, double lungs they like to say. By using a broadhead (a razor sharp head screwed to the tip of the arrow) the hunter is able to cut through bone and vital organs to create massive hemorrhaging. The intent of a clean shot is to kill the animal efficiently and painlessly while being able to harvest as much of the deer as possible. This includes the heart, liver and for some, the tongue. Many hunters not only take the meat but also the hide. Some give the hooves and bones to their dogs. And for those of you who think it cruel to have a deer head on the wall, what do you think happens to the cows head? Hmmm. Mounting the Buck on a wall is a trophy. It is a remembrance and a homage to the kill. The slaughterhouse just says, “Next.”
Extending beyond the benefit of a hunter bringing food to his table, is the benefit made for the community. Many states now suffer from an overpopulation of deer. This brings with it Lyme Disease, car accidents, predators such as coyote, not to mention the fact that they cripple and alter forest growth due to their consumption of seedlings. So to all you tree hugging/fur defending hippies, there may not be as many for you to wrap your arms around. Birds, other small mammals and deer themselves suffer from the growing herds by ways of starvation and the changing conditions of their habitats.
Last but certainly not least, are the health benefits of venison compared to other red meats. Leaner and higher in iron, if you are a meat eater then you really can’t do any better. If you are not as lucky as me to have a hunter in the family, then buy local. There are smaller farms in your backyard that you can buy a cow from. They will butcher the meat. Sounds like a lot? Split it with some friends. How good will you feel knowing that the food you are consuming was lovingly raised and not killed on a conveyor belt? Go to the Farmer’s Markets to get your produce. Talk to the people who pull your supper out of the ground.
The next time you see a hunter think about what he/she is doing. Hunting is not about killing a living thing. It is a human instinct and a means of survival. If you eat meat then you have blood on your hands no matter how far removed. If you do not eat meat, for whatever reason, I hope that some part of you can respect the fact that the majority of hunter’s out there are responsible, animal lovers such as my husband. Through hunting they are arguably more closely connected to nature than even the grocery shopping vegetarian. And if you are offered a hunter’s meal, try it. A hunter’s meal is far more poetic than a Stop & Shop’s, Safeway’s, Publix or even Whole Foods. You may even get crazy and have some road kill!