I’m about to make myself all kinds of unpopular with this post. But living with a a guy who was taught by his Dad how to hunt and how to do it humanely and to use all the meat and hide, I feel it needs to be said. We’ve all seen Food, Inc. and have seen how the way that the meat industry packages meat and distributes it leads to salmonella and E.coli outbreaks, as well as being all kinds of environmentally unsustainable.
Hunting, with the proper use of the meat and proper respect to the animal (very important), is much more sustainable and better for you than buying food industry-produced meat at the supermarket. If you are going to be an omnivore, even just supplementing your diet with your own hunted meat will vastly reduce your grocery carbon footprint.
First off, it is important to learn how to shoot properly and where to shoot an animal so that they feel a minimal amount of pain and die quickly and humanely. Some hunters get excited when they see an animal and just shoot at it rather than targeting and shooting, which wounds the animal and both leads to a frustrating chase for the hunter (which you are legally obligated to do in Canada – you can incur all kinds of fines for wounding an animal) and a slower death for the animal.
In Ontario, you have to take a hunting course in order to get your license, and they teach you all about this stuff. To get a good idea on where to aim on a deer, check this page. If you live in an area where you do not need to get a license or undergo this training, it is up to you to make sure you know where to aim for the most humane kill shot.
Targeting is equally important to getting quality meat out of the animal, especially if you are using shot that can scatter. Defiling the meat detracts from the whole purpose of hunting your own food in the first place.
Secondly, learn to shoot, mostly for the same reasons we mention above. You can’t target effectively if you don’t know how where to aim a gun to pinpoint your precise target. There are shooting clubs in rural areas that hold shooting practice with clay targets. These are an inexpensive way to train yourself.
When you do kill an animal, use all the meat and hide where viable. If you are a first-timer, take the animal to a butcher; more experienced hunters can teach you butchery in the field as you gain more experience. If you shoot a deer, you can preserve the meat in cubes for cooking in stews, or have a butcher make it into sausages for use throughout the year.
Hides can go to a local tannery (leather maker). One deer can generally feed a family for at least a few months, as long as everyone is willing to eat it. While kids generally won’t be, if you can pledge to yourself to just eat what you hunt and fish, or vegetarian if you don’t have wild meat available to you, you will not only have a better diet with less preservatives but you’ll be cutting the meat industry out of your diet, and out of your pocketbook.
Hunting is only an inhumane blood sport when we do it for fun rather than doing it for food. If you keep that in mind as your end goal, you’ll be a lot further ahead than if you bought a load of cheap meat at the store that was raised and killed inhumanely in a factory farm. You can also buy organic meat, but it doesn’t get much more organic than wild.
The argument against hunting has always been that it is senseless killing of an animal. If you learn how to shoot properly and use that animal for food, it simply isn’t the case at all. What is more senseless is the meat industry’s raising of chickens in conditions where they don’t even see the outside of a chicken house, feeding cattle and pigs their ground-up relatives, and the scores of other abuses that the meat industry visits on its animals and, ultimately, the consumers of those animals. Getting back to the land after reading Fast Food Nation and viewing Food, Inc. doesn’t seem like a bad idea.