Connect With Your Place In The World…
When’s the last time you had a thick, juicy steak? Marbled with fat, tender and flavorful… A good steak is more than just dinner – it can be an experience.
And it’s a popular one, too. Last year, the average American ate 222 pounds of meat. It’s not just the U.S, either. The U.K consumed 3 million tons of pork and beef last year – that’s not even counting poultry or lamb, either.
In short, much of the Western world loves meat.
But you know what’s very unpopular in this same world?
Yes, when many people think of hunters, they think of a bunch of deranged animal killers or low-class, uneducated yokels who love their guns more than they should.
Isn’t that an interesting dichotomy? We’re very pleased with the results of killing animals, but we condemn the people who participate in it…
Lately, I’ve been wondering about something. What if hunting wasn’t all bad? In fact, what if hunting could be the most responsible, sustainable thing we could possibly do?
And what if participating in the act of procuring our own food helps us to reconnect with the primal human that exists in all of us?
As I said, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, so I was very interested to sit down with American hunter, outdoor guide, and writer Remi Warren.
Remi’s no weekend warrior, either. He spends 300 days of the year out in the wild and is a staunch advocate for conservation of our lands and animal populations alike.
In our conversation, Remi explained that hunting seems to serve a natural human instinct. In hunting an animal and then using that animal for food, we complete a very basic, inborn function.
He then went on to talk about some of the benefits you can experience from hunting. There are many advantages to this controversial topic, some which benefit us humans and others that benefit the environment at large.
Here are just a few…
When we were created (or when we evolved, depending upon your views), we lived a very natural, elemental life. We were warmed by the sun, we were hydrated by bodies of water, and we gained strength from the meat we ate. Now, we live in structures that block out the sun and slap on sunscreen when we do venture out, and we get water from a series of pipes so dirty we have to run it through filtration just to make it potable. And the meat that we eat often comes in a paper wrapper. This existence is almost as far from nature as one can get.
When people return to a hunting lifestyle, they get to recalibrate and experience that strong connection with nature again.
Discipline and Endurance
Not every hunt results in a kill. Only 10% of elk hunters bag an elk, for example. That means 90% of the people who prepare and head out on a hunt will go home empty-handed. When you begin hunting, you get to experience disappointment over and over again, and yet, you’ll still come back until you get it right. This results in developing resilience and discipline, and if you go out often enough, you’ll improve your physical endurance, too.
Respect and Responsibility
Hunting isn’t just taking a life and moving on – or at least, it’s not supposed to be. Every time you go out, you must consider if the conditions are right before you ever put your finger on the trigger. You’ve got to evaluate the environment and circumstances, and then when you look down the sight, you’ve got to make a decision to take a life. If you don’t have a good enough shot to make a clean kill, you’ve got to have the discipline to be able to pause and wait for the next chance, because anything less is disrespectful.
When hunting, you’re responsible to the animal whose life you’re taking. You’ve got to be respectful enough to honor its life and the sacrifice made to nourish the lives of others.
Not only do you have to respect the individual animal, you also have to be mindful of the entire herd and its environment. You see, the best hunters aren’t thoughtless killers – they’re careful conservationists. They have to be – if you deplete one animal population, then you’ll have an overgrowth somewhere else in the food chain, and this kind of imbalance creates a ripple effect. Kill too many deer and the wolves won’t have enough to eat. The wolves die off and then too many coyotes come in. If there’s not enough food in the wild for the coyotes, then they start coming into suburban areas and cause havoc there… As you can see, a good hunter has to be aware of all of the ecosystem so he can be respectful of his place in it.
Hunting is Conservation
At the end of the day, hunting is not bad or evil.
The real reason we feel squeamish about hunting is not because it’s wrong – in fact, it may be inherently right. (I’ll share more on that another day…)
We feel uneasy about hunting because we personify the animals. We project human feelings onto them and assume that their death is somehow overwhelmingly sad. The truth of the matter, though, is that death by hunting is a quick and mostly painless death at the end of a normal, natural life. If humans were wiped from the planet entirely, those animals would still die – some from disease or starvation, some from the elements, but mostly from attacks from other predators. When viewed that way, we can begin to realize that an animal’s death isn’t inherently sad, it’s just a part of the cycle of life.
And through hunting, we humans, can take part in that cycle in a healthy and honest way.
If you’re interested in hunting and might even want to try it for yourself, find someone who’s well-versed in proper hunting and conservation methods. They can guide you into making choices that are right for you and for the environment.
If you’re not interested in hunting yourself, but you do want to participate in procuring your meat in a more sustainable way, you can find co-ops in your area that sell bundles of beef, venison, turkey, and more. These animals are either hunted in nature or raised as close to it as possible and then slaughtered quickly and humanely.
The next time you serve yourself a juicy steak, ask yourself… Where did this meal come from? And why are you so removed from that part of the process? Just some food for thought…