I don’t criticize people about what they put into their bodies in terms of diet; whether it be heavily meat based, raw, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, gluten-free, paleo, etc. Everyone has the right to nourish their body and soul in a way that makes them feel happy and healthy. And, in no way during this blog post will I be attacking anyone who does not hunt or is against hunting –I will however be talking about my lifestyle choices and why they make me feel happy and healthy and how hunters do in fact actually give back.
The idea for this blog post is inspired by recent events and discussions in the news and on social media regarding hunting and hunters in general. I must say at first I was a little peeved by the initial statements made as well as by the insults that were flung back and forth by ALL sides concerned. I don’t like to get involved in cyber-arguments since from what I have seen thus far they end up in the utterance of despicable comments that personally attack rather than cogently explain the points of views and sides. The anonymity of the screen make some individuals rather bold. When having a dialogue about such issues like lifestyle choices and in this situation, hunting; no side ‘wins’ when you call one another profane names. We may disapprove of what one another has to say but we are allowed to voice our opinions so long as they are done respectfully and intelligently. Hopefully after a proper dialogue everyone comes away with a more informed view of the issue in question regardless of whether or not your mind has been changed.
Personally, I pride myself on my ability to provide food for my family; a food source that is natural, free-range, hormone-free. I am thankful for the opportunities to hunt with my husband and friends. I look forward to the day when we teach our nieces and nephew and future children about this lifestyle and these skills. I like that they will see a truly farm to table process, and hopefully they will be appreciative of living in a developed nation where they are among the HAVES in this world and understand the importance of not wasting food. I closely follow the regulations surrounding the privilege to hunt animals in Alberta, Canada. I have a WIN card (which I paid for and renew), every year I purchase a plethora of tags, stamps, certificates, permits, licenses etc. These include my Wildlife Certificate, Bow Hunting Permit, Game Bird Permit, General Whitetail Tag, Migratory Bird Licence, and whichever draw-related tag. The revenue from this does actually do some good; it doesn’t line the pockets of someone. As an ethical hunter, I only hunt in the WMUs specified on my tags (if there are special restrictions), I always obtain permission from landowners and never damage their land, I never fire a shot before or after legal time, I take firearm safety very seriously, I never poach and my main priority is a ‘good shot’ to make sure that I don’t intentionally cause suffering. I know what I am and I know what I am not! I am not a “blood-thirsty murderer.” I am not an “ignorant so-and-so who is intent on destroying what Mother Nature has to offer.” I am not “someone who thrives on killing.” [Vulgar expressions I know…but ones that I have heard uttered]. Any joy involved in hunting comes not from the killing but from the gift of meat, the time spent with loved ones and the love of nature.
Is it nice to have an incredible trophy on the wall? –absolutely, but ultimately that is not the only reason I hunt. That animal first and foremost is food and a trophy second. My exultation after a clean kill is simply: #1: Awesome, clean shot! #2: Freezer is full! #3: That deer will look good on the wall. Have I harvested big bodied deer? –Yes! Does it correlate with rack size? –Sometimes. I do not simply shoot a deer, take the rack and leave the rest to rot. I would definitely be one of the first to criticize that practice vehemently!! All the hunters I know would too! I pick the carcass clean in the processing room so I get EVERY piece of meat I possibly can; my aunt once dubbed me a ‘scavenger.’ Among our family and friend group we are able to find someone to take as much of the traditionally discarded parts. Bones (and bird feet) for the dogs, someone always dibs the hearts and liver for dinners in exchange for roasts or steaks. We grind meats for sausages and we make jerky.
Some may say this is an “outdated lifestyle” with no place in today’s modern society; there is no need to sit perched in a tree with a bow or a rifle, or lay in a field to shoot your meat. After all, you can go to the grocery store and get ethically farmed meat. But I say that is my lifestyle, my choice –one that I would never force on anyone…and I would appreciate not having anyone else’s lifestyle forced on me. I would like to recognize those ethical hunters who harvest animals with dignity and who refrain from hurtful name calling while defending our lifestyle, our choice. The ones who unfortunately get lumped in with the ‘bag eggs.’ I would like to say shame on those hunters who ruin the hunting lifestyle for the rest of us –who give us a bad name; you truly are the ones who deserve to lose your privileges. These individuals are the ones who steal hunting equipment from others, who shoot too early or after dark, who blast away at animals from their vehicles or towards a neighbor while feeding his cows. The previous mentioned events are just some of things that my husband and I and our neighbours experienced this past rifle season.
I mentioned, joy earlier in this blog post. Another source of joy that I experience as a result of my hunting lifestyle is that it is part of conservation. (Usually this is the part where people object vociferously and tell me that I am 100% wrong.) I know for some it may seem counter-intuitive, but in reality hunting is a part of conservation.
*You can find even more reasons why hunting is considered conservation from The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. #huntingisconservation
Many hunters, including myself and my husband belong to/volunteer with Ducks Unlimited; this 80 year old organization was founded by HUNTERS. As a result of the work that DU does it, “has been able to conserve more than 12.5 million acres of habitat across North America in the areas that are most important to ducks and geese.” This proves that hunters are environmentally-friendly and that the two can co-exist sustainably if done ethically. Rather than simply being reactionary, DU is using its Greenwing Program to “educate the conservationists of tomorrow and offer information about waterfowl identification, hunting traditions and ethics, and the important role of hunters in conservation.”
After class one day awhile back, I heard some students in the hall talking about how they had purchased licenses and how expensive it was. It really isn’t but when you are young and use your allowance to purchase them I guess that allowance gets depleted pretty quickly. I called them over and said, well let’s check where that all goes. We went on to the Alberta Hunting Regulation website to see where our money had gone to the previous season (2015/2016). We discovered that…
Afterwards, we were re-directed to the Alberta Conservation website where we found that the Wildlife Program (with the revenue generated from hunters like us) was able to support/work on some incredible projects for fisheries, wildlife, land and communication/education. We only got through a handful of the many links on the page before the next bell rang. I know that I am grateful for the work that they do. I highly recommend that everyone check out the programs.