We Know Where Our Food Comes From
The adage holds true. Ask any hunter and they’ll tell you it does—the real work on any hunt doesn’t start until after the trigger is pulled or the arrow flies. With skill and a bit of luck, your shot will hit its mark and the animal will drop. That’s when you have to find, dress, pack and haul your harvest out of the field for the long trip home.
But as rewarding as it feels to load up the truck, boat or bush plane with the bounty of a successful hunt, nothing compares to sharing it later with family and friends over dinner and a few drinks.
Over the past decade, the farm-to-table movement has swept across the country. Restaurants now seemingly trip over themselves explaining how “fresh”, “local” or “organic” their ingredients are. For a hunter like you who literally carries fresh back-straps in from the field to the kitchen refrigerator, this has to make you smile just a bit.
As hunters, we’ve been eating fresh, naturally sourced, organic meals for several million years.
We know where our food comes from. We know it’s high-quality, lean, antibiotic-free table fare with more protein and less saturated fat than anything you order from a window or waitress. On a per-pound cost basis, it’s also less expensive than anything from a menu and hunters will agree we have more fun harvesting our food than anyone else.
When it comes to processing our game, the options are almost limitless. Tenderloins, burgers, sausage, filets, salami, roasts, ground meat, brisket and jerky are just some of the staples found in any hunter’s freezer.
For many of us, where we enjoy our hard-earned meal is almost as memorable as the meat itself. Whether it’s straight from the backyard grill to the dining room table, cooked over an open fire under a harvest moon or prepared on a small MSR® WhisperLite™ stove while huddled beneath a granite outcrop to escape the wind, time and place just adds to the experience.
There is a convenient detachment from reality for many people when it comes to killing what you eat. The misinformed see it as an unnecessary activity given there’s a grocery store on every corner, while the truly misguided argue hunting is a cruel, inhumane and barbaric throwback to the Dark Ages.
They refuse to see the hypocrisy of their arguments. If you eat meat you don’t hunt, you have simply paid for someone else to do the killing for you.
Eating what we kill reminds us of who we are and our place in the natural world. Without it, we risk thinking we’re above and removed from the Circle of Life. And if that happens, we’ll lose our connection to the very world we care so deeply about.
When the natural world no longer holds a meaningful place in our hearts, it will no longer warrant our attention or protection.
That’s why the best meals from the field are those that are shared. By explaining the what, when, where and how of your hunt to friends and family while cooking them a wild game meal worth remembering, they will see why you do it.
They will witness first-hand the role hunters play in wildlife management, conservation and land stewardship. For those who have never tasted wild game outside a trendy restaurant, feasting on meat taken with a bullet, shot, slug, arrow or bolt won’t feel quite as foreign to them anymore, either.
But above all, we eat what we kill because anything less disrespects the game we chase. It’s also the law. The hunting regulations in every state require us to salvage “all edible portions of the game animal for human consumption”. Even if it wasn’t an enforced regulation, the true hunter would do it anyway because he owes it to the animal and knows it’s the right thing to do.
Besides, nothing beats hard-earned elk back-straps pan seared in butter, bacon and garlic served with rosemary smashed potatoes.