Some of you may not understand hunting or why it is part of our culture across much of what I will call "red states," and that's totally alright. I 100% respect people and their beliefs, as long as they respect mine. It amazes me the vitriol people can have for it, though. If you aren't 100% vegan, it is hypocritical to judge those who hunt for food. One of our Texas Senators Ted Cruz, posted a picture with a beautiful buck he harvested last weekend, and people on Twitter and Facebook lit him up. Many were so tolerant, they suggested that he should have died instead of a defenseless animal. They attacked his manhood, his family, and his way of life. Contrary to the opinion of some, hunting is conservation. Populations are managed appropriately, the money from licensing goes back into the state's budgets towards conservation and management. Deer don't have any natural predators in many states now, except for man. Hunting is necessary to maintain healthy population numbers.
I harvested this buck Sunday evening. Most would call him a cull, a buck that is not a trophy and does not need to reproduce anymore to improve the herd's genetics. He was old, one of the oldest I've seen on the hoof, battle-scarred, and gray. His rack asymmetric from presumably an old injury while in velvet. He was worthy of a warrior's death. Most wouldn't call him a trophy, but I believe any animal that gives its life for mine deserves that title.
There is something primal and visceral about connecting with your food. It is deeply spiritual, it is not violent, it is part of the circle of life. Knowing that life was taken to feed my family is something to be cherished and respected. We as a society in the Western world have become so disconnected from where we get our food. I've heard the argument that you should go to the grocery store to buy meat. As if no animals were harmed for that slab of protein sitting on that styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic.
Life, at its essence, is bloody; it is hard, fraught with danger and strife. We forget that at times because of the comforts we have.
Have you ever been to a slaughterhouse? I have; I tried to work in one during college, I didn't make it past the facility's tour. It's not for the faint-hearted. My father worked in one for many years in his 20s. Hunting provides a much more ethical, clean kill than what can happen in a meatpacking facility, not bashing them; it's just a dirty job.
I was going through the pictures that I took in haste that day. After I field dressed him, I noticed my hands were stained from his blood. A hundred years ago, no one would have batted an eye over it. Yet now, it is considered offensive or graphic. Something that needs to be censored. Where we get our food, one of our most important daily needs, has become taboo.
I don't care how far I climb and what I achieve; I always want to get my hands dirty. I want to be in it, cutting and grinding. No matter my success, I can never stop being who I am. I am at my core blue-collar. I am, at my core, a hunter and a meat-eater.
I wanted to share this in full disclosure. I would never want you who follow me to not know who I really am. We should connect with our food on a level that you cannot when purchasing it in the store. I know it isn't for everyone but don't knock it until you try it.