Why Do We Hunt? With so many reasons, here’s three of mine.

by David LaPell,  |  published on March 18, 2013

The most pressing assaults on our gun rights have dominated my conversations lately; scary stuff like the threat of a new semi-automatic weapons ban in my home state of New York or the effectiveness of retooling the background check system. However, I had an exchange the other day with a non-gun owner that went off book a bit and inspired me to do some hard thinking about other, more institutionalized attacks on guns and the cultures that support them.

The other party asked me what my guns were for and I told him that some were for personal defense but that I was also a hunter. His next question went something like this: Why do you hunt when food is so abundant and readily available in grocery stores? I stood there stunned and then I felt a little angry by either the ignorance or the implications (i.e. that I was wasting my time/energy/resources hunting because packaged food is already going to waste) in this question.

With all the drum beating about local food sources and hormone free meats or whatever, did this guy really not see the benefit in getting your food from the wild rather than the freezer section? Hadn’t common sense and Food Network cured folks of this squeamishness? But what scares me is this thought: if average people already think this way about the value of hunting, isn’t it just a matter of time before legislators start to use this line of perverted thinking as a rationalization for restrictions and bans – not on the equipment, but on the practice itself.

When I was a kid wild game was the standard table fare whenever I visited my grandparents’ house. My father was not a hunter, or a fisherman, or really much of anything to do with the outdoors, so it was a real treat to get to taste food that was not bought in a store. My grandfather was a lifelong hunter, but he also fished and raised his own animals at a time when the economy was in good shape. But that was not why he did it. It was about being self reliant, which is something I believe too many of us have forgotten in this age of “letting others do things for us.” But that is not the only reason why we hunt.

1. Hunters know food
Not that long ago I began noticing more and more that the food I found in the grocery store was not from here. And by not from here, I don’t mean not from New York state, I mean not from America.

Now, I know what it takes to process and butcher an animal. It’s an involved, hands on process that requires attention to detail to do it efficiently and cleanly. So I had to wonder on the graces of how far away I know it originated, just how many hands that piece of meat passed from before it ended up in my deli section? How long was it on the road to get from point A to point B? Did it then travel on to C and D? Was it frozen or was it fresh? Did the inspectors who stamped the meat pay attention to it or did they just nod at it as it passed by on a conveyor belt? Multiply these considerations with the number of times a year I see something on television or in the news about food poisoning, and the improper handling of food products becomes something I take seriously.

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