"Alfred" R.I.P.
Hunting, handmade goods, curing, pickling, and nose-to-tail utilization of animal carcasses are not new ideas, not by a long shot. What was once just common sense preserving and self-reliance has been hijacked and rebranded by the left as organic, sustainable, and even trendy.
This is especially the case with food, particularly meat products. I find it amusing when reading Bon Appetit or Food and Wine and see the ultra-liberals and celebs so often featured in the pages lauding sustainable farming, fishing, and hunting as fresh ideas, progressive and green. As if self-reliance and sustainable living were ideologies recently conceptualized by the left. I suppose none of them have been to Mount Vernon to see George Washington’s behemoth covered compost pit. Composting was just common sense until it became cool. Ditto for free-range chickens, reclaimed wood, and living off the land.
Never would I have imagined that in 2015 (under the current regime), that hunting would be gaining in popularity. Because despite the fact that wild game is wholly organic, consumption involves animal death-by-human and owning a firearm, both deemed uncivilized activities by environmental fanatics.
But I too was ignorant of game management systems and the benefits of hunting for food. I did a lot of crabbing and fishing but my experience with wild animals was limited to squirrels and a certain neighbor’s psychotic poodle (that our Border Collie sent straight to Jesus after it bit me). Hunting vast state parks or federal lands was Greek to blue-collar east coast kids like us weaned on postage stamps.
It wasn’t until much later when my husband went on safari that I truly understood that hunting is not only a vital means for human sustenance, it is also very humane. He explained to me that animals (and even humans) starve if animal populations are not well managed. A good example is the Kudu named "Alfred" in our basement.
He didn’t intend on killing poor Alfred. He was on safari in South Africa when an alfalfa farmer reported a mammoth Kudu decimating his crop. My husband and his professional hunter companion tracked the over nourished menace five miles before my husband was in position to fire off his canon. The specimen male was indeed statuesque, just 1.75" shy of the world record. Had that ravenous horned monster of an antelope kept at local fields, there would be little food left for the villagers to eat. Best part? That Kudu offered highly-prized protein to hungry locals before the head and skin were sent off to the taxidermy.
Despite the growing hunting trend, there are still animal activists that insist that hunting is cruel to animals. If you have the opportunity, ask if having a confined cow’s brain impaled with a steel bolt sounds like a better way to go than a shot to the heart after boundless frolicking in the wild.
Hunters have a code of conduct, focusing on older animals and leaving the young to thrive. Here in Baltimore County hunters are notorious for taking fawns orphaned by vehicles to local wildlife shelters to live until capable of surviving on their own. They do this because they are humane and respect wildlife, not because they enjoy killing.
Well known foodies like Andrew Zimmern are helping make hunting mainstream (even cool) among trendsetters, pushing forward an appreciation for wild game animals as food appropriate even for the most enlightened liberal. And The Outdoor Channel offers 100% fair chase shows like Jim Shockey’s, promoting ethical hunting with due respect for both the hunter and game alike. I have to admit my own growing interest in these shows…and a strange fascination with Alaskan Bush People.
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