5@5 - Why hunting your own dinner is an ethical way to eat
July 2nd, 2012
05:00 PM ET
Share this on:

5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Editor's Note: Lily Raff McCaulou is an award-winning journalist, Knight-Wallace Fellowship recipient and a columnist for The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon. Her first book, "Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner" was published in June.

Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who hunted. Hunters, I figured, were probably just barbaric gun nuts. Then, eight years ago, I moved from Manhattan to rural Oregon, to write for a small newspaper. My perspective shifted when I began interviewing hunters for my articles and realized that although I had long considered myself an environmentalist, these hunters – most of whom scoffed at the “E” word – were more knowledgeable and thoughtful about animals and nature than I was.

Eventually, I decided to buy a gun and join them. But don’t worry, I’m still an environmentalist, loud and proud.

Five Reasons Why Hunting a Wild Animal Makes an Ethical Dinner: Lily Raff McCaulou

1. Hunting has a light environmental footprint
No antibiotics, artificial hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or unnatural feeds were used in raising this meat. Unlike farmed animals, a wild one doesn't contribute to soil erosion, water pollution, or the displacement of native plants in favor of a monoculture. No land is tilled to feed a wild animal, so additional carbon isn’t released into the atmosphere.

2. Wild animals aren’t subject to the misery of factory farming
My venison was never confined, castrated, or branded the way most farmed steers are. My duck was never caged, de-beaked, or toe-clipped the way most domesticated poultry is. Wild animals, unlike many domesticated ones, aren’t bred, fed and medicated to achieve rapid weight gain so that they can be killed at just a few weeks of age.

3. None of the meat is wasted
After I shoot an animal, I gut it and butcher it myself (or, in the case of an 800-pounds bull elk, with some help from friends). This way, I know the meat was handled safely. I don’t have to worry about listeria or trichinosis. And I’m confident that as much of the animal as possible is used. To hunt and butcher an animal is to recognize that meat is not some abstract form of protein that springs into existence tightly wrapped in cellophane and styrofoam. Meat is life. So I seek out recipes that make the most of it. I cook it with care. I share with friends and family. I make sure eat every bite gets enjoyed.

4. Hunting pays for conservation
To hunt for elk this fall, for example, I’ve already bought an Oregon hunting license for $29.50, paid $8 to enter a lottery for the right to hunt in a particular spot, and purchased a $42.50 tag. That means I’ve already paid $80 toward wildlife research and habitat protection in my home state. Bird-watchers and hikers haven’t paid anywhere near that much.

With approximately 12.5 million hunters nationwide, we’re talking about real money. Proceeds from the Federal Duck Stamp – a required $15 annual purchase for migratory waterfowl hunters – have added more than five million acres to the national wildlife refuge system. And federal excise taxes on hunting equipment and ammunition garner more than $200 million a year for wildlife management and the purchase of public lands.

5. Hunting promotes conservation
To hunt is to participate in the ecosystem rather than just watch from the sidelines. When I track an animal, I use all of my senses to take in my surroundings, as if I were a wild animal myself. So by the time I actually shoot something, I’ve developed a deep connection to the species and to the land. I considered myself an environmentalist before I started hunting. But back then, all of my reasons for conservation were theoretical. Now that I hunt, I have a real-life, vested interest in seeing places – and wildlife populations – preserved in the long-term. Someday, I want take my son hunting in all of my favorite spots.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

Previously - 'The Hunger Games' bucks hunter stereotypes and Chef Dan Barber: Killing your own food is an incontestably moral act and 5@5 – Five ways to eat more duck

Posted by:
Filed under: 5@5 • Animal Rights • Food Politics • Hunting • Path to the Plate • Think

soundoff (1,462 Responses)
  1. vegetarian recipes

    For latest information you have to pay a quick visit the
    web and on world-wide-web I found this website as a finest web page for most up-to-date updates.

    October 11, 2014 at 1:38 am |
  2. payday loans

    Hi there Dear, are you genuinely visiting this web page regularly, if so afterward you will absolutely take fastidious knowledge.

    July 12, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
  3. http://penaltyabatementwaiver.com

    Thanks for sharing yopur info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will
    bee waiting for your next post thanks once again.

    July 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
  4. cheap chinese Raptors jerseys

    Best VIP cheap Flyers jerseys free shipping Store
    cheap chinese Raptors jerseys http://excelfitnessandtanning.com/pdf/page.htm

    June 21, 2014 at 5:51 am |
  5. Nioggah


    March 21, 2014 at 9:39 am |
  6. Heriberto Nobbe

    Very interesting and informative


    March 10, 2014 at 10:06 am |
  7. Berneice Dago

    Yes. It should do the job. If it doesn't send us an email.

    November 12, 2013 at 5:23 am |
  8. serial kaspersky

    Hello I really enjoyed reading your site . The information were really informative. Thank you very much

    September 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6
| Part of