Why I Hunt — Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Why I Hunt

I am a hunter.

It’s been a part of life for as long as I can remember, and it will be important to me until the end comes. Hunting is as normal to me as filling the truck up with gas or going to the supermarket. It is both a pursuit I enjoy, and an important part of my family’s annual diet. People are sometimes shocked when I tell them we rarely buy red meat at the store. In fact, buying “normal” hamburger or steaks in the Ellis household are almost as exotic as eating lobster. It’s that rare an occasion. The meat on our table consists of deer, moose, bear and small game like ruffed grouse. Some of it is consumed as roasts or chops, the rest is sausage, jerky or burgers. Wild game is what we raised our family on, and hopefully my two boys will do the same when they have families of their own.

Yet hunting remains an activity that some people are just not cool with. Partially it is ignorance, based on notions about hunting that are far from accurate. But many people are genuinely repulsed by the thought of killing an animal -any animal – and feel hunting is barbaric and cruel. This idea has been perpetuated by media and movies for decades. This is why so many hunters are afraid to talk about it in public, or post pictures on Facebook. They fear being judged as uncaring, brutal or worse.

In my 25 years as an outdoor writer and broadcaster, I’ve bumped into some people that didn’t like my hunting stories and pictures. A few have written letters to the editor about it. Once, after I’d penned a column about taking my oldest son deer hunting at 13, a letter came in to the newspaper. It was made out of cut out letters glued on the page and was, shall we say, a bit scary. It could certainly be described as anti-hunting. That letter didn’t stop me from writing about hunting, but it did make me realize how strongly some people feel about it.

However, the past few years have revealed a subtle, but noticeable, shift in the public perception of hunting. I believe a lot of it has to do with the focus on sustainability, and interest in organic products. A growing number of people want their food and meat to be “organic”, raised in a natural way without pesticides or hormones. There is nothing more organic than wild game. It is truly free range. This concept has not been lost on young people in particular, who seem less willing to accept what grocery stores give them and want to know everything about the food they are eating. So they grow gardens, harvest berries and learn how to raise animals for slaughter. Many also take up hunting.
Needless to say, hunting is not for everyone, but more and more people now understand hunters eat what they harvest. As amazing as it is to see trophy antlers and the rest, it is ultimately all about the meat. An adult moose feeds a family for many, many meals. Add in some deer chops, bear smokies , grouse breasts – plus some home grown vegetables – and you have a diet that is very healthy. Most hunters also angle, so that covers off the Omega oils and other benefits fish provide. If you want to experience the “paleo-diet” look no further than the hunter’s freezer.
Hunting has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time. Despite our modern age, there is no reason to believe that will change any time soon.
…Gord Ellis

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