by Andrew Scallion
There are three primary reasons why I hunt.
But, before I get into those, let me tell you why I do not hunt.
I do not hunt for trophies.
I do not hunt because I like to kill things.
I do not hunt for more meat than I can consume.
So, why do I hunt? As I said, there are three primary reasons. Physical, ethical, and spiritual.
I hunt on foot. I don’t use a quad, snowmobile or a horse. I drive my 4×4 into the bush and park. All the rest is one foot in front of the other. It’s not uncommon to cover 20-30 km in a day stalking and tracking an animal.
I love the sheer physicality of grinding up the side of a mountain in the timbers and getting above the tree line where the air is thin. And the sheer exhaustion after a day of hunting that leads to the most restful and satisfying sleeps I have all year.
I do one major hunt every year. I go into the bush for 10-14 days and when I come out I’m always 10-15 pounds lighter than when I went in.
When you go to your grocery store and you see all the nice cuts of meat lined up on Styrofoam trays, do you ever think about how it got there?
Have you ever seen a cattle feedlot?
Have you ever seen a chicken factory farm?
Have you ever wondered about the quality of life of the animal that the steak, or drumstick or bacon strip you are about to eat came from?
Because if you haven’t, you should. If you’ve never looked at a documentary on meat production in North America, go find one, it will change the way you look at the meat on your plate.
I’m a firm believer that the only truly ethical way to consume meat is to harvest it yourself.
Consider; farm raised meat is considerably more susceptible to disease, therefore antibiotics and other drugs are used to keep the animals healthy.
Feedlots and factory farms keep the animals in cramped and near inhumane conditions. With chickens in particular, they will never see the light of day.
But beyond the moral factors of how animals are treated, consider the environmental aspects of meat production.
According to the Worldwatch Institute, about 15 to 20 percent of global methane emissions come from livestock.
Methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that animals in the U.S. meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste produced, or five tons for every U.S. citizen
The USDA, for example, says that growing the crops necessary to feed farmed animals requires nearly 80 percent of America’s agricultural land and half of its water supply.
Wild game requires none of this. In fact, controlled harvesting of wild game is essential to the healthy viability of the animals themselves. If herds are allowed to grow unchecked, it will lead to over-population which leads to food competition and eventually scarcity and finally a large winter die-off which can nearly wipe out stocks in and area in only one year. It then takes generations for the herd to rebuild and become healthy again. Controlled harvest keeps the herds at optimal levels and allows for enough nutrition for all of the animals to survive the winters.
It may sound odd to link hunting to spirituality but to me it seems only natural.
There is the sense of self reliance that comes from not only bringing home the meat for my family but everything else connected to it. From the field craft required to spend two weeks un-assisted in the bush to the adrenaline of the chase and victory of the conclusion.
There is the spiritual connection to the animal itself. This beast is going to nourish my family, my children, and help them to grow healthy and strong.
I hunt it, I kill it and I gut and skin it. When I get the meat home I butcher it into steaks and roasts and ground meat and with the scraps I make sausage. I know that every bit of that animal is getting used. From the gut pile and skin I leave in the bush that will feed bears, wolves, racoons and birds to every last scrap of meat that will feed my family.
It is the ultimate connection to my food.
Andrew is the Treasurer for Richmond Toastmasters. Here he shared the 2nd speech he made from our beginner manual (Competent Communicator). He delivered the speech like a pro, and deserves kudos for such a compassionate argument on such a controversial subject.