Locavore Blog: Why I Want to Hunt Deer

Home-grown chicken is good, but wild venison sure seems a whole lot more appealing. (Reid/DDH photo)

Home-grown chicken is good, but wild venison sure seems a whole lot more appealing. (Reid/DDH photo)

While there is a ton to learn about archery and bowhunting, I don’t want to lose sight of the real reason behind my desire to learn to hunt my own food – and hunt deer – and the connection between local food and wild game.

I recently wrapped up a graduate class that covered food policy and the multiple layers of the recently passed Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka “the Farm Bill”) and the nuances involved with deciding what food is allowed for purchase and what we are permitted to eat – what’s considered “safe” — based on policy and procedure, and that only pushes me further in my desire to build a sustainable environment where I can raise my daughter and know where my food comes from —  whether it’s from the chickens we raise, the deer we hunt, or the fruits and vegetables we grow.

Chick tweens: unruly and aggressive and ready for a coop!

Chick tweens: unruly and aggressive and ready for a coop!

Keeping Food Local

There are so many hiccups within the basic commercial food system established within the U.S. Many of the regulations and procedure approach the problem through a “fix it” viewpoint with little regard to how we actually got here. Too many bypass traditional food sources like wild meat and rely, instead, on commercial meat. A recent article in EcoWatch discussed the full loop of commercial chicken before it ends up in the local grocery store (spoiler: it goes to China for processing, then back to the U.S. for consumption, which leads to a variety of food safety issues I won’t go into here). This information only emphasizes our happiness to raise our own chicks (though unruly tweens at this stage of the game) under a brooder light in my breezeway, awaiting the arrival of their coop. (The process of this transaction has been deterred by the ratio of mud to drive-able road that leads to my property as the voracious Vermont mud season is upon us.)

My road last week.
My road last week.

Why I Want to Hunt

I started this blog project because I believe in wild meat as a viable resource for local food. Venison is one of the leanest sources of red meat and wild meat is the best alternative to commercial meat. An animal that has never been domesticated, fed an unnatural food source, and has roamed freely within its intended habitat is the original free range and organic meat.

I think hunting is a fun way to obtain healthy and truly free range meat. Archery appeals to me because of the skill needed to shoot and the quiet that surrounds it. There’s a meditative quality about sitting in the woods, releasing an arrow, and the quiet focus needed for the arrow to hit its intended target. I also like the idea of being able to put meat on the table without having to pick a factory-farmed, antibiotic-filled, plastic-wrapped meat from the grocery store.

Wild venison is the missing link for many of today's locavores. There's nothing more satisfying than preparing a dinner that you completely grew and/or harvested yourself. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

Wild venison is the missing link for many of today’s locavores. There’s nothing more satisfying than preparing a dinner that you completely grew and/or harvested yourself. (Photo by Dan Schmidt)

Last week, I had to brake fast, nearly missing three large does with my Jeep in broad daylight. They ran across the road, leaping high and excited, adrenaline pushing them quickly beyond the road into the farm fields that line my daily drive. Never before have I felt that rush of excitement at seeing a healthy deer, knowing that their freedom to live within as natural a habitat as they can still equals a healthy meat that has yet to find an equal counterpart within our domesticated food system.

I’m excited for autumn. For the first time, I’m incredibly excited.

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