Humans are Hunters and Gatherers. At one time, Hunters were once the community provider of fresh meat for the family and community. Daniel Boone and Meshack Browning spent their time hunting and providing for their families. Their success meant survival.
In todays’ Fast Food Society, we tend to forget why we hunt. Some hunters enjoy antlers, trophies or just time shared with friends. For me, hunting means food.
As a husband and Father, I want to provide the best and healthiest meat, fish and food that I can. This Ritual takes place each season. Today we call it “Tagging out or Harvesting”. It is called “Hunting” because so much time is spent trying to find a critter. In many ways, Hunting is my favorite part.
The actual “kill” is my least favorite chore. I certainly do want the animal to suffer in any way. Practice allows my marksmanship to be at its best so that I can make an ethical shot. My purpose is to supply food to my family. Hunting is not some video game but rather an important responsibility. The outcomes are far reaching.
Once the critter is “Tagged”, the real work begins! Processing or Butchering becomes the next important task. What you do during this process will determine how delicious the meat will be. Sometimes “Aging”, is appropriate. I always thought that this was an unusual term to apply to something that is dead. Temperature and cleanliness are always essential during every stage of processing. Attention to these allows for the best quality and healthy results.
Many hunters take their Deer harvest to a processing plant. Some may even donate the meat to help feed the needy. Their hunt ended with the pull of a trigger. For me, it is just beginning. I may give meat away but it is important for me to finish what I started. This means that I process the deer or critter myself. Learning this chore is often passed down from hunter to hunter. It does take some effort, expense and time but that is what makes the gift of the meat so important. When I give someone a steak, I know it will be an excellent and tasty cut.
Cooking the Harvest is also a source of joy. Finding and sharing new recipes is always exciting. The real trophy may be on the plate when your harvest is served. Not only can this meal be delicious, it is also healthy. My family will enjoy nourishment and I will be proud as a provider.
All of these steps are part of the “Ritual” of hunting. Hunting, shooting, butchering, and cooking are all ways that we nourish our souls. The memory and satisfaction in these accomplishments makes the experience and meals priceless.
(Article written and photo supplied by Montana Grant)