Back in April, I started a series on alternatives to grocery shopping designed to highlight ways to keep your freezer and pantry full of good food while keeping you out of the frustrating, junk-filled isles of your local grocery store. As we head into Fall, it seemed only appropriate to add hunting to our list of options.
Let’s just start with the obvious, shall we? Hunting isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Safe, legal and ethical hunting requires a fair amount of infrastructure and training. It can take time (and patience), and be logistically difficult or people in highly urban areas. Some people don’t like guns, or have other personal or philosophical issues with this option. If that’s you, that’s okay – feel free to skip this post.
For some people, though, hunting provides a wonderful, safe, and affordable way to to stock their larder with high-quality protein.
How It Works
Rules and regulations vary widely from place to place. (Want to find out what they are near you? Start here. Or here.) Minimum requirements typically include taking a hunter safety course, purchasing a hunting license/tags, and hunting only in season. Animals must be butchered in accordance with food safety standards; you can do this yourself, or have someone else do it for you. Hunting generally entails early mornings and/or long cold days out in Fall and early winter weather, but when you find success the rewards are great!
Why It’s Awesome
- Cost Effectiveness
Clean, good quality protein will arguably burn through your budget faster than any other category of food. Hunting carries some upfront costs, but the return on investment is high. Consider this simple example: The cheapest grass fed ground beef that I can get around here is $10/lb. Other cuts are exponentially more expensive, if I can even get them.
A hunting license, tags, and a couple bullets total about $40 – or roughly equal to the cost of 4 lbs of ground beef. Expert sources (and personal experience) suggest that at the lowest end of the scale single deer will provide 60 to 80 lbs of meat. That’s 15 to 20 times the amount of meat for the same cost, and includes far more expensive cuts. Getting two deer would give you 40 times the amount of meat you could get at the grocery store for the same cost!
Wild game is free of tricky labels and unnecessary toxic junk, fillers and allergens. While you can’t know with 100% certainty what your wild game ate, you know the vast majority of its diet was clean, wild edibles and that is wasn’t adulterated during the packaging process.
One hunting license will open up a world of options. In addition to deer, you can hunt and eat turkey, grouse, squirrel, moose, duck, geese, bear, rabbit, woodcock, rail, snipe, crow, pheasants, and quail. All have strong nutritional profiles and routinely graced the plates of centuries worth of our ancestors. Yummy recipes for them abound, and hunting can be your best chance to give them a shot. (Pun intended.)
- Positive Side Effects
Hunting has numerous positive side effects:
– The DEC relies on hunters to keep deer populations under control, preventing slow, nasty deaths by starvation and many catastrophic vehicle accidents. (Fun fact: I once worked with a man who totaled brand new pickup trucks 3 years in a row hitting deer on his commute.)
– Taxes levied on hunting licenses and associated purchases fund state and local conservation projects.
– Hunting helps keep people connected to where their food comes from.
– Legal hunting provides one of the only venues through which teens and adults can learn to properly handle guns (and bows/crossbows), which strongly promotes accident prevention and their safe, appropriate use.
- Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness
I can see some of you rolling your eyes on the other side of the screen, but hear me out! In the event of a zombie apocalypse, we can’t all embark on cross-country quests for Twinkies or plan to wait things out at the local pub. Many of us will, in fact, need to fall back on the age-old skills of hunting and gathering to feed ourselves and our families. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a nice, hearty stew to fuel my anti-zombie battles than rely on dandelion salad!
So what do you think? Is hunting a good alternative for you?