Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chew on this, antis: A new survey shows hunting for meat has broad public support

Spread the word, hunters - spread it far and wide. A survey that will be released in June shows that 97 percent of hunters (or their families) eat what they kill, and 85 percent of American adults approve of hunting for meat.

The survey was conducted by Responsive Management, a Virginia research firm, for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which will release details at its 2008 National Shooting Sports Summit June 23-25 in Colorado Springs.

I was thrilled to get an early preview of some of the data because my strong sense has always been that most people accept hunting for meat. The problem lies in the broad public perception that many people think hunters don't eat what they kill - a myth effectively propagated by the Humane Society, which tells the public that hunters use doves for target practice and don't actually eat them.

Beyond that, HSUS and other anti-hunting propagandists cement the impression that hunters are just in it for the killing by emphasizing the "trophy" aspect of trophy hunting - ignoring the fact that most hunters eat what's south of the trophy.

And surprise, surprise: The NSSF survey shows that hunting for trophies has the lowest amount of support from the public - just 28 percent. See why the Humane Society harps on that? They're not stupid, folks - just misguided.

So what does all of this mean for hunters?

You need to talk to non-hunters about the food aspect of your hunting to dispel the myth that you just like to kill animals for kicks, because the public has no idea that almost all of us are eating what we kill.

Personally, I'm blessed to have a Boyfriend who loves to garden and hunt and cook and bring all those pursuits together in a joyous symphony at our dinner table. That means I get to eat serious gourmet game all the time. Lucky me!

We also both believe strongly that local, sustainable, organic food is not only best for the environment, but best for our bodies as well. We avoid factory-farmed meat as much as possible, eating mostly hunted meat, and supplementing it occasionally with pastured meat.

Beyond that, wild game just plain tastes better than the bland, corn-fed whatever that factory farms turn out these days. Have you noticed that a pork chop and a chicken breast don't taste or even look so different anymore? Man, that's a sin against nature and good taste.

Why do you like game meat? What do you do with the game you bring home? Talk about it, folks! Non-hunters need to hear it.

Now, there's one other interesting thing about this news. Responsive Management has done research on women hunters and found that the No. 1 reason women hunt is for the meat. Even though men obviously enjoy eating the game they bring home, they're half as likely to cite meat as their primary reason for hunting.

Why does this matter? Two reasons. First, women are a growing proportion of hunters, and though our numbers have been hovering at around 1.2 million for the past decade, there is a huge bubble of girl hunters coming up through the ranks, meaning we're likely due for a substantial increase in the coming decade. (Click on that chart if you want to see the detail.)

Second - and I've said this before - women have tremendous potential as ambassadors to the non-hunting world. People listen to us because we're unusual, and they're not as quick to write us off as drunken bubba poachers. When we talk about food, people will listen.

I love connecting the food I eat to the hunts I've enjoyed. That pintail Boyfriend and I ate the other day with the most fat I've ever seen on a wild duck? That was the one I got when I took my friend Hellen to Delevan to observe her first duck hunt. When we did a mallard tasting in February to compare the meat of birds with four different diets - acorn, rice, grass and corn - I was proud to say the winner of the taste test was the grass-fed mallard I got on my first hunt with my friend Dana. Thats the first photo in this blog post.

There is a story behind what we eat. The story is part of the natural cycle of life on earth. Plants and animals alike, we are all born. We all die. Our remains nourish others, whether it's the predator that took our life, the worms that aid in the decomposition of our bodies or the plants that grow from soil we become a part of. I refuse to follow the naive souls who believe humans should remove ourselves even further than we already have from this natural cycle. Far from it, I embrace this cycle completely.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


Tom Sorenson said...

It's hard to beat a good elk steak when it comes to grub! Glad to see 97% of the hunters would agree with me on that!

Garrett said...

I heart wild meats. I just can't kill them myself because a gun in my hands would be good for no one. I'm accident prone.

SimplyOutdoors said...

This is definitely good news. I love venison, and a bunch of other wild meats and I'm glad that most people agree with me on that topic.

The Hunter's Wife said...

I'm trying to like venison. Really trying!

Blessed said...

I'm glad to hear that the survey results match what we know to be true... everyone I know that hunts, eats what they kill - this is awesome!

Phillip said...

Great news, and great write-up, Holly! I'm blown away by the number of non-hunters I meet who are surprised when I tell them that I'm eating the game I kill. It's like it never occurred to them, often as a direct result of the propaganda from anti-hunting groups.

Many are also surprised when I share some of the meat with them. It's good!

There's a lot of tasty protein running, flying, and swimming around out there. Hunters have become the privileged few who still appreciate this. This is definitely an aspect of the sport worth sharing.

HELLEK said...

And let me tell the anti-hunting skeptics, the four birds each tasted very different from each other. All ducky, but with notable differences in flavor and aroma--even tho they were all seared exactly the same. You actually tasted the meat and where the duck had lived.