Would you stop hunting if you couldn’t eat meat? It could happen. The latest issue of Quality Whitetails bought mammalian meat allergy to my attention. Also known as the alpha-gal allergy, it’s such a horrible cosmic practical joke on deer hunters that I actually wondered at first if the story was some kind of not-very-funny April Fool’s prank. After all, who is more susceptible to tick bites than hunters? I Googled it and found to my horror that it’s a thing, a tick-borne allergy to a carbohydrate found in mammalian meats.
Carried by the lone star tick, which is currently found in the southeast, the alpha-gal allergy was identified by researchers at the University of Virginia in 2006-7. If you’re infected, you can expect hives, itching, diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset and possible anaphylaxis four to eight hours after consuming mammal meat. There is some evidence that the allergy eventually goes away, but there is a lot more to be learned about alpha-gal allergy.
Go to alpha-gal.org for more information, but in the meantime think about this: Would you stop hunting if you couldn’t eat the game you killed?
I would quit. Even though I ‘m a gun writer now, I’m a hunter first, and I’m a hunter because I love eating wild game. Hunting wouldn’t be the same for me if I had to give away every animal I shot. I know there are people that do that (a lot of avid duck hunters hate the taste of duck) but so much of the appeal of hunting for me is gathering game that I don’t think I could do it. I’m not even sure how much I’d shoot anymore, since I shoot mostly as practice for hunting season.
I might become a birder. I’d probably take up golf, too. It’s depressing to even think about.
How about you? Unfortunately, this may not be a hypothetical question as the lone star tick is expanding its range.