The Meat Not Eaten

When talking to non-hunters, I often make the argument that hunting brings me closer to the meat I eat. When I’m having antelope for dinner, I feel better about what’s on my plate than I did about the store-bought chicken the night before. I’m sure for most of us, that food connection is a big part of our identity as hunters.

 So I was surprised, when reading the Washington Post food blog [A Mighty Appetite]( this morning, to see a hunter downplay that very connection. She was a guest blogger contributing her thoughts about minimizing food waste by challenging herself to use up the half-eaten contents of her fridge. She was going on about sustainability, organic locavores and the White House garden, when she switched gears and announced that she was also a bowhunter.

 Although she portrayed herself as a city girl who loves Prada, she said she's accustomed to riding horseback for hours, tracking to dizzying heights, and dropping an elk with, "A single perfect shot that stops time." But she said she's kept from cleaning her kills by her male hunting partners, who give her what she terms the "Princess Pass," a kind a waiver policy that gets petite, female hunters like herself out of doing the messy work. She claimed the "Princess Pass," combined with the average range of a gun or bow shot, makes hunting a, "Distance sport," explaining:

 "You are relatively far from your kill, even with a bow, and if you're not dealing with your own meat, well, you may as well be shooting paper at your local range... After a while, you stop experiencing any kind of transcendence, you're not really watching the Holy Light of Numinous Life flicker out of a fellow travelers' eyes. And there's no spiritual transaction while eating, because you'd known the animal while it was still alive, or any of the other blather foodists who hunt will have you believe." 

 She went on to say she discovered a much closer connection to the meat she eats when she learned kosher slaughter techniques, an experience that still gives her nightmares about, "Killing by hand." She closed her comments by saying her self-challenge to empty her fridge was stalled by her inability to eat the meat she'd butchered: "I can't even bring myself to look at something I've killed, up close, months ago because for once it was really a face to face experience." She ended up giving the meat to a neighbor. 

 Interesting perspectives. I applaud her exploration into butchering, and of course her bowhunting experiences. While I can't speak to her thoughts on butchering because I've never done it myself, as a hunter I can say that I've watched the life leave the eyes of an animal I've shot. And I've kept that experience close to me both when cleaning and eating the meat. I don't need a "spiritual transaction" while enjoying my antelope dinner to make my connection to the animal real. My memory of and gratitude for that animal are enough as far as I'm concerned. And I don't consider that, "Blather." -K.H.