***Please Note: This post is about killing and processing animals for food (I won’t mince my words (Ha. mince. Gettit?)), so please proceed with caution.***
***Please also note: This article links well with Blick’s recent post about vegetarianism/veganism so go check it out***
I started to think seriously about hunting rabbits and hares when my friend Simon returned from a hunting trip and offered me wallaby mince. Once I had got my head around the fact that there are wallabies in NZ (I mean really?!) he explained to me that they are a pest down south and that the numbers are controlled through hunting or organised culls –where no part of the animal is used. This seems odd to me. If you need to control a population by killing (by no means the only option, I’m still working on my thoughts around this issue/alternatives) then it seems like an absolute waste to use no part of the dead animal.
I tend to describe myself as a vegetarian, but this is not strictly true. Just over a year ago I made the decision to stop purchasing meat and contributing to the huge impact that animal agriculture has on the environment, as well as avoiding the crazy amount of packaging that goes with it. I can’t say I have been perfect (there are odd occasions where I have bought/eaten meat) but I would say that at least 95% of the time I have held steady. However, I like to keep my options open and part of that is asking myself why I eat the way I do, and what factors change or confirm my decisions.
Growing up in a rural environment I have always been aware of the impact of introduced pests on our native environment. Predatory pests such as wild cats, rats, or ferrets are a threat to our native birds, while the herbivores like rabbits, hares, deer, and wallabies contribute to the destruction of native plants. My family has a focus of promoting native plant growth and animal population on our property and I understood the subsequent importance of controlling the numbers of pests hanging around. Rabbits and hares have always been the biggest issue, and my family usually controlled the population through poisoned bait. My parents had recently mentioned that the rabbit population was growing at home and I suggested that Simon and I have a go at hunting them.
I have never hunted before but Simon is a great and experienced tutor – a huge emphasis on safety and no pressure to fire if not 100% ready and sure! Gun safety is super important, guys. We did some theory and target practice as a refresher each time and then headed out.
On our two evenings hunting we have caught four hares and one rabbit, despite some gun sighting issues and my lack of experience.
After a quick YouTube video search, we set about skinning, gutting, and butchering the catch. We kept the meat and disposed the rest in a bushy area – the dog was pretty interested too and he got some good tid-bits (he’s too slow to catch all but the sluggish rabbits, so this was a treat for him).
I then separated the meat into different portions to freeze/give to family etc, and cooked up a hare stew! Lots of red wine and bay leaves are a must! It was delish.
So here are my summarising thoughts about hunting your own meat:
- I feel more morally comfortable eating meat that I have hunted myself as opposed to store bought meat.
- It’s about as close to zero waste meat eating as you can get – no processing, packaging, raising of the animal etc.
- Killing an animal can be confronting. Personally I favour shooting and eating over poisoning. And I like knowing the animal is wild and has lived a free life. I don’t think the death will ever be something that I enjoy however, and I think that is important.
- Some would argue that hunting pests helps the environment, while eating farmed meat is one of the major contributors to environmental harm.
- Consider looking into buying hunted meat from a friend, instead of farmed meat. If you don’t know anyone who hunts then look into buying from a butcher and using your own container.
- Going fully vegan or vegetarian is an absolutely admirable thing to do and something I am considering for myself in the future.
It is always important to consider whether your actions reflect your beliefs, whatever these may be. Take some time this week to think about how and what you eat – it’s a big part of our lives and a huge contributing factor to our negative impact on the world around us.
If you want to flick me a line about this post, or anything else then just email me! I would love to hear from you. 😀