What's your Trophy?
I'm probably going to catch some flack for this, but it needs to be said. All hunters are Trophy hunters. Of course the Trophies are all different, but we all hunt for a different purpose than just gathering meat. If you are honest with yourself, if it was just about meat you would be way better off to go down to the local farmers market and purchase some grass fed, organic beef, elk, or bison. Websters defines a trophy as : something gained or given in victory or conquest especially when preserved or mounted as a memorial.
This blog post is actually just a continued conversation that seems to be popular right now in the American hunting culture...for a lack of a better definition... I'll just refer to it as the Meat Only Movement. I have been hunting all of my life, and I have seen different ideas come and go about what we do, but I am really concerned about everyone jumping on the "Meat Only" band wagon as if we haunters have to justify our actions because they are less than noble. The fact is, Hunters are the noblest of all meat eaters on this planet, and we should be beating that drum rather than hiding behind the hypocritical notion, "I just hunt for the meat."
Even reading that hunters are the noblest of all meat eaters (97% of Americans eat Meat) induces skepticism, not because it isn't true, but because we live in a worldview that tends to glorify perception over truth... don't believe me? Ask yourself if you have ever seen a nugget on a chicken. Better yet, ask your kids what pops into their mind when they hear Mcdonalds...I'll bet it won't be that the hamburger they are eating came from a living animal that someone had to kill. 50 years ago this wasn't the case, one way or another, people were tied to their food and the realities that go along with obtaining it.
The "Meat Only Movement." plays right into this perception game. I'm not saying I don't value the meat, and that we shouldn't boast the benefits of getting our own meat, but lets not fall into the falsity of promoting the meat as the only reason we hunt. First off, the non-hunting public will see right through it. We spend thousands of dollars, countless miles, and even more time engaged in this lifestyle, we would either have to be lunatics waste all this energy when we could fill our freezers for way less. Listen fellow hunters you don't have to promote perception. Hunting is noble for the following 5 reasons.
1. Reality of what's on your plate. Only hunters and farmers have a intimate relationship with the food that ends up on their plate. The highest of any food sin is: taking for granted the life is only sustained by killing something that was once alive. Even vegetables, fruit and grain were once alive, so the reality is something is sacrificed to sustain all of life. That's just reality. A hunter is fully aware of this when the blood he shed runs down his neck as he packs out his life sustaining meat.
2. The bond that only hunting can bring between man and beast. Hunters spend countless hours getting to love and know their prey. I'm not saying that humans can't get intimate knowledge of the animal kingdom around them without hunting, but most don't. Hunters do. They have to! No one can call in a Elk without studying their language. Hunting will foster a greater understanding of the natural world. This intimacy is so ingrained in us hunters that we hang remembrances of its life on our wall. The memories that are invoked buy these "trophies," never include a lifeless lump of blood, guts, and gray matter, but beckon a tale of life and adventure. A life of a animal that is celebrated: and truthful reminders of the realities of taking such a life.
3. Hunting takes you to places that few venture into. Elk live in elk places. Ducks live in marshes. Most of us wouldn't see, and understand those ecosystems without hunting. Show me a hunter that doesn't pour over maps, who doesn't study food sources, and pay attention to cover and I'll show you one who isn't successful. Hunters grow intimate with the habitat, we love it. For example, when most people look at a marsh they look at it as a place where Shrek should be banished to...Not the Hunter...to him it is a place that is teeming with life, and he will fight tooth and nail to protect it.
4. Hunting is conservation. If it weren't for hunters we wouldn't have the wildlife we have today. Don't believe me? Then read this Article . If you love the natural world you should thank a hunter period. "Trophy" hunters are the main reason Africa's animals still exist, as the locals see the value of an animal that brings hunters money to their towns. If it weren't for the African Safari Adventure those animals would become a expense not the asset they are today, and poaching would run rapid.
5. Hunting breeds a culture of relationship. It always has. Human connectedness is a product of hunting. The legacy of everything mentioned above is timeless and beyond generations. Hunting Cabins, Duck Blinds, and Family Names for the Ground all ooze with the example of generational relationship!
Hunters Trophies all differ, but they are trophies all the same. There should be no shame in them. There is no reason to pretend that all your in it for is meat. The values (trophies) we chase through Hunting are Noble, you should be proud to be a part of them. So as you share your meat, share the other trophies of hunting as well. If we do this, become genuine as to why we hunt, we can confidently beat our drum, because it is a drum worth beating.