Recently there’s been a rise in locavore hunters—people who hunt not because of tradition or trophies, but because they’re conscientious eaters, seeking a deeper understanding of where their food comes from. This difference in motive, however, doesn’t make these “locavores” any less passionate about the sport. In fact, this group is a possible reason for the 9% increase in the number of hunters in the U.S. between 2006 and 2011.

What exactly makes a conscientious eater take the leap from simply eating locally harvested foods to grabbing a bow and hunting on their own? According to writer and former vegan Tovar Cerulli, the first step was recognizing that everything he ate had a cost to animals.

“Clearing land for agriculture destroys wildlife habitat. Birds, rabbits and rodents get minced by grain combines, and fish get poisoned by fertilizer and pesticide runoff. Growing crops of all kinds depends on keeping white-tailed deer populations in check: hunters and farmers kill them by the millions every year. Even in the garden my wife and I were growing, we had to deal with ravenous insects and fence-defying woodchucks. We also had to feed the soil, and the most readily available fertilizer came from local dairy farms.”

 

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Locavore hunter Kristen Schmitt

Another factor is nutritional value. Writer Kristen Schmitt, pictured above, made the switch from vegetarian to meat eater after a recommendation from her doctor: “I wasn’t getting enough quality protein in my diet and decided to switch back to an animal-based diet.” Tovar was given similar instructions from his doctor, who suggested that veganism may have been the cause of his lack of energy and weak immune system.

Why not just head to the grocery store and pick up packaged meat? Both Tovar and Kristen say that there is much more to it than that. Tovar explains that he took up hunting “as a way of confronting mortality: the fact that my life and diet are inextricably linked to the lives and deaths of animals, and the larger fact that all of nature exists this way.”

For Kristen, the benefits of hunting are having a connection with the food on her plate, and knowing how nature plays a part in everything she consumes. She also says that hunting is important from an ecological and environmental standpoint. “You are taking essentially one animal out of its natural and native environment, which leaves less of an ecological footprint than commercial-sized farms.”

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With the rise of locavores, another group has been quickly growing in the hunting world—women. When asked if she would suggest hunting to other women, Kristen said, “I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in hunting give it a try. It brings you closer to nature, gives you confidence in your abilities, and is a very empowering activity. I enjoy spending time outdoors practicing archery and also teaching my daughter how to use her bow.”

So whether you hunt because of tradition, or because you value locally harvested food, one thing’s for sure—hunting is time well spent. Don’t believe me? Take it from Kristen, who says “hunting is a great way for families to spend time together—away from the computer or television screens.”

 

Looking to take the first leap into the hunting world? Start studying for your hunting certification for free with Hunter Ed™.


 

Kristen Schmitt

Kristen Schmitt writes articles on hunting, nature, wildlife, sustainable agriculture and environmental issues. Her articles have appeared in National Geographic, Modern Farmer, Food Politic, Deer & Deer Hunting, USA Today Hunt & Fish, goHUNT, Modern Hunter, and several other publications.

 

 

Tovar Cerulli

Tovar Cerulli has written on hunting, wildlife, forestry, and conservation for Outdoor America, High Country News, Northern Woodlands, Massachusetts Wildlife, and TheAtlantic.com, among others. His first book, The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance, has drawn praise from hunters and vegetarians alike and was named Best Book of 2012 by the New England Outdoor Writers Association.

 

drone in flight

There’s been a debate raging in the world of hunting revolving around a small piece of flying tech—drones. The Federal Aviation Administration simply defines drones as unmanned aircraft systems. Of course, in the world of hunting, those unmanned aircraft systems include cameras with video capability to scout and track game. This single attribute seems to be the wedge driving pro-drone and anti-drone hunters further and further apart.

(While reading, keep in mind that the opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect the views of the author, Hunter Ed™, or Kalkomey Enterprises Inc. The intent of this article is to simply spur discussion.)

No-Drone Zone

On one side of the debate are hunting purists, who stress the importance of “fair chase.” Those opposed to drones feel the robots could give some hunters an unfair advantage. If someone could afford it, what’s to stop a hunter from buying a whole fleet of drones to scout an area while hunting? To the hunter that enjoys spot and stalking, this could make the sport way too easy for those who are less passionate about “the chase.”

Hunters aren’t the only ones who could be cheated by drone use. Illinois State Sen. Julie Morrison told the Pantagraph that the use of drones isn’t “fair for hunters and fishers who are seriously into the sport, and it’s not fair for the animals that deserve a chance to escape.”

Morrison is one of many lawmakers gunning for drones in the world of hunting. She recently proposed legislation in Illinois that would make the use of drones while hunting a misdemeanor criminal charge. This is similar to a bill recently approved in Michigan, which prohibits hunters, and those wishing to harass hunters, from using drones in the field. This follows the trend started in Colorado, Montana, Alaska, and Saskatchewan, where legislators have banned the use of unmanned aircrafts to locate game.

Still not sure what to think about drones and hunting? Consider what outdoor enthusiast Mia Anstine had to say:

Mia anstine“When I’m asked about ‘hunting with drones,’ I often have to step back a bit to clarify the meaning. In most instances, the drones aren’t used to hunt animals but rather scout or locate them. In my personal opinion, the use of drones in hunting should be similar to the ‘no-fly’ rules in the state of Colorado. A hunter should not be able to use the aerial camera for ‘X’ amount of days prior to the hunt. I’m not too excited about using cameras to locate animals during the event, but I AM excited about the awesome footage filmmakers and photographers are capturing with the use of drones.”

-Mia Anstine

Drones: What Are They Good For?

Those who support the use of drones for hunting see the tiny unmanned aircrafts opening up a new world of possibilities for hunters. Rather than driving around scouting an area before hunting season, hunters can sit in one stationary location and send their drone out to survey the area for them. Drones also provide new perspective when observing nature: what your binoculars can’t see, a drone can. This simplification could make hunting seem more attractive to those who want to try the activity, but aren’t too keen on “getting their hands dirty.” It could also improve accessibility, allowing those who aren’t as mobile to join in on the fun.

Drone supporters also point out that hunting is no stranger to technology, with hunters using trail cameras, cell phone apps, and GPS devices to assist them. Keeping this in mind, drones can be seen as “just another piece of gear.”

What side of the fence are you on? Do you support the use of drones in hunting?

Whether you are pro-drone or anti-drone, we can all agree that the best kind of hunting is safe hunting. Stay safe and get certified through Hunter Ed™.

turkey huntingTurkey hunting can be particularly exciting, especially when there’s a tom strutting and gobbling in front of you. For this reason, it also takes extra planning to stay safe during the hunt. Because turkeys have good eyesight, an effective hunter has to blend in well with his or her surroundings to be successful. But that also increases the risk of injuries or fatalities if other hunters mistake you for the bird, or fail to see you behind or in line with your decoy(s) or in your blind.

Follow these important tips to keep yourself and others safe while you bag a bird:

  • Don’t wear ANY red, white, blue, or black. These are turkey colors, and another hunter may mistake you for a bird.
  • Be absolutely sure of your target. That extra second of verification could save a life!
  • If you do see another hunter in the area, don’t move—call out to alert them that you are there.
  • Don’t stalk turkey sounds; it could be another hunter.  Call the birds to you.
  • When selecting your spot, protect your back with a large tree, rock, or other large natural barrier. Same thing for choosing where to place your blind.
  • After bagging your bird, wrap it in either camouflage or a blaze orange bag for the haul out. A decoy should be handled the same way.
  • Always leave a hunt plan telling someone of where you will be and what time you expect to be back. This way, if there is an emergency, help can arrive more quickly.

Turkey hunting is a challenging and rewarding sport, but remember, no bird is worth your health. Follow these guidelines and what you learned in your hunting safety course and you’ll have many more hunts in your future.

There’s no better feeling than doing something you love with someone you love, and that includes hunting! While spending a cold day in the great outdoors may not be for everyone, couples who hunt together know it’s an awesome way to bond and spend time with one another.

Read on to see what Mitch Strobl, our newlywed Director of Customer Relations, and SevenGen’s TJ Unger have to say about finding love in the blind.

TJ & Liz

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Who got you into hunting?

My father introduced me to whitetail hunting when I was 9 years old. I’ve since developed my passion for the outdoors and now get to share all that our hunting heritage has to offer with my best friend—my wife, Liz.

What do you love most about hunting with your wife?

Liz and I enjoy the adventure of new experiences where we have an opportunity to explore, learn and challenge ourselves. Hunting has been an ultimate avenue for us to share in these experiences and build lifelong memories along the way.

Has hunting brought you closer together? How?

Today, we are a society of constant connectivity—social media, television, Internet, etc., which often comes at the unfortunate expense of “family time.” Hunting is an exception and has, without question, made Liz and my relationship stronger and brought us closer together. The frequent “downtime” of the hunt allows us to grow through communication and involvement. We share stories, we laugh, argue, and sometimes even cry. Yes, we have the occasional “disagreement” in the tree stand, but we always persevere from 20 feet up! Whether it’s spring turkeys or autumn whitetails, the seasons afford Liz and me an opportunity for pure togetherness.

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What was your most memorable hunt together?

Liz and I share countless hours hunting together each year. One of our most memorable hunts was in the foothills of Nebraska, chasing turkeys with good friend Cory Peterson of Hidden Valley Outfitters. It was the afternoon of our last hunt, and my turn behind the trigger.  I had my heart set on bringing home a true Merriam gobbler and, with daylight fading, odds were not in my favor. We sat in our ground blind reminiscing on the week, when unexpectedly a true Merriam tom silently strutted into the open. At less than 10 steps, I was instantly ready to squeeze that trigger. Instead, I heard the whisper of my wife, coaching me to be patient and let things unfold so that we could enjoy the moment together.

Can hunting be romantic?

We, as sportsmen, know that it’s not just about the trophy — it’s about the experience, and together we are making memories that we will both cherish for a lifetime. We also remind each other that hunting takes much patience … and so does love! And when asked if hunting can be romantic, Liz and I have two words: “Blind date”!

Mitch & Stephanie:

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Who got whom into hunting?

I introduced Stephanie to hunting, although she didn’t really have a choice. If she wanted to spend time with me, she HAD to go hunting.

What do you love most about hunting with your wife?

It’s pretty simple for Stephanie and me. Hunting equates to quality, uninterrupted time together. Too many times during everyday life we have responsibilities that limit our time together: work, family, etc. When we go hunting, it’s dedicated time where it’s just the two of us and the great outdoors. Having that time together is special; we’re out in nature and there are no distractions so that time is valuable to both of us. I believe that’s why we make such a great effort to hunt all the time!

Can hunting together be romantic?

Well, I guess it depends on what your definition of romantic is! Stephanie would be quick to tell you about how we put makeup on together in the bathroom mirror during waterfowl season. She’s really taken to my forest green, brown and black combo! And let me tell you, she looks good in camo! Okay, in all seriousness, hunting together is very romantic. Quality time is important to both of us, and hunting allows us to have plenty of uninterrupted quality time together. Plus, the fact that Stephanie takes the time and makes the effort to explore my hobby is very romantic, too.

Has hunting brought you closer together? How?

Absolutely, for two reasons: quality time and sacrifice. Hunting allows us to get away from our everyday life in the city and we can just “be.” Some of our best days together have been in pursuit of a deer, turkey or hog. Everything that goes into a hunt contributes to the experience: the planning, anticipation, getting ready, the drive there, the hunt, pictures, video, preparing the meat, cooking it, and eating it. It all adds up to a monumental experience together where we accomplished something. Plus, I’m grateful for the sacrifice on her end. I appreciate the fact that Stephanie proactively took the time and made the effort to experience a hobby that is and always will be very important to me. Of course, I do the same for her, so there’s equal appreciation and that significantly helps our relationship.

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What is your most memorable hunt together?

While my archery buck in Ohio is a close second, I’d have to say Stephanie’s first turkey hunt is our most memorable trip together. For those who have been turkey hunting before, you know what I’m talking about… when that first gobble cracks the morning silence, it sends goosebumps through every square inch of your body. I’ve never seen her eyes light up the way they did when she heard her first gobble. Well, except for when I proposed to her. I laughed because I knew exactly how she was feeling at that moment — she was hooked!

Now, here’s the thing with Stephanie: She talks A LOT. So the second she heard that gobble, question after question ensued, to the point where I thought SURELY there can’t be any more! Looking back, the questions are what I loved the most. It reminded me of what it’s like to be a new hunter. Of course, I was more than happy to answer them.

The gobblers continued doing their thing for 20 minutes or so, and I was able to give Stephanie the full play-by-play of what was about to happen with my mad calling skills (not). I’d been turkey hunting before, and my call does nothing but scare those turkeys the other way! But I couldn’t help myself. I sent out a few clucks and purrs and sure enough, they flew down the opposite direction. Panic mode set in. Stephanie was convinced that I blew it. I assured her they’d be back around, it would just take patience. It was that point in the season where if you couldn’t pull a tom away first thing in the morning, you’d better wait until late morning, so that’s what we did. They went on their way and we repositioned in a high-activity area. Sure enough, they eventually came by our setup and everything worked out perfectly.

 

There was a huge group of them, which worried me. We were tucked up under a cedar bush, so we were definitely concealed, but with a group of 10 or so turkeys I thought for sure they’d bust us. Luckily, one of the gobblers ventured out on his own, a fatal mistake. Steph did everything just like we practiced, made me so proud! She asked to turn off the safety, I confirmed. She aimed at the neck and put a good ethical shot on him! That’s when the tears came… which, is something I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but it turned into one of those moments we still talk about on a regular basis. It’s a big deal, taking an animal’s life. I tried my best to prepare her for the seriousness of the situation, but it’s truly something you have to experience in order to fully understand it. After the initial shock eased, then the laughter and excitement came in. Looking back on the video, we had such a good time. We made fools of ourselves, yes, but it was totally worth it. What an experience to share together, something we’ll definitely remember forever.

 

Image and Story credit: TJ Unger, Pro Staff Member for Dominator365 and Director of Business Development for SevenGen