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.”
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.”
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.”
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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 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.