Developing a sustainable lifestyle and eating truly organic, “farm-to-table” food is a rising trend all across the country. Whether people are actively trying to protect the environment or be more aware of where their own food comes from, these new hunters all know that they must cultivate their skills of growing and harvesting their own food in a correct and ethical manner in order to survive. As a result, many non-hunters have turned to hunting as their source for organic meat.

The fundamentals of ethical hunting are the backbone of a sustainable lifestyle and the key to a truly organic meat source. They can be categorized as: preparation, respect, conservation and fair chase, or simply, The Hunter’s Code. For every hunter, old or new, the day will come when their loyalty to The Hunter’s Code is tested. If, and only if, the hunter passes this “test” can they then consider themselves a true and ethical hunter.

The Fundamentals of the Hunt

A prepared hunter knows which firearm to use for different types of game and always brings the necessary equipment needed to complete the harvest. They regularly practice their marksmanship to ensure a clean shot and always exercise safety when handling and maintaining their firearm or bow. A respectful hunter uses the whole animal, whenever possible, and is considerate and clean when field dressing an animal near public roads or private property. They let an opportunity pass if a fatal or safe shot cannot be made. A responsible hunter follows the laws and regulations of the area in which they are hunting, and always maintains a sense of mutual respect for other hunters and landowners.

Sustainability goes hand in hand with conservation. Hunters who abide by conservation best practices play an integral part in maintaining the health of a herd or species and ensuring their survival. Those who do not abide the laws and poach animals out of season, without a tag or on private property without permission, are violating both the law and the unspoken code of conduct that requires hunters to hold themselves to a high standard of morality when harvesting game for their freezer. Without the constant presence of onlookers and game wardens, “fair chase” often becomes a test of morality and ethics as hunters try to stay true to The Hunter’s Code.

The Ethical Option

To hunt, process and cook your own meat is no walk in the park, and not everyone will be able to stomach the process of killing or cleaning wild game, but by cutting out the middle man you can ensure that the food on your plate was obtained ethically and is truly 100 percent organic. Factory-farming is notoriously cruel. Considering the treatment of livestock, it’s no surprise that correct and ethical hunting is often considered the perfect source for organic, free-range meat.

Sustainability on a Larger Scale

From a sustainability standpoint, hunting is a much more cost-effective option as a household meat source. When compared side by side, the cost to feed a family of three for one year (in accordance with the FDA’s required amount of protein intake) with store-bought meat is more than twice as expensive as hunting and harvesting your own meat. Fishing and hunting require an initial purchase of firearms and gear, but with proper maintenance and the purchase of yearly tags, the cost is next to nothing compared to store-bought, factory-farmed meat.

Plenty of hunters will plan their hunts in advance to make them as cost effective as possible. Consider stocking up on gear during big holiday sales or try to choose a more inexpensive option of certain products, like rimfire ammunition over a more expensive bullet with more recoil. The key to sustainability is ensuring the longevity of a resource. This not only means pursuing the most cost effective route for your own means but also actively contributing to the continued existence of a species, learning lifelong skills that provide sustenance and having a heightened respect for yourself, the world you live in and the animals that thrive off of it.

Are you a “localvore” hunter who hunts because of concern about food supply? Tell us your story!

ar-15 for hunting

The AR-15 has become one of the most popular firearms in America, mostly due to its versatility, ease of use, and military look. It has even been adopted by hunters, who have embraced the AR as their rifle of choice in the field.

There are subtle differences as to how to best optimize your AR-15 for game of all sizes. Here’s what you need to know.

prairiedogs

Small Game

Rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs are some of the most common small game targets for hunters. The caveat with hunting smaller animals with an AR-15 is that you must have superior aim, and if you plan on eating your small game, the AR is not ideal for the takedown.

Many AR-15s come with 1:9 twist barrels, meaning the bullet spins one full rotation per nine inches traveled in the barrel. Most Remington .223 cartridges are 55-grain, and the 1:9 twist rate is ideal for maximum efficiency and stabilization with said cartridges versus 1:12 (slower) and 1:7 (faster). AR-15 barrels, like all parts of the rifle, are easy to replace and switching takes only minutes.

Your optics should also be made specifically for small game, paying close attention to clarity and resolution at less than 100 yards. A 4-12X40 variable scope is recommended for small game.

feralpig

Varmints

Whether it’s coyotes, javelina, or wild hogs, many jurisdictions not only allow but encourage hunters to take down varmints in the area. Hunting varmints require different hunting techniques than small game, so a few items must be considered to properly set up your rifle for these endeavors.

Most AR-15s specifically built for hunting nuisance animals have longer barrels and slower rifling—a typical stationary shooting setup. The longer barrel provides better velocity and range, perfect for animals 200 yards away or further. ARs for these animals are typically heavier than those built for small game, so you may need to experiment with different stocks for comfort. Some hunters prefer collapsible stocks and add cheek rests to them, while others like fixed stock styles.

Suppressors (silencers) are also a popular addition to AR-15s for varmint hunting, since you can potentially hit the target with a second shot if you miss on the first. Keep in mind, a “silenced” AR-15 is a relative term—it’s not like the silencers in the movies.

white-tailed-deer

Large Game

The upper receiver ultimately determines whether your AR-15 is built for small or large game. The standard .223/5.56 rounds are not ideal for large animals, but a simple switch to a larger caliber will work.

Though more expensive and heavier, the AR-10 setup is ideal for deer hunting. You can also simply buy an AR-15 already built for large game hunting, like the Ruger SR-762 and YHM HRC-200 6.8 SPC.

The best part about owning an AR-15 is that it’s never a finished product. You can always modify it with different parts and accessories for any hunting and target shooting activities.

Legalities

There is no federal law controlling the use of the rifle, though many states have regulations on citizens’ rights to purchase, own, and use it. According to TIME Magazine, AR-15s are used for hunting in several states, including hunting feral goats in Hawaii, feral pigs in Texas, jackrabbits in Arizona, and elk in Montana. Some states don’t allow deer hunting with .223 diameter bullets or an AR-15 rifle, according to Stag Arms. These states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa and Massachusetts, require larger bullets. Many states have laws for hunting specific game with specific types of guns and ammunition, so it’s best to check your state’s current laws before heading out on a hunt.

Recipe: Herb- and Beer-Braised Rabbit

Recipe from AllRecipes.com. Original photo courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife.

Beer and herbs add depth and flavor to your hoppin’ game.

Preparation time: 40 minutes. Cook time: 50 minutes. Serves 6; 528 calories.

Ingredients:

½ c. plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divide ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 lbs. rabbit meat, cleaned and cut into pieces
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 c. onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ lbs. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 c. amber beer
1 quart chicken stock
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

Place ½ cup flour, salt, and pepper into a plastic bag and toss to mix. Add rabbit meat and toss to coat. Shake off excess and lay meat to one side. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it is lightly smoking.

Sear breaded rabbit on each side until golden brown, then set aside. Pour in remaining oil and stir in sliced onions. Cook until onions have softened, about 2 minutes, then stir in mushrooms and garlic, cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Add thyme, basil, rosemary, and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place browned rabbit pieces into the Dutch oven; pour in beer and chicken stock. Bring mix to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the rabbit is very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir 3 tablespoons of flour into the softened butter until smooth. Remove rabbit from the broth and set aside. Skim any visible fat off the liquid, then whisk in butter paste. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened, then remove bay leaves, season again with salt and pepper as needed, and stir in parsley. Serve the thickened sauce with the rabbit.

Have you seen the Dude Perfect “Stereotypes: Hunting” video yet? It’s pretty funny—we recognized more than a few of those characters in our hunting buddies!

Here’s the video, in case you haven’t seen it:

But there are also some safety issues that are no laughing matter.

Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded! During the “Noisy Ned” clip, “Ned” holds his rifle by the barrel, pointing straight up at his face. Woah! Noise violations aren’t his only issue!

Noisy-Ned

 

We also noticed that the guys in the “Noisy Ned” sketch aren’t wearing any blaze orange. Blaze orange is required by law in most states, and is always a good idea (except when turkey hunting). A hunter who can be seen by other hunters is more likely to be safe from accidents.

where-blaze-orange

 

Someone needs to tell “The Noob” he needs to wear shooting glasses! Even if he’s not ready for the recoil, his vision will be a lot better protected.

no-safety-glasses

Woah! The “Sky Blaster” sketch is funny, but he’d make a terrible hunting buddy. That kind of indiscriminate shooting is very irresponsible.

sky-blasting

It looks like the birdwatcher who ticks off “the Rage Monster” is also in danger: He’s not wearing a tree stand safety harness. Falls are the most common cause of serious injury or death. You should always be connected to the tree, from the moment you leave the ground until you come back down, even in a ladder-style stand.

safety-harness

Another violation of the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety: Watch that muzzle! Even though it’s only for a second, these guys in the “Box for a Bird” sketch put their buddies in danger—the rifle is pointed right at the guy on the left! You have to keep control of your gun, even if you’re just walking across a field.

watch that muzzle!

Plus, all throughout the video, the firearm hunters aren’t wearing hearing or eye protection! Perhaps they need to reach out to “Buy It All Bob” to see if he can pick up some clear glasses and earmuffs.

everyone needs hearing and eye protection!

And “Safety Orange Sammy” may have gone a little overboard, but we like his style! At least he’ll be easy to spot in the field.

We like Safety Orange Sammy!

Overall, we thought the “Stereotypes: Hunting” video was right on point, except for those safety issues. If the Dude Perfect guys ever want to brush up on their hunter education, they just need to let us know—we’d be happy to get them started on a hunter safety course!