Hunting is one of those really divisive issues, with people coming down hard on one side or another. The Accidental Locavore never really gave it much thought (except for a love of venison) until we had a house upstate. In our first house, we could watch every weekend as the trucks pulled in across the street to load up on cases of…beer. Not exactly what you want to picture going along with men with guns. Then, in our current house, the deer came and ate everything green and attractive (the “mature plantings” as my husband likes to say). We were more than willing to have hunters just sit on our front steps and fire at anything white-tailed that came within range, but sadly there are regulations about guns and proximity to roads.
Then, I got an attention-grabbing email from Fisher Neal inviting me to his lecture: “teaching the would-be locavores of New York City how to hunt their own meat.” Intrigued, I followed up with Fisher, who claims to be living off of meat he’s hunted for the past ten years. His “plan for teaching people is to offer this course which covers all the basics including how to get your license, which takes some effort, and afterward I teach people shooting lessons and take them on walks to teach them how to scout land, and finally offer fully guided hunts using my own equipment.” Pretty interesting, right? He’s giving the course on February 12th, and while it might not be the most romantic Valentine’s Day gift, it surely would be remembered!
Once you’ve managed to do all that, and track and kill an animal, you’ve got to dress it and get it home. As the owner of a 72-pound dog, I know how difficult it can be to move an unwilling animal, so I asked Fisher what happens once you’ve actually bagged something. He said that “Field dressing is pretty simple, though it does take some skill to do it well or quickly. Basically you make a cut through the skin and abdominal wall from the ribs to the pelvis, taking care not to cut open the stomach or intestines, and start pulling everything out. Dragging can be quite the ordeal depending on the circumstances! Helpful tricks include hunting near a road, owning a cart or sled, using straps on the deer, bringing a buddy, and to avoid hunting in ravines or far downhill of roads. In extreme circumstances with very large game like bear, elk, or moose, the animal is often quartered in the field and transported out in packs over a series of trips.” What he forgets to include is that owning a pick-up is probably almost as essential as a gun and ammo. Somehow I don’t see a deer draped across the trunk of my Honda convertible!
While I doubt, I’ll ever actually go hunting, it’s good to know there are guys like Fisher around who could get me started. In the meantime, I’m happy to cook any venison etc. that might come my way (hint, hint).
Thanks to Fisher for the photos! And if you’d like to listen to his podcast, click here.