Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why Deer Hunting is Important to Us!

Why is deer hunting important to my family?  
Well, there are MANY reasons. Now I'm fairly certain that there will be a great number of people who, regardless of the validity of my reasons, will still view hunting as nothing but an excuse to murder.  And honestly, it doesn't really bother me. I am content with my path in life.

First off, I want to clarify a term which I hear used very often when anti-hunters, vegetarians/vegans, and animal lovers make arguments about the ethics of hunting.
The term I am referring to is "Trophy Hunting"
Most of the time, that term is typically viewed as:   a hunter going out specifically to kill the largest animal he/she can find with the purpose of only removing the antlers or horns, etc. so that they can decorate their wall with "the trophy"
While that  may be the case sometimes, I can assure you that the vast majority of those hunters, not only keep all of the meat as well, but the amount of meat they are gathering is greater than that they might have gotten if they had settled for the first animal which they happened across.

Furthermore, I personally do not know a single hunter (and I know MANY) who can afford to "just walk into a small pen and shoot a giant buck that they paid for only a few minutes before."
Are there some rich people who might be willing to fork over 10-20 grand or more to do this?  SURE. But I sure as hell am not even close to that tax bracket. And no one I know IS.
Fair chase!   This is what I'm talking about here.
SO save the poaching and Trophy hunting comments for someone who it pertains to.

#1- Cost:
 In a typical year, I can fill up the freezer with 2-3 deer. This is half of our red meat. The other being our pasture raised pork.  On average my hunting season yields anywhere from 80-100 pounds of boneless cuts.
Resident Illinois Archery permits currently consist of two tags, which cost $26.00 each. I buy two sets of tags for a total of 4 deer available to me.
I still use the same bow I have had for almost 16 years, therefore I only spend money on arrows and Broadheads.  Averaging about $15/year. 
If I dont fill my freezer prior to the shotgun and muzzleloader seasons, I can purchase those permits over the counter and try again during those seasons.

All in All, my average season costs me about 65-90 bucks. Maybe $100 at max.
I butcher my own deer, so essentially I get all of the cuts for about a buck a pound. And I had nothing invested monetarily to raise this WILD animal.
$1.00 / pound!!!!!!!!

#2 Quality of the meat:
These are 100% wild animals I am hunting, not pen raised livestock. Now granted, they are feeding heavily on the corn and soybean crops in my specific location, but much of the year, they are foraging completely on natural vegetation. You cant get more sustainable than that.
These deer are hormone free, and lean as can be.

#3 Nutrition: 
Comparing Venison to Beef
When taking health into account, the word FAT is what scares most people away from certain foods. But even more scary is SATURATED FATS. 
The average 8 ounce beef flank steak contains about 18 grams of fat (8 of which are saturated)
While the same 8 ounce cut of venison contains 6 grams total (only 2 of which are saturated)

What about Cholesterol?
Good question, as I have had one heart attack already, it is very well known to me that Cholesterol is something I need to be very conscious of.
Beef has an average of 3 TIMES the amount of cholesterol than the same cut of venison.

8 ounces.............Beef 620 calories
same cut............Venison 250 calories

Venison is also higher in Iron.

#4 Conservation:
In the 1930's, the whitetail deer population in the U.S. was estimated at around 300,000 deer. 
Today, that estimate is around 30 MILLION.

What has caused the population to EXPLODE?

A)Lack of Predators-  Bears, wolves, cougars, etc have all been pushed out of areas where human populations exist. They typically steer clear of people if they can. Deer, essentially will gather where they feel safer and there is less predatory presence. 

B)Deforestation-  Huh?  Isn't mowing down our forests what's KILLING them?  Not quite, in fact, it's quite the opposite. Deer LOVE edge habitats, such as tree lines, large grassy areas, small woodlots, even manicured lawns. Why?  because they don't like predators, and this way, they can see them coming a mile away. So when hundreds of acres of woods are whittled away to make room for yet another cornfield, this in turn is "creating" a much more suitable habitat for the deer. In fact, they usually get a few months of really effortless meals out of the deal. 

C) Evolution-  Or lack thereof.  Many animal species reach a stable equilibrium when overcrowding begins to take place. Some species will kill off weak babies (even the mothers will do this) to ensure only the strong survive. Pandas only receive enough nourishment from their bamboo diets to support raising ONE baby, so the mother will choose the stronger one and allow the other to die.
Deer do not adapt at all. They will consistently have an average of two fawns per year and raise both of them as quickly as possible. 
I remember reading somewhere that the number of fawns birthed annually is DOUBLE that of how many deer are legally harvested by hunters. 
So conservation is our RESPONSIBILITY, as we have created the pristine conditions to which these populations have reached such high numbers in such a short period of time.

Lastly, I have personal reasons for hunting which many of my readers will be able to understand and recognize as some of their own.
I love nature. I love being outdoors, and sometimes, sitting in a deer stand for hours on end, have given me a connection to the earth which most can only dream about.
Memories abound in my head and heart while I consistently reminisce about specific hunts, follies, and people whom which I have shared those times with.
The walk to and from my tree stand allow my body to exercise. And sometimes, I will get down from my stand, or exit my ground blind and just walk patiently, trying to spot my game before it spots me. 

But most importantly, I have taught my children to love and respect the earth, and what it has to provide us with. To not take more than it is willing to give us and stay healthy. 
I have seen a love of nature in my children which most adults that I know could not fathom to possess. One which has helped them to grow into what I can only "hope" is a better person than me.

This is us.
This is what we do.
This is OUR PATH.

Thank you for reading.
Our Little Backyard Farm.

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