I love food.
And as I said, for me, hunting is ultimately about producing food.
I firmly believe we should take pride in our ability to cook the wild food we harvest.
To me, the ability to field dress, butcher and cook are as essential skills as stalking quietly and making a well-placed shot.
Cooking might not be as glamourous as being a great marksman. But without the skill as a cook, the shot is pointless at best. And at worst, a waste.
Let me be clear. I'm not a butcher. And I'm not a chef.
But, I can shoot an animal. Decide if it's fit to enter the food chain. Skin and butcher it. And turn it into a meal that makes my kids ask for second servings. And that's all we need. That's what it's all about.
We don't have to be able to butcher at lightning speeds. Or to turn cooking into an artform (we can if we so desire). But it's a skill we have to value and develop.
I talked about the conservationist. About preserving for the future. but in some ways, it's the cook who has taught me the most about sustainability and moderation.
And I think of all the roles, it's the cook who can teach us the most valuable lessons.
What do I mean by that?
Pulling the trigger is easy. But the real job, well the real job starts when you have to skin, butcher and pack up a deer.
Every time I do that, I reflect on how casual I can be when buying meat in the supermarket or at the butchers.
Add to that a couple of hours in the kitchen. To turn some of that venison into a meal. That teaches appreciation for food.
Sure, it helps to have a bottle of good red wine to keep you company. But it doesn't change the fact that the whole process takes a lot of work. Enough to treasure every single bite of food.
That's an important lesson.