Our Natural Heritage

venison“Our remnants of wilderness will yield bigger values to the nation's character and health than they will to its pocketbook, and to destroy them will be to admit that the latter are the only values that interest us."

Aldo Leopold


I shake my head every time a friend or relative tries to compare the price of venison steaks with the price of beef at the supermarket. How can they know the cost of eating the beef? The cost of eating the beef is not walking along a remote ridge at sunrise. The price of buying meat is not spending a day in a drift boat or a canoe in the wilderness without seeing another soul. Reducing hunting and outdoor sports to dollars and cents is to brusquely ridiculous.

The value of natural food, including wild meat, is just starting to dawn on the public. The Fresh Local Organic crowd bristles at the thought of cattle being herded in pens and force fed corn. Only the very forward thinkers such as Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and  In Defense of Food, have come to the conclusion that wild meat, fairly hunted, has higher actual and nutritional value than pen raised farm fed civilized meat.

Don’t get the idea that I’m against farming, far from it! What I am for is by far a better question. My drive is to initiate a thoughtful conversation with the non-hunting public. Heaven knows there are passionate people that are outspoken and taking an active role to try to villianize the killing of animals. These activists’ first outspoken goal is to eliminate hunting by framing it as moral wrongdoing. The idea that killing animals is somehow immoral flies in the face of natural history and implies that mankind has somehow evolved past the facts of our history, even the facts of our present. We need go no further than the nearest restaurant to confirm our status as omnivores, killer of animals. 

Most hunters know this at a very primal and basic level and find it silly to discuss other points of view. From my viewpoint this discussion is both necessary and beneficial. If we don’t speak with well reasoned assurance, it is entirely possible that individuals and groups will be swayed by the voice of blind passion and emotional appeal. Many worldwide urbanites already unconsciously shy away from the act of killing. Steak doesn’t come wrapped in cellophane, it comes wrapped in fur with big brown eyes, and it’s cute! So are deer and elk, so why would anyone want to hurt these beautiful works of nature?

I hear far too many hunters grumble at the cost of gas and a week off work when the cost of beef includes not being in the wilderness for a week! These are things I claim as part of my natural heritage: wild places, wild meat, the thrill of the chase and the love of all animals. I want to hear hunters and fishermen speak up not in defense but with enthusiasm . Hypercivilization threatens