15 Apr 2014
This might be the first article to tackle what I have seen to be the largest obstacle to suburban/urban residents wanting to learn to hunt animals for food.
Most hunters are residents of rural communities that include other hunters. Even if no one in their immediate family hunts, there is someone in that community who does. The social network in rural communities includes hunters. The connections are there for buying guns, learning about local game, learning about hunting spots, and most importantly accessing land to hunt on.
What if you grew up in the city? What if you don’t know a single person who hunts for food? Many new hunters are trying to find a way to do this from the outside of that rural social network. It’s daunting. Even if you buy a gun, gets lots of shooting practice, read a lot of books about hunting, get out in the woods and practice tracking skills… where do you go to actually hunt? Who do you go with?
I have been trying to answer this question for myself. I have acquaintances of acquaintances who hunt, but no one who I feel I can ask to either accompany them on a hunt or hunt on their land. I can pay money and go with a professionally-led hunting trip, like this company. So I decided to start asking around in the intersections I have with rural communities- the farmers at the market and the butchers at the custom deer processing butcher where we get the animals for the cow pool butchered. The farmers I asked were all too busy to do much hunting but they all had cousins, brothers, or neighbors who hunted and every single one had been hunting at least once in their lives. The butchers at Crawford’s Custom Meats are all women right now. Surprising to me, they were all active hunters, and what they hunted was hogs. Then a few months ago a friend and I drove out to a farm to pick up a load of compost in her pickup truck. The man showed off his hunting dogs while we were there, and it turned out that the hunting dogs also belonged to his wife, and she hunted hogs with them. Apparently that’s the usual game for women to hunt in this area is hogs, though I wouldn’t even want to guess why hogs (which are big and quite dangerous) and not deer or turkeys or quail.
One of the women I spoke to invited me along with her to hunt hogs this fall, and even though I don’t know her well, I said yes. I don’t have the “right” clothes, and I need a lot more target practice, but even if I don’t fire a single shot I am sure it’ll teach me more than reading books ever will. I am hesitant, but how else can I learn?
My husband and I will probably also go on a hog hunt with a professional this fall, because my field dressing skills are mostly book-learning at this point and I will happily pay to have a professional hunter teach me field dressing. But this weekend, more target practice!