From Vegetarian to Hunter
I’ll be honest, I used to think hunters were bad, perceiving “them” as nothing but blood thirsty Bogans, stuck in a barbaric past, something not relevant in today’s society…..and now I’m out nearly every weekend hunting for my own meat…. And I can’t get enough of it.
What happened and why?
If you told me years ago I would be a passionate gun owner and hunter, my jaw would have dropped. I was scared of guns! A free spirited nature loving girl that could never kill, let alone gut and skin an animal!
I had struggled with being a meat eater, because of my beliefs so for a time I abstained from animal-derived foods because I cared about the consequences of my eating; I did this for several years.
After three long years I realised that my heath and sanity were suffering because of the lack of iron, protein and a good feed. I craved meat. I hated going to BBQs and smelling the sweet smell of roasting meat, I can personally tell you that dry lentil burgers just didn’t cut it.
Who was I kidding I love a good steak. I grew up with salami, pate, homemade sausages and Sunday roasts.
I wanted to eat meat again, but was struggling with ethical and environmental issues that surrounded meat production.
This all changed when I was discovered the health benefits of kangaroo and wallaby in supermarkets. “Wallaby is virtually carbon neutral thanks to their unique digestive system. They are at harmony with their natural environment and have very little impact upon the land compared to domesticated livestock. Plus water consumption per kilo of edible meat is 70 per cent less than sheep and almost 90 per cent less than beef is another great advantage”.
Great! I started to feel better about my food choices. I also added free range back into my diet, trying where possible to buy only locally sourced produce. I was becoming a part of a food movement that I could believe in.
But a part of me still knew someone was doing the dirty work for me. I needed to woman up and take responsibility for my meat consumption. I wanted to look the animal in the eye and know that I could handle the reality behind eating an animal, to confront that internal emotional and moral difficulty.
So I took up hunting and harvesting my own meat where I could.
It was a lot harder than I first imagined to obtain a gun licence, and to my surprise a gun didn’t just shoot itself. It was hard work to get a good consistent target shot. I joined a shooting club and to this day I still shoot target and silhouettes to hone my skills.
Since then, I haven’t looked back, I love shooting. I now own a centrefire, magnum and my trusty 22 Bruno. I also go out clay pigeon shooting whenever I have the chance and the recoil kick doesn’t worry me a bit.
The shooting community have shown to be incredibly supportive, generous in their time and knowledgeable in what they pass on. Most proving to be responsible ethical hunters, passionate about what they do, from the equipment they use, to the techniques they practice.
I am proud to say to this day I have not experienced any sexism, instead I find farmers, sharpshooters and hunters alike, supportive and encouraging having women in their mist, there are no barriers.
So where are all the rednecks? The tobacco chewing hicks? The so called animal haters? Well I am sure they exist, but in my experience in the minority. Most hunters are just like me. Educated, socially aware, animal loving hunters that want honesty brought back to their lives.
Hunters in general, care about ethical, sustainable hunting; humanely harvested animals directly from their natural environment without ever having been confined or handled by man. Hormone, antibiotic, free range and as organic as it gets. My husband, Adrian and I love the taste of game meat.
Hunting for me is not just about being responsible about my food, its reaches much deeper than that. It’s in my blood. I love it and it has become a big part of mine and my husband’s life. A lot of hunters say they can’t describe the feeling they get when they hunt, and I understand that now. But I’m going to do my best to articulate.
Hunting is truly getting back to nature on so many levels. The fresh air, the birdsong. Every foot step I take is considered, every breath, every heart beat I can feel. Time slows down and I am completely in the moment. I listen carefully, my senses heightened. I stalk, then wait. Then the moment comes when I see the quarry…my heart pounds, my breath slows…I take the shot. I see it go down. There is a sense of sadness mixed with adrenalin, a mix of worry and confidence, did I get a good shot off? When I pick the animal to inspect and see a clean kill….pure joy. I was not joyful that the animal was dead. I was happy that my hard work, skill, and patience had resulted in a successful harvest. I was joyful that the animal did not suffer in its last moments and that I was successful in honouring and respecting life.
I don’t only shoot for food, I also shoot to help farmers protect their crops, I have shot feral cats, foxes and even possums to aid in conservation, and I’m proud to say that.
Now, more than ever I believe hunting is relevant in today’s society. In fact it is necessary, hunters are conservationist.
So even if you are an anti- hunter remember to be kind, not everything you read in the media is 100 per cent accurate; educate yourselves with the facts, look beyond the media grabs and photos. If you’re a hunter; have a respectful and honest discussion with those who have lost touch with where their food comes from, explain and educate them on why you hunt. Be understanding of each other’s concerns. Everyone has their own journey, and you never know they may just turn out to be fellow hunter.
I now go to BBQ’s my head held high, with a plate full of venison steaks or bunny burgers, all from natures supermarket, that come with a damn good hunting story.
By Shauna Pickin