Why I Eat Wild Meat

A veteran hunter and nature writer shares his belief that traditional hunting of wild meat draws us closer to nature and is a physical and intellectual challenge that fulfills one of our fundamental instincts.

| February/March 2012

David Petersen has a long history with MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. He is the former Western Editor, and built his Colorado cabin from an early set of our building plans for a pole barn. He first met Edward Abbey when he interviewed him for the magazine. Check out his 9 wonderful books at David Petersen Books. 

The out-of-doors is our true ancestral estate. For a mere five thousand years we have grubbed in the soil and laid brick upon brick to build the cities; but for a million years before that we lived the leisurely, free and adventurous life of hunters and gatherers. How can we pluck that deep root of feeling from the racial consciousness? Impossible!
— Edward Abbey

As one who makes no secret of his life preferences, I am often asked why I prefer to eat wild meat almost to the exclusion of domestic. It’s a fair question, to which I hope I have fair answers — beginning with health and nutrition.

By any comparison with the factory-produced, chemical-drenched, fat-laden pseudo-meat that too many Americans grow obese and sick from eating today, wild meat — fish, fowl or red — is brilliantly natural, inimitably healthy and morally superior. Wild game is the meat that made us human. Best of all, we must hunt in order to have it. The alleged “wild game” sold in some restaurants is in fact the comparatively flaccid flesh of captive wild animals and has the same culinary relationship to true wild meat as farmed salmon does to the genuine free-swimming creature.

And — this is my apologia — if we hunt with gratitude and reverence, we gradually acquire a personally meaningful love not only for the act of traditional hunting and the meat it procures, but for the animals we hunt as well.

Baloney, say hunting’s harshest critics. How can one who kills for “fun” feel compassion for his prey, the victims of the hunt?

10/11/2013 10:52:05 PM

A really excellent article that puts the morality of hunting into a clear perspective with that of the inhumane way 'we' choose to raise our food in the indefensible factory farming system.If the respect and consideration David gives his prey was mirrored by those who mass produce our food the world would be a far better place. I'm really pleased to have stumbled on this article. Having recently read and enjoyed his 'ON THE WILD EDGE - In Search of a Natural Life' (my second reading of it in 3 months, which says something on just how good a book I think it is) it looks like I should invest in his 'HEARTSBLOOD - Hunting, Spirituality, and Wildness in America' book which I guess this article is an extract from (or at least based upon). Not that I'm a hunter but I have a strong empathy with nature and animals and what and how he writes about these topics strikes a chord with me. More articles from David on MEN please!

8/9/2013 6:08:48 PM

The author makes a lot of good points about why we hunt and eat wild meat, but he is awfully judgmental of his fellow hunters. He's calling out the vast majority of hunters as "unethical" and "misguided". It's true, if I had the time and means to be successful at traditional bow hunting, I would. But those of us who don't write for a living have a very limited amount of time to devote to our chosen method of hunting and I don't think using a compound bow makes me less of a hunter.

As hunters we should be more concerned with encouraging and educating future generations and spend less time criticizing fellow law abiding sportsmen.

8/9/2013 12:38:56 PM

This is the best explanation or defense of hunting I have ever read.  I am going to print this out.

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