Hunting for Food


Hunting and fishing isn’t for everyone, I realize that, and the last thing I want to do is offend anyone who’s a vegan, vegetarian, a member of PETA or just opposed to the age-old practice for whatever reason. But what I would like to do is share with interested readers, hunters included, how hunting and fishing helps me provide my own food and move a step closer to a sustainable life here on my farm. I’m already growing organic, heirloom vegetables, raising free-range, pastured chickens and eggs, and pretty much living off the land now. Living off the land is something I believe in, so I’m doing a little preaching, I suppose. I’m not the first one who’s hunted this land, either, evidenced by the multitude of arrowheads and spear tips piled up everywhere.

Our Native American ancestors lived off the land much the same way I hope to before I head for the great funeral pyre. Venison was one of their staples and has become a contemporary delicacy in many fine restaurants — and honestly folks, if you’ve ever had my mesquite grilled backstrap with mushroom gravy, you might just pack up and head for the woods yourself.

Hunting as Family Tradition

My grandfather was my original hunting buddy as a youngster of about 10 years old. Dad-O, as he was known to the family, owned 132 acres near Antelope, Texas, and the small town’s namesake was fairly close to the truth when it came to hunting wild game, albeit the game was more whitetail deer, turkeys, and wild hogs than antelope, but they were plentiful. Dad-O also had the best fishin’ hole in ten counties. A 5-acre lake when it’s full, this watering hole was then, and is now, my home turf. Full to the creeks and willow-overgrown channels with large-mouth bass, channel catfish, and plenty of baitfish, I must have fished every summer with my Mom’s dad until I was in high school. The lake dried up recently during the years-long Texas drought, but after a monster spring of rains, she filled up and even went over the spillway, so I’ve been restocking it with the same fishy menu as before.

I had a lot of fun fishing, wolf hunting (actually coyotes), deer hunting and just being outdoors with my grandfather. His old hunting buddies were usually there to listen to their hound dogs track down a raccoon or coyote, never missing an opportunity to claim that their best dog “got one tree’d, ol’ Sally’s baying up a storm.”

When the dogs had a varmint cornered and began their yelping, we would load up in the pickup truck or head out on foot to catch up to the quarry and pack of hounds, then finish the deal. Back in those days, ranchers allowed the locals to hunt on their land to help keep the predators at bay. Coyotes are fearsome creatures, conniving in their ways to steal a baby calf or sick heifer. That’s how hunting them got started — a fight over food. Same with us two-legged critters.

12/9/2015 10:50:24 PM

RD after the trying to hunt for thanksgiving, I'm not sure I could do it all the time. It was sooo hard waiting around for something to show up.

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