Meat

Meat

By
Brad McDonald
Contains
16 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 1849497206
Photographer
Andy Sewell

On hunting

As for many Southerners, hunting has been part of my life, directly or indirectly, for as long as I’ve been around. My first ever kill was a doe, which I didn’t manage to drop on the first shot. I shot it in the back, essentially paralysing it, so there it sat and suffered until my father, who had heard the shot, came from his stand to find me.

We walked over to the doe and I had to – finally! – deliver its mercy with a .22 pistol. These sorts of memories do not fade, and I remember intensely the feeling of angst, anxiety, fear, and yes, exhilaration at having taken another animal’s life. Hunting is significant culturally across the South, and the lessons and life experiences garnered in the woods are important to us. What many criticise as a base or barbaric act is, in many ways, a young Southerner’s first encounter with the symbiosis of nature, the food chain and the respect our privilege as hunters deserves.

Three early lessons that I learned from being a hunter were to respect nature and its inhabitants; to avoid wasting edible meat; and to share the proceeds of the hunt with others. We never mistreated our hunting property – quite the opposite. We spent many weekend hours maintaining trails and ongoing works out of season so that we were makers of the land, not just users. My family were not trophy hunters. To be sure, we all wanted the ‘big one’, but we came together to be amongst family, regardless of who would get the ‘ten-point’. To this day, our freezers remain packed year round with meat processed from our hunts. We always hunted with my uncles and cousins and shared the take among extended family as well. Miss Oneal, the schoolteacher whose land we used, loved the venison ribs and neck, so we always left those for her to enjoy.

Hunting is often oversold in my region as a trophy sport, but to me it is on a par with foraging, where you take from the land with due respect. Learning that as a tradition, and holding it as a family heirloom, helps me maintain a tie to the land that deepens my respect for all aspects of life wherever I choose to travel.

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