02 5@5 — Why hunting your own dinner is an ethical way to eat
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Editor’s Note: Lily Raff McCaulou is an award-winning journalist, Knight-Wallace Fellowship recipient and a columnist for The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon. Her first book, “Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner” was published in June.
Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who hunted. Hunters, I figured, were probably just barbaric gun nuts. Then, eight years ago, I moved from Manhattan to rural Oregon, to write for a small newspaper. My perspective shifted when I began interviewing hunters for my articles and realized that although I had long considered myself an environmentalist, these hunters – most of whom scoffed at the “E” word – were more knowledgeable and thoughtful about animals and nature than I was.
Eventually, I decided to buy a gun and join them. But don’t worry, I’m still an environmentalist, loud and proud.
Five Reasons Why Hunting a Wild Animal Makes an Ethical Dinner: Lily Raff McCaulou
1. Hunting has a light environmental footprint
No antibiotics, artificial hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or unnatural feeds were used in raising this meat. Unlike farmed animals, a wild one doesn’t contribute to soil erosion, water pollution, or the displacement of native plants in favor of a monoculture. No land is tilled to feed a wild animal, so additional carbon isn’t released into the atmosphere.
To hunt for elk this fall, for example, I’ve already bought an Oregon hunting license for $29.50, paid $8 to enter a lottery for the right to hunt in a particular spot, and purchased a $42.50 tag. That means I’ve already paid $80 toward wildlife research and habitat protection in my home state. Bird-watchers and hikers haven’t paid anywhere near that much.
With approximately 12.5 million hunters nationwide, we’re talking about real money. Proceeds from the Federal Duck Stamp – a required $15 annual purchase for migratory waterfowl hunters – have added more than five million acres to the national wildlife refuge system. And federal excise taxes on hunting equipment and ammunition garner more than $200 million a year for wildlife management and the purchase of public lands.