I wrote the following for the Northwoods Sporting Journal. What are your thoughts on eating wild game and teaching kids about where their food really comes from?
On the Monday after rifle season began, my three year old’s preschool asked him what he had done over the weekend. Straight faced, he looked at her and said, “Daddy shot a deer and I ate the heart” and walked off to play with his friends. She looked at me in disbelief and all I could do was smile and nod.
The excitement of getting a deer was at its peak for him when we drove into the driveway with my husband’s deer. That same three year old rubbed his hands down the back of the deer, held onto its antlers and when we hung it in the barn, he stuck his head almost inside the chest cavity and asked, “Is this all steak?” At three he knows that an animal, in animal form, will end up as pieces of meat on our plates.
I don’t think that we are doing anything special to teach him where his food comes from. We are hunters and have hunting and trapping friends. We go into the woods for the sole purpose of bringing back food. And maybe that is it; as a society we have become so disconnected from where our food comes from that it is almost taboo to talk about the gut pile associated with every piece of meat that we eat. Think back to the bear referendum and if you had to tell anyone that bears were hunted because they taste good. If it is not a common game animal (deer, moose and turkey), people seem incredibly hesitant to try it. Maybe that is why we rename our food so often; it sounds fancier if you call it venison, beef, pork etc. instead of bear, beaver and moose. If we make a conscious effort to educate everyone on what they are eating and which animal it came from, then maybe we would have more people willing to try new foods.
Over the past few months, we have been lucky enough to have bear, wild turkey, moose, beaver and deer meat end up on our plates. Co-workers and even my parents gave me odd looks when I talked about the beaver roast that I was making in the crockpot thanks to the trapping talents of my friend Staci, but my kiddo will sit down and eat all of it. His favorite is bear meat! Game meat is so delicious, organic and about as free range as you can get.
We owe it to ourselves and our kids to learn and try new types of game meat. And what is the easiest way to do that? Try a game dinner. There are a bunch of them across Maine and Unity College puts a great one on each spring. It was there that I tried bear, beaver and Axis deer for the first time and all were delicious.
I encourage you to try a new type of game this year! Why not try bear meat or be willing to bring the heart of your deer home to fry up? It might become your new favorite.