Hunting will always be a divisive topic. It’s understandable—animals are cute and smart and killing them seems awful. No one likes to see it, except for those weirdos who are into trophy hunting and like to kill the biggest thing they can. If you eat meat, however, hunting it yourself is by far the best way to do it. Not only is it healthier than eating any hormone-filled, miserable creature that spent its short life in a tiny pen, but it’s far more sustainable in the long run. Yes, shooting an animal is a lot harder than going to the store and buying a slab of dyed-red cow, but that’s part of why it’s better.
Shane Dorian and Mark Healey are hunters, and they take a lot of flak online for it. That’s because it’s easy to see a picture of a dead, bloody animal and feel outraged. But that’s the reality, and those who aren’t aware of what it takes to eat meat are doing a disservice to the animal they’re eating.
A few years back, Dorian took to Instagram to address those who don’t agree with hunting. He posted an image of a dead deer with the following caption:
“If this photo bothers you, I’d like to know why. Would it be different if instead of a deer and a bow, it was a fish and hook? If you see a difference between fish and deer, why? What if you hooked a deer in the mouth, drug it around the forest for a few minutes then drowned it in water- that’s the same thing (in my opinion) as catching a fish with a pole. People seem to have an issue with killing deer but not fish and I’m not sure why. Our fish populations are dwindling rapidly while the numbers of deer are increasing rapidly. Fish numbers rarely need to be lessened to maintain a healthy balance in the ocean, but if deer populations are unmanaged delicate ecosystems get out of balance quickly. I used to fish all the time when I was a kid. Every time I caught one I would feel remorse for the fish. I still have those same feelings when I get a deer today. But I like to eat meat, and I feel like hunting it myself if the most respectful way to do it.”
The axis deer population on some of the Hawaiian Islands is out of control. According to Fox, the first deer was brought to the islands back in the mid-1800s. Then, in the 1950s, a few deer were taken to Maui “as part of post-World War II efforts to introduce mammals to different places and increase hunting opportunities for veterans.” Steven Hess, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, said that biologists believed the introduction of a non-native species could improve the environment, but since there are no native predators there (axis deer are an Indian species, normally hunted by tigers and leopards), the population exploded.
In 2011 and 2012, it was estimated that the deer caused about $1 million in damage for ranchers, resorts, and farmers. According to a county survey at the time, they spent nearly half that trying to get a handle on the population.
In a recent installment of Yeti’s Hungry Life, Dorian and Healey meet Eduardo Garcia on Lanai. Garcia, for those unacquainted, is a chef of some acclaim. In 2011, while bow hunting for elk in Montana, Garcia very nearly died. After he found a bear carcass, he attempted to cut a claw out. Unbeknownst to him, however, the bear was on top of a high voltage power line. It knocked him unconscious and burned him severely. When he came to, he had to walk three miles out to the road. Things quickly got worse—he spent nearly 50 days in the hospital. When he came out, he had lost four ribs, part of his torso, and part of his left arm. If that wasn’t bad enough, while he was there, doctors discovered he had testicular cancer. Now, however, all these years later, he’s a survivor and he’s taking nothing for granted.
Hungry Life shows what it takes to earn your food, and if everyone did it like this, the world would be a better place.