What's This Blog About?

Sitting on the sofa watching Ray Mears and hunting shows on TV, I found myself wondering 'how could i do that?' This is the story of that journey. And a few others.

I’ve always been fascinated with the outdoors, and particularly the American outdoors. Some of my earliest TV memories are tales of the mountain men who lived just beyond the newly forged frontier, the Native Americans that found abundant foodstuffs, and could track man or beast in the seemingly inhospitable terrain. There’s a natural vitality, where humans aren’t top of the food chain that’ll never be experienced in the parks and farmland of the UK. I’ve always felt its call; it’s just that domestic life got in the way.

Now 40 and with kids of my own I live the sedentary suburban existence of commuting, work, DIY and watching the wilderness on TV. Like most city folk I’m more observer than participant in the food chain. The meat we eat comes from the supermarket. I know I’m far from the only person feeling a growing unease about the origins of our food. But beyond going to the farmers market on Sunday morning, we aren’t really sure what to do about it.

TV chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall make it all seem so easy, until you’re standing looking at the wild mushrooms wondering if they’ll kill you. Marco Pierre- White fishes and shoots on private estates, with a shotgun that costs seventy grand. We watch Ray Mears and Bear Grylls on TV and their exploits and abilities seem beyond the reach of desk jockeys from the suburbs. Ray Mears is an expert; Bear Grylls was in the SAS (sort of). Could a tubby suburban dad prise his butt of the sofa and have a go?

After years of talking a good fight (but doing nothing) about having what I regard as a more honest relationship with my dinner, in January 2006, while in the Virginia suburbs, a Republican Gun Nut took me hunting. I shot, killed and gutted a whitetail deer. I’d always said the moral thing to do as a meat eater would be to hunt, kill, butcher and cook animals rather than get them shrink wrapped from the supermarket. Now I’d taken the first step. When I came back to England I wanted to learn everything I’d need to know to start filling my freezer with food I’d hunted and gathered myself. Not coming from a country family I had no shootin’ and fishin’ uncle or bloodthirsty grandfather to teach me the ways of the countryman. So I looked to the Internet.

I started writing the blog as way of keeping a record that would keep up the impetus and sustain the project. For my blog I chose hunting Elk with a bow and arrow as a symbolic culmination of the process of learning to be a hunter. It’s not known for being easy and there are lots of skills that I’d have to acquire on the way.

The story of the hunt is here.

Ethics, Karma And Dead Deer