Eat Everything You Kill! Nope. Not Me. Not Anyone.

A winged predator killed this jumping mouse, and didn’t eat it.

Contributing Writer
Steve Sorensen

“Ethical hunters eat everything they kill!” If that’s what you think, you might want to change your mind. Nobody does that.

I’ll make a few people angry today, but people who express that opinion ought to stop and think for a minute. That opinion doesn’t stretch very far.

“Oh,” you say, “but Native Americans never wasted anything they killed and they made inedible parts — bones, tendons, hide — into tools and other useful things.”

Not so fast. No one eats everything he kills, and Native Americans sure didn’t. I’m not saying they were wasteful, or careless, or unethical. We tend to romanticize primitive cultures, but some of their methods were inefficient.

Picture what you’ve seen in paintings, a plains Indian riding his pinto pony in a herd of bison. He had the agility of an Olympian, the courage of a warrior, the heart of a champion. But his stick and string propelled a stone-tipped arrow at very low velocity compared to today’s bows and arrows.

Despite what’s in your imagination, his arrow didn’t penetrate very far and the bison didn’t fall dead on the spot. I’ll grant that most animals were recovered and converted to human food and tools, but some wandered off to die and were never found. Modern archers are far more efficient. That’s not a criticism of anyone, that’s just the reality.

Humans are not the only predators that fail. I once found a long-tailed jumping mouse with talon marks on it. A hawk caught it, killed it, and dropped it. Raptors are some of the most efficient predators and even they don’t eat everything they kill. Time spent in the woods will prove to you that predators do not eat everything they kill.

Now consider yourself. In our highly industrialized society many of us are too removed from nature to see the role we actually play, and that’s a problem. Too many people think man should not be in the equation of the natural world. “We should let the balance of nature take care of things,” they say, oblivious to the fact that the creature that impacts the landscape the most can’t be outside that balance. They believe ignorantly that we should go ahead and build wind turbines, mine for gold and rare earth minerals to make batteries for our cell phones, and stop bothering animals. We should leave wildlife alone.

OK. Then let’s not farm. Let’s not mine. Let’s not drill. Let’s not build dams to control flooding. Let’s not build homes (or wind turbines or batteries). Let’s not eat. Let’s not dispose of waste. Never mind that it’s impossible to stop killing animals and displacing them from their homes. Even many nature lovers don’t stop to think about that.

But hunters know our connection to the earth that nourishes us. Hunting gives us an appreciation for where our food comes from. Hunting doesn’t allow us to forget that food costs life. Regulated hunting enables us to limit our impact on nature. Hunters are not blinded to the fact that all of us — including anti-hunters — hire someone to butcher the chicken and beef that comes wrapped in bloodless plastic.

Yet our critics poison the slugs that eat their flowers, and zap mosquitoes along with non-threatening bug life — for mere beauty and comfort. Why do they not understand that all of us kill far more than we eat, whether we hunt or not? The “kill only what you eat” crowd is creating an ethical dilemma even they can’t escape from.

Eat everything you kill! Nope. Not me, and not you. Not anyone! But if you still think hunters should eat everything they kill, you might want to check your refrigerator and throw away last week’s leftovers someone else killed for you, and you didn’t eat.

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Steve Sorensen of Russell, PA is an award-winning writer whose column, The Everyday Hunter®, offers hunting tips, strategies, insights and occasional humor. His byline has appeared in the nation's top hunting magazines and he is a field contributor to "Deer and Deer Hunting" magazine. Steve is also in demand as an event speaker, presenting programs on do-it-yourself Alaska moose hunting, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and eastern coyotes, with new programs coming. E-mail him at to invite him to speak at your next sportsman's dinner (or to tell him where your best hunting spot is).