Hunters Are Locavores

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“Locavore” might be a new word to you, but it’s what deer hunters have always been. This deer is ready to be turned into many locally grown meals.
Contributing Writer

Steve Sorensen

A carnivore is a creature that feeds mostly on meat. An herbivore is one that feeds mostly on plants. An insectivore feeds mostly on insects. An omnivore eats almost anything. Coyotes are carnivores. Deer are herbivores. Shrews and moles are insectivores. Man is an omnivore. Plants, porridge, partridges, we eat it all. We are opportunists.

But what is a locavore? In the natural world carnivores, herbivores and insectivores all take their nourishment solely from local food sources. Coyotes, deer and shrews do not build transportation systems. They do not create supply chains. They do not can, freeze, dehydrate or pre-process their food. They are locavores, dependent on finding food locally.

Primitive man was a locavore as a practical necessity. He scavenged whatever the land under his feet could produce. His diet varied by seasons — he ate blueberries in the fall, not the spring. And he preyed on animals that lived in his locale. Supply chains and ways of preserving food were still far into the future.

In today’s world, everything has changed. Most people are no longer locavores. Today in North America we drink orange juice made from oranges grown in Florida. We eat honey made by bees in China. We even import some of our beef. But the United States is still the largest global exporter of food. In 2021we sent $177 billion in agricultural exports to the rest of the world.

That certainly illustrates the interdependence of humanity on a global scale. And interdependence is not a bad thing. But neither is independence. Most locavores value both interdependence and freedom.

The locavore movement is a broad effort people are making to eat locally sourced food, and it’s growing. Locally sourced food has several benefits. It’s fresher, and some believe fresher food has more nutrients. It has fewer artificial ingredients or preservatives — probably none at all.

It’s also good for the planet because it’s more economical and more environmentally friendly than industrialized farming. And the time from harvest to table can be less than a day.

Locavores don’t necessarily have diets that are exclusively local. They simply value locally sourced food and eat it when possible or practical. Locavores are people who grow home gardens, who shop at farmer’s markets, who scavenge mushrooms and edible plants from the woods where they live, and who hunt. People can engage in it a little or a lot, as they wish, and they can engage in it without proclaiming themselves part of a movement.

That’s what deer hunters have always done. When meat is on the menu, what could be more valuable to a locavore than a deer killed within a few miles of his home? The odds that a veterinarian ever treated any deer you shoot are miniscule. No one added hormones to the deer’s food, no one injected the deer with antibiotics, and no meat is fresher.

Hunting is sustainable. A local game animal harvested from a healthy population does nothing to harm the population, because that animal will be replaced by others of its species. The cost of reproduction isn’t a factor because deer breed naturally. They carry and deliver their young without expense.

If you’re a locavore who doesn’t hunt or eat wild game, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. You probably know a hunter, so ask him to let you sample some venison. Most will willingly share at least a little. And if you offer to share the cost of processing, you might get more than a little.

Be aware that not all venison is created equal in the kitchen. Plenty of venison cookbooks are out there, and you can find lots of recipes online. You can easily find two or three that will make an easy, delicious and satisfying meal. So, join the deer hunters and join the locavore movement. It’s one more way you can be planet-conscious, economy minded, and eat well.

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, www.EverydayHunter.com. He is a field contributor to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, 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 EverydayHunter@gmail.com to invite him to speak at your next sportsman's dinner (or to tell him where your best hunting spot is).