Not conquest, but communion

Duck Blind

Photo by Caitlin Burke via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I took my own advice this weekend and checked out one of the recent winners of the James Beard Foundation’s Journalism Awards. The 2013 Individual Food Blog winner is Hank Shaw for his blog at As an exemplar of the great writing there, check out his December 7, 2011 post titled “On Killing,” in which he considers what it means to him to hunt wild animals for food. As he describes,

What I do to put meat in my freezer is alien to most, anathema to some. In the past seven years, I can count on one hand the times I’ve had to buy meat for the home. This fact alone makes me an outlier, an anomaly….

Not too long ago, I was at a book signing event for [my book] Hunt Gather Cook when a young woman approached me. She was very excited about foraging, and she had loved that section of my book. Then her face darkened. She told me she’d also read my section on hunting. “How can you enjoy killing so much? I just don’t understand it. You seem like such a nice person, too.” It took a few minutes for me to explain myself to her, and I am grateful that she listened. She left, I think, with a different opinion.

It’s a thoughtful and beautifully written piece, that ends this way:

Meat should be special. It has been for most of human existence. And no modern human understands this more than a hunter. I am at peace with killing my own meat because for me, every duck breast, every boar tongue, every deer heart is a story, not of conquest, but of communion.

Find the entire essay here.


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