By: Rihana Cary
My passion for the outdoors started at a very young age. My favorite family vacations consisted of camping, fishing and looking forward to any outdoor adventure. I remember the first time my grandfather took me fishing when I was seven-years-old. I caught seven fish (way more than my limit) but Grandpa wasn’t counting, and I was hooked. Being a “do-it-myself” kind of girl, I not only had to cook the fish, but also insisted on the dirty work of gutting and cleaning. Even though I lost interest by the second fish, some of my fondest memories are fishing with my grandfather.
Fishing and mushroom picking were the extent of my family’s dinner harvesting and I grew up thinking steak came from aisle 12 at the supermarket. We were carnivorous non-hunters that enjoyed the outdoors. I was always interested in nutrition and once I realized the real world wasn’t high school sports and boys, I set my sights on the health care industry. Anatomy, health and nutrition became my favorite subjects, and I enjoyed learning about enzymes, clavicles and glomerular filtration rates. As I began looking closer at the facts of nutrition and investigating the foods we put in our body, I learned a harsh reality. With the help of movies like “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.,” and the plethora of books blowing the lid off the money-saving tactics of the agricultural businesses, I quickly realized the lack of nutrients I was getting from the antibiotic-pumped, farm-plumped protein I was consuming.
Armed with this new outlook, not so surprisingly, I became vegan. I know, I know, the dreaded vegan. In my defense, I was a college student and could not afford the organic meat prices at the supermarket. Strict veganism only lasted four months; I quickly realized the lack of animal protein left me unhealthy and fatigued. I slowly reintroduced high-protein into my diet and my body thanked me.
When I met my husband my world was forever changed. He taught me wild game is the cleanest, tastiest meat I have ever eaten. I was depressed it had taken me so long to figure out that I, too, could go into the woods and provide for myself. My husband was so supportive in my need to learn the ways of hunting. He was patient when I questioned him, respectful when I made a mistake, and a shoulder to lean on during the highs and lows of the pursuit. Now my favorite family vacation is elk camp. My husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law and I are die-hard archery elk hunters. We push ourselves to the max, put miles on our boots and talk elk all September. I have been fortunate to harvest a beautiful Roosevelt screaming in my face and a Rocky Mountain raking a tree. The meat from our harvests supplies family and friends for an entire year. I am reminded, each time I sit down for dinner, of the story behind the animal that laid down his life for mine. I am humbled to be a conservationist, hunter, wife and friend. I take responsibility for killing, cleaning and processing the animal myself. I am intimately connected to Mother Nature and my ancestors, and am eager to pass on the hunting heritage and to entrust other meat eaters with assuming responsibility for the meat they eat.
One of my favorite quotes is,
“The world is not only watching, it is listening too…… Other beings….. do not mind being killed and eaten as food, but the expect us to say please, and thank you, and they hate to see themselves wasted.”
The Practice of the Wild