Since the beginning of time, many families have provided at least some of the meat for their families by hunting for wild game. Now that supermarkets make everything so convenient, it has become somewhat of a lost art, and hunting has in large part resorted to more of a trophy sport than actually providing meat for one’s family. That doesn’t mean that the value of it has diminished.
I did not grow up in a family that actively hunted. My husband did. Our wedding day will forever live in infamy because we got married on the opening day of shotgun season – a major taboo in a hunting family! Boy, did I have a lot to learn! Now that I’ve learned about this way of life, I wouldn’t want it any other way!
Here are the Top 5 Reasons I think children should learn how to hunt:
In the State of Indiana, where we live, anyone born after 1986 must take a Hunter Education Safety Course in order to get their hunting license. As a homeschooler, I love the educational aspect! As a mom, it makes me feel much better that they are well-prepared to handle all that hunting entails. There is an endless list of things they can learn – safety, hunting and tracking methods, facts about the animals they hunt, and so much more!
2. Time in Nature
Not enough can be said about the benefits of spending time out in nature. When hunting, you must be still and quiet if you hope to see your prey before it sees you. During that time, they can really soak in the beauty of all that surrounds them – the plants and trees, wildlife, sights and smells. It gives them an opportunity to disconnect from technology and busyness for a few hours and just simply – be.
3. Skill Development
No matter what they are hunting or trapping, from fish or birds, to rabbits or deer, they must develop certain skill sets in order to do so. They must study their prey and understand their habits as well as how to best attract them (and how they can do so legally!) They must practice their methods – whether they are fishing, laying traps, or shooting with a bow or a gun – they have to learn how to effectively use their weapon and hit their target to accomplish their task safely and humanely. I love that my husband has taught each of our children to safely use a bow and arrow as well as various shotguns and rifles. They have developed serious skills and know that it takes a lot of practice to master those skills!
There is something about hunters sitting around a campfire, or enjoying a steaming bowl of venison stew that brings a sense of belonging. As they swap stories about “the one that got away” or how they learned why they must carry some toilet paper in the backpack, there is a deep level of friendship and mentoring that develops. Even if not everyone was able to bring in a harvest on the same day, they are usually excited for those that do.
5. Knowing Where Your Food Comes From
While we stress this with the animals we raise, there is something unique about hunting for your food that brings the circle of life and death to greater understanding. The Lord created animals for our pleasure, and after the flood, told us to use them for our food as well. When you understand the sacrifice that was made for you to have that steak, you tend to appreciate it just a little bit more, and don’t take it for granted.
Our children have all had to learn how to process the animals we harvest. I’ll admit, it’s not a pleasant job, and there are definitely times where we outsource that job when we can. However, when it comes to our deer especially, we are very particular as to how we like it. We don’t want to waste any more than necessary, and the best way to ensure that is to do the job ourselves.
Hunting is more than just a hobby, or a way to provide food for your table. It is a way of life. There is so much you can learn when participating, and so much that can be enjoyed. It is also a big responsibility, and one that should not be taken lightly. You have to do things legally and ethically. For us, that means we do not kill an animal that has not yet matured, or a mother with babies by her side. We are mindful of the animals’ habitat. We also know that it is necessary to harvest enough animals to control the population to reduce damage caused by overpopulation to crops as well as auto accidents, but not so many that the population gets dangerously low.
And let’s be honest – we LOVE having the fresh meat! Our entire family absolutely loves fresh venison, but also enjoy making summer sausage and jerky with it. It’s a lean and healthy protein that tastes great! Plus, everything takes greater when you’ve harvested it yourself.
I’d love to hear from you – does your family hunt for food?