The government reports that the number of hunters in this country is up 9 percent since 2006—but a lot of those new hunters may not be who you expect. Forget rednecks swilling Lone Star; the new hunters are bicycle-riding, microbrew-drinking locavore hipsters.
If you think about it, it's actually natural evolution for the eco-conscious foodie (at least, the ones who eat meat) to come to hunting: the more they learn about factory farmed meat, the more dedicated they become to eating only "happy" meat—and what animals could be happier than those living out their lives in their wild, natural habitats?
In 2011, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged to eat only meat he had personally killed for a year. And certainly such a pledge is a more ethical alternative to conventional meat.
Killing and eating or using every part of an animal that has lived out its life in conditions that pretty closely ressemble the way the species has lived for a thousand years is certainly a more ethical choice than eating only the choicest cuts from an animal raised in inhumane confinement and slaughtered by an underpaid slaughterhouse employee. It's also a more environmentally friendly choice, as concentrated animal feeding operations pollute the water and soil on an almost unimaginable scale.
In addition, managed properly, hunting can be good for the wildlife population. Because of conservation efforts, populations of deer, geese, elk, and other species have rebounded admirably, especially on the east coast. But these growing populations are starting to have more and more negative interactions with the human population, and their natural preditors have not fared nearly as well. Monitoring and managing the population through hunting is a natural way to ease some of the tensions.
Really, the only things standing between many young would-be hunters and their first hunting license is the misperception that all hunters are rural, conservative stereotypes—and a heavy dose of liberal guilt. As writer Emma Marris says in her piece for Slate magazine, "hunting is not a red state thing. It is a red meat thing."
image by Furryscaly