Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

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Kaida
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Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230119 Kaida
Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:11 am

I eat meat, and I also have three dogs who eat a prey-model raw meat diet. Intellectually I came to the conclusion (easily and ages ago) that the most humane way to go about being an omnivore is either buying top quality free-range etc meat, which I do for myself though I can't afford to buy free range for the dogs' meat, and even buying it for myself is an expense we could do without (so I just don't eat much meat), or to hunt/raise my own. I also like game, and the low-fat aspect is useful as I have difficulty digesting much fat. So, all the signs are saying to either learn to hunt or raise my own meat, especially as our family is growing and we'll be adding another dog or two over the next 5 years.

But ... I'm not sure I can do it. Actually look at an animal in the eye and then end its life. I know all the reasons it is best for both the animal and myself/family, but that emotional step into the unknown is hard to imagine. Does anyone have any advice on how they got comfortable with the reality, not just the idea?

Also, I wouldn't be able to use a shot-gun, as the plan would be to take the choicest bits of each kill for human consumption, and then feed the rest to the dogs, and I'm not sitting for hours picking shot out of the carcass or worrying that I've missed a bit and the dogs are going to consume it. My FIL shoots, and I occasionally buy pheasant from the market, so the dogs sometimes get the pheasant legs etc but I do spend ages checking for shot and it's too time-consuming to do for a fulltime diet. But my DH says using a(n air)rifle would be too difficult. Can one shoot rabbits, woodpigeon, pheasant, etc with anything other than a shotgun? Would I be better perhaps lamping with a whippet/lurcher? (any excuse for another dog! but vets bills could easily wipe out any savings on meat, so perhaps not ideal)

Sorry to come across as a complete numpty, but I really am in unknown waters with all of this.

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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230124 gregorach
Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:51 am

Sure, you can take small game with a suitable airgun, but you'll need a lot of practice first. I don't shoot myself, but I know a few folks who do, and the recommendation I've always heard from them is that you shouldn't be trying to take anything small beyond the range at which you can hit a matchbox at least 99 times out of 100 - you want to be absolutely sure of a clean kill. And fowling would be extremely difficult and marginal with anything other than a shotgun... As for hunting with dogs, read this and see if any of the conditions apply.

Can't help you on the psychological side. I've mercy-killed before, and I certainly wasn't comfortable with it, but you gotta do what you gotta do...

As for picking out shot, as long as it's not lead it shouldn't be that big a deal for the dogs, I wouldn't have thought... And lead shot is being increasingly restricted anyway.

Probably the best advice would be to get to know some local shooters or gamekeepers and talk to them about it.
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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230129 Mabu
Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:23 am

If you don't like the idea of hunting then don't bother I say. Bagging a few rabbits and pigeons here and there is never going to be a substantial contribution to the household, and thus will never justify any emotional challenge. What I would recommend is meat rabbits. You can get the most lean meat per acre, they're fairly cheap and they breed like.... well... rabbits! My problem with it is that the meat is too lean to live off, but if that is the sort of thing you want then all the better. There is still the whole killing them thing, you can probably outsource the task. I tend to feel better about killing an animal I know has had a good life in a humane way, than say zapping animals on a production line that I know have been treating as little more than meat scaffolding their whole lives.

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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230135 greenorelse
Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:34 am

Even as someone who doesn't consume animal products, I think Mabu has a fairly good answer there.

You could also try a few ducks. A bonus is they will help clear slugs, which will aid in your growing of veggies as well as provide meat and eggs if you want to go down that route.
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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230166 hedgewizard
Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:29 pm

There's no single answer that will work for everyone here as circumstances and attitudes vary so much, but congrats on your core conclusion: eat better meat, and less of it. Let me also add 'waste NOTHING'!

* I echo Mabu's point that hunted meat will never be a substantial addition to the household diet, but it can provide one element of it. The Family Hedge has had six family-sized meals of mackerel (fished from the beach) in the last year, four from shot pheasant, and four from shot rabbits.
* Foraging: learn to find and cook roadkill safely. Another two meals of pheasant, and about twelve from a fresh deer my OH found (a chest freezer is a must). We've also had lots of protein from wild mushrooms as last year was particularly good for them.
* Raising meat like rabbits and chickens can also help, but isn't really a cheap option. We've had six meals from our chickens, which have also given us many many free eggs (I say free as we sell the surplus, which pays for their feed).
* Bought meat is still important, and by far the best way to buy it is in bulk from local producers. We've had beef and pork boxes from a local farm, and half a sheep from a neighbour (which came jointed).

As for killing an animal for food, it's never going to be pleasant but you can learn to do it properly (nothing is worse than not getting a clean kill). If you can get someone experienced to show you, you'll find it much easier and with experience you become more matter-of-fact about it.

One question though, which is why more dogs? They have a significant carbon footprint. Not challenging your right to have them, you understand.
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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230230 wildbee
Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:39 pm

You do need lots of target practice and also permission to shoot on someone else's land if you don't have your own.

I don't know if you would be able to shoot enough to feed a whole family entirely on your own efforts, perhaps some other people have experience with this. Do you have a game dealer locally? They might sell fresh animals that you can skin/pluck yourself much cheaper than prepared ones. I've been given pigeons for 50p, pheasant £1.50 and rabbits £2, I'm not good at stalking so this works out better for me than to try and shoot them myself (I've been more successful finding roadkill in fact).

Having an emotional response to killing and eating an animal is very human and shouldn't be a reason not to do it. It is an honest relationship with your food and you will be eating an animal that has lead a free life in so much better conditions than most. It is sad, knowing that the animal died quickly and without suffering helps you deal with that.

Another thing to consider is game seasons, for a large portion of the year you won't be able to shoot anything but pest species, or maybe farmed animals. They would be muntjac, rabbits, pigeons and squirrels.

Best of luck

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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230235 Big Al
Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:50 pm

If you are squeamish about killing your food then either buy from T***o or don't eat it. Having said that if you are hungry and or poor and want to eat meat / game then learn to kill cleanly and humanly.
You can console yourself in the fact that "it had a good [ if short] life" if it's easier but if all people had to kill their own meat then the country would be veggie overnight.

Shooting is not always a clean kill and as you go down to the likes of an air rifle the prospect of clean kills are greatly reduced. Having hunted with dogs in the past I wouldn't recomend it as it certainlt is not a clean kill and there is very little useable meat left anyway. Indeed is it not against the law now to hunt with dogs alla fox hunting et al?

Also it is illeagal to hunt with crossbows and also archery equipment such as long bows, compound and reflex bows. Ferreting is a good way to catch rabbits etc and a quick bend back of the neck and the rabbit has gone. Mind you the opposite end to ferreting is that the bunnies are sat there all nice and peacefull in their tidy little burrows and along comes this ferret intent on eating them. They scarper asap and then when freedom is near they end up in a net with their necks broken. Their lives ended abruptly either by ferret or neck snapping.

keeping rabbits for yourself will be a good way to go as long as they are not caged near to dogs that eat raw meat. A doe will easilly provide over 10 times her body weight in meat over a year so a good starter set up is 2 does and one buck but then you can expand on this as your pups are born. If you go for new zealand whites or large english whites then they will easilly feed a family a great deal of meat over the year. This link http://www.bselfsufficient.co.uk/Rabbits1.htm is a piece I wrote on my site about keeping rabbits for food.
I was a committed veggie and a practising buddhist then started eating meat so you can imagine the turmoil I endured and still do to this day but life isn't easy and if you have no money and both you and your wife had nothing to eat for four days and someone gives you a rabbit stew out of good will you too would eat it and then try and answer the questions that arose.

No easy answers but this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58fycdE71uo shows extreme ferreting including a kill at 3 min 40. If you watch the link and it worries you then killing your own food is not to be embarked on.
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jy79420
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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #230853 jy79420
Thu May 05, 2011 8:56 pm

Hi Kaida, I'm another raw feeder from Portsmouth. I am trying to find some unwanted meat for my dog because the butcher i usually go to order ox heart is not very nice. Anyway nice to meet some raw feeders here. I really find it difficult to explain to people what i feed my dog sometimes...and the raw feeding list in yahoo is not very applicable to uk (for its food sourcing help)....

Kaida
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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #231689 Kaida
Wed May 11, 2011 9:40 pm

So a consensus is that meat rabbits might be a good idea? Thank you Big Al, for the link on rabbit keeping and the one on ferretting. No, seeing the kill doesn't worry me, actually their distress in the net bothers me more than the kill itself. As I said, intellectually I can cope fine with the idea, it's just whether in the moment itself I can push through the emotional reaction, if that makes sense? By the way, the raw-meat-eating dogs are not a threat to live animals (well, the cavalier is convinced my gerbils are just being kept to fatten up for his Christmas dinner, but other than that, no), they know what's theirs and what isn't, and also don't associate the living animal with the meat given to them, so a rabbit enclosure wouldn't need to be any more secure from raw-fed dogs than any other dogs. A common misconception, though, I bet jy79420 has come across the same idea?

I think the reason I alighted on hunting rather than keeping meat animals as an idea was because I have no chance to bond with a wild animal, and obviously the commitment to an animal one is keeping is much greater in terms of time, energy and so on. I'd have to keep enough of any one type of animal (preferrably all looking the same!) so I didn't bond with individuals. Certainly something to think about for the future though.

Wildbee, I'll have a look at local game dealers, you're right that they may sell me un-processed meat, and I have no problem skinning, gutting etc.

jy79420 wrote:Hi Kaida, I'm another raw feeder from Portsmouth. I am trying to find some unwanted meat for my dog because the butcher i usually go to order ox heart is not very nice. Anyway nice to meet some raw feeders here. I really find it difficult to explain to people what i feed my dog sometimes...and the raw feeding list in yahoo is not very applicable to uk (for its food sourcing help)....


It is increasingly common as a way of feeding dogs, I reckon, especially within the dog sport communities. I found a local chicken and game processing plant (literally 3 minutes away) that said I could have chicken backs for free, afterall it's just waste to them to be binned, and they were happy enough to put a box aside for me every couple of weeks, but the man I talked to on the phone (presumably the boss) who was happy for me to have the chicken backs wasn't the guy I had to deal with on site, and the on-site guy was a grumpy whatsit. He also charged me for some pheasant backs, which turned out to be so off that the dogs wouldn't touch them! I haven't been back since, unfortunately. A lot of places seem to cotton on quickly that this might be a money-maker and what used to be free all of a sudden gets charged for - my butcher pulled the same with bags of scraps, and they wound up more expensive than my current dog food supplier so I didn't bother again. It's so hard to contact places out of the blue and explain why I want meat they consider waste! Have you had any luck? I might try writing letters, I get flustered so easily on the phone.

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Re: Emotional side of hunting, and some practical questions

Post: #232000 jy79420
Sun May 15, 2011 12:31 pm

Kaida, I know it is not a competition of frustration, but i m sure i will be the winner if it is. I think I have to wrok harder on building up a mutually-beneficial relationship with my butcher. I originally came from Hong Kong, and settled here (long story). If you know what i mean , when I go into the butchers and ask for a list of things : ox heart, pork heart,lambs heart , ox tongue, chicken organs, trotters ...(all the cheap cuts). The look on their face makes me thinks.....I cant describe it. I have to causally explain to them that its for my dog and i feed raw and i m sane. Now I only buy Ox heart (£2.5 for one, massive, football size) and ox tongue (£3, As big as a man's lower arm - from elbow to wrist) from the butchers - for other parts, Morrisons helped me out. (sorry I know this is not at all self-sufficient, I apologise). They sell things that normal supermarket dont sell : Lambs heart, Pig kidneys, liver, ox kidney, ox heart, chicken liver. And a couple of weeks ago I bought a load of Pork shoulder (boneless) from them £2 /kg (normally £4.45). As a whole I get most of my muscle meat from butcher, organs from Morrisons.

I am pretty shy so it would kill me to walk into a meat processing place to ask for anything.


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