Hunting, part Four. Climate Change

November 26, 2013

Written By: Jackie Cullen

Those who are closest to the growing, or in this case hunting, of food are often the people seeing first and most the effects of climate change.

Deer eat and move to keep warm, as all animals do. Thus, if we’re having an “unusually” warm day, they will instead take a nap in the sun, since they don’t have to expend any energy, why not save it up for later that night when it does get cold.

Not only does colder weather make them move around more, but snow aids in tracking them. Prints are easily visible, spots where they’ve turned up leaves with their noses eating stick out against the white. Not to mention the hunter is quieter when leaves and sticks are blanketed with snow. Everything gets a tad easier, and if someone does get one, dragging out is a lot easier as all the sticks and rocks are smoothed over.

Hunters are affected by any major change that happens to the forest environment. My dad hunts both by the house I grew up in in Spofford, NH, and up in Maine where we have a cabin on Aziscohos Lake. Each of these has come with its own unique changes. Up in Maine, most of the land they hunt on is owned by the paper mills. While they still operated a relatively controlled system of cutting, large patches of where they hunt have been clear-cut. Sometimes, a clearing makes it easier to see, others, it decimates what used to be a great area to hunt in because the food supply is gone. Down in southern NH, warmer temperatures and wetter ground are becoming more frequent barriers.

This is an example of direct climate to food supply connection. If a family is dependent on a hunted animal or animals every year for their meat source, and every day of hunting has been 65 degrees, their food supply may be cut short that year. There is a balance to everything in the environment and messing with any of that will have an effect. Often this rather micro examples help shed light on the macro, the big picture and global problem of climate change. Growing a culture of local food, not necessarily in meat but also in vegetables, will help our society realize there is a very real correlation to environmental changes and the food supply. We might start noticing that crops are smaller and in fewer quantities the year we had a huge flood, or on the flip side, during a drought. There are conditions under which our food is meant to thrive, and those conditions are rapidly changing. Food is quickly becoming the best way to engage the masses on the issues of climate change since it’s something we all need to have.

Hopefully you have gained new perspective and knowledge about what life is like with a hunter. If you don’t already, start to pay attention to where your food comes from, even if it’s organic, is it from 3000 miles away? Not everyone has to or should start to hunt their own meat but if we all start to demand local, organically raised meat we will have a profound effect on the climate and our communities.

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