Forest to Plate: A Hunter's Daughter's View on Deer Hunting

November 06, 2013

Written By: Jackie Cullen

I first sat down to write this post as one blog entry. I quickly realized, though, that this topic has many layers, and focusing on each in shorter entries will be better. Daughter and wife of hunters, lover of venison, I want to share the ways hunting connects people firsthand the effects of climate change, and teaches a deeper appreciation for meat and food. We’ll also explore the stereotypes and stigmas to hunting I’ve experienced, and look at its history and culture as well. Hopefully by the end, readers have a better understanding of what it means to hunt for, and eat, your own meat in New England.

I grew up on the western side of New Hampshire in Spofford. It’s the same town my dad grew up in, and where he found his love of hunting. It started for him when he was around fifteen, and he hunted the same woods he does today by our house, having grown up just down the road. When I was younger, a friend of a friend owned a cabin way up in the Moosehead Lake, Maine area, and they would go up there on an extended trip each year.

At an early age, to me, hunting season meant that dad would go way for two weeks and come back with a full beard, and usually a dead animal or maybe three if the others got one too. When I was in high school, my parents found a spot on Aziscohos Lake, where we built a log cabin. This spot was strategically picked by the hunter of the family to be near the border of both New Hampshire and Maine; allowing them to get a deer permit in both states, often a good strategy.

We butcher the deer ourselves at the house. It’s always been my job to help package and label the meat. Labeling in this case means who got it, what year, and what state; no FDA warnings required. As I am getting older, though, I plan to begin learning more about what cuts come from which part of the deer, and more about the process.

In case you haven’t realized it already, hunting is a huge part of who our family is. My husband’s interest to take up hunting while we were dating was a happy moment for me, knowing he fit in well with my family and would hopefully be keeping me supplied with venison for the rest of my life, was an added bonus to our relationship. In a later post, I’ll delve deeper into the family events and traditions around hunting, from celebrating a kill to eating it for dinner.

Through the next few posts, keep an open mind if you are against hunting or eating meat. The venison I grew up on came from an animal that lived a free and healthy life, and is the most local and organic meat you can get.

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