About The Author


Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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August 30, 2007

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Game Dinners For Non-Hunters

My first real attempt at serving game to non- and anti-hunters was in February 2005. I had some duck breasts from an Oregon hunt the previous December and decided to share them with about a dozen friends, mostly from Manhattan.
      A few weeks beforehand, I invited one of my old friends from back home to come as well. I hadn’t hunted growing up, so the idea of me in the field was still new to this person. It wasn’t enough for them to email back to say they couldn’t make dinner. They had to officially declare that I was now a stranger to them, that I was no longer the kind, Fly Away Home-watching animal lover they’d known in high school, and that I should just go to the grocery store and buy my dinners like everyone else.
      So, feeling a little—okay, a lot—hurt from that email, I took stock. I’m a good person: I recycle, sponsor two children in Bolivia, and visit my grandfather every chance I get. I’m an animal-lover: I include my cats’ names on my answering machine greeting and give Christmas presents to my cousin’s retriever. I’m also a meat-eater, which means I understand that for the chicken sandwich I ate at lunch, something had to be killed. And I’m a hunter, which means that I’m willing to step up and do the killing myself. 
      If all anti-hunters were vegetarians, I wouldn’t be confused. But there’s such a thing as a meat-eating anti-hunter. And I’ve coma across a lot of them--including my friend to whom I’ve become a heartless stranger. What is it about hunting that gets meat-eaters so upset? The combination of an anti-hunting viewpoint an omnivorous diet in the same person seems to require of certain element of self-delusion. And my friend is an example of the kind of walking contradiction that sees nothing ironic about voicing their objections to hunting over a turkey dinner. Where do they think that drumstick came from? Why is going to the grocery store to get the meat of a butchered animal fine, while going into the field to get the meat yourself is despicable?
      Before I started hunting, a slice of turkey made its way into my sandwich in some vague, guilt-free way that had nothing to do with another animal. Maybe it started out in a coop or a pen of some sort. I really had no idea. Maybe its journey to me involved handlers, packagers, maybe pluckers, and truck drivers. And of course, there was the anonymous person who killed my food in the first place—who did the dirty work I’d never even stopped to think about, let alone bother with myself.
      But the night of that February duck dinner with my friends from Manhattan, I knew exactly where the lean, preservative-free mallard breast on my plate had come from. It started as a beautiful bird that I took out of the mouth of a dripping wet black Lab that had swum 15 yards into the Columbia River to retrieve it. I carried it to camp, sliced out the breasts, froze them in zip lock bags, brought them home, and finally served them to a table full of friends, who were not hunters, but were willing to try something they knew was important to me.
I had another dinner for about 15 friends last May. Although we had plenty of chicken in reserve, I was thrilled that they all opted to eat the antelope (that’s it pictured pre-dinner in my freezer). –K.H.

Freezer_4

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Comments

Sarah Rogstad

I hear that alot also. We used to have a person who would not come in our home because of the Deer Mount on the wall. We told this person we hunt for food not for trophies that just a bonus sometimes. She told us it was wrong to hunt deer. I said ok we will all stop and the deer population will grow and when you hit one with your car do not come running to us crying.

Dana

I cannot believe they were so rude! It must be such a different experience to be a hunter, living in a big city, than a hunter living in a small town or the country. I feel lucky I've rarely encountered someone who actually opposed hunting so much that they'd say something to my face. How did you reply to her?

Kimberly Hiss

Hey Dana,

If you're asking how I replied to my friend back home who wouldn't come to dinner (as opposed to Sarah's non-hunting acquaintance who I hope never hits a deer with her car!), well, I didn't do anything. I'm not sure if that was the right way to handle it or not, but I knew there was no changing her mind, so for the sake of our friendship, I left it alone. That was a few years back and we've since settled into kind of an unspoken agree-to-disagree arrangement about hunting. She has her views, I have mine, and we've gotten comfortable leaving it at that, and sticking to less-contentious discussion topics like college football or our favorite 80s sitcoms.

It's good to hear you've never encountered such opposition among your friends--it can make for a touchy situation once in a while! -K.H.

ANewMe2B

This is a very controversial subject. I have to agree that I face a lot of controversy from my friends about hunting. However, I do have like-minded friends that I can talk with and discuss hunting with. First and foremost it is important to human beings to hunt game because it controls the population which in turn controls destruction to crops, personal property, and it keeps migratory diseases at bay.

With that said, it is still hard for some people to accept hunting as a positive action. I try to tread lightly around those that are opposed to it.

I once cooked a dish made from wild game for a gathering and not thinking anything of it. When someone asked me about the dish and I mentioned it was deer meat, I horribly offended someone who was adamant about not digesting wild game. I had no clue, just as she had no clue she was eating wild game after CLEARING her plate. It was a very unpleasant scene for a few minutes-but all ended well. From that I now learn to mention to everyone in advance that I am serving a wild game dish.

I believe this debate will always raise issues... It is truly a choice one makes. Even in the face of those who throw snide remarks out... I still keep my cool and tell them I am proud of my chosen decision, but lets talk about that handbag you are carrying. :)

Rusty in Missouri

I for one am proud of your resolve. My wife and I hunted side by side for years, some thought it strange. My grandmother took many deer beside my grandfather. I now take my granddaughters as I did my daughter. Your loss of a friend was nothing, she was no friend if she were she would be open enought to accept you as you are not as she wanted you to be. Carry on great lady, many are proud of you and all that you do. I have had dinner parties as you did with mostly good results and comments, maybe I am lucky to have the friends that I do.

Laura Bell

Last year my family had a small get together. We grilled up chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, and Tenderloins from our most recent deer season. We didn't specifically mark the dish "Venison" but we did mention that was what it was. There wasn't much left after the night was through. Even with a variety of choices for supper, the venison had no fat what so ever and smelled delicious so piece by piece was taken and liked very much, they said it tasted like a t-bone steak. We were even asked if we could give them some packages to take home. Gladly!!
We also make our deer meat into Trail Bologna, it comes in big long sticks and there's hardly a person around that doesn't like it.

Jeff Olsen

Kim,

To begin with, I should mention that I grew up in western Michigan. In that area, we all hunted and fished and shared in the bounty of nature. I now live in northeast Arkansas. I have found that only the locations have changed. The attitudes toward wild game are almost always positive. The only grief I ever get about serving wild meat is in the matter in which it was cooked, spiced, etc. or jabs about my grilling prowess. I have never lived in New England. Maybe the people there have lost part of what it means to be an American. Hunting and eating wild meat is how our forefathers survived. Many of the settlers moved west in search of better opportunities to hunt, fish, and trap. If it weren't for this mentality, the only european decended Americans would be on the coasts, and the only people living in the interior of North America would be the indians.

William D Given

You go girl!