Fall is in the air—wood stoves are emitting the scent of burning wood, wood chopping rings in our ears along with the sound of weapons being discharged.
Fall is the time many men (only 11% of hunters are women) anticipate and plan for all year long because hunting seasons begin. Orange vests, camo pants, khaki canvas jackets and men with guns populate the hills.
Popular hiking areas can also be permissible hunting zones so hikers need to be aware of this and dress appropriately. For example, wear bright clothing and make sure your pet is wearing a bright vest or at least a brightly-colored bandana. Pet vests in neon orange with reflective tape are available at pet stores or online.
Hunters born after January 1, 1960 are required to complete a hunter education class prior to purchasing a Nevada hunting license. The courses include a home-study component, which must be completed prior to attending the class.
A Today’s Hunter workbook and student manual (reference for completing the workbook) can be obtained free from any Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDoW) office.
Students may also take an online course for about $25 (in place of the workbook). Check the ndow.org website for links to the certified online courses or to register for the hunter education classes offered from NDoW. Students must bring completed workbooks or the Nevada Online Course Completion Confirmation to the class to gain admission.
Hunter education classes are offered year-round throughout Nevada and are a minimum of 8 hours, with two or more hours spent outside, so dress accordingly and bring a lunch.
While hunting is not for everyone, it is a way to put free-range, organic and lean meat on the table at home. Although 89% of all hunters are male, women are getting more involved in the hunting process than they were just a few years ago.
One such woman, Lily Raff McCaulou, formerly pursuing an indie film production career in New York, who, upon moving to central Oregon to take a journalism job, found herself interacting and interviewing hunters. She became interested in hunting herself, eventually becoming a hunter and ultimately writing a book, Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner.
She says, “I was pretty detached from what I ate before…. Since I’ve started hunting, I’ve changed my relationship with the meat that I eat, and I eat a lot less meat that I did before. Hunting’s a way to reclaim some closeness to the food chain.”
A classically trained New York chef and author of the book, Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time, Georgia Pellegrini, says, “Hunting made me realize that a lot has to happen before that piece of meat gets to your plate. As a chef, I wanted to participate in that process because it makes the experience more meaningful. You think about the ingredients differently, you think about the experience of eating it differently, and you have more control over how the animal was treated.”
A United Nations report, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization in November 2006, analyzed “the full impact of the livestock sector on environmental problems…”.
The report stated that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses…”.
Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, works to expose and stop cruel practices of the “food animal” industry and educates the public to the realities of factory farming.
Some of the practices Farm Sanctuary seeks to expose: Turkeys and chickens are de-beaked without anesthesia to fit the factory farming system, turkeys are shackled by their feet and hung upside down for slaughter while still alive, foie gras ducks are violently handled and force-fed massive quantities of food daily, chickens are packed tightly together on warehouse floors and the list goes on and on.
I do eat the occasional hamburger and splurge on a steak perhaps twice a year. I try not to think about it, but I know that juicy cheeseburger was once part of a living animal that perhaps was not treated humanely throughout its life.
I will never be a pioneering woman, out in the forest shooting animals with my gun or bow—but I recognize that perhaps hunting is a way to stock freezers with fresh meat taken from animals that at least had a chance to live “the good life” for a time.
Hikers, be aware as you are out enjoying nature, there might be hunters sharing the woods with you as they stalk wild game. Stay safe and be respectful of one another—even if the two worlds don’t agree, they do sometimes collide.