Hipsters are going hunting

They’ve already got the plaid shirts and deer antlers. Hunting is the next step.

Braxton Bruce/Getty Images

On a cool evening in November, a group of twentysomethings set out from a farmhouse near Creemore, Ont., and shot a deer. They carried the animal back to the house with a tractor and strung it up for field dressing, first making an incision to carefully remove the intestines and stomach. They then spent the weekend butchering the carcass into cuts of venison and making sausages to stock their freezers.

This was the first hunt for some in this group from Toronto—and they didn’t want others to know. No one interviewed would go public. One woman feared that associating her name with killing animals might harm her boyfriend’s vegetarian business. Another thought it could make it harder to get a job in the tech sector.

The aesthetics of hunting have been hot for some time: lumberjack shirts and hunting caps as fashion, taxidermy and deer antlers as decor. All that was missing was the hunting. Now, a growing number of people who don’t fit the typical hunter profile are turning to the activity. Killing wild animals to procure your own meat is, after all, a natural next step for locavore types who’ve been growing vegetables, keeping backyard chickens and fermenting their own kombucha.

When you hunt your own game to make Canada goose prosciutto, as Drake Larsen of Iowa did a few Wednesdays ago after work, you have the ultimate alternative to the factory-raised meats typically found in the grocery cooler. “We never buy a package of ground beef. Ever,” said Larsen, who recently finished grad school and works by day at an organization promoting sustainable agriculture.

According to the American Sportsfishing Association, the number of people interested in hunting and fishing is rising in the U.S., and a new cohort of young people, women and suburbanites is getting involved. Across the country, the stats show there are more hunters today than there were five years ago. “It’s not just the boys going hunting,” said Chris Benson, who coordinates a program for Ducks Unlimited Canada that introduces new people to hunting. “It’s women, it’s environmentalists, it’s people from large urban centres who just want hands-on outdoor experience.”

Gourmet hunters like Larsen look to cult figures such as Hank Shaw, a former line chef who hunts and writes game cookbooks such as Duck Duck Goose, with recipes for the likes of duck heart tartare. “Honest food is what I’m seeking,” writes Shaw, encapsulating the mentality of the new hunter.

Kristopher Winiarski, a graduate student from Rhode Island, was motivated to take up hunting after meeting other young hunters and being exposed to Michael Pollan’s industrial-food-system exposé, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. “Prior to that, I was oblivious to where my meat was coming from.” Now he owns a gun, hunts regularly for wild fowl, has a bird dog as a pet (to help him hunt) and transforms what he catches into dishes such as goose kielbasa and sausage with fresh garlic, herbs and wine. Nowhere are the powdered spice concoctions that often flavour conventional meats. And he always makes sure to hang his game to let the microbes tenderize the meat, just as Julia Child suggested.

But learning to cook wild meats is a skill, particularly because game has less fat and is therefore less forgiving. “The first duck I ever shot I overcooked and it was terrible,” he said. Also, the hunting part is a big investment—you must enrol in the government-required course, get a licence, buy a gun, warm clothes, maybe some decoys and hip-waders. If you want to prepare the meat yourself rather than take it to a meat locker for processing, as is typical with conventional hunters, you’re looking at more gear. Larsen in Iowa has kitted out his garage with a gambrel to hang an animal for dressing, as well as a salvaged kitchen counter for processing.

And it’s time-consuming. The woman who helped butcher the deer that weekend in Creemore spent hours outside, removing the silver skin and fat from the carcass. She hopes all the work will be worth it. They weren’t able to hang the deer and let it age and develop flavour. “We didn’t have tons of time, because we had to get back to work,” she said.




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Hipsters are going hunting

  1. Luddite fashion news. A romantic longing for what is thought to be a simpler past.

    All part of Future Shock.

    • Welcome, 1970!!! Toffler must be glad someone still uses the term…

  2. There’s nothing wrong with hunting and eating fresh game meat. If you eat meat, you can’t criticize people who hunt for food…. Good on this new group of hunters!

    • Agreed. In fact fresh game comes without Monsanto, chemicals and growth hormones. Its actually much healthier food.

    • Honestly, the meat from a store, lived and died a far worse life (caged) and death (electrocution, bullet, etc) than a wild animal in the woods with a family and living natural, dying suddenly to a bullet or arrow.

  3. Not too thrilled about having hippy hunters running around the woods chasing the same animals people like me that have a family tradition of hunting are chasing just because the paleodiet is trending.

    • So you would rather the skill of hunting die out with yourself. Grow up its time more a new generation.

      • Missed the “Family Tradition” part of my above post i guess. When we hunt its typically three generations in the woods at the same time.

        • So your family hunts, but no one else interested in the activity should be allowed to do so?

          What an asinine point of view.

          • Reading comprehension is not one of your strong points i guess. Thats ok! let me reformulate my original statement so that it is a little more clear.

            If you are in the woods chasing animals because because that’s what the cool kids are doing and you want to be a cool kid too! then hunting is not the sport for you.

          • You’re very ignorant Kamikaze. Seems to be all “me, me, me” with you huh.

    • MrKamikaze, we all had to learn at some time. These new people are doing it for the right reasons and just weren’t lucky enough to have someone teach them like you and I did. In time they’ll be as seasoned as the rest of us. We should embrace all those who recognize the benefits of hunting rather than further segregating ourselves. United we will have a future of hunting, divided we all lose.

      • Absolutely agree. (and I don’t hunt. Just shoot paper with handguns.)

      • If you are wondering why people who have grown up with a tradition of hunting get nervous when hipsters suddenly decide to take hunting up, maybe this will satisfy your curiosity.

        The first question that pops into my mind is, “will they get educated before going out to hunt”. Not only on gun use and gun safety, but also on animal anatomy and tracking an injured animal instead of leaving it to die and rot. As someone who has hunted my entire life, it is extremely offensive to me when another hunter injures an animal without making an attempt to track it and harvest it.

        The issue I take with people who suddenly decide they want to “become hunters” is that they don’t have a decade of learning hunting skills and shooting before they are ever eligible to purchase their first tag. When you grow up in a hunting family you already know all of these skills before you pull the trigger on an animal for the first time.

        As a native Montanan I’ve met too many people who move here from a state where there is no hunting, but think they “know it all” because they own a massive gun collection. Not all of the time, but enough of the time these “gun owners” can’t even shoot and they spend more time talking about their guns than they do improving their skills with them. Their next step is usually to go hunting and attempt to kill an animal at all costs with no foresight or regard to other’s safety. The result is too often an inexperienced hunter who puts other’s safety in jeopardy by doing things like firing when they don’t have a clear shot, firing when it is too dark outside, firing when they can’t see where their bullet will travel, firing in areas with homes, firing at anything that moves even if they haven’t identified what it actually is they are shooting at, injuring animals by not shooting them in the proper area, not tracking injured animals either from laziness or inexperience, and shooting the wrong animal all-together.

        I’ve found rotting animals when hunting. I’ve seen “hunters” shooting animals with rifles during Archery season. I’ve seen hunters shoot from their vehicle. I’ve been shot at because the shooter didn’t identify what they were shooting at. My friend even found bullet in his shower once because someone had fired their gun towards his home during hunting season (probably from the road while inside their vehicle). Had he been taking a shower at that time he probably would have been hit.

        These are just a few of the reasons that experienced hunters take issue with those who suddenly decide they want to go shoot an animal. It is the fact that many of them DO NOT bother to educate themselves.

        • My main “Hunting” issues, are the guys who go to a game farm and shoot what is in effect, a tame animal which is fenced in, and fed each night by humans.

          Why not just go to Farmer bills and shoot a cow.

          Or the bear – baiters…….don’t much care for them either, though I do understand, this is often the only way to spot one in the woods given how skittish they are.

        • Since every state (as far as I know) requires hunter safety classes of some sort prior to being issued a hunting license, then yes. Ethics are another issue entirely, and from what I’ve seen, how long you’ve been hunting doesn’t have any impact on how ethical you are.

          Anyhow, congrats on being smarter than the new kids; maybe you should offer to better educate new hunters instead of complaining about them on the internet.

          • I will educate my children, and even my friends who are new to hunting. However, those people who decide to take part in it because they think it is “cool” or “trendy” are not my responsibility.

            FYI, you’re wrong about every state requiring classes. Most states require classes for youth under the age of 18, but not adults.

          • First off, the article is pretty clearly a case of faux trend-spotting, if you remove the word “hipster” and call them “non-traditional hunters”, I doubt you’re going to have such an immediate irritation with the idea of “them” being in your woods. The article tries to invoke images of Portlandia extras, and American Apparel employees, but that just isn’t who this article is actually talking about.

            It’s absurd to me that you wouldn’t be required to take even a basic hunter safety class to be permitted to hunt public land. In Florida its pretty much a full day class on regulations, safety, tips, etc and then ends at the range. Georgia, and Alabama both have similar classes. And (I only know this because I just looked it up) in Montana if you were born after 1985, passing a hunter safety course is required before a permit is issued.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Right on.

        • Keith, shame on you. Much like the commenter “Choppy” types below, I’m also a first generation hunter. I only have 3 years under my belt but am fortunate to have my future father in law to learn from on his private land. As much as I’d love to spend the next half hour typing, in my own words, the flaws in your perspective and how its actually damaging to preserving the tradition of hunting, I plead that you read and then reread what “Choppy” replied with to your OP.
          His perspective is what I and most all new hunters think about when you make s statement such as you have on this page.

    • Been hunting for 53 years and seeing less people participating every year so i like to hear that new and younger ones taking it up. We all had to start somewhere. Hopefully they joined a hunting organization or found someone to teach them the ropes. It is likely that many of them will not harvest anything and their greatest success will be with deer and who gives a crap about deer, there are too many of them. If you don’t want to share the woods with them, do what i do .. hunt out of season and in the parks!

    • So, because my family didn’t hunt, I’m not allowed in your woods, and I can’t hunt your animals because your family was there first or has been doing it longer? This shitty attitude is a huge problem in the hunting community, it’s one thing to keep a prized location to yourself, it’s another to keep the sport to yourself because you don’t like “other” people getting involved. I’m not a “hipster” but I didn’t get into hunting until my 30s, should I miss out, should my kids miss out, should I just say “ok, fine, I’ll go home” because YOU don’t want me out there?

      With more people comes an influx of funding that goes towards conservation efforts. Maybe hunting can shake the redneck image that has tarnished it for so long.

      • Read my other posts i made my position clear; stop emoting like a child! I am not sure what “Redneck” image you are referring i like others that i hunt with are consummate conservationists.

  4. Of course not eating animals is environmentally and ethically better than eating animals. But for those who aren’t willing to go all the way eating animals that live wild probably have more enjoyable lives (up until the moment they are killed for human convenience) and usually use less resources than farmed animals.

    Although of course, this isn’t feasible on a real scale. The earth’s population didn’t get to where it is today by hunting, it got there (in part) by figuring how to cultivate meat without the uncertainty ot true hunting.

    • I agree that hunted foods cannot provide for the needs of the entire human population. However, I would argue that hunted game is environmentally and ethically preferable to even a plant-based farmed diet, considering the far greater damage resulting from agriculture. With hunting, the animal taken is immediately replaced by another that would otherwise have perished for lack of resources, except for the removal of the first. Hunting results in minimal damage to animal populations and habitat, allowing for the preservation of healthy ecosystems, indefinitely. Agriculture, on the other hand, destroys every individual, of every major species, on the landscape, resulting in ecological wastelands from which all wildlife is intentionally excluded. To compound the problem, the millions of tons of chemicals dumped into the air, water and soil, and billions of gallons of water diverted from sensitive aquatic ecosystems only spreads the damage well beyond the area immediately effected. With agriculture as the greatest cause of extinction, world-wide, and greatest source of green house gas emission, we must not underestimate the damage that results. So, while hunting cannot provide for all, we would be wise to utilize it to the greatest sustainable extent and so minimize the greater harm done by agriculture. Perhaps the misconception about hunting’s risks lies with the inability of some people to distinguish between its actual effects and the far greater consequences of farm-raised meats.

    • Are you a vegan GFMD?

    • #1 Not eating animals is in way “environmentally better”. Commercial farming is highly damaging to the environment and no agriculture is grown without an environmental price. # 2 Ethics in this case are a personal choice. There are no “ethically” bad reasons for eating an animal you killed yourself.

      • if that were true, I could strangle a beloved family puppy in front of the child who loves it and you would feel nothing. You need to learn the difference between ethics and “the things BJH tells himself to justify his behaviour”.

  5. If he’s really afraid of hurting his chances of a job in the tech industry by hunting then he should move to Austin, TX. We’re full of Democrats with guns (yes, I know it’s an oxy-moron, but it really is).

    • with 26 million people i imagine there are large numbers of everything, but the political culture certainly seems to shift a certain way.

      • GFMD….there are FAR MORE deer today than there were a few hundred years ago. Deer are browsers, but they also LOVE to go to farmers fields and chow down. There is a LOT more food today….so there are a lot more animals to eat it.

  6. I’ve hunted for years and I think this is a good thing. I think anyone who eats meat should at one point in their lives kill, skin, butcher, and consume a wild animal. It helps people appreciate the work that went into that steak on their plate. Ultimately, I hope it promotes a new culture of conscious consumers. So long as the regulatory agencies keep a close watch on population numbers and make sure there are plenty for the future, who cares who shoots them?

  7. I was listening to Animal Collective to get me in the spirit and tagged this type of moose, you’ve probably never heard of it.

  8. Us great, powerful, and all-knowing humans are wreaking havoc on what is left of the fragile ecosystems out there that our urban sprawl has not already driven into endangered status. Am ashamed to be of same species as those out there calling themselves “Sportsman”.

    • Sozzy,.. but my your bleating makes me puke in my mouth. Death and destruction are just as much a part of life as birth and creation. Set yourself up in opposition to the way things are, and all you do is guarantee yourself a life of self indulgent suffering. You can do what needs to be done, whether that be protect a wetland, campaign against factory farming, or work towards ending testing on animals, but this extra layer of hand-wringing and brow-beating is not necessary. Do away with it, and you’ll be better off for it.

    • Another comment on a person who is completely uneducated as to how licensed hunting and limits are set as well as where the majority of money and effort tward conservation comes from, hunters.
      Likely still eats meat from the grocery store and sees no problem with that either while wearing leather shoes, belt, etc.

    • Nice to see the Sierra Club Soap boxers are here to show their moral superiority.
      And to be sure you know it…he’s added “PHD” to his name.

      Ohhh…so impressed.

      Here’s another one…STFU.

  9. Awesome. It’s about time we did something about those dang deer.

    • They hate us for our freedom.

  10. I completely understand hunting where it is necessary to put food on the table, but this is a group of fashionistas thinking this is trendy… wild venison with their $5.00 latté! A hunter should have to ‘prove’ they’re doing so out of need to get a licence.

    • Well, if you want to restrict hunting only to those who can prove they NEED to do so….I guess we could apply your logic to pretty much anything else as well.
      Do you really NEED to watch TV….what about books…does anyone really NEED them…what about going out to the movies…does anyone really NEED to do that?
      what about the computer you wrote this post on…do you really NEED it?
      I would say, that simply because you WANT to hunt….is enough. As long as you consume what you eat, and not let the animal suffer……shoot away.

    • Why? We don’t “need” that turkey dinner, or that juicy beef steak….lentil soup and curds will keep us alive. We eat the diet of our chosing, because the accident of our birth placed us in the developed world…and not the slums of Kalkut! There are unlikely to be many folks in North America that “need” to harvest a game animal. So what? Why are gun owners and hunters always having to prove their “needs”, while the rest of you sit ack and satisfy your own “wants”??

  11. So what. There are a lot of deer in the prairie provinces. So much that Chronic wasting disease is taking hold. In addition people need to get close to their food sources. Maybe then we will stop the barbaric practices of feed lots and the problems that come of this.

    • Actually this year there are very few deer in many parts of the prairies – hunters, landowners, conservationists, and environmentalists all point to last years deep snow pack and harsh winter as a cause.

      This is where the ethical hunter becomes a conservationist and limits their hunt or looks to other animals for their food supply. I know of several excellent marksmen and hunters who chose to not take a shot this year in to give the population a chance to rebound. Some of them actually went to the

      Many of these hipster doofuses (as Seinfeld refers to them) do not have this same understanding of the cycles in the wild.

      • That is the governments job. They can implement a draw if necessary. They do counts every year and are on top of population levels. I am sure last winter all the deer that starved to death would have been happier getting hunted.

  12. I’ve been hunting for 50 years and have watched the hunters age and die off. It’s good to see the new blood out there in the bush. About time.

    • Amen!

    • I blame DUCK DYNASTY !!!

  13. If I can do anything to help these people please let me know, they are starting to get it right!

  14. It would only be fair if we can have a hunters season. I would happily hunt them in my mountains.

    • So you do support hunting?

      • Sarcastically he wants to hunt hunters. But I’m sure he won’t dress them and eat them.

        • Certainly not. I’m not eating that garbage.

          • Good luck.

          • So you’re objecting to eating that garbage (certain humans, i.e., hunters) but you did not proclaim you aversion to cannibalism.

          • I’m a vegetarian, a lacto, pisco one, but no mammal meat.

          • Vegetarian eh?

            Well no worries then…….every vegetarian I’ve ever met didn’t have the strength to do anything beyond picking up a carrot.

            Hunters are safe….rifles are heavy, and bows take some upper body strength to draw back far enough.

    • We all know you wouldn’t even dare peek out of your house for fear of a hunter seeing you during “Hunter Season”, let alone go out to hunt one.
      We usually run in groups anyways and I doubt you could get enough of your friends to put down the latest Starbucks blend to back you up or hold your flank.

      • LOL. You can follow my ramblings on my website:

        http://carnagepro.com/photo/EX1/

        I love my mountains and wander in them all the time. The hunters are usually far below. They don’t travel far from their vehicles.

        • Chris, as much as I believe you to be a pretentious dolt….I have to admit. You’re photo’s are awesome.
          Guess you can’t be all bad.

    • Internet toughguy. Why would it be fair for you to hunt hunters. It isn’t your deer. I say bring it. I know how to use my Browning.

      • Ah, you know who I am. In the immortal words of Jack Abrahamson:

        “I work out every f#$% day.”

        Well three days on the weights then mountain climbing on the forth. Been doing it for a long time now.

        Fair, of course. Why should you be unhunted?

        • Oooh, you workout 4 days a week? You’re a super tough guy. Super. Tough. Guy.

          I should warn you that what you call “mountains” in Georgia are but little warm hills compared to what real mountains are.

          Your supposed expertise is but a whimsical bit of child’s play to what a true hunter could do to your little camera adventures.

          Nice long hair by the way, hippie.

          https://www.facebook.com/carsoncypress

          • LOL. I’m on Vancouver Island. My usual walk these days is about 5 miles and 1500′ or so of up.

            I’ll have to put up a muscle shot for you wiennies.

          • Better watch your back and be safe. Lots of mountain lions on the island.

          • Indeed! Thanks, I’m careful, I carry the mighty ‘Cougar Swatter’ my Manfrotto tripod I used to use for my 4×5.

            You get a feel for em’ when you are out there a lot and you can often smell them. You want to make it plain you are not prey, acting tough is the best way. ;)

          • No 4 days forever, well I just took 3 weeks off, but 3 days of weights, up the hill, 3 days of weights, up the hill … you get the picture.

            Anyone can do it. It’s under 1/2 hour a day for the weights. The wandering is not timed, I do get carried away.

    • Chris,

      I”m sure the time you spend in the woods is restricted to those days you are spiking trees.

      • I am friends with both sets of logging company supervisors up my hill. Really there are few of us back in the bush, and we watch out for each other.

        I have no idea what your agenda is.

        • Better be careful….
          guys who work in the logging sector are usually meat eaters……..and lots fo them hunt.

  15. so long as they don’t start bragging about deer balls dipped in chocolate, but they probably will.

  16. This is good to see. These new hunters will gain a new appreciation for, and connection to, nature and wild country. That is a good thing.

  17. That deer mentioned in the first paragraph is going to be pretty tough. Should hang for at least a week before you cut and wrap.
    Have been eating wild meat for the last forty years – never knew I was a hipster, lol

  18. we’re losing our minds. Again, everybody thinks they are “empowered” because of the “reality” shows+social media. Meanwhile our saving grace is and will always be politics+elected representatives. Deliverance. see the movie. btdt

  19. It is great to see a national discussion on the resurgence of hunting for food. I lead a project called Eatwild.ca where we teach urban folks to hunt and gather wild food. Most of my clients are people who are reevaluating their choices around where their food comes from. They are exploring if hunting can be a viable option of an ethical source of meat for their diet.

    There are many barriers to participating in hunting, especially if you don’t grow up with hunting in your immediate community and family. The Eatwild program helps folks build the skills, confidence, and knowledge to safely and ethically harvest animals. However, the biggest barrier is gaining the social licence within our communities so their is understanding and support for our decisions to hunt for our own food. It is a big step forward to see this discussion happening across Canada.

  20. Bambi tastes great! People Eat Taste Animals. Also learn independence and real life of where food really comes from.

    Far too many in our society have no appreciation of who cleans chickens, pork, fish, beef that makes us the best fed human animals ever. Its a big part of why we live longer.

    Governments don’t feed us, they tax us. Its farmers/workers that do the harvesting jobs that benefit us.

    Anyone want a $250 union made government burger made with unknown cultures?

    Me, I prefer it the way nature meant it. Any of that venison for sale? Me, I wish FN peoples would be into venison production like the Sami do in Europe.

  21. Lets say there was a mass solar projectiles from the sun and our entire electric grid was gone for 6 to 12 months…..

    These peoples survival rates just went up huge as in congested cities without fuel, without water, without food sources are going to become lawless cannibal zones. Without guns, government and criminals will get what they want from people until supplied run out and they fight each other.

    We fail to realize we only live in peace as we are affluent enough in food sources. Take food levels down or eliminated, an like rats in a cage it degenerates to the survival of the ruthless. But if you can run to the woods and hunt, you could spare a lot of grief and live.

  22. welcome to the real world!

    Humanity is part of nature, we too are mere animals, part of the food chain.

  23. For those concerned about these “hippies with guns”…despite your fears of their ethical integrity, most of these folks are are quite in tune with nature and care very deeply about the animals they pursue. Wounding an animal and not recovering is the worst thing that could happen to them. Just like those of us that established our respect for nature through years of hunting. Sure, they will need to learn the skills just like any new hunter, but integrity is NOT an issue. From that standpoint, this is the best group of folks we could hope would join our ranks.

  24. after reading a lot of the comments i wonder who is right and who is wrong, i grew up in a hunting family we hunted for meat we hunted for mushrooms to eat we hunted for a good spot to fish for eating but that didn’t stop my cousin that should have known better than getting into a car with a loaded gun from shooting a hole in my floor board,or my brother in law from putting his deer rifle to where when it got bumped it shot a hole into another one of my cars floorboard, or me having to hide behind trees to keep another cousin from shooting in my direction while squirrel hunting,we all learn to hunt in different ways and for different reasons,a lot of the newer hunters are learning alot online,yes sirthe info is out there,harold ensley spent how many years doing tv shows on hunting and fishing ,even duck dynasty promotes hunting there is tv channels about hunting and fishing ,hopefully my greatgrandson wants to hunt so i can empart some of my knowlage upon him but with some of the knitwits that think that hunting should be banned just remember that when you walk into a store to buy that lettuse and beets to myou can say you a more green than those useing pure gasoline ake a salad that someoneback in the day hunted for a place to grow that stuff and had to deal with the wild animals that also wanted to eat it,so how many fuzzy bunnies died so you could have your vegan salad think about it how many deer were strved to protect that ear of corn that was used as feed for that fast food chicken sandwich you just ate or the ethanol to run your car on so you can say you are more green than those that use pure gasoline

  25. More people hunting should be a sign to the farmers and meat packers that we do not want feed lot animals that are given growth hormones and antibiotics to as well as a fat diet. It is cruel to the animals and unhealthy to people. It is also bad medically as the antibiotic resistant strains are developed.

  26. Good to see more people getting involved in hunting. More people hunting will result in more people interested in resource conservation, imo. For any folks getting involved in hunting for the first time, I’d recommend going out a couple of times with an experienced hunter so that you can get a good deal of practical education that’s just not going to be available through classroom instruction. Be a safe and ethical hunter and have fun.

  27. nice article, encouraging! however, age beef, not venison.

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