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78 responses to “The Lines We Draw”

  1. noëlle {simmer down!}

    I love rabbit, but have definitely felt twinges preparing it and thinking of my two cats… furry creatures, approximately the same size… it’s no fun trying to cook it while blocking out thoughts of what my cats might look like skinned. However, I’ve had no such hangup eating horse (both steak and in a salami), for example, probably because I didn’t grow up around or have any emotional attachments to any horses.

  2. shotgunner

    @Hank great thought provoking post.

    I understanding feeling a connection with an animal. An individual animal. I love my dog. I would never kill and eat him or any other canine with a collar and name tag.

    However, if I was in Malaysia and was offered anjing satay, I’d try it. I am told it is very good.

  3. Rob Knox

    I always enjoy reading your thoughtful, reasoned and personal articles on hunting and food issues. Probably in part to how near your views are to my own, but mostly for how well they articulate an opinion without tossing kerosine onto issues that have become too incendiary for anyone’s good. Cheers!

  4. Lia

    I, too, will never eat a cat particularly a mountain lion. What will be left for our children’s children if we kill and eat these poor species?

  5. Susan Covey

    Thanks for another thoughtful article on a touchy subject. As I read your article, and these comments, I was reminded of the traditional understanding many indigenous peoples have that we all have relatives in the animal world and we don’t eat them. It’s interesting, to me, that so many of us still feel this even when we haven’t been raised to not eat our ancestral relatives.

  6. Alex

    As far as where I draw the line with food, I have only three restrictions. A, I will not eat anything that is poisinous (immeadiatley anyway). B, I will not eat endagered wildlife. C, I will not eat anything that I dont like the taste of. Other than that, anything is fair game, aside from humans. So I guess that’s four restrictions. Will I eat a predator, well I eat predator fish, therefore it would be wrong to have an aversion to mammal predators. I do have a certain respect for my fellow predators, but I consume them in the knowledge that if I was easy prey, they would do the same to me.

    As far as what is happening to Commissioner Richards, this is just an extension of HSUS and it’s cohort’s beleif that no animal should be consumed period (apparently wolves are better than you and me). They will use any excuse to attack our existence as predators, and this is essentially a political power play. When people say that “he is not in line with the interests of the people of California.” I hear only that dissenting opinion should not be represented in any form, and should be crushed at any available opprtunity. This is the mark of any totaltarian group.

  7. Matt

    Just found this site this evening and it’s been linked to my favorites. This was a great article and I hope that you write here often

  8. cougmantx

    @ Tom,

    As a kid in the hill country of Texas it was not unusual for me to take a back pack, skillet and spend a few days in our valley camping. Armadillos use to be one of my favorite meals. Firm white meat and if they are young enough, very tender. I stopped some time ago although I did catch one the last time I took the kids camping and cooked it up for them. I quit when I found out they can carry leprosy.

    I refrain from killing predators if possible with the exception of Coyotes and I have no plans on eating one. I have seen many large cats from Bobcat to Mountain Lion while scouting or hunting deer and have never been compelled to shoot them. Just something about the large, wild cats that I feel a kinship with

  9. Pseudonymouslawyer

    Muslims are not prohibited from eating shellfish by halal rules. Muslims can, and do, eat shellfish.

    Great blog. Keep up the good work.

  10. Will K.

    I read somewhere “I eat all with four legs, except tables; all with two legs, except ladders, and all that flies, except airplanes”. I’m not quite there, but I’m pretty open to trying most things. I’ve eaten LOTS of things not commonly eaten here in the US- turtles, snakes, insects, snails, many different kinds of offal, fish species not widely eaten, etc. I draw a line at eating anything threatened or endangered (I’m afraid fricassee of whooping crane is off the menu), and I wouldn’t eat someone’s pet (i.e. I do eat rabbit, both wild & farmed, but I wouldn’t eat my daughter’s Mini-Rex), but otherwise, I’d give Andrew Zimmern a run for his money. I’d eat most legally taken or ethically raised fish, fowl and mammals, up to and including mountain lion (there aren’t officially any here in VA, but I’d relish the chance to eat a bobcat). Personally, I wouldn’t hunt something I couldn’t or wouldn’t eat- no blasting prairie dogs to smithereens for me- and I try to make use of as much of the any animal I take as I can (I’m getting better at that every year). I make every effort to honor the animals I eat, and I feel using as much of it as possible is one way of doing that.

  11. Chris

    I am a lifelong hunter in the Rockies. I would never hunt wolf, they are highly intelligent, and mate for life. The popular sell for killing wolf is they are wiping out livestock which here in Canada is complete BS, but it gives some hunters the excuse to go blast away, it would be like eating my German shepherd. Same for coyotes, they live in great numbers in Calgary, a city of 1.2 million. When was the last time they attacked a dog, a child, or were a threat? Try one incident every 10 years if that.

    For the big North American cats they are quickly becoming extinct, pushed to the edge of their habitat limit by development and human encroachment, they were never a real food source for our forefathers and they should not be hunted now, same for bear, they are majestic and endangered, they are trophy targets, hunters will make the excuse they eat the meat, but that is secondary to the trophy.

    I hunt for meat, what is necessary, I fish, and I hunt and eat wild birds, I do not believe the right to hunt gives hunters the right to kill everything. The US government made the polar bear an endangered species, but it does not stop rich hunters from the US coming up and killing them, as a trophy, and a picture trophy as they can not bring the hide back into the US under cites. A fault of the Canadian government, but morally a fault of the hunter that pulls the trigger.

    No doubt I get called an “ANTI” etc, doesn’t faze me… but I’m a long time hunter who doesn’t fall for the propaganda that passes for “conservation” these days in hunting circles when the SCI and B&C boys just push for shooting of all species, endangered or otherwise for the record books, it is an anti-thesis to locavore hunting, and I draw the line on killing species that are popular due to their relevance in those trophy books, rather than as a legitimate food source.

  12. Rachel Davis

    We have a large garden, and our main predator is the squirrel. My husband works to cull the squirrel population using his pellet gun. It took a couple of years for him to convince me to eat squirrel. And much credit goes to your blog for getting me over this mental hurdle. I can happily report that squirrel is excellent meat, and I will definitely make it again!

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  14. Shan

    Very well written. I like that you outlined things respectfully. Refreshing these days.

    Came to you via one of your videos. Very well done. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the gizzards.

    I don’t eat/shoot crows either – even though they menace me. Tempted sometimes… they keep their nests in a tree by my house so you can imagine what our relationship is. I wear a hat and curse at them under my breath. They are very chatty and amusing otherwise.

  15. C Shores

    Grilled tarantula legs tastes a lot like crayfish tail…I didn’t care for the body…was too much like crayfish head…but others did. I killed a blacktail rattler that had come onto my porch after my dog…so it became a meal itself…rather stringy but not bad. We have chihuahan ravens i instead of crows…but I agree…they are too intelligent and gregarious to eat.

  16. Forky Friday: 5/17/13 | It's Real Fit

    […] Beard Award winning blogger/hunter/angler/gardener/cook/writer Hank Shaw. Last year he wrote a great post about where he draws the line when it comes to choosing which species he’ll […]

  17. Jacob Brock

    We recently found a dead deer on our property that looked like it had been killed by a cougar. We also raise alpacas, which would be perfect prey for the cougar. If it ever attacked our animals or us, we would attempt to put it down. If it happened to be cougar season, and I happened to have a tag, we would eat the meat. Otherwise, we just leave them alone.

    That being said, I would also eat one of our alpacas, if it needed to be put down (and had not been medicated or infected). Within the alpaca rancher community, this would be taboo as well. Personally, I just prefer not to waste any meat.

  18. Kelly O'Connell

    thoroughly enjoyed reading this…just found your site and know I will enjoy perusing it…

  19. manwhohunts

    I love hunting and eating what I shoot, all of it..and I just stumbled across your blog! After reading the last sentence of your mountain lion post I can assure you…I’m a follower from now on : wanyama ni nyama tu.(its actually nyama ni nyama, or it would read: animals are meat). Excellent reading!

  20. Doug G.

    I came to this site looking for a recipe for Bobcat. I wish I would have found one but I am glad I found the site.
    When I get to hunt, I hunt for food not trophy. When I am thru with a large whitetail, you can’t fill a small kitchen garbage bag. I use everything I can from the animal including the sinew. When I got my first BB gun my dad said don’t kill anything you don’t plan on eating. My first foolish kill was a red bird and yes dad made me eat it. Mom did what she could to fix it and that was my super. Since then I eat what I kill. I hit a bobcat with my truck and didn’t want to waste it so now I am looking for a recipe for bobcat. By the way thanks for the acorn flour recipe.

  21. Tapio

    I had a very positive experience with eating a hooded crow last August. I made a blog post on it – it is in Finnish language, sorry.

    Anyways, I was surprised with the smooth flavor and texture of the the meat was very tender. The taste was definitely game-like, but unlike anything I’ve tried earlier.

  22. Brian Z

    My father is basically a modern day version of a mountain man, and at well over 70 still runs his trap lines, hunts, fishes, etc. So when his close friend, a Mountain Lion guide, called him in his office one day explaining that his dogs had picked up the trail, he jumped at the chance. For him this was I believe, another experience in a long history of his chosen lifestyle.

    So when he sent us some of the kill frozen, my elder brother cooked it up (I think we had it pan seared with demiglace)…well to me it was probably one of the most foul pieces of meat I’ve ever tried. Not sure if it’s from the exclusive carnivore diet or what, but it just wasn’t good and I so I have to disagree with the pork comparison :D. If it’s one of those foods that you have to “develop a taste for” then I say there are far better things to eat. But I would be willing to at least try it again as sometimes you just get a “bad one” from the get-go. I think many of us have experienced this.

    As to the moral/ethical realm, from my perspective if it were a survival situation I’d absolutely eat whatever I could to continue. I make no judgment on my father and since the meat was presented to me it would have been a greater insult to not eat the meat. However just for the sake of the pursuit of trying something like cat, I’d say there are far better things out there to try and you won’t get bored. I believe in this argument as well and I tell amateur forager/Mycophages that there an abundance of easily identifiable, delicious, safe mushrooms out there and not to concern themselves over if the mushroom they found is a Parasol or a Green Spored Lepiota (lol).

  23. Charlie

    Another thing to consider relating to eating mountain lions and coyotes… In some areas, especially more populated areas, coyotes and mountain lions have been dying due to the bio-accumulating effects of anticoagulant rat poison. The rats eat the poison, get sick, the coyotes eat a bunch of rats, and the mountain lion eats a few coyotes. The poison continues to build up in their bodies. Even aside from having similar feelings to Hank about those meats… I would be very cautious about eating a coyote or mountain lion that may have been in contact with this sort of thing. I don’t know whether cooking helps at all, or whether not eating the liver helps, or anything else, but it really doesn’t seem worth the risk unless you are starving.

  24. Chad

    I plan on hunting a mountain lion and eating it this coming year. I see no problem with it. It’s an animal just like the deer I shoot and eat. It gets the same level of treatment as the rest. I hope this doesn’t sound disrespectful because I am not trying to be.

  25. Chad

    Thank you Mr. Shaw

    I would like to say that I am new to this website but I can already tell that I like what I see here. You have done a nice job here. We might not agree on cats but I believe we will agree on much more other topics.

  26. James L

    I agree 100% on the crows, wild cats, dogs, and horses. I must say that I feel the same way about bears too. I believe there are many animals out there that available to eat and there is no reason to kill a bear for meat. Native Americans revered the bear as a deity, “man of the forests”, and while I may not go that far, I definitely have a connection to them that I can not explain. I feel the same about them as Hank Shaw feels about wild cats I guess.

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