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79 responses to “The Lines We Draw”

  1. Rhonda

    Interesting article. I live in Montana so we hunt/eat wolf and cats. Well I haven’t ever but that’s because I am an unsuccessful hunter 😉 However my more successful friends have, they hunt wolf/cats to protect their livestock as it is an issue in our area. Honestly I don’t think there is anything I wouldn’t eat meat wise as long as it is legal.

  2. Joshua

    I’m just glad to read that my sister is on your list, too.

  3. Steve

    Well, I agree in part; I would probably never eat a cat, but I really hate cats. And the feeling is mutual – they hate me.

    I have the same idea about crows – they are remarkably intelligent. However, if I were to witness crows being shot and then wasted at a pecan ranch, or by someone legitimately defending crops, I might try them just out of curiosity and to see less waste.

    Skunks are off the table for obvious reasons. So are most insects, but for no good reason at all.

    I cannot imagine eating a primate.

    Or a dog or fox or wolf of any kind.

    My bucket list of things that I would like to try is growing every day.
    Your articles on mushrooms have inspired a lot of big ideas, but I need to do more research. There are so many plants to try out, I cannot count them.

    It is a wonderful world out there, and i am glad to be an omnivore.

  4. Amanda

    I am in the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall camp where its ok to eat things provided they’ve lived good lives. I also grew up on a dairy farm and the combination of those two factors mean that I do not eat veal.
    I also generally shy away from animals which scavenge for their food. I think this is part of our block against certain animals (possum, vulture, crow,) but the rule itself doesn’t hold up because we (society) eat plenty of pork, catfish, etc. which could be classified in the same way.
    This question comes at an interesting time, when I was just wondering if anyone eats their guinea fowl, same as chickens.

  5. Hilda

    I still have more eating limits than I’d like, but the one I’ll never shoot is Wolf. I have a major respect and awe for those gorgeous animals and unless one was coming at me to kill me I’d never shoot it.

  6. Marshall

    I have no need to shoot a bear. Something about them is peaceful. My buddies have tags, but I won’t be running to broadway anytime soon to shoot me a bear.

  7. J.W. Hamner

    It’s interesting reading this as someone who spent most of their adolescent life as an extraordinarily picky eater and is still trying to conquer irrational food phobias in his mid thirties. Setting aside legality, I know I would never eat a primate (including monkeys), dolphin, or whale… and might want to punch the person who offered it in the face. Almost certainly not dogs, cats or horses. Big cats and wolves would skeeve me out, but I think I would try them if offered. Insects would be tough, but I’d like to think I’d be brave enough to try.

  8. John D. Bell


    If you were forced to kill a big cat in self-defense, would you eat it then? Or give the meat away to someone who would eat it? You’re clearly big on not wasting meat, so I wondered which of your dictums / prejudices you would contradict?

  9. Matt Ames

    Thank you for not shooting my sister!

  10. Jan's Sushi Bar

    As a life-long suburbanite, I’m just now beginning to expand my food horizons – it started with bison, then venison (local deer, elk, etc), rabbit, game birds of all kinds and now we’ve sourced an entire goat (which we love). I would eat bear if they weren’t endangered, but I think I’d draw the line at horse (although I hear it will soon be legal again in the U.S.) and canines of any sort. I love my dog, but not that way.

  11. Kevin

    Interesting topic. I hunt with guys that want to shoot a wolf. If they do, I’d sooner try that than eat the nastier of the conventional pork, beef, or chicken around. I’m with you in lacking the urge to hunt the predators though.

    I hear cougar fat is better than pig lard for short pasty. I’d try it. I also have no issue with horse at all. I think I’d have more of a hard time with insects, not mentally, but texturally.

    So I think I can echo what somebody else mentioned in the comments: for me, it’s more about how the animal lived than what animal it was.

    Do you think some of your boundaries exist because you have a relationship with pets?

  12. Tina

    I think I only have one true aversion in terms of food. No matter how I look at them, I can’t bring myself to try any type of insect. Period. It’s irrational, since I eat craw fish, shrimp, etc. and if you think about it, they’re all very close to being really large insects, but I just can’t make that leap. I’ve never encountered domestic animals (dog, cat, hampster) on any menu, but I think that would be a line I’d find very hard to cross. I do recall having horse once, many years ago. The idea of it didn’t disturb me particularly, I just didn’t like the taste. The same goes for bear; I’m just not a fan.

  13. Hoss

    I’ve been a hunter since I was 6, I grew up on a farm and I earned money in high school and college trapping and hunting coyotes, I’ve never eaten a coyote and never will, I don’t hunt them anymore, but, if it’s legal to take then i don’t see a problem with it. I’ve taught my sons that they have a moral obligation to eat everything they take.

  14. J.R. Young

    This discussion reminds me of the scene from Pulp Fiction where Vincent and Jules are discussing eating pig and a dog.

    For me I’d “try” many animals, but my feeling is that I probably would never seek them out nor would I hunt them. I did read where a MT hunter did marinate and grill the backstrap off his wolf and said it was quite good.

    I wasn’t really big on bear before, but my Dad shot a black bear and I loved the meat. I’d love to hunt a fall black bear in north Idaho after it has been eating huckleberries for a few weeks.

    I think I’d be out on most predators though, mountain lion, wolf, coyote, bobcat, I like cats and dogs. Dolphin, whale, and other unique creatures of the sea would be a line as well.

    I think many of our limitations on meat might be rooted in the same bias we have towards vegetables that we don’t like….although there aren’t many veggies I don’t like.

    Vincent: Want some bacon?
    Jules: No man, I don’t eat pork.
    Vincent: Are you Jewish?
    Jules: Nah, I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.
    Vincent: Why not?
    Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
    Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
    Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy mother$%(^#$. Pigs sleep and root in s&^%. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
    Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
    Jules: I don’t eat dog either.
    Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
    Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.
    Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
    Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charming mother*&%#$^% pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?

  15. Rachel Hoff

    While I wouldn’t want to push my feeling about certain meats on others (I’m not against people eating dogs, cats, horses as long as they are raised and slaughtered humanely) I do draw my line at carnivorous mammals. I’d probably try horse but not dog or cat, wild or domestic. Something just icks me out about it. I’m also pretty ambivalent about bear.

  16. Alan

    Pertaining to the commissioner: Was it a legal kill and is it legal to eat it there?
    If so. No way I would ask him to resign. What he does legally in another state is his
    business. Plain and simple.

    I am sick of the environmental activists with associations to deep deep pockets seeking to limit or actually eliminate all or any access to what I can and can do with my precious resources. It is very unfortunate that the majority of people in our state are under educated in the workings of how many of these groups are systematically taking away our access and rights. Enough on that.

    Predators are not my bag unless I am starving. In that case anything goes. There is something majestic about the eyes of a cat that I have a hard time with.

    Hank, as usual you bring so many good things to the table. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  17. Andrew

    I wouldn’t eat a corvid or a coyote, and that’s about it.

    I’d be more than glad to eat a monkey or dolphin or whale, if it was legal to do so. I’d have a hard time with insects. I wouldn’t eat a cat or dog where it was illegal (Canada being illegal and where I live). Britain has plenty of recipes for fox curries, and I’d go for that, but I don’t like shooting predators without a precise purpose, either fur or property and personal protection.

    I really do not care all all what other people eat so long as they don’t try to ascribe any kind of morality to it — the only morality I can see attached to food is cannibalism. Whale sausage and cat casserole, good to go. Horse, party on. Dog, pass the sauce.

  18. Tim Exton

    What a great posting … it reminded me of when I was living in London, England and came to the States to do a TV news story on horses being stolen from peoples’ paddocks and then being slaughtered and shipped to Europe for the restaurant trade. They eat horse pretty commonly in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. I decided to include the restaurant side of the story in my report and contacted a restaurant in Brussels, told them what my story was about and asked if I could come film … they agreed without hesitation and invited me to stay for lunch after filming. My choice was horse steak either fried or grilled, with a green salad or fries … I chose grilled rare with the fries! Whilst we English would never think to eat horse normally I must say that it was delicious and much healthier than beef steak … but my friends, without exception, were horrified! And here’s something I learned at the restaurant … horse meat is as tender and good to eat at the end of the animal’s life as it is when it’s young … so it’s actually a reasonable solution to what to do when a horse dies (as long as it’s death was not caused by something that could transmit to humans via the meat). So, to each his (or her) own in the matter of what to eat and not eat!

  19. Rachel Willen@FoodFix

    Horse, donkey, dog, cat, bugs, rodents…isn’t it worth noting that we have the luxury of refusing to eat certain foods based on philosophy, emotions, etc. All this would go out the window if we were starving. Though I know that even though my mother was starving and sick she still fasted on Yom Kippur when she was in a Nazi concentration camp. So, maybe emotion and philosophy would still apply in many cases. Grateful that I don’t have to make such choices and can exercise all my food predjudices!

  20. semiswede

    I remember seeing cougar meat in a gourmet market when I lived in Boston. Rattlesnake meat too. Can’t say I’m jumping up and down to try either of those. Not bear either. I can’t really say why. And although my dad is an entomologist, I would find a bug hard to swallow. Horse is another one I prefer not to try but many foreigners end up eating it by accident here in Sweden because it is labeled “hamburger.” Word to the wise…..

  21. semiswede

    I should add that cats and dogs aren’t even on my radar for consideration.

  22. DSK

    One my friends in fifth grade had a pet crow that came to visit her every afternoon, This was suburban Philadelphia in the late 50’s, still a fairly rural setting. The crow would perch on the cross bar of a goal post in the playground, caw, say “hello,” hang around a while, and then fly home.

    Only Elvis could come close to matching that crow for star power, and he came in a distant second.

    Crows are awesome, and way outside of my food chain.

  23. Karl L

    Regarding the specific issue of Comissioner Richards, I think it’s worth noting that nowhere have I seen anyone suggest he did anything illegal, nor should he be subject to any sort of criminal proceedings.

    What I do think people are concerned about is that his kill undermines his credibility within his own state. They wonder whether it makes sense to have the person in charge of making and enforcing hunting regulations implying through his own behavior that he doesn’t think the laws are just. It undermines his credibility the same way it would if the nation’s “drug czar” went off to a vacation in a foreign country and partook of everything that he’s been fighting against back home.

    I suspect that if it were a senior official in some other department who did this, the whole thing would be a non-story and we wouldn’t have heard anything about it.

  24. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    I am pretty much unable to eat any animal that isn’t raised for that purpose. That being said, I’ll make myself a liar and admit that I’ve had venison, but that’s because we were flat broke, couldn’t afford to buy meat and someone offered it to us. Eating something out of curiosity? Nah, not my style.

  25. Cork Graham

    You’re spot on about these attempts, many successful, to shift power at DFG! This is only the tip of the iceberg:

    If idiots like Gavin Newsom (what a mess he left for SF to clean up) and HSUS continue to win, you can can kiss fishing, hunting, and solid conservation practices, goodbye in California…and other states PETA/HSUS have targeted. They have no interest in actually conserving wildlife: if they were more interested in actually helping wildlife, instead of taking actions that only make them think they’re helping wild animals, they would put their money into wildlife programs, instead of 90% going into major fallacious advertising campaigns. Wildlife populations have suffered enough under the inane actions of PETA/HSUS: deer and wild sheep to name a few–Let the experienced DFG biologists do the work they’re qualified and hired to do!

  26. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I was thinking about this since I read it on Holly’s blog. For me, there’s a difference between “wouldn’t” and “would prefer not to.” Hungry enough, I’ll eat anything edible. But I’m lucky enough to be able to indulge my preferences for not eating some kinds of animals — crows are definitely on me prefer-not-to-eat list.

    But I think it’s important to distinguish between moral objections and convention. We don’t eat dogs because we grew up not eating dogs, and keeping them for pets instead, not because there’s anything wrong with eating dogs.

  27. Suburban Bushwacker

    Funny thing isn’t it the would ya could ya of food. I once showed the chaps in an office i worked in some pictures of people eating rats, much wailing and face pulling ensued. Some time commenter on my blog Mr Bojangles was there that day and he’s lived an ‘african’ life in Senegal he sighed at the squeamishness of the sales floor and quietly said ‘In most of the world people eat what they eat’ que more squealing and cries of ‘would ya, did ya’ he answered ” I expect so it would have been rude to ask” . I could see his point, being English I’d eat anything out of politeness, would I knowingly eat rat? I hope so.

    As to Crows, interesting one. Of the corvid family the only one i’ve ever heard of being considered food is the Rook, not Ravens, not Magpies and Crows seeming to have a special taboo about them.

    I’ve got access to a very productive Rookery which I’ve been asked to thin out this spring so I’ll let you know what they taste like.


  28. Suburban Bushwacker


    I’m quite curious about eating cat/lion, I’ve read that road kill Labrador is a good eating dog, my stalking buddy has a recipe for Badger hams, and I’d honestly turn down any beef you could ever serve to eat horse, yes its that good.

  29. Jeremy Keegan

    I think I agree with your position that basically, everyone has food that they won’t eat, and for many different reasons. But I suspect most of those reasons have to do with personal connection – as you indicated with cats, dogs, and crows.

    In my past, I was a wrangler at a horse ranch for a while, and we had a horse colic on us. The owner had to make some tough decisions, which included putting it down with an injection from the vet, and then having the carcass hauled away. Both of those things cost money, and he later asked me if I’d be willing to shoot one the next time, and also if I’d at all be interested in the meat. I thought long and hard about both, and I told him I just couldn’t. Those horses were my life then, and were friends – and you just can’t eat your friends. He understood.

    But, also as you say, all lines that have been drawn are also movable, given extreme circumstances. If it was a blizzard winter and we were out of food and were starving, I could reluctantly bring myself to do it, and I think most people could. Your response was very reasonable and I think most reasonable people, like myself, would agree. And it’s different for everyone – I’d eat things you wouldn’t, you’d eat things I wouldn’t (perhaps).

    My other special animal friend in the world is the pelican. Not that you can hunt them anyway, but I respect and admire pelicans way too much to consider them food.

  30. somsai

    There are other very good reasons to shoot predators, and one of those reasons is why your game commissioner shot it. Idaho has too many wolves and their elk herds have been decimated in some places as well as deer. Their Fish and Game Department decided to decrease the number of lions in that area by two. Your commissioner shot one, good for him, he is a conservationist.

    I think too much emphasis is being put on eating amongst the “I hunt for eating” set. Hunting is bigger than fancy food fads. There is a very important conservation aspect to it also. I hope that you can come to understand hunting more fully as well as conservation and some day decide that if it was needed you could shoot a lion, wolf, or bear. Too many are just into filling their freezer and forget to fullfil their civic duty.

    There’s more to it than eating.

  31. Ricardo Rodríguez

    There is a saying: “Todo lo que nada, corre y vuela, a la cazuela”, “everything that swims, runs and flies, to the pot”
    That being said, although I am willing to try exotic meats, there are some that I would think twice before attempting it, more because concerns about their diet and consequent flavor or health issues. Cats I would certainly avoid unless I was starving, and then would try to fry it hard for fear of trichinosis. The same for coyotes, although wolf oddly doesn´t sound too bad to me. Would eat dog only in the proper cultural settting, like a Mexican xoloescuintle or a Chinese Chow Chow, but only if humanely killed and specifically raised for the purpose. I don´t think crows or city pigeons are good eats, so I would avoid them. I willingly would eat cactus or field rat, and urban only if purpose raised. No problems eating any horse, donkey or camel. Would try whale or dolphin if in Japan if not in the endangered list. I have eat insects, but don´t like the slimey ones like larvae or worms, the same for some shellfish.
    The only animals I would avoid the most based only in prejudice are the apes or monkeys. Too simmilar to us to feel comfortable.

  32. Nick

    This is an interesting subject for discussion. I have consciously attempted to reduce my food prejudices over the years to the point where I think there is little I would not eat. Just because I love an animal species (e.g. mountain lion as a species), does not mean that I would not hunt them, or eat them. In fact, mountain lion has been at the top of my “must try” list for years now. I also love horses, but I have eaten horse when I lived in South America and can attest that it is delicious. For that matter, I love every species I have ever shot, killed and eaten!

    I also agree with somsai that hunting is not necessarily about eating. I have no great desire to kill a coyote or wolf, I might if I had a use for it, or if I thought my personal contribution to controlling that species population was needed. Remember, we are an integral part of the balance and we cannot separate ourselves from the so-called “natural world”. To do so would put both humanity and the natural system at risk.

    Would I eat a canid if I killed one? I honestly don’t know, and I have never hunted or killed coyote or wolf. I probably would if I did. I would at least use their fur. However, I do take serious issue with those hunters who are killing coyotes, wolves, crows, etc. because the think those species should be eliminated from this earth and any individual member killed on site. Unfortunately, I must say this represents the majority of hunters who do target these species in my experience. This goes back to a very basic – and I would say, unexamined – sense of competition with other predator species that the Earth can no longer afford. We as hunters need our fellow predators in the system and we should love and respect them just as much as we do our (mutual) prey.

  33. Los

    I draw the line at anything that can’t be easily accessible from a grocery freezer.

  34. Trish

    I tease that, growing up in the city, that my version of chicken is born straight onto Styrofoam and wrapped in plastic. This is measured against my college experience in a north-woods town, where the sight of starving deer was much crueler than anything that a hunter might do.

    And I am an omnivore.

    My point, after reading this article, is to suggest that I (like a few other here) have taken a hard look at our food limits. I have eaten things that some folks wouldn’t try, and some foods that might never even find themselves in my locality. Whatever is determined to be right / wrong, I respect the process of considering that and other questions.

    That said, I do feel strongly about sport hunting. You kill it, you use it or donate it to someone who will… no trophy comes from wasting a creature, beautiful or otherwise.

  35. hodgeman

    I’ve eaten lion meat…it’s more pork-like than bears which are relatively close. I was introduced to lynx by trapper friends who kill and eat several dozen a winter on their trapline. Remarkably tasty.

    I’ve also eaten whale, seal, beaver and other things regarded as gross by the average American…but none were “gross” when compared to commercial commodity ground beef.

    Mountain Lion or Mickey D’s.? I’ll eat lion.

  36. Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes

    I read your blog often but rarely do I comment. I’m moved to comment this time because you’ve got me thinking.

    I’m a pescetarian and am so serious about it that it’s what I blog about. My food lines were drawn a long time ago and I don’t eat any land animals–only things that swim. Even within that category, there’s plenty I won’t eat: whale (which is, I venture to say, taboo for most people now), shark (too useful to become extinct), and anything that is not sustainably caught or managed.

    One of my favorite quotes is by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin: “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Food characterizes us in a sense and, since I’ve been a vegetarian and a vegan in my life, can be as touchy a subject as religion or politics. Whatever one eats, I think it’s always worth examining why we eat it or don’t eat it.

  37. skillet

    no line. eat it all… with honor, and respect.

  38. George Hedgepeth

    Very nice essay!

    I have eaten, and enjoyed, Mountain Lion- it does taste like pork. My own line? Primates, vultures, and… that’s about it!

  39. Laura

    Hank, we here at the CMR have been talking about this a lot, as you might imagine, being so close to so many press releases. I was wondering what you might write. This is a terrific essay and your readers’ comments are very intersting as well.
    I think most people would not have reacted as powerfully had there not been a photo – especially the photo of that spectacular animal in Richards’ arms, almost like a house-cat being dragged about by a child. It’s just too emotional for a lot of folks to look at.
    I also think that Richards’ showed questionable judgment in taking the hunt, while still in office. Kind of like a lot of things our electeds do, it’s something that might better have been kept off his agenda until after the term was over.
    Mostly though, the action is one thing, but his response is entirely another. My husband said, “somebody should have taken away his official stationery.” I don’t think he should be forced to resign for a legal act, but I do think his suitability for office needs to be closely examined if his responses to this issue are indiciative of his professional style.

  40. shotgunner


    I will devour other Echinoderms, say Sea Urchin. Uni rocks.

    I draw the line at starfish. I will not eat starfish. And great apes.

    As for other non-human primates? Yeah, I’m OK with it. No Great Apes.

    So I draw the line at starfish and apes. And, and and…… Beetles.

    Beetles shells are too hard and crunchy to get a proper bite from, so I won’t eat beetles. So I draw the line at Starfish, Apes and Beetles. Well. Except I will eat the larval form of beetle species. So I guess I am picky about my beetles. Thus I draw the line at starfish and Apes. Beetle larvae taste good!

    Seriously, tissue culture is happening. Scientists are now growing muscle tissue in laboratory. This puts lab grown foods just over the horizon.

    Soon we will have lab cultured fois gras, prime rib of Kobe and unlimited other delicacies. Nothing except mindless laws to keep those same enterprising researchers from growing whale, mountain lion, or California condor meat in laboratory. Thus we can have the protein and the flavors our body loves without all the killing. If no cat were to die, would you eat laboratory cultured Mountain Lion tenderloin? Whale? Primate?

    I guess I ask, is it only the killing, or is some other emotion involved?

  41. IF

    I would pretty much eat everything except celery given the opportunity. Had horse in Europe. Would eat cats and dogs if offered. Maybe no primates.

    Reading the article I don’t mind that he shot and ate the lion. But he should have paid for the mountain lion package (USD 6800) vs. the bird package (USD 3200). Rules are rules and if he didn’t shoot the lion in self defense it was a freebe. (Try to hunt antelope on a deer tag, will you?)

  42. Robert Benson

    I grew up in small towns in Wisconsin. Besides knowing people who hunted we also knew farmers who kept a strange animal or two around for unconventional sustenance. Needless to say as a kid I was able to enjoy everything from deer, squirrel, and snake from the hunters to goat, bison, and ostrich from the farmers.

    As I grew up eating became a passion for me. After High School I moved to Milwaukee. Once in the big city I was able to make connections with people who grew up outside of the USA. They were only too happy to share their wonderful meals with me.

    Some of them were tame choices like the Mexicans and South Americans who got me to try things like tongue, brain, monkey, guinea pig, and Iguana. From the Asian continent I’ve had scorpions, beetles, dog ,tarantula, and rat.

  43. Bpaul

    I recently got over my bug “thing” and ate some Oaxacan chili/lime grasshoppers. Tasty! My 2 1/2 year old daughter scarfed them down too.

    I’ve been against predator hunting (and eating) for a long time now, but the more time I spend in the field, that view is softening. Here in Oregon, black bears in the coast range are especially abundant. I don’t know … I may switch over and try bear at some point.

    I’m on the page with scavengers (things that will eat carrion). I know I eat crab, and they eat carrion — but I just can’t so far get over that image.

    I hunt “pests” on farms — and this will sometimes include corvids, ground squirrels, starlings, english house sparrows. I’ve caved and tried starling and sure enough, it tastes fine. Dandy in fact. English house sparrow too. I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat ground squirrel and crow however. Both are known carrion eaters… just haven’t been able to go there. My cats think they are super tasty however (after a good long time in the pressure cooker to eliminate possible parasites).


  44. Zoea

    I was recently discussing the incident with some friends of mine. All being marine scientists of course we started thinking about the ocean and realized that a lot of people are content to eat top predators in the ocean (tuna, salmon, shark etc.) but on land many seem to be uncomfortable with the idea. We all came to the feeling that it was a lack of association with the aquatic organisms. Curious what your thoughts are?

  45. Tom Waxelbaum

    The armadillo’s range has recently expanded into our middle GA hunting property. This same property was a woodcock bonanza this past season! Since armadillos and woodcocks eat the same thing, aka worms, and grubs. Has anybody tried possum on the half shell?

  46. Chris

    Thanks for this article! As an avid fisherman and outdoors person in general, I can understand your relationship with certain animals. I will say I do not hunt; not out of moral reasons, but merely because most hunters are born and raised into the culture, a culture my family never embraced. Most of my friends I fish with hunt or have hunted in their pasts. I support the right to hunt and will likely try it someday when I feel the real urge to.
    But I feel a similar admiration for the predators spoken about here. I grew up in the rural foothills of the northern San Gabriels. Coyotes, bobcats, cougars, black bear, and innumerable smaller critters make an appearance on our property regularly. Yet I harbor only respect for these animals; to me they are great survivors, fine examples of evolution. At the end of the day, despite the destruction of habitat and general encroachment by humans, these predators have adapted and thrived. Watching a dog walk away from the hunt with a big jackrabbit in his mouth is something special. Even witnessing a lion from afar brings both awe and fear (almost always an unfounded fear of course). Undeniably there are certain individual predators who gain a taste for domestic pets or livestocks; I cannot fault the rancher for shooting a particularly ravenous coyote or lion in protecting his livestock.
    On eating these animals, I am ambivalent; while I’m sure they are tasty and plentiful, so too are other game that I feel less connection to. Certainly people have a right to hunt, and no one can really say Comissioner Richards did was amoral or unjust. Thanks for writing this, because honest views can be hard to come by!

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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!

  50. 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?

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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

  54. 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

  55. Pseudonymouslawyer

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

    Great blog. Keep up the good work.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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!

  59. Bun in the Oven | thecookhousegarden

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  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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 […]

  63. 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.

  64. Kelly O'Connell

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

  65. 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!

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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).

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. Richard


    Great read. I don’t know if I have many inhibitions to trying anything anymore. Years in the military and traveling the world having to do “cultural acclimation” has made me only avoid things that would make me ill – such as putrefied frogs or snails in SE Asia. I however would not criticize anyone for their protein choices – I have enjoyed Guiana pig and horsemeat in my travels. Many things were interesting to try, but I would not seek them out. Culture is the greatest barrier we have as you touched on as it”determines most of our food choices. And those who violate those food rules can be quickly ostracized by their cultural colleagues”. Aside from that personal preference is a legit reason to avoid something. Faddism however is not a reason for people to overindulge – such as with the ortolan in France (illegal but still practiced) that decimates a population and may even lead to extinction. This was a great introspective read for me. Thanks.

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