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The Urban Hunt

A Summer Spent Killing—and Eating—Seattle's Small Game

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RABBIT

The alarm goes off at four in the morning—before sunrise and the joggers hit the parks and woods. I ride my bicycle down Boren Avenue toward Lake Union, turning at the Greyhound station, past two prostitutes, one white, one brown, both young, who shout: "Hey honey! Hey there, baby! Hey! Hey!" The lightening sky is pretty, the breeze clears my head, and I am biking along Westlake Avenue, headed to Woodland Park, to shoot a rabbit.

The hundreds of rabbits in the park are a scourge. Many are Easter gifts people have come to regret and left there. They lack the instincts and habits of wild rabbits. Fed by fair-weather parkgoers, they overbreed and, in winter, die of starvation and disease. They eat everything in sight, stripping the park of vegetation and chewing up tree roots. They sneak into the nearby zoo to forage and, according to Woodland Park Zoo spokesperson Gigi Allianic, are hunted by lions and stepped on by elephants. (Allianic later recanted the elephant story as "anecdotal.") The city parks department has tried—with mixed results—to capture, sterilize, and relocate the bunnies to a sanctuary in Redmond. They want, at some public expense, to decrease the rabbit population in the park. I've come to help.

A few weeks earlier, I was sitting in a bar with some friends. The conversation turned toward crazy people. One friend told a story about a man arrested at Green Lake for chasing geese and breaking their necks. The man told police he was hunting. Everyone laughed. I said hunting for geese in the park didn't sound that crazy. Hunting for food in the city makes a kind of sense. It's inexpensive, ecologically low impact, and less distasteful than rich politicians and businessmen spending extravagant sums to hunt for sport on private ranches. Sane rural people hunt in their backyards all the time. Why shouldn't urban people?

And what about disasters? What if the city were ravaged by a volcano, an epidemic, or a North Korean nuclear weapon? The authorities advise us to have three days' worth of provisions—canned food, bottled water, extra batteries—tucked away in our basements or kitchen cabinets in case of disaster. But no one I know has food set aside for the inevitable, catastrophic earthquake and its attendant tsunami.

Riding my bike through downtown, it is easy to imagine the lower streets flooded, the buildings bent like broken teeth, the highways severed, the city quarantined and afraid. And it is easy to imagine this city full of animal lovers turning to the local fauna—harvesting rabbits, pigeons, and squirrels. Eating off the land without regret or sentiment, the endless bickering about what to do about the rabbits in Woodland Park or the geese at Green Lake finally brought to an end.

If the city were eviscerated, we would have no choice but to live off its wildlife. But do any of us, urbanites all, know how? There are "u-pick" farms where people go to gather berries—shouldn't there be "u-kill" chicken corrals, where we can learn how to hunt and clean birds? Non-vegans, I told my friends, were hypocrites to not have confronted the reality of eating meat and wearing leather by killing an animal with their own hands.

"Have you ever killed an animal with your own hands?" someone at the table asked.

"No," I said.

Woodland Park's rabbits live primarily in a big warren of rubble on the side of a hill. At dawn, dozens of them—gray, brown, mottled black and white—hop around, nibbling on nettles. I set my bike on the rabbit-stripped ground at the bottom of the hill, and load a pellet into my air pistol—it's a quiet gun, but dawn is even quieter, and I wonder if the sound will wake a homeless man tucked under a blue tarp nearby. No matter: Rabbit is delicious, a high-end luxury—a plate of lapin goes for 20 bucks at Cafe Campagne. If the homeless man wakes up, I thought, I'll offer him half.

I squat, extend my arms, and aim at a big brown one. At the sound of the shot, the rabbits freeze, then cautiously resume their grazing. I miss. I reload and try again. Miss. Reload. Miss. I am a terrible shot. I walk to the top of the hill, reload, and aim at a gray rabbit that watches me warily. I extend my arms again, aiming through the sight, and shoot. The rabbit scampers away. Just then I notice two nearby joggers coming toward me. I run back to my bike and fly home before they can call the police about the crazy man in the park with a gun.

This is not the way to catch a rabbit.

Later that day I get a box, some lettuce, and twine, borrow a car, and head back to the park. It's afternoon and there are plenty of people—most with small children—milling around. I prepare an improbable story ("I have a friend, her rabbit just died, she wants to adopt a feral one") and set a trap, remembered from cartoons: a box propped up with a stick tied to a string with lettuce as bait. Even this is too complicated. The cardboard box is light, it falls too slowly, and the startled rabbits get away. Finally, I squat, sprinkle some lettuce on the dry dirt, and hold the box a foot off the ground. A young, gray rabbit approaches warily, bites off a mouthful of lettuce, and hops back to chew in safety. I keep still. It returns, hops away, returns, hops away. Within a few minutes, it feels comfortable and greedily tucks in. I slam the box down with a thud, slip another piece of cardboard beneath it, and walk—then run—to the car, expecting someone to accost me at any minute. Nobody does.

I ease the box into my bathtub and take off the lid. I look at the rabbit. It calmly looks back: Well, here we are. The rabbit. The bathtub. Me. It is undeniably cute; it is also dinner. I ease the barrel of the pistol inches from its head. I shoot. There is the small pop—the bullet is in its brain. The rabbit falls on its side, kicking, spurting blood, but silent. I reload and shoot. It keeps kicking, the blood pulsing out more softly, with the regularity of a heartbeat. Then nothing.

I find my Buck knife and start the tap—blood gathers, thickening in little pools. I rinse the rabbit. I cut off its head. I cut off its feet. I slice the hide along its stomach, careful not to let the blade push too deep, where it would perforate the guts, letting its bile spill out and contaminate the meat. I pull off its skin like a tight sock then cut the stomach lining and scoop out the organs. A terrible, hot smell fills the bathroom, like shit and sex and death and sweat—all the brutish smells of the body in one dense mist. I throw the guts, head, feet, and soggy fur into a plastic bag and take it to the Dumpster. I rinse the rabbit, throw it in a pot of saltwater to soak, and return to the office.

Later, I quarter the rabbit, cook it in a cast-iron skillet with white wine and rosemary and onions and potatoes and, since I'm feeling sinister, carrots. It tastes wild—nutty, tough, and surprisingly bitter.

"The rabbit tasted bitter," I said to my father over the telephone. "But maybe that was just my guilt."

"Guilt? What guilt?"

I was born on an Alaskan island and weaned on venison my father had killed. I shot at tin cans with my uncles in middle school. My mother, from southern Virginia, was taken by young suitors on squirrel-hunting dates (which sounds like a euphemism—she swears it isn't). And the first time my father met my mother's grandmother, at the old family farmhouse called Hidden Acres, he passed a big bucket of skinned squirrels soaking in brine on his way up the porch steps.

I felt queasy about what I had just done, but I couldn't explain why. Factory farms are reprehensible: their labyrinths of tiny, shit-filled cages; their abuse of minimum- (or sub-minimum-) wage workers; and well-documented cruelty to animals and people. The rabbit I had eaten had a free-range, organic life—hopping where it wanted to, eating what it wanted to. Hunting wild animals for food is the most ecologically and ethically sound way anybody, urban or rural, can eat meat. But when I told the friend whose car I had borrowed for the rabbit hunt about the project, she was revolted.

"Why would you do something like that?" she asked.

We're both meat eaters, I argued, so the problem isn't ethical—it's aesthetic. When we see video footage of factory farms, we are disgusted by the blood and bits of brain hanging off the killing machines. Those of us who are morally offended become vegans. Those who are merely disgusted forget the images and go for a ham sandwich. The rabbit in my bathtub suffered a scant few minutes compared to the shrink-wrapped holocaust in the nearest QFC. If you're outraged by eating a wild rabbit, put your money where your mouth is and go firebomb a supermarket, I told her. Otherwise, you aren't being righteous, just squeamish.

"I get it," she said. "I just don't get it."

"That's okay," I said, happy that I'd won the argument. "Can I use your car next week?"

"No," she said. "Not for this."

PIGEON

There is a vacant lot at 12th Avenue and Spruce Street—next to the county juvie hall and across the street from a charity called St. Francis House—that is always filled with pigeons. They peck at crumbs and gravel and, when frightened, sweep up in unison to perch on the power lines and rain shit onto the sidewalk. Then they sweep back down to the lot and keep pecking.

I ride my bike into the lot—they fly up to the wires—then lay a dip net with a long handle ($34 at Linc's Tackle on Rainier Avenue South) flat on the mangy grass and sprinkle it with bread crumbs. The plan: Wait until the pigeons are on top of the net, then quickly flip it to trap them. Ten minutes later, they are, like the rabbits, approaching and retreating, getting bolder each time. A middle-aged man and a boy park a van nearby, walk into St. Francis House, and come out with a bag bulging with bread. (Is that why the pigeons are always here? Eating scraps from a food bank?) A young man with a blue baseball cap stops and leans against the chainlink fence.

"You trying to catch one?" he grins.

"Yes."

"What are you going to do with it?"

"I thought I'd try to eat it."

"C'mon. Seriously."

"Seriously."

"No, really."

"Really," I say. "Just once. Not an everyday thing. Just this one time."

It's an adventure, I try to explain, like a mountaineer scaling a peak—you know, because it's there. And what if some horrible disaster hits, a giant earthquake, and there's no food in the grocery stores? The young man shakes his head, his face both puzzled and alarmed. He walks away, to the end of the block, where another man, who has been watching me, is lounging against the same fence. My interlocutor stops to talk with the other man, both of them looking at each other, then me, then each other.

A couple of minutes later, a dozen pigeons are jockeying to stand on my net and get at their last supper. A quick turn of the wrist and the net is flipped, trapping three. They struggle beneath the blue netting. I lift the edge, freeing two, then pull on a pair of gloves, grab the third by the back, and twist its head to break its neck. Unexpectedly, the head pops off, thin arcs of blood squirting into the grass. I stuff the decapitated bird in a garbage bag, stuff that into the saddlebag of my bike, and ride away.

After the feathers are in a blue-gray pile in the bathtub and the air is full of sneeze-making down, there isn't much to a pigeon except a nice little breast. It is musky and fibrous, like the dark meat of a turkey. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

RAT

Another friend—let's call him Jed—lives in the Central District, in a nice house with rats in his backyard. They climb around at twilight in the bamboo lining his property, horrifying his summer barbecue guests and providing sport for him. He owns several weapons—he grew up hunting and fishing around the Great Lakes—including a powerful air rifle. He offers me a glass of wine and a tutorial at dusk: "Tuck it against your shoulder" and "breathe" and "squeeze the trigger, don't pull" and "don't shoot out my neighbor's windows" and "you know, I kind of stopped hunting rats in the backyard because my wife said she'd leave me if a pellet ever ricocheted and hit anybody." His wife, I should add, is a doctor and a beautiful, wonderful person. And they have a kid. So, you know, no pressure.

She is clearly uncomfortable about the project.

"It's a bad idea," she says. "What about rabies?"

Rabies is, after all, fatal. You can get preventative shots if you know you've been exposed, but once symptoms set in you're a goner, and any mammal could have it. I asked if rabies could be cooked away. After searching for a few minutes on her laptop, perched at the kitchen counter, she says yes, rabies can be cooked away at high temperatures. But rabies isn't her only concern. "Drinking and shooting don't mix," she says, her glance jabbing at the wine glass in Jed's hand.

"But I'm not shooting, honey," he says. "He is."

I smile, raise my glass of water in a deferential toast and take a sip. Jed and I hurry outside. We talk for a couple of hours, take practice shots, and listen for rats rustling in the leaves. He tells a story about his grandfather, a professional hunter and trapper, one of the last of his kind. He once told Jed about going deer hunting, falling asleep under a tree, and waking up to a huge buck, just feet away, staring at him. The old man and the deer looked at each other and shared an indescribable something. The old man kept trapping, but never hunted deer again.

We can hear the rats creeping around in the leaves, but only catch a glimpse of one, which I shoot at to no effect. (Did I mention I'm a terrible shot?) As I say my goodbyes at the front door, Jed says: "We'll try this again soon." But behind him, his beautiful, wonderful wife's expression shines like an illuminated billboard with one simple message: "No fucking way."

A few days after my aborted rat hunt, a vegetarian friend held forth on Immanuel Kant. The German philosopher argued that being cruel to animals was a bad thing—not for the animal's sake, but for the man's, that by hurting animals we are sullying our own humanity. In Kant's words: "He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men."

But cruelty can also be a means toward greater understanding of what it means to be human.

Consider the ortolan: Years ago, I was, improbably, on the Champs-Elysées, drinking in a sidewalk cafe late at night with my then-girlfriend and a Belgian stranger. He was named, improbably, Claude Souvenir (he swore it wasn't a pseudonym). We met him at a small, dark restaurant run by a blind Frenchman—the owner and only waiter—whose daughter was the chef. (You've never seen a waiter until you've seen an old blind one weaving flawlessly through tables, carrying trays of full wine glasses.) It was Claude Souvenir who told us about the ortolan, a toe-sized bird that was eaten by the Romans, then the French—a tiny, sweet songbird sadistically tortured and consumed in one bite.

The ortolan does not exactly taste good. It is more art than nourishment. One does not eat it for the simple pleasure of flavor; one eats it to experience something transcendent—to commune with life, suffering, and death in one mouthful. It is said to be the final course ingested by French President François Mitterrand at his legendary, opulent last supper. Mitterrand, dying of cancer, drifted in and out of consciousness during the meal. He died eight days later.

You catch the ortolan with a net spread up in the forest canopy. Take it alive. Take it home. Poke out its eyes and put it in a small cage. Force-feed it oats and millet and figs until it has swollen to four times its normal size. Drown it in brandy. Roast it whole, in an oven at high heat, for six to eight minutes. Bring it to the table. Place a cloth—a napkin will do—over your head to hide your cruelty from the sight of God. Put the whole bird into your mouth, with only the beak protruding from your lips. Bite. Put the beak on your plate and begin chewing, gently. You will taste three things: First, the sweetness of the flesh and fat. This is God. Then, the bitterness of the guts will begin to overwhelm you. This is the suffering of Jesus. Finally, as your teeth break the small, delicate bones and they begin to lacerate your gums, you will taste the salt of your own blood, mingling with the richness of the fat and the bitterness of the organs. This is the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity—three united as one. It is cruel. And beautiful.

According to Claude Souvenir, chewing the ortolan takes approximately 15 minutes.

SQUIRREL

I bought my gun—the one I used to shoot the rabbit—at Central Gun Exchange in downtown Seattle, on First Avenue. I'd asked the salesman if people ever came in asking about guns for urban hunting. "No, not really," he said, biting at his chapped and torn-up lips. "But there's this here." He walked down the glass counter to an old, tarnished air pistol that looked like something pillaged from the body of a dead German in World War II. When I asked if the gun worked, the salesman smiled, loaded it, and shot a round into a nearby garbage can. The shot was a small pop, the impact a tinny plink. "Yup," he smiled, biting at his lip again.

Do I have to register an air pistol?

"Nope," he said, licking the spot of blood off his lip with the tip of his tongue. It was only $30.

"So what are you going to shoot?" he asked.

"Uh, squirrels," I offered.

"Oh yeah," he said. "I got squirrels in my backyard."

"Do you hunt them?"

"No, no, I just feed them," he said, slowly. "They like peanuts."

Even the gun salesman thought I was a brute.

It is a beautiful, sunny day and she seems like a beautiful, sunny person—but she is threatening to call the police. I have been riding around Volunteer Park on my bicycle with a big metal squirrel trap (borrowed from a friend of a friend, but you can buy one for $17.50 at most hardware stores), a small jar of peanut butter (for bait), and my cheap pistol. I set the trap in the shade of a large tree, near an inquisitive squirrel, but a dog scares it off. There is a youngish woman in a car with the City of Seattle logo stenciled in green on the driver's side door. She looks at me and cocks her head disapprovingly. I bike over to her car, cage in hand.

"If I said I was trying to catch a squirrel, what would you do?"

"I'd call the police."

"Really?"

"Yes," she says firmly. "Really."

I explain that I am trying to hunt squirrels to eat, say my family is from rural Virginia, and that I am trying to get in touch with my roots. "Well, I'm from Virginia and if you want to hunt in the city, get a permit and go fishing." Just then, a police car rolls by. I thank her for her time and bike away.

A Seattle Police Department public-records request for hunting-related arrests produced nothing. But, police spokesman Rich Pruitt said, urban hunters will probably get slapped with something. You can't discharge a firearm in the city limits. An air pistol is not a firearm, but shooting it in public still constitutes reckless endangerment. Then there are the game violations (for geese and ducks) and animal-cruelty laws. Drowning vermin in traps, a common method for homeowners and building managers, is considered a "process" and therefore cruel. Shooting them in the head is not, but in most cases shooting is illegal anyway.

But what about the eating? I asked Pruitt if a homeowner who had legally killed a dozen rats with snap traps could barbecue them in the front yard. He snickered: "If you want to eat your rats, I guess you can." And your neighbor's squirrels? More snickering. "Yeah, if they agree to it."

My friend Eric is not technically my neighbor, but he and his housemates—one of whom is vegan—agree to let me trap a squirrel in their backyard in a residential area of Fremont, just a couple of blocks from the Buckaroo Tavern. Just an hour after setting the trap in the shade of a small tree, the vegan roommate calls out: "There's one in there."

Nobody knows how many squirrels live in Seattle. Or pigeons. Or rats. All of them are tough, wiry creatures—but on starvation rations, one could feed perhaps two people per day. If we were living in the rubble of what used to be Seattle, we cannot estimate how long we could survive off its vermin. King County wildlife biologist Russell Link says shortages of staff, time, and money have kept population surveys from happening—that and worries about public reaction. "Counting populations involves traps," he says. "And there's fear of the animal-rights people getting upset and removing the traps."

It takes four shots to kill the trapped squirrel. I aim at its head, between the thin bars of its metal cage, and shoot. It seizes up, presses its body against the bars, and bleeds. I reload. I shoot. It spasms and bleeds. I reload. I shoot. Bright blood splashes onto my leg and a bit of brain splatters onto my shoe. I reload. By the fourth shot, it is still.

Against expectations, watching animals struggle against death wasn't getting any easier. I thought I was inoculated, having, just two years ago, seriously considered killing the father of my then-girlfriend. He had become a friend of mine. Cancer had incapacitated his liver, which couldn't clean his blood, which incapacitated his brain. He had stopped being able to eat and couldn't move or speak. He didn't have much family, we were his caretakers, and we talked with an old friend of his who also worked in the hospice industry. People don't talk about it, but it happens all the time, she whispered. If he goes on like this much longer, and you think it would be the right thing, give him his usual anal suppository of morphine, plus this many extra pills.

He died on his own the next day. His eyes were alert and full of unspoken feeling, looking toward the two of us, the morning sun spilling through a window. A tear fell down his cheek. He took a last, shuddering breath and then—nothing. The following 36 hours are one impossibly bright blur—the pale yellow of his skin as we washed his body, the pink of an orchid someone brought during the wake, the maroon of his morphine pills, the greenish-brown trickle of bile that came out of a corner of his mouth and pooled on his pillow, meaning it was time for us to let him go, time for his body to be loaded into the white van that conveyed him to the crematorium.

I ease the squirrel out of the cage and into a garbage bag and the vegan roommate grimaces from the porch and the bright-red blood shines up from the dust. I'm not feeling so cavalier. I think about death and my then-girlfriend's father. I think about my mother, who, that very afternoon, has an appointment with an oncologist, to hear news that is probably unpleasant.

The squirrel is still warm. Its heat radiates through the garbage bag, its face showing in relief through the black plastic. I think: This isn't such a bad way to die. Until three minutes ago, you were robust and alive. You didn't even know what death was. Knowing that you're going to die, that the people you know are going to die, that people you love will have to watch you die, is a longer, slower torture than this.

I cook it like I cooked the rabbit, in a cast-iron skillet in the oven, with potatoes and white wine. "How was it?" my mother asks. "It was fine," I say, "a little greasy, but fine." I ask about her meeting with the doctors, ask if the news is, in fact, unpleasant.

It is.

SLUG

Harvesting slugs is less hunting than gathering, and hardly bears mentioning, but here is what you do: The morning after a good rain, peek beneath the leaves, bricks, and wooden planks of a friend's garden and drop the slugs you find into any nonmetallic container. Allow them to fast for a couple of days, then feed them on sage or other savory leaves. Wash away the mucus—saltwater baths help—and sauté them in butter and garlic, like escargot. They are chewy.

DUCK

Catching a duck is like catching a rabbit—it takes several attempts. The first time, I go to Green Lake with my friend Bill, my gun, and a bag full of breadcrumbs. It is twilight and the ducks and geese gather on the docks near a concrete amphitheater. There are joggers, rollerbladers, and plump homeowners power-walking off their dinners. My friend keeps a lookout while I lay a trail of crumbs from the dock to a discreet corner, near the amphitheater bathrooms, where I can shoot one without hitting or traumatizing someone else. The ducks respond, waddling along the trail of bait, nipping at each other's necks to get at the bread. After several aborted attempts ("Hold on. Joggers. Okay. Okay. Go! No, wait! Wait. More joggers.") I take a shot. I miss. The ducks scatter, quack, and flutter noisily back to the dock.

"Maybe you can strangle one?" Bill suggests unhelpfully. "Or get some rollerblades and a scythe—we could skate along the path in Grim Reaper costumes and cut off their heads."

After a few more failures, including scaring two teenagers making out in the shadows, Bill buys us consolation beers in a nearby bar.

The second time I go duck hunting is a date. I have vaguely told Anna about the urban hunt, but she doesn't know she'll be canoeing around Lake Washington to bag game. This is just supposed to be a reconnaissance mission, but I bring my pistol and some bread—you never know. After some pleasant paddling, we are in a quiet romantic nook among the lily pads and cattails and low-hanging trees. With a couple of mallards.

"Can you keep a lookout?" I ask. She gives a half-hearted "yes?" and I throw some crumbs into the water. They swim right up to the side of the boat. She gamely plays along while I shoot and, predictably, miss. Back on shore, Anna asks the question that has been on everyone's lips: "Why?" I go through all the reasons—ethics versus aesthetics, disasters, the "u-kill" chicken shack. She listens quietly, obviously unconvinced.

Two weeks later I am single again and go to a movie about Mongolian shepherds. They use something called a "herding stick"—a loop of rope, fixed at the end of a long pole, and tied in a loose knot a quarter of the way down. They chase their sheep and use the herding stick as a lasso to snare them by the neck or foot. Once snagged, the lower knot slides up the pole and tightens into a noose. I make a cheap one out of a coat hanger, tape, and twine, then rent another canoe. This time, I get one, a pretty green male duck who, alongside a dozen others, nearly jumps into the boat trying to get at the crumbs. I yank him out of the water while he squawks and flaps against my legs and the metal hull. I grab his head, pull it away from his body, and twist it all the way around. He goes still. I paddle back and pay for the canoe rental, his body bulging in my bag. He feels heavy on my shoulders as I bike away and just gets heavier as I pant up the hill toward home.

As I ride, I pass pigeons and squirrels, imagining what they look like beneath their skins. I can see their tough sinews, the distinct gray-and-blue squiggles of their organs, the pink veins spread across their chest cavities once their wrinkled lungs have been plucked out like soft, gray walnuts. Their freshly spilled blood is the brightest; it gets duller with every second it is in contact with the air. People are built the same way—the woman in the fancy car, the man jogging by with green sneakers, me.

I think about disasters and imagine someone, someday, deciding to eat me—once the pigeons and rabbits and ducks and dogs and cats are gone. He cuts off my head, hacking through my spinal column, slices open my stomach, sweats and curses as he saws through my rib cage, plucks out one of my lungs, rips it in half, examines the intricate folds inside, throws it in a garbage bag, and scatters my body, carelessly tossing my liver on his left side and my left foot on his right. Maybe he'll impale my arm on a stake over an open fire or fillet my calf for broiling in a skillet with white wine and rosemary and potatoes and, if he's feeling sinister, carrots.

GOOSE

The goose is the final challenge. Geese are bigger, smarter, and warier than ducks. I bike back down to Lake Washington, to rent a canoe from the university, with my net and some bread. I planned an aquatic version of the pigeon trap—spread breadcrumbs over the submerged net, then jerk it upward and snare the bird. I paddle near some geese sunning themselves on a dock. I throw crumbs into the water. They swim toward the canoe, eager and greedy. There is nobody else in sight. I watch them dipping their long necks for the bread, then stretching them upwards to swallow.

Canada geese are the epitome of our bizarre behavior toward animals—they are a perennial, and controversial, nuisance. With plenty of food and no natural predators, their fecund population has exploded: They overgraze, crowd out other species, and their voluminous shit contains parasites harmful to people and other animals who swim in the contaminated waters. The city's parks department, the same people failing to save the rabbits, killed geese throughout the 1990s, until animal-rights groups pressured the city into a no-kill policy—to protect an invasive species whose breasts you can buy for three dollars per pound at the grocery store. We should all be out there on weekends, killing the geese and giving them to soup kitchens.

But watching the geese, I begin to feel hollow. Why am I actually doing this? I don't buy goose. I don't really like goose. No soup kitchen would accept a carcass from me. So why am I here, paddling in a canoe, looking nervously over my shoulder, trying to kill an animal I don't want to eat? What's the point I'm trying to prove again? Why do I keep fantasizing about disasters? Why can't I keep a girlfriend? What is going to happen to my mother? What is going to happen to me?

I slide the net underwater and stretch it out three feet from the side of the boat. I throw more breadcrumbs until a goose is just above the net. It is huge. And beautiful. In my mind I lift the net quickly, turn it, catch the goose and plunge it underwater, feel it struggle for air, wait until it gets limp and heavy before hauling it onboard and hiding it in my bag. In my mind, I cut off its head, skin it, scoop out its guts. My hands are still. I am fixated on the white of its cheeks, the fullness of its breast, the grace of its long neck, the slight curl of the feathers at the tip of its tail.

I let it live.

RABBIT

It's warm and sunny downtown, one of the last days of summer, and the Pike Place Market is full of idle strollers. An evangelist stands on a street corner, shouting into a microphone about Jesus: "We broke the law and Jesus paid the fine! Come to Jesus and you will live for-ever!"

Fat pigeons peck at crumbs between the cobblestones, but I am headed into the market, to Fero's Meats, to buy a rabbit. The butcher hands it to me in a sealed plastic bag, headless but whole. It's bigger and meatier than the rabbit from Woodland Park. It is, she says, from California. But it costs $20. At Cafe Campagne, a cooked rabbit served on a nice plate, with olives and thyme and pasta, is also $20. I decline the butcher's rabbit and walk to Campagne instead.

Hunting is ethically cleaner than buying meat at a market, in part because it is more difficult. Unlike urban progressives who shop in high-end organic grocery stores, hunters are not casual carnivores. Though often accused of being bloodthirsty, hunters simply know what blood is—what it looks like, how it smells. The division of labor is one of the good things about living in cities: Not everyone has to hunt his own food, make his own clothes, and perform his own open-heart surgery. But the luxury of urbanism lets us forget that eating is always about blood, about one thing suffering and dying so another thing can live. With every bite—whether ortolan, salmon, or chicken burrito—we swallow a mouthful of death.

The waiter at Campagne is apologetic—they ran out of rabbit last week. Instead, I order escargot, sautéed in butter and garlic. They are chewy.

The next evening, I ride my bike down to Madison Valley, to the Harvest Vine, where I order an appetizer and two entrées for myself—smoked duck, rabbit confit, and braised squab.

I gorge, eating myself sick with all the things I have so recently killed, but this time prepared by professionals. The kitchen is open, the two chefs obliged to chat with the diners—mostly couples, mostly older, all white—perched at the bar. One woman scolds another for falling off her Atkins diet. "But bread is my first love!" the other woman declares. The younger of the two chefs sets a tray of steaming white cylinders on the stovetop. "What is that?" the scolder asks.

"Pig," the chef says. "Steamed pigs' feet."

She replies with an elongated, upward-inflected "oooooh?" It is half indulgent and half disgusted, the sound a dowager might make when presented with a hairball wrapped in red ribbon. The older chef glances briefly at the younger, then at the tray of pigs' feet. The younger chef carries it back out. The woman returns to her pork sausage.

The chef presents my first plate: strips of duck breast. They are smoky and fatty. Then the pigeon, known here as "squab." It is fibrous and dark, garnished with parsley. Then the rabbit. As I chew, I think of Woodland Park, my bathtub, the blood. But this rabbit tastes tame and fatty—nutty and tender and not at all bitter. I ask the chef where it came from.

"Oregon."

I ask how it was killed.

"Um," he says. "I'm not sure."

The other diners talk and eat, more absorbed in their conversations—politics, gossip, Alcoholics Anonymous—than their food.

There's a large man behind me with a high voice and glasses, a fresh-faced couple cooing in the corner, and a young woman, alone with a glass of red wine, reading the Sunday New York Times. I invent headlines for her front page: "Death from Below—Earthquake—Millions Dead—Worst Disaster in Recorded History Levels the West Coast." I imagine the Big One, my chair collapsing, the walls buckling, the stove exploding, the windows shattering. Which of us in this restaurant would survive the catastrophe? Which of us would survive the weeks after? Or even the weeks ahead?

Come the disaster, I'll be ready. I'm finally going to the grocery store to buy bottled water, bags of instant rice, and tins of beans—but I'm keeping my net, my Buck knife, and my gun.

brendan@thestranger.com

 

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1
Can I just say I found your article on urban rabbit hunting amusing to say the least. I live in the uk but am from South Africa, and when I can, I enjoy an urban hunt. The rabbits are abundant here in the UK, so if you are good you can use a lethal weapon you see everyday, a car. Had two rabbits in this manner yesterday, one by chance and the other planned.
Posted by mathew on September 10, 2008 at 3:40 PM · Report this
2
I really enjoyed your article. I am 26 and my husband and I recently moved from Metrapolis Vancouver to earthy farmland on Vancouver Island. If you had told me a year ago that I would be able to break the neck of a chicken and be okay with it I would tell you that you were wrong. By the way, I recommended that technique for all small animals - just wear heavy gloves if you are conscerned about getting scratched or bitten - it is much 'cleaner' than shooting live animals - especially if they are already caged, or, get the rodent to attack your pistol - if it bitting you pistol you can really miss its head. I just wanted to say that I agree with your experiment, I often wonder how people will survive in the city when things become scarce. There is plenty of available meat in our public spaces and many of those creatures are overpopulated or invasive.

Although my voyage was a bit different then yours, I too had the same comming to terms with killing. In the end, I can kill Chicken, Duck and Rabbit. But I can't deal with big animals (deer - cattle - sheep) until they are headless and hanging. Somewhere in my mind I have the inkling feeling that if you can't kill it and feel okay about it the you shouldn't eat it. I can raise cattle, butcher cattle and eat them but for now I guess I remain a hippocrit in the areas of slaughter.

Ah... The farm stories I don't tell my grade one students.
Posted by Clea on September 15, 2008 at 11:19 AM · Report this
3
Although I realize this was written two years ago and that similar pieces have since trickled into the mainstream, I'm getting tired of writers who claim a special authenticity by exercising their power to kill an animal.

There's an inherent assumption that the rest of us have no idea what it means to choose meat -- what that entails for the animal. And that one has to essentially torture a captive rabbit in order to understand what it means to live. Well, I grew up overseas where as a child I (unfortunately) witnessed the brutality of slaughter and of hunting. And contrary to the opinions expressed by the letter writers here, those experiences did not invigorate me and connect me with life. They served to illuminate how the choices we as humans have, by virtue of our power and technology, are so brutally abused at the expense of those less powerful. And they caused me to make better choices that did not involve the suffering of other people or animals on this planet. I didn't have to kill an animal to feel a connection to the beautiful world around me.

It's a shame that after this experience, the author didn't derive a more compassionate ethic and understanding about his connection to animals -- by choosing to respect their inherent right to exist on this planets. Sorry, but the Buddhists have it right on this.

- Jacques
Posted by JFigg on November 14, 2008 at 12:55 AM · Report this
4
There is a further message in hunting and gathering. Be it animal or plant, something must die daily for you to exist. You may believe that your life leaves animals untouched, but glass, plastic and cosmetics and many other products you consume and use daily are the products of animal's deaths.

The object is to illustrate to ourselves that by existing, we destroy, and to justify our existence, we need to create as well. Those who only exist are a net loss to the world at large.
Posted by hunter/gatherer on November 16, 2008 at 12:34 PM · Report this
5
This is a wonderful article. As an urban deerhunter, it is humbling to feel some people understand where we are coming from. Killing to kill is a cruel ideaology. Killing to sustain and killing to understand are totally different processes that people simply cannot fathom in today's easy-access sustinance market.
Posted by Columbus Hunter on November 18, 2008 at 11:31 AM · Report this
6
I too enjoyed your article though I have never killed anything I’ve contemplated it. I live on the waterfront in an urban area in Australia and we have easy 30 ducks in our front yard and I’m also pretty tight when it comes to money so I think I might do it that is kill a duck for the meat that is. Also I think hat your articles are very well written with good descriptive and emotive language in reading I felt as if i was there with you poring the gust out of the rabbit in your bathtub your obviously a skilled writer
Posted by xibattlie on December 1, 2008 at 8:38 PM · Report this
7
This article is a classic - the only Stranger article I've re-read, and this was for the third time. In my opinion it should be run in the Stranger again, as the world economic situation is becoming so dire that some readers might benefit from pondering these issues which they might soon face from necessity.

Posted by Hermit on February 27, 2009 at 9:23 PM · Report this
8
Did my urban hunt in Palo Alto,CA in the seventies. Quail. Slingshot. Read the section on dressing quail in the Foxfire book. Stanford shopping center. It was a bit tough and dry, but rather tasty. I liked this article, and understand completely.
Posted by volareus on March 4, 2009 at 1:41 PM · Report this
9
following phrase ring any bells? "pets or meat?" (Flynt, Michigan)
Posted by Michael Moore fan on March 29, 2009 at 8:49 AM · Report this
10
great article

THINK PRIMITIVE
Posted by tim from Canada on April 2, 2009 at 11:55 AM · Report this
11
Reminds me a bit of what happened during the Siege of Leningrad. When you have food it may disgust you but people quickly change their minds when the other choice is starvation.
Posted by Le Corbusier on April 3, 2009 at 3:10 PM · Report this
onion 12
I'm reasonably sure that hunting waterfowl or game animals without a permit is ILLEGAL, no matter where you do it. I think it horribly irresponsible to not discuss this at all in the article. If Brendan did some research and found that yes, he COULD legally hunt Mallards and Canada Geese without a permit, then he should discuss what conditions made this legal. Or, if he DOES have a permit, then he should note this in the article, so as to not encourage readers without a permit to run out and willy nilly shoot, hunt and/or kill anything they want.

In most other circumstances, even seasoned hunters have to get a hunting permit and are restricted to hunting such game when it is the appropriate SEASON for that species. You rather disrespect and make a mockery of responsible and law-abiding hunters by not even addressing the issue. You also quite blatantly promote ignorance of regulations that are in place to protect wildlife. Yes, there are plenty of mallards and Canada geese in the world, but this is a horrible precedent to set.

And the commenter who bragged about hunting what were probably California Quail back in the seventies? Probably illegal too, if you did it without a permit and out of season.
Posted by onion on May 4, 2009 at 11:13 AM · Report this
13
Response to hunter/gatherer:

>> There is a further message in hunting and gathering. Be it animal or plant, something must die daily for you to exist.

... but nothing needs to suffer. By all scientific evidence available to us, plants, lacking central nervous systems, are not sentient. They are not aware of their own existence. To kill an organism that has no consciousness is qualitatively different from killing an organism that does. To conflate the two acts is asinine. Animals like cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits and ducks all have the ability to experience pain and suffering, and have an interest in avoiding such suffering. Slaughtering a cow is not comparable to pulling up a carrot.

>> You may believe that your life leaves animals untouched, but glass, plastic and cosmetics and many other products you consume and use daily are the products of animal's deaths.

The only people I know who attempt to "leave animals untouched" are vegans, and vegans are well aware that various products are produced using ingredients that were created through the exploitation and killing of animals. These products can be made without using animal-derived ingredients, but since animal exploitation is so prevalent, animal ingredients are, in many cases, cheaper and more readily available than plant-based or synthetic materials. Yet if everyone were to stop exploiting animals, there would be no animal ingredients to avoid. Thus, to speak of animal exploitation as inevitable is patently false.

Yes, in our violent society, it is almost impossible to avoid minute amounts of animal ingredients. The key is to realize that although there is widespread fallout from violent choices, our inability to live lives that are 100% untouched by industrialized animal exploitation does not absolve us from the responsibility to make peaceful choices. The presence of animal ingredients is not evidence that the violence cannot be stopped: it is evidence that the violence must be stopped.

>> The object is to illustrate to ourselves that by existing, we destroy

We need not destroy innocent, sentient lives. We can live peacefully upon delicious, varied plant-derived foods.

>> and to justify our existence, we need to create as well.

I imagine that if a person with a conscience willfully engages in harmful actions (like the killing of animals), they may feel the need to "justify their existence" in order to make up for the harm that they willfully commit. If a person commits to nonviolence (which by definition implies a commitment to veganism), the person removes a large millstone of guilt and debt from their soul. No one can live a perfect life, but we can do our best.

I do agree that humans have a drive to create, to create meaningful lives. I choose to create peace. What do you choose?
More...
Posted by Proud Vegan on May 10, 2009 at 7:57 AM · Report this
14
@ Proud Vegan. Many people would disagree with you based on spiritual beliefs killing in and of it self is a sin, regardless if there is suffering involved. I disagree with you, not to defend the killing of animals, but because I have looked into an electronic microscope and seen a different world than the one we see through the filter of our brain using our eyes as tools. Many other people would disagree with you as well; plant lovers, people with a certain sensitivity. Although shunned by the scientific community (which doesn't always mean much in this corporate crazed world), check out Cleve Backster.
Posted by be_free on August 13, 2009 at 1:17 AM · Report this
15
Onion,I've read a few other similar articles,and from what I understand.Alot of animals living in urban areas are are introduced to the habitat or migrate and are not endangered nor do they require a permit to kill them.Like the rock pideons aren't indigenous,neither is the peking duck,(white duck you see at the park)so theres no laws protecting non-indigineous wildlife to my understanding..now canadian and mallards and rabbits ..they're probably a whole different story.But I agree with the writer on alot of different levels.One when I was a kid in boyscouts,I was at a jamboree.Well,we were on a rifle range shooting paper targets.Well,just so happened this stupid little blue bird flew down and perched it self right on top of my target.Me neing a an ignorant young man full of vin and vinegar, level my sight and shot the bird.I blew it head clean off.The range instructor yelled cease fire and then yelled" okey,who shot that little bluebird?!"I raised my hand.He smiled and looked at me and said"You know,a real boyscout only kills what he eats?"I learned a valuable lesson that day.Bluebird is delicious!..LOL..No ,I'm only kidding.But later on I did want to hunt, to know the thrill of the kill.And to know how survive on my own in the wild,and live off the land.Last year I was stationed in Korea,I was on a detail for a week.In charge of about twelve soldiers.Well,after a week of living on rations(MRE's)i decided to ask one the local farmers for a chicken and make some soup.I had never done this before.But you be surprised how many of those big bad army guys wouldn't eat that chicken soup.All simply because they had seen the chicken alive before I turned it into soup.I'm surprised they didn't try to give it a name and make it our mascot.(hint,never give anything a name you plan on eating,that's thedifference between a pet and dinner!)
More...
Posted by splinteroftruth on October 8, 2009 at 8:44 AM · Report this
16
This is an interesting article. Legally, you can hunt most of these animals without a hunting license. Any domesticated animal that becomes "wild" does not need a hunting permit nor does it have a bag limit. Pigeons and domesticated feral rabbits can legally be taken at any time and by any mean. These animals are not considered local fauna and do not apply to hunting regulations for the state. You must obey local laws regarding firearms, etc., but no hunting laws apply to them.
Squirrels, duck, and geese do have strict laws for hunting. Squirrels need a small game tag while geese and duck have separate tags themselves. Do not get caught hunting game that need a hunting permit. The Department of Fish and Game will royally fuck you on that. Poaching gets you a severe fine, jail time, and you cannot apply for a hunting or fishing license ever.
Posted by Tank on November 5, 2009 at 2:05 AM · Report this
17
I found this to be a very interesting question and an equally interesting method of answering that question. I like your writing style and I like how you think sir. Should the Big One hit, I want you in my post-disaster hippie commune.
Posted by CaliforniaKay on December 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM · Report this
18
I have a friend who grew up in the projects in Chicago. He started hunting rabbits in the city when he was eight. A bunch of guys armed with axe handles or similar weapons stand side to side at the edge of a vacant lot. Then they walk together slowly through the tall grass until a rabbit bolts. One fast guy then chases the rabbit. When pursued, a rabbit keeps changing direction and circling back. Eventually it comes close to the line of guys with clubs and one them whacks it.
Posted by Jack57 on February 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM · Report this
19
Interesting. I generally eschew the idea of eating city creatures except in the more dire of circumstances.

I also am of the opinion that, unless you can kill it, you've no business eating it. Obviously, humane killing is the best way (it produces better meat AND is more ethical).

Congrats on getting up the nerve (and sense) to kill your own food.

@Tank: the legality of hunting sans license/permit depends on your state. I don't know about Washington, but in Oregon one would be arrested for hunting within city limits and discharging a firearm (including an air rifle) within city limits. Even hunting non-game animals in Oregon requires a hunting license.

@Jaques: To continue life, life must end, be it animal life or vegetable life. It's the paradox of existence. If you choose to deny your omnivorous nature and eat only plant matter, that is your choice, but pass not judgment on the rest of us who embrace our natures.
Posted by Fourgotten on February 19, 2010 at 10:17 PM · Report this
20
I'll just add my two cents and say that although i really enjoyed this article (for the most part), that some of the ways this man went about killing his food was really amaturish (for someone who grew up with parents that hunted). Even in Joy of Cooking, it stresses that the animal must be killed as quickly as possible and above all not see it coming, or the meat will be tough. Before you hunt, slaughter, or butcher, please do your research so that your work (and the life of the animal) won't be in vain :)
Posted by oolert on February 25, 2010 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Jesse Stone 21
You article is full of very big holes.
You mention you stopped by Central Gun Exchange to purchase a pistol to kill small animals.
You also mention the "alleged" salesman in the store loaded it up and shot a garbage can in said store.
BULL!!!!!!!
I worked there for twenty-two years and that NEVER happened.
Stop Lying to the Public!

Doc
(206)624-0430
Posted by Jesse Stone on March 3, 2010 at 1:45 AM · Report this
22
This article makes hunting look like a stupid gimmick. Did the author even bother contacting the local game warden? Often they are very helpful and can connect you to a mentor who can teach you how to do stuff legally, properly, and NOT WASTE MEAT. Game is very different from store-bought meat and it takes experience to prepare it well.
Posted by melissamc on September 2, 2010 at 11:43 AM · Report this
23
How's your mom? Condolences.....sometimes we work out grief in strange ways.
Posted by StrangerFan on December 10, 2010 at 7:16 AM · Report this
24
the rabbit tasted bitter and smelled awful because you hit the stomach with the knife. be careful around the stomach cavity and there will be no half digested grass smell and no acid in your meat. also, they can contract a desise that can be transferred to humans. if the liver is spotted, don;t eat it, otherwise, go ahead
Posted by ish on February 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM · Report this
25
"But watching the geese, I begin to feel hollow. Why am I actually doing this? I don't buy goose. I don't really like goose. No soup kitchen would accept a carcass from me. So why am I here, paddling in a canoe, looking nervously over my shoulder, trying to kill an animal I don't want to eat? What's the point I'm trying to prove again? Why do I keep fantasizing about disasters?"

Why, indeed?
It's great to know the author will survive the (inevitable) zombie apocalypse and will then be able to gloat over all the helpless urbanites starving behind their barricades. But in THIS reality? ...Who cares?

I actually very much appreciate some of the author's philosophical reasons for going on this bizarre adventure. Factory farms ARE cruel and awful. And we are all, in general, very removed from our food and where it comes from.

But the whole venture smacks of hipster contrarianism. Kiley argues that hunting is not about bloodthirstiness--and I would agree that for many (even most?) hunters that is probably true.* But it appears to be at least partly what motivated him. Just look at how much page-space in this article is given over to blood, gore, and relaying each minute detail of a killing. I was reminded of all the contrived "coming of age" stories I was forced to read in middle school about young men killing animals so they can better know death and become real men... or something. I got the feeling while reading this article that Kiley is having a bit too much fun baiting his audience of civilized, restrained urbanites. A bit like a Palahniuk novel. Like Fight Club in short essay form. (Transgressive!)

I think Proud_Vegan made some good points and made them well, so I won’t bother rehashing them. And for the record, yes: I'm a vegan too. But I wasn't always. And I didn't grow up coddled & thinking meat is something that spontaneously grows in cans and in freezers. I lived in a small rural town where people wore camo & mesh caps UNironically. My dad owned guns and went hunting occasionally with friends. (And they were all good, caring people.) I've actually eaten squirrel. When my dad hit a rabbit that ran out in front of us while driving at night, he stopped the car and put its body in our trunk. We had it in a stew.

But here's where I get to the asterisk (*) from up top. I still remember the kids in my classes at school who went hunting with their dads. They didn't brag about how much food they bagged for their families. They bragged about kills. And blood. Every time the class watched a nature video there would be a chorus of mock-gunfire when an animal came onscreen. Sure, most of this can probably be chalked up to kids just being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious. But it seemed clear to me even then that the prevailing attitude was, for some of these kids, that animals existed only for us to destroy. I'm sure many of those kids were taught by "ethical hunters" and have grown up to be the same. But I also met plenty who boasted of (or aspired to) hunting with fully automatic weapons and hunting "for sport" in the most unsportsmanlike of ways.

I don't think hunting for food is wrong—certainly not in any absolute sense. I just choose not to do it, myself. But I also wonder about people's motives for doing it. By hunting, what craving are they really feeding? Because it’s not the hunger of an empty stomach. Not for Kiley, at any rate.
More...
Posted by Fuaim_Catha on August 18, 2011 at 11:14 AM · Report this
26
Bah.
Self important vegans. Where do you think your fruit and veggies and grain came from? Who harvested it?
I can assure you it was NOT harvested in a utopian society by smiling, singing villagers.
Eating more fruit and veggies means more surviving on human suffering, instead of animal suffering. Great trade off. Unless you eat all fair trade organic food. Which means you have a lot more money than most people, captain smug. Some of us have to worry about making rent and providing for kids, and can't afford luxuries like fair trade organic food.

And exploding populations of invasive species with no predators don't just go away. You actually have to kill them. Why not eat them, too?
Posted by Caralain on August 21, 2011 at 6:06 PM · Report this
27
#13 - "Slaughtering a cow is not comparable to pulling up a carrot"

Carrot Juice Constitutes Murder, by the Arrogant Worms.

Listen up brothers and sisters,
come hear my desperate tale.
I speak of our friends of nature,
trapped in the dirt like a jail.

Vegetables live in oppression,
served on our tables each night.
This killing of veggies is madness,
I say we take up the fight.

Salads are only for murderers,
coleslaw's a fascist regime.
Don't think that they don't have feelings,
just cause a radish can't scream.

Chorus:
I've heard the screams of the vegetables (scream, scream, scream)
Watching their skins being peeled (having their insides revealed)
Grated and steamed with no mercy (burning off calories)
How do you think that feels (bet it hurts really bad)
Carrot juice constitutes murder (and that's a real crime)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves (let my vegetables go)
It's time to stop all this gardening (it's dirty as hell)
Let's call a spade a spade (is a spade is a spade is a spade)

I saw a man eating celery,
so I beat him black and blue.
If he ever touches a sprout again,
I'll bite him clean in two.

I'm a political prisoner,
trapped in a windowless cage.
Cause I stopped the slaughter of turnips
by killing five men in a rage

I told the judge when he sentenced me,
This is my finest hour,
I'd kill those farmers again
just to save one more cauliflower

Chorus

How low as people do we dare to stoop,
Making young broccolis bleed in the soup?
Untie your beans, uncage your tomatoes
Let potted plants free, don't mash that potato!

I've heard the screams of the vegetables (scream, scream, scream)
Watching their skins being peeled (fates in the stirfry are sealed)
Grated and steamed with no mercy (you fat gormet slob)
How do you think that feels? (leave them out in the field)
Carrot juice constitutes murder (V8's genocide)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves (yes, your composts are graves)
It's time to stop all this gardening (take up macrame)
Let's call a spade a spade (is a spade, is a spade, is a spade, is a spade.....
More...
Posted by auntielarrie on August 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
28
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPN_Dcbli…

I do not agree with the statement that Buddhists don't eat meat, they eat meat and fish all the time and they aren't half as "peaceful" as the one poster above seems to think they are. They are human, too. They sweat and bleed and cry and eat and sh*t and kill and die like the rest of us.

I appreciate the effort the author made to learn how to come to terms with killing his own food. I also appreciate the DIY sentiment that he expresses, and the philosophical way he went about explaining it.

Kudos to you, Brendan.

Cheers,
PMZ

Posted by Trek on November 11, 2011 at 10:51 AM · Report this
29
Just bagged a couple of urban squirrels this past weekend with the ol Sheridan air rifle. Wife's out of town and doesn't appreciate my resourcefulness, so I started baiting them in with corn a few days prior to her departure. Neighbors wouldn't care for my shenanigans either, so I have to crack the back door and set-up a ways back in the house to keep the noise to a minimum.

I've had many co-workers express their distastes for my hunting only to turn around and take a bite of their Big Mac. I can respect vegans' opinions, but I don't want to hear any more lectures from ignorant hamburger-eating, leather-wearing, delusional supposed animal lovers.

Killing my food (be it deer, bear, grouse, squirrel, etc) provides me with a greater respect and appreciation for the animal that died to sustain my life.
Posted by Matt in MN on December 5, 2011 at 3:03 PM · Report this
30
Kudos for anyone who actually fixes the hypocrisy we abhor in others in oneself, but I do worry that of the millions of people in a city, many will start to "hunt" in an unsportsmanlike fashion, thinking of it like a game. Know the animal and the population before you hunt it. If you kill it, do it cleanly. If you kill it, eat it. ...and maybe not post the crime online in case the DA or game warden doesn't see it the same way.
Posted by Phoenix Grove on February 27, 2012 at 1:36 PM · Report this
31
And why not I am a New Zealander living in Durban South Africa. Egyptian Geese everywhere Pigeons rabbits. Why not eat them. I am so bored with the limited choice of food from a supermarket.
People say the eastern cape Africans (Nelson Mandela`s people) eat cat and that's why there are few cat in townships. Why not eat cute little ginger. He kills beautiful birds snakes lizards which would appear on nature programs.
On resent holiday on Tioman Island Indonesian laborers were catching bat and cooking over fire. I would have loved to try. Better than the banana omelettes the Malaysians think western people eat 3 x a day

Make it regular slot like home cooking.
Posted by kiwionwing on March 7, 2012 at 5:58 PM · Report this
michijo 32
I talked to another Alaskan once about hunting. He said they ate moose at thanksgiving. I see nothing wrong with it, but having never been hunting myself, I wonder at the self-righteousness of it. To make fun of vegetarians who eat tofu, which in itself is not all that simple, as one has to be aware of vitamins such as B12 in order to not have all of one's hair fall out, then to wax nostalgic: "I remember the moose", it all sounds too conservative.

A lot of times you can see in the USA this flare for conservative home-ownership, hunting, living off the land, and maybe it is merely the history of American pioneerism reemerging genetically in certain people. Rather than fighting meat-eating hypocrisy, you are only following a genetic urge of hunter-gather still embedded in your primitive American genes.
Posted by michijo on April 1, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
michijo 33
Regarding survivalism in post-apocalyptic environment, possibly you have not thought it through: what if they water is poisoned? The animals will drink it, turn into zombies, or make you sick if you eat them. What then?

I personally tried living one winter in an apartment without a fridge, stocking up on dried beans ate no animal products. During this time I also only bathed with hot-water and used only CFL bulbs for light. My electric bill was only like 12 dollars a month. It is possible to survive without meat, car, or capitalism. I have still never owned a car in my entire life, but I bought a fridge again.

With survivalism, you will have to think of gas-shortages, lack of electricity, not having a car, etc.
Posted by michijo on April 1, 2012 at 10:01 AM · Report this
34
Wild rabbits can carry tularemia. Be careful.
Posted by quinntheeskimo on April 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
35
I am a proud meat eater, (Former President of my school's MEAT club) and hold survivalists in high regard. In fact, I feel like most people could learn a thing or two from you to prepare for the inevitable 'end of days' scenario you are prepping for. I understand that in the breakdown of society, we would have to hunt and gather... however society still exists, and will continue to exist, even in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. I don't think the victims of the 2004 tsunami were out hunting rabbits... they were looking for loved ones and eating beef jerky.

What you are doing to these animals is not only reprehensible, but it is ileagal and dangerous.

Killing wild animals in public parks is immatute and irresponsible for the simple reason that a wild animal is precisely that: Wild. It has survived effectively and has a mental method and independent mindset. (By comparison the rabbits that are farmed for their meat are in fact docile and know nothing outside of their cages.) What you are doing is robbing a soul of it's final few years/months on this planet. These creatures could very well have a happy and healthy end, however your selfish experiment is robbing them of even this basic right to exist. What gives you the right to choose who lives and who dies?

I understand that this indiscriminate killing is probably an odd adrenaline rush for you, but obviously it's bordering on psychotic. I hope you get the help you desperately need before your inflated ego allows you to move onto more advanced prey.

There is a difference between survival prep, and harming innocent lives... please learn the difference.
Posted by Concerned Meat Lover on August 8, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
36
"These creatures could very well have a happy and healthy end". I really doubt this, as many animals fall prey to bigger and different animals. Plus the harshness of the seasons and the danger of living in urban environments (hit by a car is a large statistic fo animals in cities) really do not assure a so called "happy end".
Posted by Phill K on August 23, 2013 at 5:08 AM · Report this
37
This is the best article I have read this month. I'm an ex-vegetarian who decided I should kill my own meat. You perfectly captured the feelings of that experience and the weird hypocrisy of judgment and confusion that the world puts on those who kill animals for food instead of having someone else do it.
Posted by facet on August 30, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this

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