Trophy vs. Meat Hunting

A few years back I did an Interview With Dirty Red’s Matthew Ament you can listen in here or watch it here

There are few things that ruffle my feathers more than hunter on hunter hate. I keep seeing this subject Trophy hunting vs. meat hunting come up more and more, and really it’s a little troublesome to me, mainly because it has caused a bit of rift between brothers so to speak. It goes deeper than this one specific topic: gun hunter vs bow hunters,  weekend warriors vs diehards. Everyone does this for a different reasons but the majority of us share the same love for hunting, the game we hunt and the outdoors.. . However I bring these topics to make one point before I get into this discussion… It is getting harder and harder for us as hunters to do what we love and if we want this sport to last we need to show a unified front because the anti-hunting groups are far better organized than we as a whole. We’ve seen how fast stuff goes viral… Look at the Cecile the Lion B.S. When we do something good it only goes viral within our niche not worldwide… So think about that next time you want to waste your energy picking a fight with a guy because he shoots a different bow than you. 

Trophy vs. Meat Hunting

I honestly don’t know what to say, there are those of us who hunt for meat and those of us who hunt for inches.. I don’t think it should be an argument, I don’t feel like there should even have the “vs” between the two. Listen, there is nothing wrong with a guy/girl who enjoys challenging themselves in seeking big mature animals and there is nothing wrong with someone who just wants to get out and enjoy hunting for what it is and bring some meat home for the family. I think what muddies up the whole thing is that trophy hunters get thrown into this stigma that they are only after the horns. Unfortunately this sheds a negative light on the sport as a whole. And it aggravates the meat hunters because they are getting lumped together with the “trophy hunter stigma”. The majority of “trophy hunters” all enjoy game meat, all respect the game they pursue and are just as big of proponents if not more for conservation.. It’s the few (insert your favorite derogatory adjective) that only strictly hunt for racks that are ruining it for us all. It’s the guys that would shoot a 400” bull cut the head off and leave the meat to rot, that are stinking it up and are feeding the anti-hunting organizations with ammo to hurt what we do.

Listen if you shoot something, its death has to have more meaning than a decoration on your wall simple as that… I predator hunt, I have eaten coyote, bobcat and lion but I don’t make a habit of it or enjoy it. But when I kill predators I harvest the hides, I’m managing populations, I try to make sure that the death of that animal wasn’t just to feed my blood lust.

Long and short of it is if you’re a “trophy hunter” then you need to do an exemplary job of educating the non-hunters about what you do and why you do it. They need to know that you: only want to hunt mature animals because they are the fittest, have survived the longest and are the most challenging not because you are solely focused on their rack, that you do harvest the meat and consume it, that you are doing your part in conservation and that you are not just in it for bragging rights of your trophy room… Because if you don’t the first thing a non-hunter is going to think when they see you holding a big rack in the field is this guy kills things to put on his wall.

And meat hunters don’t think it’s not on you too. First and foremost stop the negativity toward the “trophy guys” you are not doing the sport justice. All of us should be educating those who don’t hunt on all the positive we do for wildlife and stop wasting energy on each other.

I personally have taken a different approach to hunting that might suit you as well

My Personal Philosophy

I for one I am neither a trophy hunter nor a meat hunter and I am both a trophy hunter and a meat hunter….. Hmmmmm, how? Do you ask… I am interested more in the experiences than the meat,… And even though my family, friends and I all enjoy the meat.. I do not need it to survive. Heck if you add up what it costs me to hunt those are some pretty expensive steaks. I can be eating Kobe beef for dinner every night.

I take home more than racks as my trophies, each time I take to the woods it fills me.. Don’t get me wrong I’m not getting up on a soap box here and saying I don’t seek or long after big racks. I’d be lying to you if I did… Anyone who visits my house will see that I do collect my fair share of bone…But I learned a long time ago that if you cannot enjoy all of it, if it’s only about the pursuit or if its only about the outcome you’re going to be left feeling empty…. Doing what I do can take its toll sometimes.. Your peers are always watching you , you’re always worried about what others may think, always trying to please fans and then there’s the pressure you put on yourself to out preform your last… This is not the heart of the hunter (at least not in my opinion). And this is not why I started hunting.

There was a short stint in my professional hunting career that I would only chase giants, that hunting lesser bucks was beneath me. I was so caught up in what everyone else was doing and so focused on inches that I lost sight of why I started hunting in the first place….. Family, friends, nature, connection, the inner call….. all that went away and all I had was very high, highs and very low, lows….

So I started hunting for the experience I learned to have fun and soak up everything I’m doing.. Those who know me best know I’m very hard on myself and I still get upset and still beat myself up a bit when I don’t meet my goals, but in the end I’ve learned to take away what I need form hunting and that’s the connection to my inner self….. “John Stallone hunter”. Hunting has become me… it’s not just something I do, it is who I am.. And I feel connected, grounded and truly feel like I’m me….

Whoa!!! Got a little deep there… but I hope those of you who continued to read past the opening line caught what I’m trying to spit here… If you got into hunting just for the kill or just for the trophy your going to have a lot of disappointments in your life.. I’m not saying don’t push yourself to be better or take home giant racks. I’m just saying grow to love everything about what you are doing, appreciate the places hunting is taking you, feel the world around you and the next time you eat a tag sandwich it may not as bitter and a great side effect of hunting this way is public perception is more favorable.