Why is Wild Game Meat Better (and So Dang Tasty)?
If you’re interested in learning to hunt, you’re probably also interested in adding more wild game food to your diet. It’s becoming quite the trend these days. More people these days are asking local butchers for different/unique cuts and sources of animal protein. You can even buy game meats from several distributors (though they’re not wild animals).
Sticking to the whole, “We did it before it was cool” mentality, hunters have been eating wild meat for thousands of years – way before it became trendy for restaurants to serve it. It may have started out as a necessity, but now most people choose to eat it for dietary reasons.
If you stick to a paleo diet or locavore diet, you have every reason to hunt your own food. First, wild game protein is healthier than most farmed proteins. If you prefer to eat local food, many animals can be hunted right down the road (in most locations). Plus, the physical nature of hunting is great exercise in itself.
That sounds great, right? Unfortunately, depending on where you live, how much you hunt, and how lucky you are in the field, it might be pretty hard to actually get 100% of your protein from wild game meat. But even if you supplement your overall meat consumption, you still get to enjoy some amazing wild game food and sustainable protein.
Why Wild Game Food?
Like I said above, wild game food is generally healthier for you. The table below compares the nutritional breakdown of similar cuts of meat between wild game animals and domestically farmed equivalents.
As you can see, wild game meat (especially venison meat) is higher in protein, vitamins, and minerals, while being lower in fat, calories, and sodium than domestic meats. You also don’t have to worry about any hormones or additives with wild game. While farm animals get fat off grain, wild animals have to survive on natural foods and escape predation.
This active lifestyle produces meat that is very lean. While that’s great, it can also screw people up. If you cook wild game food too long, it can really dry out. Some people claim wild game is too “gamey” for them to enjoy. But in almost all cases, that just means it wasn’t prepared or cooked the right way.
What I love about butchering wild game animals that I’ve hunted is that I can decide everything about it. If I want to keep lots of venison steaks or turn most of it into wild game sausage, I can do that myself. If I want to try some new wild game recipes using exotic cuts (e.g., shanks for osso buco, organ meat, etc.), I reserve them. When I want to make venison bone broth, I can easily just keep the bones instead of seeking them out from a butcher.
Wild Game Food Ethics
Additionally, hunting your own wild game food is just more ethical in my opinion. I choose to eat meat because I like it and I feel crappy if I don’t eat it. And if I’m going to eat meat, I’d much rather be involved in the process of killing and butchering it. That way I know exactly where the meat came from, how the animal lived its life, and how it was processed from the field to my dinner table.
When I buy premium cuts of meat from the store, I have to pay through the nose to know even a fraction of that information for organic, free-range meat raised on ethical farms.
Other Health Benefits of Hunting
How else is wild game food healthier than store-bought domestic versions?
First, hunting can be very physically strenuous (if you want it to be). When you’re hunting elk in the mountains or chasing small game (like rabbits and ruffed grouse), you will walk many miles each day. You’ll also be carrying a hunting backpack and a weapon of some sort, increasing the difficulty. Sure, there are lazy people (just like anywhere else), that hunt animals with almost zero effort spent. But you can make hunting as physically challenging as you want.
Finally, there’s the mental aspect of hunting. Taking time off work and away from daily life allows you to de-stress and recharge, almost regardless of what you’re doing. But when you can spend it hiking in the great outdoors or sitting in a big oak tree watching the natural world go about its business, you get so much more than that. You can walk away from a hunting trip feeling sharper and more connected to the world than ever before.
Do you ever feel that way when you heroically swipe your credit card at the grocery store to buy a plastic-wrapped meat of unknown origin? I really doubt it.