The morning alarm sounds. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the halls. Another new day is upon us. As we hustle around the house prepping for another round of the ol’ 9-to-5, my wife asks from the bathroom, “What are we going to have for dinner?”
Unsure, I walk to the freezer and stare at what is seemingly endless options all wrapped in the same plain white packaging. The only difference from one package to the other is what’s written in Sharpie. No fancy printed labels, no brand names, and no nutritional guide. The pristine paper wrapped meat tells me all I need to know. All that is left to do is to pick the cut or type of meat. Venison roast? Backstrap? A 1-pound package of ground? Maybe a fresh walleye fillet or wild turkey breast? The options are plentiful, but tonight we will be having crockpot chili with chunked venison stew meat.
It has almost become routine. I never put much thought to what we’ll be having for dinner as there is almost always some sort of fresh protein waiting to be woken up on the grill, crockpot, or frypan. The other day however, I was caught in a gaze as I deciphered through the options of freezer paper wrapped cuts.
S-T-E-W M-E-A-T 9-12-15 the package read. This was from an opening day doe I had harvested during my first bow hunt of the season. B-A-C-K-S-T-R-A-P 11-3-2015 the next package read. This was from an unbelievable rut hunt on a farm across from my parents’ house…man, was he a brute. In the top left sat a pair of salmon fillets in vacuum sealed plastic. My father-in-law had given us these after a successful outing on Lake Michigan. As I picked through the packages, I was instantly thrown back to the moment of truth. The moment we as hunters wait all season for and prepare all year for. A living animal is in our sights or on our lure, and within seconds we’ve consciously made the decision to end its life to ultimately better our own.
Many will never understand. They will spend their money on plastic wrapped meat tucked nicely under a glass window with artificial lighting. To them it’s just that, a piece of meat with a price tag. To them, providing for the family is defined by the numbers on their Friday paycheck. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with earning an honest wage to support your family, there’s also something distinct about providing natural, clean protein that far surpasses any grading metric of the USDA.
I ask you to take a look inside your freezer. What does it say about your lifestyle?
One simple look into a sportsman’s freezer will tell the following story…
You prefer to harvest your own food
You respect the game you pursue
You willingly explore the great outdoors
You’re a hard-working individual
You were successful this year
You value wild protein
You skip the meat department in a grocery store
You have an understanding of the natural world
You’re a provider
There is reason that lies behind the trigger
The outdoor experience is more than a dead animal
Comradery is dear to your heart
You don’t take opportunity for granted
Sacrifices were made
And the story may ultimately go on and on…
You may have more meat than you could possibly eat in a year, or maybe you have just enough to get you to the next season, or perhaps it’s empty as a result of a tough year, or maybe it is full of pretty packaging and nutritional labels. Whatever it may be, your freezer tells a story. Do you rely on the natural world to provide? Is it a bonus if it does? Perhaps more importantly, these questions should be asked to the individuals willing, but perhaps afraid of joining a community that may seem intimidating. To those I give the advice: We’ve all been the rookie at one time or another. It’s time to jump in and join us in the great outdoors. Trust me, there’s plenty of teachers willing to take you under their wing. Out here, there’s room for us all to fill our freezers and our minds with offerings of the natural world.