Using the Outdoors as Your Grocery Store

By Emma Wilson, ENO Brand Ambassador

Waiting in line at the grocery store with the slowest cashier in history is a different experience than waiting to see a deer walk into a field. Personally I much prefer the woods to Walmart. I say this because instead of going to Walmart to buy meat, my family goes to the woods to hunt, or to the bay to fish. Many of the dishes that commonly incorporate beef, instead have venison in my house. Also, almost any fish we eat has been caught in Mobile Bay or the Gulf of Mexico, just minutes from our home. Of course we still go to the store to buy other foods and meats, but we attain a considerable amount of our food ourselves. My family, predominately my father, hunts deer, turkey, dove, and occasionally animals such as rabbit or squirrel.

There are multiple benefits to hunting or fishing for your food. One is cost. It takes less than $50 to process a deer, which could provide meat for over a year. Deer can be processed into multiple different forms, from ground meat to sausage, and even steaks from the back strap. We also have dehumidified our own deer meat to make jerky. You are lucky to get more than a few pounds of meat for less than $50 at the store. For less money you can have more meat and more variety by procuring it yourself.

Something I find most important about hunting for food is the sense of… well I honestly cannot find a word for it. Pride? Accomplishment? It’s honestly something more. Providing for your family is always a good thing, but this is just different. Even in the kitchen when preparing meals, it’s a cool feeling to know that the meat in those tacos was brought in by you. You were part of the process, more-so than just picking it up from the store.

For me, hunting has brought me much closer to nature as well. I’ve sat in the stand and watched turkeys strut in the field. My dad has seen bobcat kittens playing, and even skunks scurrying across the field. It is hard not the feel a connection to nature when you are trying to conceal yourself in it. I now can identify multiple different animal tracks and indications of animals such as markings from deer. This is largely due to my experience of hunting with my father.

Back to the food, the quality of the meat, and the life of the animal, is a contributing factor to why I hunt. I personally like knowing that the animal I am eating lived a free life. It was not raised merely for slaughter. It experienced nature the way it was intended. The fish I eat was not raised in a farm, and most importantly nothing we bring in has been pumped with growth hormones and who knows what else.

However, hunting for me is more than just bringing food to the table. It’s how I got to know my father. I started hunting with my dad around the age of four. I wouldn’t actually hunt, I would just go to the dove field with him and yell “bird!” every time I saw a flying object, regardless of if it was actually a dove. Around nine is when I actually joined him in hunting. It was our bonding time. Almost every weekend of autumn we would be in a field together. I loved it. I would ask him crazy questions and just spend quality time with him. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world.

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You don’t necessarily have to kill anything to provide food. Exactly the opposite is true. You can grow it. Aside from hunting my family does grow food, but not enough to stop our trips to the produce stand. We have a satsuma tree in our backyard that we harvest dozens of satsumas from every winter. We also have two new blueberry bushes. We have yet to harvest any blueberries though, thanks to hungry squirrels beating us to them. For a short amount of time we had a vegetable garden where we grew green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and completely failed at growing cucumber.

Even if you don’t have the means (or the desire) to hunt, or the space for a garden and produce bushes, small efforts can be made. You can go to a produce farm and pick fruit instead of buying it. You can also pick fruit for free in many places. Here is a website that shows free picking sites near you! Growing herbs from a window is another option; one that my college roommate is actually utilizing. My room is the proud owner of Herb the mint plant! Any small effort to use the natural resources around you is a step in the right direction!