For today’s Sunday Dinner, Chimeng Yang joins us again to talk about bird hunting. If you missed last week’s conversation, you can read it here. This week, Chimeng has more to tell us about this form of food provision.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
What are the challenges you face as a hunter, specifically a bird hunter?
In general, there are two main challenges for a hunter. One from the hunting community and one from the non-hunting community.
From the hunting community, it truly is access to more areas to hunt. In recent years, you see more cars in public land access points. Certainly on public land, anyone can hunt everywhere, but from a safety and ethical standpoint, I just drive right home. Yes, I am upset, but Scout (my bid dog) is even more upset.
From the non-hunting community, it is not understanding the use of hunting as a wildlife management tool and essentially, financial resources to fund wildlife and habitat initiatives across not just Wisconsin, but all of the United States. It’s not just about license sales and shooting game. I would encourage those who may be interested to research the North American Model of Conservation, Dingle Johnson Act (yes, that is the real name of the act), and the Pittman Robertson Act. Yes, not every hunter goes into the woods thinking “I am doing this for conservation!”, but if there was one reason that hunters agree upon, it would be providing a renewable resource of food for my family and friends.
What do you wish potential hunters would know before buying a hunting license?
First, there is a requirement for a hunter safety course. You can’t just buy a license when you want to start hunting. Always take the regulations seriously and always be an ethical hunter. For your sake and the animals sake. I would suggest all new hunters read Beyond Fear Chase: The Ethic and Traditions of Hunting by Jim Posewitz.
What do you wish non-hunters would know about a hunter like you?
It’s not about the “Kill” or “blood thirst.” It is about being able to provide food for my family and friends and the enjoyment of the chase. There is a sense of pride to know that I harvested this animal, know exactly where it came from, cook it, and serve it to my family and friends. For some reason, there is also a sense of responsibility to the animal as well. It is incredible how people can go to a restaurant, order a burger, get full, and then just throw the rest away. There is no tie to the meat that was processed for the burger and no true thought that they just threw away a once living creature. When I cook a pheasant or venison steak, I ensure all is consumed.
How important is it for hunters to stay abreast of new knowledge and information about hunting? Why?
I love this question. As a non-hunter, I loved wildlife and being outdoors. I would go to state parks, hike the paths, see the animals, and “enjoy nature.” As a hunter, I had to study the animal I would be harvesting. I had to learn the difference between a red oak and white oak, which ones deer loved best, and find what years red oak acorns fell compared to white. I had to keep track of what types of trees that grouse would be in and that the noise that I heard drumming in the woods was a grouse flapping it’s wings on top of a drumming tree to attract a mate. I had to understand what type of calls to mimic to attract a turkey at certain times of the seasons.
Hunters are always learning because hunting is not easy. There are more days in the woods, in the blind, or in the field that you shoot nothing, but it is the deer off in the distance that grunted or the turkey that came in and took a dusk bath, that you learn to adjust tactics. Sometimes these experiences are even better than the actual harvest.
Now coming from the outside world that affects hunting, every hunter needs to be attuned to matters of wildlife management at all times. Just like any other issue with the government, politics and other agendas are always at play. It maybe an issue in Montana, but certainly, if it happened there, it can happen here.
What do you like best about bird hunting?
What I love best about upland hunting, which is my favorite, is being out in the woods with my dog, Scout. Watching him do what his instincts are telling him to do and watching him love every minute of it. There is nothing like walking through the woods knowing that you are being lead by the nose of your dog. There is a sense of freedom that cannot be experienced anyway else. There is no expectation to shoot my shotgun. It is to be with Scout and watch him do what he loves to do. Bringing home dinner is the cherry on top.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw today’s Sunday Dinner to a close. Chimeng, thank you again for sharing more about hunting and especially how understanding where our food comes from gives us a greater appreciation for what we consume. If readers would like more information about hunting, where would you direct them?
Certainly the books I mentioned are great resources. Otherwise, reaching out to their local wildlife agencies / DNR to find programs to help with the experience. There is a Learn to Hunt program out there through Wisconsin’s DNR that gives non-hunters the opportunity to experience all types of hunting through a mentorship program. Otherwise for media sources, the Meateater Podcast hosted by Steven Rinella is a wealth of knowledge around not just hunting, but conservation, archaeology, paleontology, cooking wild game, and many more topics that shed light to the history of humans on earth.
If you love to cook, the Meateater Cookbook for Fish and Game by Steve Rinella or Duck, Duck, Goose Cookbook by Hank Shaw gives great recipes. Even if you are not a hunter, you can substitute with chicken, pork, or steak. Delicious recipes!
As I mentioned last week, Lily Moore, the main character in my novel A Stike to the Heart, shares similar opinions on hunting as Chimeng expressed over Sunday Dinner this week. You can find more information about the book here.
Over Sunday Dinner next week, I’ll be sharing the story behind writing A Strike to the Heart. See you then!