Various life events (life, don’t talk to me about life…) have caused some delays to our move, but what things can be progressed, are being progressed.
One thing that will need sorting out is my firearms licence. I’m a competitive target shooter in the UK, and it’s one of the few things I’ll actually admit to being good at. I want to take my rifles with me so I’ll need a Swedish licence, which is apparently only available by taking a test, in Swedish. As someone who has a hard time picking languages up this could take a while. Luckily I can obtain an international licence in the UK to cover me for a while.
Meanwhile, as we want to try and live off of the land as much as possible, I have opted to take my precision target shooting skills and use them to hunt for food. To gain some experience in field craft and animal preparation before we leave, I have gained legal permission to hunt rabbits and other small game on local farm land. Additionally a good friend who is well skilled in field craft is guiding me. Shooting prey cleanly is the easy bit for me, and I am confident that my quarry will feel no pain with my cleanly placed shot. What I lack are the stalking and animal preparation skills – heck, I don’t know how to peel a rabbit!
I have mixed feelings about this as I am an animal lover. I will state now that I am against hunting purely for pleasure; if you hunt, then there must be a valid reason, such as animal husbandry, land management or for food.
I do not like the torturous way that the larger quantity of shop meat (also eggs, animal skin clothes, leatherwork etc) is produced via inhumane factory farms, and I’d much rather take a rabbit cleanly from the wild than support factory farming by buying slabs of plastic wrapped trays of meat from the supermarket.
As type this in the field on my second solo outing though, I can report that I have taken my first rabbit down cleanly at 40 metres.
It was a shot of ambivalence.
I enjoyed the stalk and the hunt, right up until the bullet hit the rabbit at which point I did feel some remorse, though not regret – yet glad to have made it a clean shot and bagged myself a meal that didn’t rely on a cruel factory farm.
The rabbit had a lovely free range life in the woods and fields, and that’s all it ever knew.
The stalk through the fields was calming. There were many deer to observe through my scope (I wasn’t after deer, so they were safe), several birds of prey, various other birds, rabbits (of course) and even an adder… right at my feet!
Even as I type this I have two deer a hundred metres away, grazing.
Buying supermarket meats and animal products takes people’s responsibilities away from them. It detaches them from the countless deaths each meal or item of clothing has behind it.
By hunting to get my own food I take the burden on of the kill. I appreciate life more for doing so – but I’m not about to go and hunt lions etc for the pure fun of it – that’s only something an immoral bastard would do.
If I take a life it must have a cause, a worth and a reason. Even if it’s just one rabbit.
Some of you will see the logic and understand, and probably find yourself in a position much like the one I’m kind of in right now.
I eat meat and I wear leather. I eat eggs too. The fact is there are many things that I encounter either knowingly or unknowingly that require an animal to be killed, or kept constrained, to enable me and you to do and have certain things.
I love animals. I’ve always had pets. Fish, cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, chickens, a snake and even a rescue crow.
I couldn’t bring myself to shoot one though. Even taking the decision to have one put down at the vets is unbearably tough, but I put the animal first and do what is best for it. Having a severely ill pet that is being kept alive on medication isn’t the nicest thing for an animal; It’s no way to live.
I’ve seen people at the vets with one legged cats whose backsides are prolapsed, cataract in both eyes, dribbling blood, breathing painfully and drugged up to the hilt to stay alive because the owner ‘really loves them‘. Bullshit; if you love them, then you really need to know when to let them go.
I’ve paid to have terminally ill chicken put down before; I could’ve physically done it myself, but it was a pet and I couldn’t mentally bring myself to do it. Did we eat it afterwards? Hell no! She was a pet. Even our hens that died naturally were never eaten. They had names!
My lad with our beautiful rescued hens.
It was keeping the chickens that made me question what we as a species do to other animals that we harvest for their various meats, skins, eggs, milk, shitty coffee etc. They were all rescue hens; ex-factory farm egg layers, beyond their useful lives and heading to a shredder whilst alive. We rescued many over time, and the eggs they gave us in their retirement were the best ever! Better than any top quality, top price ‘free range’ store purchased eggs. The eggs were vibrant in colour and so full of flavour. If you’ve not raised chickens and had real free range eggs, then you wouldn’t appreciate what they are like. Our girls had full freedom in the garden. They had great food, shelter, water, healthcare and love.
Even shop brought free range eggs are a con. To be ‘free range‘ each hen must have a minimum amount of room to itself.
Factory hens are so cruelly and closely packed together that they are wedged together and upon release (to be shredded)after a ‘useful life’ of about 18 months, some can hardly walk. Some even break their legs trying because they were so tightly packed their legs never developed. Sickening.
Battery hens. A few left to run around outside makes this ‘free range’…
But free range hens are okay, yeah? Well, a few are, but others egg producers bend the rules so that they can say that their hens are free range. They wedge most of their birds together in cages, but let a handful run around outside. Because a few run around outside, on average each bird at the factory farm has a lot more space – enough to legally say they are free range hens. Yeah, free range can be just as bad as non-free range, but at least you pay more and think you’re doing the right thing.
This is who your egg came from.
It’s the same with sheep, cows, pigs etc. There are some very good farms out there that really look after their livestock, and despatch them humanely, but a greater number of animal produce suppliers just do enough to be able to operate legally.
A nice bit of bacon?
I’m against hunting for fun. Killing something just because it is rare, or its a challenge, or just because you can, is not something I appreciate in the slightest. I’ll happily eat, wear, use animal products, but I detest those that hunt for fun.
Some people go to far with animal rights though. Some people don’t fully appreciate animal husbandry and the good it does for the animal population.
Foxes. Yes, they can do all sorts of damage, and sometimes need humane culling. Ripping them apart with dogs after baiting and chasing them on horseback is not humane.
Badgers, rabbits, rats, pigeons, crows, deer etc. They can cause all sorts of problems to livestock and agriculture. By letting their numbers get out of hand you can end up with a lot of sick animals with insufficient food sources for them to live, and the larger numbers cause detriment to the environment and other animals. By careful land and animal management the balance can be kept. Only an idiot cannot see this.
In certain countries animals are hunted and the meat & byproducts are put to use. The animals hunted are generally carefully selected from older animals that are no longer breeding, and injured, weaker animals. The stronger, breeding animals keep a herd healthy, and good genetic material us passed on, and the herd can grow.
Additionally other animals benefit from mans help. For a simplistic example; If deer numbers build up, they’ll eat too much vegetation and will be left hungry. Other animals, such as rabbits that depend on the vegetation will also become hungry and Ill, and often leave an area in search of food, never to return. The deer and rabbits that don’t leave get weak, ill and die or spread illness. Weak deer and rabbits make easy prey for wolves. Easy prey means the wolf populations increase due to an abundance of food.
If too many wolves are allowed to build up, then they’ll eat all the remaining rabbits and deer. You’re left with starving, ill wolves and no deer or rabbits and a decimated environment.
By carefully controlling the number of deer, rabbits and wolves you can actually increase each population and keep it healthy. Yes, hunting can enlarge the population and have them stronger and healthier.
Google the Yellowstone Wolves and you’ll see what an impact animal management can have. A couple of wolves reintroduced new animals and vegetation to the park, and even changed the flow of a river. Whole new species of fish, birds and forest animals came back. Plants that had died out in the area cane back – even down to lichen, insects, bacteria… All from careful animal management.
To recap: I love animals, I hate people hunting them for no good reason, and do not see it as a sport. If a cull is needed, then do it efficiently and humanely, and above a lot of this, don’t be that arsehole who is against any type of hunting if you haven’t bothered to research and understand the good that animal management can do when done correctly.
Back to my something new.
I do like my meat, milk, leather shoes, eggs etc, but I’m not thrilled at how the animals are treated.
So I’m taking up hunting on controlled land.
Hear me out.
I’m a good shot. A very good shot. Over 12 years of top division competition target shooting. I know I can take an animal out cleanly. One minute it’ll be minding it’s happy own business in the huge open fields and woodland , and that’ll be the last thing it’ll ever know. HOW CRUEL!!!!
I’m sorry, but Mrs Feathers the factory chicken had 18 months of hell before being thrown in shredder just so you could have some poor quality egg in your shop brought salad. At least the bunny I shoot will have had a life of freedom, sunshine, good food and free of suffering. Who’s worse? The people buying factory meat from a store, or me?
When we move I plan to hunt larger game in an area that uses hunting to increase the entire animal population by proper husbandry. I plan to only shoot what is sustainable, better for the future population of that animal species and other affected species, and only what I need and can use. I wish to avoid buying factory farmed meat and produce where possible.
The difficulty for me is the killing. Yes, I know my shot will be true and clean, and I know it is better than buying from a store, but I’m face to face with my fluffy dinner; I’m not distanced from it like the anti-hunt people who buy their tortured slabs of meat in polystyrene trays, covered with clingfilm.
I’ll pull the trigger. I’ll take responsibility for that life. I’ll prepare and eat the meat and I’ll appreciate it all the more for knowing that I’ve not added to the supermarket demand for factory farmed animals.
So if you ask ‘how can you shoot a poor fluffy bunny?!?‘, I’ll ask ‘how can you buy inhumane factory farmed animal produce?‘
You buy from this, with unsold animals being thrown in to landfill – some still alive:
Once wrapped up and put on a supermarket shelf you’ll feel much better.
If you don’t see it, it makes it okay. Yeah?
But disagree with this – Free roaming rabbit – only shooting what you need:
Terrible. Fancy cleanly shooting a rabbit that’s lived in freedom and happiness.
So inhumane! You’d rather eat factory farmed, mechanically reclaimed meat…?
It is a catch 22 for me. I love animals and nature, and even though I’ve done my research & seen it for my own eyes, hunting for their greater good still doesn’t make it seem right; Even though it’s clearly working in certain countries, and is a damned lot better than force fed, cramped, mistreated factory animal produce.
At the time of writing this I’ve still to shoot my first rabbit, but rest assured! I have a well skilled country friend who is taking me through the humane hunting and despatch skills required to go with my already precise rifle work. I’m not half arsing this – I owe my doing it right to the rabbit.