How blood thirsty are you?


(click image for larger version)

I come from a long line of blood thirsty hunters. On both sides of the family my ancestors were immigrants to Canada who settled crown land. That means that they arrived here and bought settler’s packages that consisted of unbroken land, a shovel, a pick axe and a few other tools. They were also given some of the bare essentials like a cast iron frying pan (I still have the frying pan from our McCauley homestead on the Manitoulin Island) and a few bags of seed. Needless to say, they needed to hunt to survive, especially in those first few years while they were breaking the fields and building houses and barns.

While several of my cousins and even some of their kids still hunt each autumn, I’ve never had the urge. My motto is: Why go shoot some animal when the store is full of yummy steaks?

But, my attitude is not necessarily representative. Not only are hunting and cooking more often topics that go hand-in-hand in the blogosphere, but those in the know tell me that interest in hunting is on the rise. “Hunting is definitely trending up among women in the US. Anecdotally, overall hunter numbers are slowly declining, but the ‘replacement’ hunters for those who die off are increasingly yuppies — or whatever we’re calling them now,” notes Hank Shaw, author of the very popular blog Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, in 2007, the purchase of hunting licenses was up in all categories including small game, moose, bear and deer. In 2008 there were an estimated 450,000 hunting licenses sold in Ontario. Likewise, Lezlie Goodwin of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says that participation in Hunter Education programs is growing. “Hunting is such a holistic approach to food,” adds Lezlie. “It provides delicious, wholesome, fresh meat and it helps people to become more respectful of their food.”

I like what Lezlie has to say because I think she’s right: seeing your dinner on the hoof (or on the wing) makes you realize that every bite is precious. That said, It’s my guess that hunting is like meat eating. Either you do it, you did it or you won’t ever do it. Use the chart above to rate your hunting interest and tell me how blood thirsty you are. I’m a 4 on this blood thirsty scale.


38 Responses to How blood thirsty are you?

  1. Carola Koitz says:


    I am 100% a one!! 🙂

    Even more though since I read “The China Study” by T.Colin Campbell. Did you read the book? Would love to hear other opinions on it.

    Love your tweets and blog


  2. Sarah says:

    Yup, I’m a 1 through and through. Loved your “controversial” blog posts!

  3. adrian says:

    I’m a 3.5: if the stores quit selling meat, I’d become vegetarian.

  4. Martin Kouprie says:

    Put me down as a 5. If I ever got serious though, the crossbow sounds sporting!

    • Interesting, Martin. I agree. I see little “sport” in hunting with rifles.

      Still couldn’t do it, but you raise an interesting point.

      • Oh, hunting with rifles is plenty hard, Charmian! You still have to use most of the same skills – ample target practice, scouting, tracking, stealth, strategic placement – and the animal still has to be in a position that gives you an ethical shot. The only difference is that you have longer range with a rifle.

        But you also have more lethal killing power. I’m interested in bowhunting, but uneasy with the potential for wounding and losing an animal. My rifle, used correctly, gets the job done with minimal suffering.

        And Dana, I’m a 10.5, but I’m Hunter Angler Gardener Cook’s girlfriend, so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. There’s a lot I love about hunting, but the thing that’s most relevant here is the tremendous respect it’s given me for both animals and the meat we put on the table. It’s never “just a piece of meat” to us. Ever.

    • Sheryl Kirby says:

      My Dad hunts with a crossbow occasionally. That thing scares the beejeezus out of me. Mind you, part of that might be because I can’t control it properly – stupid boobs getting in the way.

      But I don’t see rifles being less sporting. You have to be a totally accurate shot with the crossbow, because it’s less likely to down the animal if you don’t hit the right spot, and the last thing you want to do is to have to track a maimed animal through the woods all day. But you still have to do your time sitting in the woods getting frostbite with either weapon.

      Now those sport hunting “farms”, where you stand in a field and someone sends animals your way to shoot – those I have an issue with.

    • danamccauley says:

      NorCal makes a really good point about how difficult it is to kill a moving animal. I have such terrible depth perception that even if I wanted to be a hunter, I’d likely end up being a vegetarian by sheer lack of skill with a gun!

      Thanks for popping in NorCal Cazadora – hope you come back again soon!

  5. I eat meat, but if I had to kill it myself? Oh man. I’d return to my vegetarian ways in a flash. I could milk a cow, so dairy would still be in my diet. That would be hard to give up.

    I do agree that if we had to kill our own meat we’d be more respectful of it. I just know that I’d be a sobbing, hysterical mess if I ever had to kill any creature more evolved than a bug. I can’t even kill the mice my cats bring to me as “gifts”.

    Guess this makes me a 3?

  6. Amy Snider says:

    Growing up on a sheep farm, I understand that an animal has to die to put meat on my table (as well as clothes on my back). Honestly, I tried not to think about the destiny of the lambs especially those who needed extra attention and bottle feeding. But this is the reality of growing up on a farm.
    I have family who actually names their animal so that they know who they are eating!
    So, not to be a hypocrite – I like to eat meat and eventually, if I couldn’t get it in store, I would likely consider hunting. So I am a 4.

  7. Hank says:

    Guess I am a 10.5 then, as I’ve hunted or fished for nearly every bit of meat we eat at home for several years now; the only thing I regularly buy is pork fat from a local farmer for my charcuterie.

    Hunting does make you think, however, especially if you come to it later in life, as I did. I grew up as a fisherman, and still rarely think hard about the lives of fish, but I am much more aware with birds or mammals that, as you say, every bite is precious.

    Eating from field to table and nose to tail has, I think, made me a better omnivore.

  8. I am about a 4.5, but I certainly take advantage of my brother-in-law and others who are definite 10s. Whatever they want to share I will gladly take. I love when they get elk and moose!

    Hubby has expressed a stronger interest in hunting of late, so we’ll see where that goes. And my nephew is starting to hunt with his dad now.

    I have absolutely no problem with hunting if you are hunting for meat. I do have a problem with hunting for sport. There is a big difference – food.

  9. I was avegetarian for 5 years, really opens your eyes to all the “other” foods there is out there. ( Came back to the meat eaters a few years back ) I’d have to say I’m a 5 on this scale. I’m sure the reality of “harvesting” your own meat is much different for us today, as opposed to 100 years ago.

    Keep up the great work Dana!


  10. Sheryl Kirby says:

    Augh! Dana, once again I cannot find an appropriate spot for myself on your surveys.

    Have never hunted, although I was taught to as a kid (tin cans and those target sheets are never very attractive mounted). Have participated in butchering of hunted animals. Will always choose sustainable, organic, ethically shot hunted meat over factory farmed. Will also always choose wild caught meant over farmed of the same species (ie. venison, rabbit).

    So while I’m not in a position or a mindset to go hunting myself (I could kill an animal but I’d probably sit and bawl my face off for hours afterwards)I grew up in a household of hunters and really believe it’s a much better way to source our meat.

  11. Diva says:

    I’m solidly a 1. I can’t kill anything – save for the occasional cockroach. If the stores stopped selling meat, I’d likely become a vegetarian. Though I will say that I have been inside my share of meat lockers and seeing whole animals, while somewhat off-putting, didn’t really phase me. I’m not terribly squeamish, but I would not be able to hunt. In many ways, topics such as this make me feel like a hypocrite – I’m perfectly happy to eat meat, but totally unwilling to participate in its demise.

    I agree with what you’ve said about Lezlie’s statement. I have a blog friend in Alaska who recently had the experience of butchering her own chickens (they’re trying to raise most of their own food) and it was a real eye-opener for her. Just reading her experiences engenders a new level of respect – or at least it did for me.

  12. Sharon Haslam says:

    I wonder why more people are hunting? Is it the trendy thing to do (alongside eating more healthy and organic) or is economics the reason?
    My great uncles in Newfoundland hunted bear, moose and anything else that came their way and we always had it growing up. In Quebec we got loads of fresh meat from those that hunted and others that had farms. We had a steady supply of game birds from friends who raised Labrador Retrievers–I’d help gut and defeather–didn’t bother me. I have 2 moose roasts in the freezer right now from my neighbour here in Toronto.
    If the grocery stores stopped selling meat I’d have to re-establish some family connections–I would never become a vegetarian! I think that makes me a 3.5. I’ll clean it but someone else has to kill it.

  13. Kathryn says:

    Definitely a 1. I can’t even bear to buy food that looks like what it once was (like a turkey…).

    • danamccauley says:

      That’s a big problem for many people. In fact, my very close vegetarian friend quite eating meat with bones and easily identifiable animal shape long before she quit eating burgers.

  14. You should phone your uncle Boris for insight, he and mom are at our house this week… after halloween he is racing back to Manitoba for Deer season.
    The guy used to walk as a mere child with rifle in hand as he made his way to his aunties house many miles away, many times a week. I grew up playing with shot gun shells (true story) trying to get them to explode, and there were always shotguns and rifles in the storage closet under the stairs (different times indeed).

    • danamccauley says:

      So glad to hear your Dad’s knees are good enough for him to go out in the woods hunting! He and I have had lots of chats about his hunter gatherer activities and he has been known to send me some of his bounty via ‘mom’ mail. Not that I’m hinting or anything. Much.

  15. Oompah says:

    Dana, I’d say I’m a 4.5. My grandfather hunted, my husband hunts, and I live in a state where autumn is synonymous with hunting – grouse in September, pheasant in October, bear in September and October, wild turkey from September to November and the all-important deer in November [which I think could possibly be just for male bonding over beers 😉 ] – so hunting doesn’t bother me because it seems to be a way of life here in Wisconsin.

    I’ve considered going hunting with my husband, but (1) I’d have to be a WAY better shot than I am currently, and (2) I have to get past the ick factor, which I haven’t yet been able to do. I love to go fishing, but the ick factor is there, too; I absolutely cannot touch a live fish. Gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it! I can, however, touch the fish when preparing it for cooking (strange, I know).

    • danamccauley says:

      YOu see, I love fishing! I do it only about once every 5 years but I find it very relaxing and no ick factor at all. To me fishing is so much more passive since you literally have to wait for the fish to come to you.

  16. Joan says:

    Hi Dana – a note from the Northern Ontario cousin. I would have to be a 9.5. Let Martin know that Evan got his deer this weekend with our new crossbow, btw. I definitely consider hunting part of our heritage and we certainly eat what we hunt – we spent the evening canning venison on Sunday actually. I think there have been a lot of great comments here. My experience is that hunters are so connected to the land and the wildlife. We have some of our best family times connecting during hunting season and spending that time together with extended family. We consider ourselves ethical hunters – the boys target practice faithfully to ensure accuracy in the hunt, both with their bow and rifles. It will always be a part of our way of life here on Manitoulin Island, and to us the death of the animal is the reality of any meat-eater whether you are there to see it or not.

    • danamccauley says:


      I’m so glad you popped into comment. I know how much hunting is part of your family life and I was thinking of you while I wrote this post.

      Congrats to Evan. I’ll tell Oliver about his accomplishment tonight. Likely at dinner.

  17. Cheryl says:

    Wow, I’ve never hunted, but I’ve witness animals being killed for food in my presence, and I currently have a batch of venison sausage in my freezer thanks to a hunting neighbor.

    Fascinating thread.

  18. Hi Dana..I’m definately a 9.5 but I don’t hunt but go with Wayne for game birds and help with deer stands and camp . We seem to always have a great time with friends and family hunting week and everyone is dedicated to the hunt and eat what we hunt .I really think it’s part of the heritage hunting on Manitoulin Island as I recall my Dad getting together with his brothers years ago and hearing the hunting stories over and over again . We look forward to the Sunday before the hunt as we always have a huge pot luck supper at our camp and get together with the hunters who are hoping to get their deer .

    • danamccauley says:

      My Dad has all those great memories from when he used to hunt with your brother Peter and his own brothers. My mom always stayed at home though. I bet she didn’t know you were there or she’d have been in there like a dirty shirt!

  19. katie says:

    I’m a 5, married to a 10. Even though we don’t eat a significant amount of meat, I think I love beef too much to ever fully give up domesticated meat. My husband wants me to hunt with him, and I’ll admit to an interest in hunting birds – but not enough (yet) to sit through the required hunters’ education, since I’m too young to be exempt from the requirement, but too old to really fit in (most of the local classes are populated with adolescent males – not my idea of a good time!)

  20. KAB says:

    I’m probably a 5 on that scale (never hunted, but am curious), more because I feel it’s important to know where my food comes from and how it gets there. I’m also intrigued with what meat should taste like, rather than what the stuff we buy from the store has been made to taste like (i.e. a diet of corn and grain that the animal would never eat in the wild).

  21. Blessed says:

    I’m a 10 married to a 10. My husband introduced me to hunting after we got married and I’m glad he did. I don’t enjoy killing anything – but I am willing to kill in order to eat. Oh and I have to agree with NorCal – hunting with a rifle is not as easy as non-hunters would think!

  22. I’m a 5. When I stopped eating meat I decided that in theory I could eat meat that was hunted because it lived a natural animal life without being confined or abused by traditional farmers. I like that holistic approach to food, the connectedness.

    I really like what Joan said.

    Finally, I’m wondering where the usual lynch mob is. Surely a post about hunting by Dana McCauley would attract opposition. I guess they all left in a huff after the fois gras story and haven’t returned. 🙂

    • danamccauley says:

      Two things:

      1. I’ve never met a vegetarian with your attitude toward hunting. Interesting!

      2. I expected my protesting posse to turn up, too. My guess is they have all spent so much time writing nasty comments that they have blistered their fingers and can’t type. Or, maybe they gave up on me as a lost cause?

      • I have nothing against killing animals for food as long as it’s done quickly and painlessly. We are at the top of the food chain.

        My reason for giving up meat had to do with the treatment of farm raised animals. The confinement. The drugs and other substances that animals are given to boost production. The ethics. Basically, all those issues that Michael Pollan and films such as Food Inc talk about. I want them to live happy lives first and I don’t want to eat those foreign substances when I feast on chicken or steak.

        In theory I’m okay with organic meat. Even better, organic and kosher if the laws for slaughter are adhered to. Still, I choose not to buy either.

        I should do a blog post about organic, kosher and organic kosher and the new certification system in the US that takes into consideration labor concerns, animal welfare, environmental impact, consumer issues and corporate integrity.

  23. Ciao Dana! It’s hunting season in Umbria, and my thoughts were running right alongside yours.
    Including the part about depth perception and maybe it’s a good thing I don’t point a gun at anything.
    I’ve gone clay shooting, which was big fun, but as people upthread have said, it’s hard to shoot a gun, and much harder to shoot a bow or cross bow. Frankly I think the possibility of a non-lethal injury is far higher with bow hunting.
    In any event, we have the promise of some cinghiale coming our way, so I guess I’m a happy 9 on the scale.

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