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Hunting's about food, of course


Rockies Today

November 21 · Issue #40 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Hunting's about food, of course
Writing in Eater, Kristen Gunther, a conservation advocate with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, confronts trophy-mount stereotypes about hunters, and reminds us that hunting is, of course, all about the food.
Hunting to eat is not a novel idea. It’s the original idea. Hunting to eat is not a novel idea. It’s the original idea.
Reportage about “hunting to eat” as a trend suggests that upstart young hunters — millennials — are the ones behind it. It’s true that after decades of declining hunter participation, the recruitment of new millennial hunters is an important component of sustaining and strengthening a hunting legacy. As an “adult-onset” hunter, I’m happy to be a part of that cohort. But positioning millennial hunters as the enlightened new other hunters, a departure from the hunters of old, has always struck me as a little shallow.
Not to mention that that narrative erases the cultural importance of hunting — and long-held hunting practices — that exist within indigenous communities. And it entirely ignores the existence of people who think of hunted meat as an economic necessity. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Association, there were 11.5 million hunters in the U.S. in 2016, though it’s hard to find precise statistics that reveal how many of that number hunt solely or primarily for subsistence. That “millennials will save hunting” narrative also flattens hunted meat’s role in relieving food insecurity across the United States.
I grew up crabbing and fishing, and I ate a lot of game meat before I became a hunter. When my now-husband and I were young, broke, and living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Cheyenne, my brother-in-law would periodically deposit antelope and elk into our freezer. It was a winter of eating almost nothing but venison and other game that ultimately led me to buy my first hunting license. I went on my first bird hunt in 2011, and my first elk hunt a few years later.
“The number-one reason any new person is going to go hunting is the food,” Putelis says. The role of food in hunter recruitment is especially powerful among women, Busse noted in our conversation — and women are hunting’s fastest-growing demographic. Beyond just attracting people to begin hunting, food can play a powerful role in retaining new hunters. “It was an adventure to start eating wild game. It’s a whole new experience,” says Mandy Nelson, a millennial who was half of last year’s winning Rendezvous cookoff team from Arizona BHA. “It makes me want to go out and hunt more, and get different kinds of meat.”
The truth is, hunting is richer, deeper, and more rewarding than the old trophy-mount stereotypes might have led non-hunters to believe: Hunting is about building a culture and kinship ties that sustain you during a time when Americans feel more isolated than ever; about being intimately, personally connected to your food during a time when we are largely disconnected from food production systems; and about feeling an immediate relationship to the ecosystems that support you at a time when we spend less and less time outside.
When I came to hunting as someone motivated by my desire to source my own food and deepen my relationship to the wildlands I loved to explore, I was following in the footsteps of every other hunter who ever came before me. “Hunting to eat” is not just a search for “ethical” or “sustainable” meat — it’s about a connection to an experience, a place, a blood tie to the ecosystems that support our daily lives.
'The trip never quits'
The Great Falls Tribune’s Nora Mabie profiles Tyson RunningWolf, a state representative who’s devoting his life to protecting land and values sacred to the Blackfeet Nation, informed by lessons learned in the wilderness.
'The trip never quits': Rep. Tyson RunningWolf stands for Indigenous people 'The trip never quits': Rep. Tyson RunningWolf stands for Indigenous people
When he took office, RunningWolf remembers feeling lost. He grew up learning from his grandfather, tribal elders and Smoke Elser. As a freshman lawmaker, he felt he had no guidance.
“It was scary. You can’t ask anyone for advice because you can’t trust them. They might have ulterior motives to influence your vote. The people elected you, not someone else,” said RunningWolf. 
RunningWolf was also struck by the different values other House members held. 
“Not all legislators are Montana-born people. So, I have Montana core values, but I also have Native core values that are straight from frickin’ down in this willow creek right here, growing up in these mean streets right here,” he said, adding that he thinks some representatives saw his thoughts as “primitive.”
RunningWolf said the idea of “primitive” Native Americans is a symptom of paternalism, where non-Indigenous lawmakers think they know what policies are best for Indigenous people.
“That’s how it’s always been, in ancient times, (Indigenous people) were excluded (from decisions),” he said. “I always thought that the tribe should always have the No. 1 seat at the table.”
The Browning resident took advantage of his “seat at the table” and used his position to educate others on Native culture and advocate for Indigenous communities.
Wilks bros. fracking firm goes bankrupt
Billionaire fracking brothers hammered by Permian holdings Billionaire fracking brothers hammered by Permian holdings
Farris and Dan Wilks hit pay dirt during the shale boom when they sold their Texas fracking company in 2011 for $3.5 billion, giving them ample resources to fund their interests in land, politics and religion.
But many of their more recent investments in the Permian Basin have turned to dust.
The brothers put some of their fortune into Cisco, Texas-based Wilks Brothers LLC to invest in various businesses, including natural gas producer Approach Resources Inc. The shale driller sought bankruptcy protection Monday after 4 ½ years of losses, erasing more than $110 million of the Wilkses’ wealth.
That follows the recent implosion of at least two other firms in which they invested – Alta Mesa Resources Inc. and Halcon Resources Corp.– after the shale boom went bust for explorers that piled on debt as gluts of crude and gas depressed prices.
As The New York Times reported in June, “The Wilkses, who now own some 700,000 acres across several states, have become a symbol of the out-of-touch owner”:
Who gets to own the West?
Inside the Navajo Nation's energy transition
The Navajo Generating Station coal plant officially powers down. Will renewables replace it? The Navajo Generating Station coal plant officially powers down. Will renewables replace it?
An important companion read:
Environmental victories don’t guarantee economic justice
More energy news:
BLM plans to open millions more Alaska acres to drilling
Interior to hamstring federal coal mine oversight
Cost, comfort emphasized as building electrification takes off in Colorado
Lawmakers advance ‘piecemeal’ electric grid deregulation bill
‘Hidden danger’: Life for farmers atop Alberta’s 400,000 kilometres of pipelines
'This is effectively adding another major pipeline': How more oil will be exported from Alberta
As go the glaciers...
Two insect species classified as threatened as glaciers melt Two insect species classified as threatened as glaciers melt
The continued existence of two species of insects is in doubt because climate change is melting away the glaciers and year-round snowfields they depend on, U.S. wildlife officials said Wednesday.
The western glacier stonefly and the meltwater lednian stonefly found in the northern Rocky Mountains will be protected as threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said.
“We recognize the fact that this species is not doing well,” agency spokeswoman Jennifer Koches said. “The primary threat to the habitat to both species are climate-change induced.”
The stoneflies’ peril underscores the threat climate change poses to mountaintops worldwide that are “biodiversity hotspots” — home to a rich variety of plants, animals and insects that scientists are still learning about, said Clint Muhlfeld, a research aquatic ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Muhlfeld, who is based in Montana’s Glacier National Park, led the scientific research that backed the fish and wildlife service’s decision.
“It’s not just about those two species,” he said. “They represent an entire ecosystem we know little about.”
What else we're reading today
Missoula refugee resettlement agency wades through Trump order
Salmon: A debate over dams and the cause of a great fish's decline
Lawsuit says feds illegally killing Montana wildlife
Report highlights corners of the Mountain West lacking running water
Aurora, Colorado Springs own water near Leadville. They may need to redraw a wilderness area to access it.
Apple detectives track down trees for history, biodiversity
The long decline of Canadian journalism: Fewer permanent jobs, less security
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812