“MeatEater” Steven Rinella Talks Hunting and Conservation
Hunters are the original locavores. Striking out into woods to procure your organic meat is the ultimate sustainable lifestyle.
Steven Rinella shares his meat-eating lifestyle through his books, articles, podcasts and TV show. Rinella reaches broad audiences because he focuses his work on hunting experiences and his dedication to sourcing organic meat.
Rinella often hunts in remote, wild places that provide a sense of adventure, but also values securing meat near home while fishing or hunting. His show, aptly named “MeatEater,” illustrates his adventurous hunts and interweaves life lessons, practical knowledge, cooking tutorials and what it means to be a meat-eater.
Rinella’s adventurous spirit and preference for wild meat motivates his hunting desires. “I like the physical and technical challenges of hunting,” Rinella said. “I also like the suffering brought on by cold weather, rain and snow, long hikes, and really sh*tty camping conditions. I think that we, as humans, can gain a lot by learning how to be comfortable when we’re uncomfortable. Mainly though, I like to secure my own food. I do this through hunting, fishing and gardening.”
Rinella, like most hunters, enjoys eating prime cuts of meat, but also highlights the benefits of other morsels, including hearts, tongues, heads, livers, and bone marrow. “I don’t like to waste food,” he said. “This is especially important with wild game. If you’re going to kill an animal, it’s your responsibility to honor that act by utilizing the resource to the fullest extent.”
One of Rinella’s most memorable meals came on the eighth day of a Dall sheep hunt in Alaska’s Chugach Range. Rinella and his brother were making their first Dall hunt, and miscalculated their food rations. When they ran out, they had to sustain themselves on small pieces of hard candy. Luckily they had a bear license and used it to harvest a black bear.
They ate that bear with the enthusiasm only true hunger can bring. Bears in Alaska’s interior often feed heavily on berries in late summer to early fall, which gives their fat a sweet taste. The brothers rendered the bear fat and fried its meat in the fat. “Black bear meat fried in oil rendered from black bear fat … I’ve had it many times, but the efficiency of the meal always stuns me,” Rinella said.
Rinella’s respect for wild animals and wild places is manifested in his work, especially when it involves wildlife conservation. Like many hunters, Rinella embraces the effort and responsibilities of conserving wildlife and their habitats.
“American hunters have been the primary drivers of wildlife conservation in this country for the past 100 years,” Rinella said. “This isn’t a subjective opinion. It’s an objective reality. Today, hunters pay more for wildlife conservation than any other user or advocacy group. Excise taxes on hunting equipment alone bring in over several hundred million dollars a year for wildlife restoration and habitat improvement. Sales of hunting licenses and permits pump another $800 million into wildlife conservation programs. And direct donations from hunters to wildlife conservation organizations add another $400 million. No other user group or advocacy group comes anywhere near that.”
The relationship between hunters and wildlife conservation seems simple but it’s inherently complex. “If we don’t have wildlife, we don’t have hunting, but it goes much deeper than that, and gets into things of a moral and spiritual nature,” Rinella said.
Being a meat-eater includes responsibilities. Animals that provide our sustenance deserve special respect and consideration. If you love hunting, you undoubtedly care about wild animals and the places they live.
Are you ready to be a meat-eater? If you want to source your own wild meat, get started by visiting an archery shop. These local stores are great resources for gear and information, and can help you on your way to becoming a locavore.