Posts Tagged ‘Aldo Leopold’

Wild Game, It’s what’s For Dinner

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Hunt_Meat_Graph1

“Hunters are increasingly motivated by meat,” that’s the headline of a report released on Wednesday by Responsive Management, an international survey research firm. According to their findings, the percentage of hunters identifying “for the meat” as the most important reason for hunting participation rose from 22 percent in 2006 up to 35 percent during this year’s study.

The report attributes the 13 percent climb to three factors; 1) the recession, 2) the locavore movement and 3) the increased participation of females in hunting. Summarizing the findings, Responsive Management concludes our country’s economic downturn has reinvigorated people’s food acquisition through hunting because of its relative affordability (they obviously haven’t accompanied me to Gander Mountain). Their research also indicates women have a slightly greater propensity to choose “for the meat” as a motivation over their male counterparts.

While I agree the economy and gender have played a role in the rise of wild game meat motivation, it’s the “locavore movement” I believe has had the most influence in this quest for game meats. As I look across “pop culture;” from television to magazines to books to restaurants.  I see prime time shows featuring Andrew Zimmern on a squirrel hunt, I see Hank Shaw’s books climbing Amazon’s best sellers list, I read about Lily Raff McCaulou leading Elle magazine on a rabbit hunt and I see restaurant menus featuring quail eggs.  Further, almost every episode of the hugely popular Duck Dynasty series ends with a family dinner around a plate of frog legs or mallard breasts. In fact, I believe this new embrace of wild meats is fostering a greater understanding of hunting across society.

While I’m certain Aldo Leopold never would have imagined Zimmern’s propensity for bug-eating, I do think Zimmern and today’s other locavore leaders can attribute their local food roots direct to Leopold’s 1949 philosophy from A Sand County Almanac:

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm.  One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” – Aldo Leopold

The obvious hope of organizations like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is today’s locavore trend will take one additional step toward Leopold’s writings – wildlife habitat conservation. Whether you favor beef or venison, chicken or pheasant, the common connector is our land. It is my belief society’s need for food and water will someday soon change our seemingly insatiable appetite to tile our uplands and drain our wetlands.  Or to put it more plainly, local food will lead to local conservation.

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The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

A Porcupine Provides Perspective

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

               –Excerpt from William Wordsworth’s poem “The World is Too Much with Us

 

 

It’s time to reconnect with nature

You may recall these lines of poetry from high school English class and wonder of their place in this pheasant guy’s blog.  The answer to their presence begins on Saturday morning under a glorious sunny sky.

 

I was hunting with my dad, brother, 10-year old nephew, my dad’s Brittany and my two shorthairs.  The temps were crisp and the winds were low.  All the elements were in place for a memorable day afield.

 

Then, I began to shoot and miss.  In total, I racked up a dozen misses without meat for the pot by late afternoon.  My frustration mounted.  My smile disappeared.  My words became short.  I had lost perspective.

 

That’s when my 7-month-old shorthair, Izzy, raced back to me with terror in her eyes and a mouth full of porcupine.  Quickly, my dad and brother came to my aid, and we successfully removed more than two dozen quills mostly outside of Izzy’s muzzle.  It’s no secret a bad porcupine encounter can be life threatening.  Izzy and I had gotten off lucky, and in fact, that porcupine had given me perspective on my inaccuracy, in shooting and in how I’d been living life that day.

 

What was true in Wordsworth’s time is still true today; the world is too much with us.  I often think about society’s disconnection to nature from Leopold’s perspective of food and land.  However, the weekend’s porcupine added the complexity of society’s disconnection to nature that Wordsworth references.  In simplest terms, life is short.  A missed shot, even a box of missed shots, shouldn’t deflect your eyes from the blessing of a day afield with a healthy family, happy bird dogs and our natural world.

 

Perhaps today’s blog is a little too heavy, so allow me to lighten up my point.  Take tomorrow off from work and go bird hunting.  You only live once, so you better make the most of the trip.

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

 

The Mindful Carnivore Delivers Philosophy High in Protein and Conservation

Monday, June 18th, 2012

 

If you’ve read my blog over the last year, you know my leisure reading often focuses on the connection between hunting and food.  Steven Rinella’s two novels, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and American Buffalo, first hooked me on the subject.  Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook and Georgia Pellegrini’s Girl Hunter extended my interest in the theme.  My latest exploration of the topic was Tovar Cerulli’s new book The Mindful Carnivore.

 

Admittedly, I was skeptical beginning Cerulli’s book.  The jacket cover promoted the book as a vegan’s journey into hunting, so I was on alert for a disingenuous story of incongruous ideologies to simply turn a couple bucks.  My fears were quickly calmed with Cerulli’s scholarly treatment of the subject, and ultimately I became fascinated with his internal struggles coming to terms with the decision to put the killing of his family’s food into his own hands.  Like Aldo Leopold, Cerulli came to recognize the problems associated with society’s lack of understanding about food and its connection to land.

 

The Mindful Carnivore

What I enjoyed most about The Mindful Carnivore was the amount of focus Cerulli spent on the connection between wildlife habitat conservation, hunting and food.  While Rinella, Shaw and Pellegrini all addressed conservation to varying degrees, Cerulli dove deep into the topic and even held conservation up as the reason hunting made sense to him over vegetarianism.  In the process, he came to the realization that all food – vegetables and meat –result in the death of animals one way or another.  As you can imagine from Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s perspective, I was excited to read Cerulli’s compelling arguments for a conservation ethic when making food choices.

 

The only trouble I had with the book was the majority of Cerulli’s hunting focused on whitetails.  While it’s hard to argue with the volume of meat and taste of venison from a deer, I’d have liked to read about Cerulli’s perspective of hunting birds in cooperation with animals- dogs.  Perhaps that’s part of his future plans.

 

Although this is his first book, Cerulli writes with the confidence of a seasoned vet.  His voice is engaging, his rationale logical, and his research thorough.  Overall, The Mindful Carnivore was a really easy, thought-provoking read.

 

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

 

Would Aldo Leopold Enjoy a Chipotle Burrito?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

 

Yes, Chipotle is still fast food; however, in a culture of pre-packaged meals this Chipotle television commercial (aired during the Grammy Awards telecast) does harken back to Leopold’s writing in A Sand County Almanac focused on food being linked to our land.

What do you think?  Does Chipotle get Leopold’s message or are they simply trying to sell you more burritos using a “green” marketing message?

 

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Happy Birthday, Aldo!

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Leopold with his bird dog, Gus.

January (the 11th to be exact) would have been Aldo Leopold’s 125th birthday.  What is remarkable is that people still notice and publicize his birthday 64 years after he died.  It speaks to the legacy that Leopold left with his land ethic and stewardship message and his still well-read book A Sand County ALMANAC (published in 1949 a year after his death).

Leopold’s message of restoration of the land and concern for the health of wildlife echoes the mission of Pheasants Forever.  Leopold was a hunter and enjoyed hunting pheasants.  He was an astute observer of the natural world and worked to live a peaceful co-existence with nature while understanding the need for balance.  He raised his five children to also appreciate the natural world and time spent outdoors was special to all of them.  I think he would have liked our No Child Left Indoors® initiative and I know he would have approved of the Leopold Education Project and the work PF does with educators, our chapters and others to teach about the importance of habitat and restoration of land.

If you have not read A Sand County ALMANAC, I really encourage you to do so (available in paperback from Pheasants Forever).  If you don’t know about the Leopold Education Project, PF’s award-winning conservation education program, and the materials we have, go to www.lep.org for more information.  Leopold’s messages are even more important today and can be used in schools, book clubs, churches (great Earth Day material), community centers, PF chapter events and university classes.

Get ‘em Outdoors is written by Cheryl Riley, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Education and Outreach. Email her at CRiley@pheasantsforever.org

Hank Shaw: Pheasant Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Hank Shaw's fantastic new book: HUNT, GATHER, COOK

Editor’s Note: Hunt, Gather, Cook author Hank Shaw has penned a portion of Pheasants Forever’s “Wild Game Cooking” special section appearing in the upcoming winter issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal.  If you’d like to become a member of Pheasants Forever and receive this issue along with a full year’s subscription, join today by following this link.

 

According to Wikipedia, the market for organic foods grew from nothing to a $55 billion industry by 2009.  I believe a similar trend is developing around our roots as hunters and gatherers.  From Steven Rinella’s Travel Channel show, The Wild Within, to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg declaring that he’d like to become a hunter, folks that hunt, fish and gather their food are becoming today’s pop culture trendsetters.  Suddenly, mainstream America has an interest in the origination and acquisition of the food on their tables.

 

One of the leaders bridging our hunting and gathering roots to mainstream America is Hank Shaw.  Shaw is most known for his popular blog: Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook.  I caught up via email with Hank  to ask him about a couple of his new endeavors; including, a fantastic new book titled Hunt, Gather, Cook.

 

St.Pierre: The Minnesota DNR’s Chris Niskanen, a mutual friend of ours, was the guy that introduced you to hunting when you were 32 years old.  Tell me about that experience; why were you interested, what surprised you, and what hooked you on hunting to the extent that you make your living today as a result of your ability to hunt, write about hunting and cook the fruits of your labor?

Shaw: I first became interested in hunting because, oddly, of my fishing abilities. When I’d lived on Long Island, I developed a deep knowledge of the waters there – to the point where I could almost always catch something. I knew the tides, moon phases, and seasons. I could read current breaks, knew where structure was to hold fish. And, most importantly, I had the skills to make pretty much any seafood taste great.

 

When I moved to Minnesota, I wanted that same ability on land. Chris took me out to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. It was a hard hunt, as it was the last week of the season and we were hunting public land, but Chris could still easily come away with his limit of pheasants each day. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but I was hooked.

 

What surprised me most was how engrossing hunting became. You can drink beer and shoot the breeze when you are fishing, but when you are hunting you must live completely within the moment. You become a set of ears and eyes, you start to notice smells you’d never notice before; I’ve smelled deer before I could see them. I never felt so truly alive as when I am quiet in the woods, hunting for deer, rabbits or squirrels. Even when I don’t come home with anything, I feel rejuvenated after the experience. 

 

St.Pierre: Both your book and your blog are subtitled “finding the forgotten feast.”  To me, that subtitle echoes of Aldo Leopold’s often referenced passage from A Sand County Almanac in which he talks about food not coming from the grocery store, but from the land.  Why is it important to you for America to rediscover this “forgotten feast?”

 

Shaw: Because we are one of the only cultures that does not, for the most part, eat food from our land. Very few of the foods Americans now eat are native to the 50 states. This was not always the case. Muskrat (called “marsh hare”) was sold in the finest restaurants in America a century ago. Our basic knowledge of plants and animals was far greater than it is today. Wild game and wild foods were once a normal part of the fabric of our lives. Now they are an exotic novelty.

 

What I hope to achieve is to rekindle people’s interest in nature’s bounty – and I am not talking about living off the grid or anything. I am talking about it becoming normal for people to own their own slice of nature within an otherwise “normal” life: Maybe they’re anglers, maybe they gather wild rice or berries or mushrooms. Maybe they hunt a deer for the freezer every year. Minnesota is one of my favorite states because so many Minnesotans already do this, so what I do is not such an alien concept for them.

 

 

St.Pierre: I consider myself to be a hunter, angler and gatherer.  I pick morel mushrooms and wild asparagus, hunt voraciously, and fish adequately, but some of the things you pursue had me thinking some of this stuff is more work than it’s worth.  The effort to make a cup of acorn coffee, for instance, seemed a painstakingly long process for the reward.  Where do you find the balance between adventure and practicality?

Shaw: Everyone has to find his own balance. I don’t really do acorn coffee so much because its flavor is only so-so, but acorn flour has such a distinctive nutty flavor I find it more than worth the effort. It is the perfect flour to use when cooking game.

 

But you bring up a good point, because if your calculus is always cost-benefit, or whether wild foods are cheaper than Wal-Mart, wild food will always lose. But there is a spiritual, emotional component to this that cannot be quantified. Anyone who has ever gone fishing on a camping trip, and who’s fried that fish up over an open fire that night, knows just how good that fish will taste – it’s more than the sum of its parts. There is something deeply satisfying about working for your dinner.

 

St.Pierre: Of all the crazy things you’ve chased, gathered, and cooked, what is: a) your favorite and b) the thing most of us would think odd that you absolutely loved?

Shaw: I dunno. There are so many awesome experiences. But I have to say ruffed grouse hunting in the far north of Minnesota is right up there. Hunting grouse in the forest touches me in a way that no other hunting does. I grew up around very old forests in New Jersey, and whenever I return to that kind of woods – no matter what state I happen to find myself in – I get the feeling I am home. I love the desert, I love the mountains, but I am most at home in the forest. And there may be no other game bird as delicious as a ruffed grouse. Maybe a woodcock, but that’s arguable.

 

Hank Shaw prepares a "forgotten feast"

Crazy things? Hard to say. Maybe periwinkle snails off the rocks of New England. Blue camas bulbs in the High Sierra, which you need to be sure aren’t the disturbingly named death camas bulbs. I also happen to love the freshwater drum of the St. Croix River, which most people scorn. I love that they are fatty and rich, just like their cousins the redfish of Louisiana.

 

 

St.Pierre: Since I’m a pheasant guy, I’ve gotta know your favorite pheasant meal, the sides you like to serve with your pheasant and the drink to wash it down?

Shaw: OK, this is tough one, because I eat pheasant all the time. But I do a dish where I gently poach the pheasant breast in pheasant broth, then crispy-fry the skin separately. I serve the poached breast with the crispy skin on top, with a sweet-savory corn sauce underneath. It is just awesome. Sure, it’s a little cheffy, but I like my pheasant breast gently cooked and I love, love, crispy skin.

 

A drink to wash it down? I think a heavy white, like a Cote du Rhone blend, a Viognier, or an unoaked Chardonnay are good. But so are dry roses from southern France or Spain, and even light reds such as a Gamay, Grenache or Pinot Noir work well, too. It depends on how you’re serving the pheasant. Same goes with beer: Everything from a Grain Belt to an expensive Chimay Belgian beer works with pheasant, depending on the preparation.

 

 

St.Pierre: My wife and I are looking forward to dining at Corner Table in Minneapolis next Monday night when you will be the guest chef for the evening.  What can folks attending your special appearances expect to taste and learn from these events?

Shaw: Our wild food book dinners are expressions of time and place. I work closely with the chefs, in this case Chef Scott Pampuch, to create a multi-course menu that can only really be done in one place and in one time – in our case, we’ll have lots of autumn Minnesota products, like walleye, pike, highbush cranberries, real Ojibwe wild rice, pheasant, venison – that sort of thing. Minnesota has such a wealth of wild foods that Scott and I are really looking forward to putting together a symphony of the North Star State’s finest foods. Even experienced eaters will taste something new here. I guarantee it.

 

Hank Shaw will be appearing at Corner Table in Minneapolis on Monday, October 10th at 6 pm.  Reservations for this special meal can be made by calling 612.823.0011.  Price is $65 per person.

 

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

 

Father’s Day for the Pheasant Hunter

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

This special Pheasants Forever membership offer is available till close of business on Friday, June 10th

In case you don’t have it marked down on your calendar already, Sunday, June 19th is Father’s Day.  For most of us, it was dad who brought us into the pheasant hunting fold.  What better way to honor pops than with a new pheasant oriented gift.  Here are a few ideas:

Special Pheasants Forever Membership Package ($35.00): Through this special offer (deadline is June 10th), you can purchase a year’s membership to Pheasants Forever for your dad.  That membership will be accompanied by a year’s subscription to the Pheasants Forever Journal; including the new 2011 Pheasant Hunting Preview issue, a PF vehicle decal and a Pheasants Forever Running Rooster T-ShirtNOTE: if your dad already has a current PF membership, this offer simply adds a full year on to his current membership’s expiration date.

Browning Polo Shirt ($42.95): You know he’d rather be bird hunting than golfing, but what’s a guy to do in July?  This 100% polyester polo is the perfect pheasant hunter’s golf shirt. 

Gamehide SST Hunting Shirt ($29.95): We’re closing out this shirt and it’s marked down 17%.  That’s a steal for this high quality and comfortable shooting shirt that will become a part of your dad’s autumn wardrobe for the next decade.

 

 

Pheasants Forever Pewter Belt Buckle ($14.95): Does your dad wear cowboy boots all summer long?  Then he probably needs a PF belt buckle to match those kicks.

Hoppe’s Shotgun Boresnake ($16.99): In my humble opinion, the boresnake is the greatest gun cleaning invention ever made.  Your dad will be able to keep his treasured scattergun in tip top shape in less than 60 seconds with the boresnake. 


Video Glasses
($149.95): Has your dad ever tried to explain the amazing shot he made on the other side of the hill?  Now he can!  I was pretty skeptical about these glasses when I first got a look at them.  However, as you can see by the quality of this video, they produce pretty darn good footage. 

Game Cleaning Table ($89.99): While Gander Mountain markets this as a fish cleaning table, it easily doubles as a bird cleaning station.  Save your dad’s aching back and sore knees while keeping all the dead game out of your mom’s kitchen.  Yeah, you should probably buy one for yourself too!

A Sand County Almanac Illustrated Edition ($29.95): Most consider Aldo Leopold to be the father of modern wildlife management.  This is his signature work and the foundation for Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission.

Lucky Hunting Hat ($16.95): Does your dad lament missed shots around the Thanksgiving dinner table?  Give the guy a hand with this bit of PF gear “guaranteed” to turn his shooting luck around!

Pheasants Forever Beer Mugs ($22.95): This set of 4 mugs is a must have for any pheasant hunter’s bar or rec room.  Just in time for holding cold beverages during the hot summer months.

Note: all orders through the Pheasants Forever MarketPlace need to be made by end of business on Friday, June 10th to guarantee delivery by Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19th.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob on FAN Outdoors radio ever Saturday morning from 6AM to 8AM (central time zone) at www.KFAN.com.

Facebook Founder to become a Hunter?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

You can find Pheasants Forever on all the major social networking sites.

According to a CNN Money story today, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, has made an interesting personal commitment:

The only meat I’m eating is from animals I’ve killed myself,” says the Facebook founder and CEO.

In Zuckerberg’s Facebook account of the decision, he goes on to say:

I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house. A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from.

Amen to that!  Perhaps Zuckerberg has been studying up on the great Aldo Leopold, because his rationale sounds a lot like Aldo Leopold’s famous passage from A Sand County Almanac:

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.

Since his commitment, Zuckerberg and his girlfriend have been slaughtering their own goats, chickens and other animals for meat.  Zuckerberg goes on to say that he’s interested in going hunting. 

Well, in a world increasingly detached from the land that sustains us, it’s incredibly interesting . . . and I’d even say encouraging, that Mr. Facebook himself is interested in getting reconnected to our hunting heritage.  I, for one, would like to invite Mr. Zuckerberg on a bird hunt with me and my bird dog, Trammell, this autumn.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Aldo Leopold, Lifelong Hunter

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Aldo Leopold is regarded as the father of wildlife conservation and his book, A Sand County Almanac, is considered biblical by many environmentalists. But did you know Leopold grew up hunting and was a committed hunter until he died?

Aldo Leopold, the hunter, can be the oft overlooked part of this legendary conservationist’s life. In watching the trailer for the new documentary about the life of Aldo Leopold, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and A Land Ethic for Our Time,” you only see snippets of his hunting background; Leopold pictured with bird dogs as well as a bow and quiver of arrows.

Many hunters, I think, don’t connect with Leopold’s teachings and observations because it isn’t obvious to them he was a hunter, and we humans tend to connect better through shared experiences (hunters respect other hunters). Leopold the ecologist, forester or nature writer, as he is often portrayed, sends off a “tree hugger” vibe, where hunters – this country’s largest and leading group of conservationists and certainly the bulk of Pheasants Forever members – would be more receptive to learning about him and his philosophies in the context of Leopold as the hunter-conservationist. A little more bull moose Teddy Roosevelt and a little less granola.

Green Fire, a documentary production of the U.S. Forest Service, the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Center for Humans and Nature, celebrates the 100th anniversary of Leopold joining the forest service.  Although I’ve only viewed the trailer, I’m guessing this film won’t bring hunting to the forefront. Since Leopold is timeless, though, I bring it up for future consideration. And for those of you wondering, yes, Leopold was a pheasant hunter.

Here’s the Green Fire trailer for your own consideration. After numerous screenings around the country this year, it will be shown nationally on the Public Broadcasting System in 2012:

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor

Love nature — want a good summer read?

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Find a tree or a hammock and enjoy this classic book.

Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac remains at the top of the book list for nature writing even though it was published in 1949.  Leopold’s writing is majestic in its descriptions of nature, wildlife, the land and his thoughts on conservation.  If you love good writing, this could be an excellent summer read.  Pheasants Forever sponsors the Leopold Education Project and uses this book as a way of teaching about conservation and connection to the land.  Let me know what you think if you read the book.  Give us a quick review, won’t you?