A few years ago after the opening day of dove season I taught my oldest son how to clean a bird. Cleaning animals is not my favorite part of the hunt, but it is necessary if you are going to eat what you kill. It was messy, but we got all the dove cleaned, marinated them overnight, and that Sunday we had a feast. If I remember correctly, we had about eight kids in the neighborhood over at the house trying their first dove meat.
Since then we have had a staple of wild game meat, ranging from buffalo to bear to deer to alligator. My son even cleaned and fried a squirrel he had taken a couple of years ago. Again, it was messy, the hide was ripped to pieces and the grease from him attempting to cook his own meat clogged the drain pipe in the kitchen, but I was proud of his effort.
A few weeks ago I was forwarded a book titled “Meat Eater” by Steve Rinella. Rinella is the host of the television show of the same name on the Sportsman Channel and was the host of the show ‘The Wild Within’ on the Travel Channel. If Rinella is anything, he is not an apologist.
Rinella believes what you kill, you eat, and what you eat, you kill. Part biography, part philosophy, part history, Rinella explains what a true outdoorsman is supposed to be.
Rinella began as a trapper in his youth, thinking that a great life would consist of living off the land. He studied and idolized such people as Davy Crockett. He delves into subject matter consisting of why frontiersmen such as Crockett did what they did and how they survived.
He explains how one can become so consumed by the end game that shortcuts, or ethics, can be compromised. He then explains how those same mistakes helped him mature and appreciate nature.
In one particular chapter, Rinella discusses what many label as a hallmark of fishing. Rinella always loved fishing and enjoyed showing others up at times. After being convinced a true angler can only reach the top after fishing for bonefish in the flats off of Mexico, Rinella and his brother hiked and hitched south of the border. Rinella explains how they survived off the land and water for much of the trip. At one point, Rinella has an epiphany. Here they were, fishing on hallowed waters for prized game fish, and starving. The only meals were the ones they caught, and bonefish just did not make a great meal. How did his passion turn into something where he was hoping something edible would grab the line rather than the targeted species they trekked so far for?
The book is enlightening and real. It offers a reason not to trophy hunt but rather a reason to hunt for sustenance. With wit, insight, and great storytelling, Rinella makes contact with the reader in ways that even a non-hunter can understand. Bringing in his personal accounts of childhood and relating historical tales of early America makes Rinella the perfect hunting partner or fishing buddy, even if he is not there in person. And based on his experiences and wisdom, I would bet he would be the first to grab the skinning knife at the camp so I could stand back and watch my least favorite part of the hunt.
Meat Eater went on sale September 4 and can be found at most book sellers.