Warning. Reality may offend.
My hands and shirt, bloodied and dirty. My heart racing like a rampant stop watch. At my feet sits a buck, shaking the final electricity remaining in its nervous system. I knelt beside it, my hand on its hide. It was already dead. The moment was so surreal that I'd reached out to touch it, to see how real it was. My 308 had found its target, the large animal had dropped in a flat second. Before I was joined by my spotter, I uttered a thank you to the beast, alone. We'd spent the morning following a myriad of deer prints on muddy tracks. We stalked our way to a pair of fighting stags, their antlers crashing as they pounded each other. They were too far from our position and I couldn't take a clean shot, so they lived to see another day. The stag however had not been so fortunate. Our meat freezer would now be well stocked for the oncoming winter. Filled with deer meat from an animal that lived wild and free. The only human interaction this animal probably had was the sound of distant 4WD's and finally the crack of my rifle. I'm omnivorous, I eat a balance of vegetables and meat. Sometime ago I decided to acquire most of my meat from the wild. I have my reasons. Most of which I think are obvious now. I'm not happy with how most meat is produced for human consumption. So I took matters into my own hands in the knowledge that parts of it would be plain ugly. A fact I had to accept. Or become vegetarian. And for me, that is not an option I believe is right. For me. Many years in transition, and I'm finally at a point where a deer sits at my feet. I started small with rabbits, ducks, quail and hare. Now a large deer is dead by my hand. I truly no longer outsource my killing. I know that under that hide lies valuable rich meat, that when butchered will feed us many meals through winter into spring. I know how this animal died. I'm comforted in the knowledge that it lived free and wild. It may sound like an oxymoron as I've just killed the beast. It's difficult to verbalise effectively the feeling and knowledge that I'm no longer cheating myself as a meat eater. I don't care what any other meat eater does or how they choose to acquire their meat. This is my journey. Right or wrong it's my choice. I'm doing what I believe to make the most sense to me. I'm doing what feels the most natural. I can say that I've seen the brutal reality of being a meat eater. I have seen it for years now. I accept that I am a meat eating animal. A meat eating mammal beast. We all are. I know many people choose to be vegetarian, and I wish there where more of these people. Although there are some farms doing it right, doing it ethically, the majority of the meat 'industry' is flawed. It's 2014, if you haven't heard about factory farming, if you haven't heard about the chemicals and antibiotics applied to stock then you must be living under a rock of ignorant bliss. Last night on the radio was a feature story about the correlation of human diseases and the introduction of agricultural chemicals and antibiotics over the last 50-70 years. What impacts will this nature tampering have on us humans and our future generations? We don't know. We may never know. But I'm prepared to do what I need to do to remove myself and my family from that system. Where food has been tampered with, where no definitive science exists to assure us of the potential health impacts. Where the industry is regulated by the very companies that produce the food. I'm more comfortable eating wild beasts than tampered meat. Consider this. Could any one person walk into a shop, look at a slab of meat and honestly state what is in that meat. Could they state how the animal was treated? What conditions it lived in? How far the animal was transported in its lifetime? The method in which the animal was killed?What chemicals or antibiotics where given to the animal? What health impacts may result from the tampering of natures way? No one can answer that. I surely can't. Frustrated, I simply walked out of that shop and started hunting for meat. It's difficult to explain this feeling of truly providing for my family. I don't provide like I did in the past. When I once earned tonnes of cash, where I used to buy lots of 'stuff'. I've transformed like Optimus Prime. I looked to the past, to a time when people survived with nature, when people had a true understanding of seasonality. Not in a wanky foodie gour-met way, but a real surviving, by using your brain, your muscles, your determination and a strong work ethic. Like I've said, I don't care for what any other man chooses to do. I'm not sharing my story to shame anyone, nor to make anyone feel guilt for buying a farmed chicken, far from it. I'm sharing it because it's one hell of a journey. One I think some people may benefit from hearing. I understand that I'm, in many ways considered backwards in what I do. I know in some circles I'm considered barbaric because I hunt. That holds no water with me. What frustrates me is when people express a distaste for hunting wild beasts, yet happily eat a chicken sub made with from intensively farmed animals. How can one value an opinion shadowed by contradiction. We have a plentiful supply of contradiction in this world. Yet out here, where nature gives and takes, contradiction is absent. We live in a time of senselessness. Where so much does not make any sense. Living this way though, I'm comforted by the realness of what is around me, and how I choose to live. No matter how much it may at times, offend me. I accept the reality, and that allows me to see past the bullshit. I'll forever be cynical of it, criticise it and discuss how it's toxic of us. This age will not be known as one of enlightenment, one of inner reflection. Instead, it will be known as a time of extreme inequality, rampant consumerism and an unquenchable thirst for natural resources. Lets face it. Sometimes you just have to say, fuck everyone else. Fuck what anyone else thinks. Just do what feels right for you. You know you've said it to yourself. Thanks for the photos: Kate Berry