Hunting for a Life of Subsistence
By Kate Marlowe
We are migrating towards a subsistent life, obtaining 100 percent of our food from what is provided by the backwoods. Hunting is a necessary part of this lifestyle for us on the homestead. Many choose to forgo meat and maintain a vegetarian diet through gardening and foraging. They aren’t comfortable with hunting or raising livestock to be used as a food source. I witness debates about the cruelty of hunting, not only with other homesteaders but in the writing and blogging world and people we meet in general. Research has proven that providing your own meat as well as helping to control predators is far more humane than factory-farm practices. The end result is a healthier meat supply you can rest easy with, knowing the animal had a healthy life and was put down in a clean and far less painless manner as compared to what you end up with at your local grocer.
We are a family that’s in the woods all year between the various wild game and fishing seasons. Someone in the family is always reaping the benefits of our life of subsistence, including exercise, healthy food, time in the woods and a bond with family.
My backwoodsman has lived his life hunting, fishing and trapping. His primary loves have always been deer and turkey hunting. This has changed in recent years with the introduction of feral wild hogs in our region. He now spends a great deal of his time working with dogs he has trained for baying and catching hogs. It is a unique sport, as knives are preferred over guns for harvesting, primarily to keep the dogs safe while catching the hog. He is in the woods all year with the addition of his hunting sport to his interests, and we are lucky to have ample stock in the freezer as a result.
These skills have been passed down to all three of his children. The boys are addicted to the outdoors and country life as is his oldest daughter, who makes time for the woods with her family as she is able. All three are successful hunters and have an appreciation and respect for the sport and subsistence living. They are all avid deer and turkey hunters, including bow and gun hunts.
My older stepson is a fishing addict and spends a great deal of time on the water. The younger of the boys also enjoys hog hunts with his dad and spring turkey hunting. My stepdaughter is in with her family deer hunting every fall and enjoys recreation fishing when they are able to around their baby and work.
They have all learned the value of subsistent living and appreciate what it provides them, particularly for their families when money is tight. They know ways to provide food for the table even when it’s difficult to get it at the grocery store.
We enjoy watching the younger generation share their love for hunting and fishing sports with their families. We are the proud grandparents of two with another on the way. We look forward to watching them raised to follow in the footsteps of the Marlowe outdoor roots. We are grateful the children have taken these traditions with them and plan to pass them on with their families, helping to ensure a healthy, grounded and natural way of life wherever they wind up.
I have settled in as a fair-weather outdoorswoman. Medical issues, aversion to the cold and my affinity for a warm bed in the morning keep me from being as hardcore as the man of the house. I am not a trophy hunter and am happy with filling the freezer or weeding out the predators that cause me to lay awake at night worrying about my fur-babes when they roam. This being said, there is still ample opportunities for me to contribute to our life of subsistence.
I enjoy several early season bow hunts for deer, and I am able to get out on some gun hunts when my backwoodsman takes me on spot-and-stalk excursions. My Savage 410/22 over/under allows me to enjoy deer hunting as well as small game hunts such as squirrel and rabbit. I love coyote calling and managed to bag my first a couple years ago. I love the time with my husband in the outdoors and have enjoyed a few trips to run the dogs for boar hunts. This is an extremely physical sport so I am not often geared up for the challenge. It does provide a full day of fun with my husband and the hunting dogs when I do go.
This is just a glance inside our life and illustrates why we choose to live a subsistent life, there will be many more stories to follow. My hope is for you to at least respect the principles if not try your hand in the outdoors to experience the fulfillment and respect for where your food comes from. There are so many opportunities and choices in how to pursue a life of subsistence, finding your passion in the outdoors is an easy task. I look forward to sharing more stories with you and hearing of your adventures in the outdoors, enjoying a healthy, humane and empowering way of life. Keep up with our stories at Backwoods Homestead and sharing your adventures with us!
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