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Hunting plays a large part in our annual meat supply. When the children still lived at home and hunted as well, we often harvested several deer each year to add to the larder. Many years we also purchased “B” tags allowing a second or third deer. Those were years when the population of whitetails was large enough to endanger their habitat so the herd needed thinned out. Now that it’s only my wife and I hunting and since the wolves have already thinned out the deer herd, there are fewer “B” tags being offered. We generally get two deer per year. We supplement that with wild turkey, grouse, and the occasional bear or elk. Hopefully this winter we’ll also get a chance to harvest some feral hogs not far from where we spend the winter. (I’ll let you know if that pans out.)

The deer season ended for me on November 20 when I harvested a spike, whitetail buck about three-hundred yards from our cabin. I’d been out several times before then but had seen nothing but does and since my tag was for bucks only it remained unfilled.

We always butcher and can our own wild game. Some years we make sausage and other flavored meats, but most of the time we make about a third into ground meat, a third into stew meat and the rest into roasts. Our roasts tend to be on the small side because we can the meat, and it’s difficult to get the heat from canning to completely penetrate large chunks of meat. It still makes great tasting roasts and sometimes we slice it thin and use it on sandwiches. My wife also cans an assortment of meat patties (for use as hamburgers), and meatloaf. Both make meal preparation quick and easy for those times when we’re in a hurry or company drops in unexpectedly.

No matter how it’s used, it would be difficult to find healthier meat anywhere. It’s extremely lean and 100 percent organic.

It’s also easy meat. It’s true I spent some time in the woods hunting, but that’s something I enjoy doing even when not hunting. And I can guarantee that it’s a lot better than spending hours fixing or putting up fencing, purchasing livestock food and feeding critters until it’s time to butcher them. With our current semi-nomadic lifestyle, we don’t want to be tied down with livestock at this time.

Hunting is in our genes. It played a significant role in hunter-gatherer societies and still plays a role in agricultural and rural areas throughout the world. Our grandson will most likely hunt just as our children and grandchildren still do (daughters and sons). I sincerely hope it’s that way for every future generation as well.

See the author’s blog at: Off-grid, Montana Homestead