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It doesn't end at the hunt


Sweet Owen Contributor

KELLY AND JOSH RODAMER, PICTURED ABOVE, process deer meat that will go into delicious recipes, including Kelly’s Sweet Chili and a taco pasta casserole that uses venison. — Photo courtesy of Kelly Rodamer.

‘Tis the season for crockpot meals, cozy fires, family gatherings, and hunting. That last one may have caught you off guard, but the truth of the matter is hunting is near and dear to the heart of many in Owen County. Not only does it grant us an opportunity to understand where our food comes from, but it teaches us about the circle of life, the importance of wildlife management, balancing our ecosystem, and offers a chance for a sense of gratitude and self-sustainability.

Other life lessons like patience, humility, environmental awareness, confidence, and perseverance are all ingrained in the very nature of the sport. 

For my husband and I, it’s important that our children are exposed to the entire hunting process. This starts for us in the summer when gear is inventoried, inspected, and cleaned, prime locations are scouted, and plans are made for when hunts can take place. Typically, while all this is happening, I’m scouring the internet for new recipes and creative ways to use as much of the animal as possible. 

One of the earliest conversations we ever had when Josh began hunting was about the relationship we have with our food source and the respect we need to show to the animal that was sacrificed for our family. With that comes a new perspective on hunting--an appreciation for the time and work that goes into the hunt, consideration for the best use for as much of the animal as possible, and gratitude for the provisions that fill our freezer. 

I won’t lie, from the beginning of our adventure, I had a deep admiration for my husband’s desire to provide for us in this way. But that didn’t mean I wanted to be an active participant. I was perfectly happy to stay home with the kids and collect the meat from a processor once it was packaged and ready to freeze. Over time, however, I realized how disconnected this kept us from our food source, and we began to evaluate the why behind the hunt.

We found that the life lessons mentioned earlier were a driving force behind our desire to provide for our family and share in a heritage that dates as far back as humankind. What better way to teach our children about hard work, patience, and environmental awareness than getting them involved with hunting? There’s also an added benefit of quality family time. Now, they look forward to hiking and scouting with their dad. They spend time shooting their bows in the backyard and enjoy the friendly competition that comes with target practice. And, now that they’re a bit older, they can accompany Josh on some of his hunting excursions. 

We’ve also invested time in learning how to process the deer ourselves. This is now something we all look forward to for various reasons:

1. We believe the appreciation and gratitude of the sacrifice to feed our family is greater. There is a genuine field-to-fork connection made.

2. It’s important that we don’t take the provisions we have for granted. By staying an active participant in the process from start to finish, we’re less likely to waste.

3. Family time can’t be beat.

For anyone who may say this is not for them, I am not one to be found out and about in nature or on the hunt. I prefer to appreciate those activities from afar, planning how to make delicious meals to share. I’ve found my gift-wrapping skills transfer nicely to wrapping butcher paper and packaging ground meat. And helping the kids learn about the various cuts of meat and properly labeling, dating, and storing the meat geeks out my organizational type-A personality. 

It’s taken several years, a lot of learning, and even more patience to get to where we realize how hunting has become interwoven into our lives. It’s more than a season; it’s a life-long learning journey that provides hands-on opportunities to grow each year. It’s a process that is bigger than we are--and it doesn’t stop at the hunt.

I’m including one of our favorite recipes for venison meat in the hopes that your family can enjoy it as well. If you’re new to hunting and want an excellent cookbook recommendation, check out “Hunt, Gather, Cook” by Hank Shaw or “The Meateater” by Steven Rinella.


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