Sustainable Harvest

Sustainable Harvest

by Phillip Gentry

Upstate Outdoors
March 18, 2020 - 11:05 pm

Up until a couple weeks ago, one of the things an outdoorsman never wanted to do was figure up the cost of how much money was spent on hunting and/or fishing and then divide that dollar amount by the weight of meat or fish in the freezer.

Doing that was depressing. In recent years, sportsmen have been ridiculed for spending so much time chasing game and fish with so little tangible to show for it. Such discussions were usually followed by a quip from the non-sporting community that went something like “Do you know how much steak you could buy for the cost of that rifle, shotgun or that hunting apparel?” or “You could go to the fish market and buy a whole truckload of fresh fish for what you spent on that fishing boat.”

Few sportsmen would suggest that their passion was simply a means to an end. It goes way beyond that and to those who don’t or won’t understand, it’s hard to explain.

With that said, this past week has validated much in the areas of sustainably harvested game for outdoorsmen. Do we have food in the freezer? Sure. Absolutely. To harvest an animal and not make us of it for food is the very definition of poor stewardship of the resource. With lines at the grocery store and sold out meat counters, any sportsman that harvested some deer, elk, ducks, quail, or fish, (and the list goes on), not only opened the freezer with a small sense of pride but even a little relief that there was food to feed the family.

Something that we as sportsman should carry forward once the grip of this crisis has faded is a strong sense of independence from those who oppose or would suppress our rights to hunt and fish. The next time we are faced with animosity over how we could bear to take the life of an animal just so we could have some food that we really didn’t need, we can remind those who question our motives that our ancestors may not have had much alternative but to rely on wild game and fish for sustenance, and for once and hopefully the last time in our lives, we had it to rely on as well.

The benefits of the outdoor sporting life don’t end there. In the past couple of weeks, government officials have urged people to maintain distance between themselves and other people to prevent the possible spread of viral transmission. The pursuit of the outdoors is the very definition of social distancing, where individuals spend time in the outdoors either alone or in small numbers with a whole lot of space between them and the rest of humanity.

The benefits of being outdoors doesn’t end there either. Few would disagree that the events of the last couple of weeks have made the world appear surreal. For outdoors enthusiasts, spending time outside alone helps restore that balance of normalcy, that although the civilized world may have lost its way, the uncivilized world is as reliable and dependable as ever.

Being outside is a great place to spend some time inside your own head, get closer to God, or to take your mind off of troubling times and simply breathe and let go of some stress.

I’m sure we could all use some of that. So, what are you waiting for? Get outside.


Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM, 101.5 in Anderson, and recently added 95.1 FM in Seneca and Pickens.

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