An outdoorsman who loves hunting's culinary connection
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Millcreek, Utah, for the most part. We moved a lot when I was a kid, but that was the place I spent the most time and that feels like home.
Why do you hunt?
I hunt for the connection to nature and to be a conscious participant in my ecosystem. I hunt to be able to cook and share some of the best food available with my family and community.
How did you get into hunting?
I got into hunting in my early 30s. I always loved spending time in nature, but never had any friends or family that were into hunting. I had just returned to Utah after living in France for 2½ years, and I wanted a deeper dive into all the things I had missed while I was away. The mountains, deserts and wild places of nature were at the top of that list. I had also learned to cook while living in France, and I wanted access to great cuts of meat and organs. I was able to connect with friends of friends to take me out hunting with them. I remember watching the first light creep over the mountains one morning while watching deer grazing, and I was hooked.
What is your favorite hunt you've been on?
My friend drew a bison tag (cow only) in the Book Cliffs. We hiked into the roadless area and had a horse packer make a drop camp for our heavier gear. We spent the next few days exploring the canyons and mountains in the area. We found many bachelor groups of bulls but no cows. On the fourth day, we were getting worried, but we finally spotted a small herd. It was a long and slow stalk to get close to them, and at the last stretch, we spooked a coyote hiding in the brush. He ran off and took the herd with him, except for one cow and one calf.
I have always believed that the animal we are hunting for is looking for us, as well. Watching that cow standing there — while the rest of the herd ran off — confirmed that belief for me. My friend shot the cow, and the calf ran off to rejoin the herd. We sat in marvel, watching this beautiful being lying on the grassy canyon floor. All I could think about were the generations of relationships between the human and the more-than-human world — how dependent we are on one another and how grateful I was to this animal.
I wanted to show my respect for the experience by not letting anything go to waste, so I milked the bison into my coffee thermos before field dressing her. When we got to the liver, I cut fresh pieces, added some salt and handed them to each person in the hunting party. The liver was still warm and filled with the last bits of life of the bison.
We were 8 miles from the drop camp where we would meet the horse packer who would help us haul the bison out. We spent the next 3 days walking 16 miles with heavy packs to get the whole bison back to camp. On the hike out, we passed the remarkable Sego Canyon petroglyphs of a bison hunt. I hoped there would be many generations to come who would also be able to have this sacred experience.
What are some tips you would offer someone who is interested in learning to hunt?
Find mentors and spend as much time out hunting as you can.