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jca's avatar

Have you ever witnessed an animal being killed, specifically for you to eat?

Asked by jca (36043points) January 24th, 2015

Have you ever either hunted an animal that you later ate, fished for a fish that you ate, or witnessed the slaughter (or participated in the slaughter) for an animal that you ate?

Did you have a greater appreciation for the animal and the food? Did you have any deeper, more profound thoughts about food or the whole process?

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39 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Only fish. Our boys used to catch small lake trout on Lake Placid during the summer. My father cleaned them and my mother fried them up with a little butter. I thought of that primarily as a rare occasion when my dad connected with his grandsons in a direct, personal and simple way. The three bites of buttery trout we all got was a bonus and not very fraught with any other meaning.

hominid's avatar

When I was a kid, I spent much of the summer hiking, fishing, and camping with my father. Often, we’d plan to catch our lunch or dinner. At a very early age I was taught how to gut and clean a fish. My father would usually fry them up when we got back to camp.

I do think that being closer to the source of the food made me more thoughtful of the process. For example, I recall trying to figure out how many fish we had, how big they were, and how many we would need for our meal. The thought of taking more than we needed was unacceptable. When we are far removed from this process, it’s much easier to be able to deal with excess and overall have very little appreciation for what you are actually eating. I find that hunters (non-game hunters), farmers, and vegetarians often have something in common – an understanding and respect for where their food comes from. This is quite different from the average omnivore who’s proximity to food source is never closer than when they are the drive-thru.

zenvelo's avatar

Fish. Never any birds or mammals.

Cruiser's avatar

I have fileted thousands of fish and bore witness to the butchering of a deer my uncle shot….but never myself took an animals life…don’t have any desire to do so either. Come push to shove though I know I could and would do so.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My bf in high school once took me hunting. I didn’t have a gun. I was just along for the ride. He shot a quail, I think. Sent me to retrieve it. I carried it like a baby, sobbing, stroking its iridescent feathers.
His friend then shot a quail that was across the river so he couldn’t retrieve it. I was so PISSED over that.
Of course, I never went hunting again.

But I had all of those feelings because I was a well fed American. If I had depended on the birds for my only meal for the day, I probably would have had some regret, but not to the extent I did then.

1TubeGuru's avatar

Many times, in my younger years i had fished and hunted small game including rabbits ,squirrels ,quail and mourning doves. I would never kill a creature just for sport or a rule was to only take fish or game that would ultimately end up on the table.

jaytkay's avatar

I fish.

Unless I were stuck in the wilderness, I would be vegetarian before I could slaughter mammals.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Only fish. I’ve seen cows slaughtered for meat, but I didn’t eat meat from those specific cows (it was destined for other people).

I don’t think it gives me any deeper appreciation. I understand where meat comes from – I don’t need to see it to believe it.

kritiper's avatar

Deer, fish, chickens, and pheasants, and 1 hog.
We had some live chickens when I was a kid that my dad bought and raised for us to eat. Dad would hold the birds down on a block of wood and sever the head with an ax. One Sunday his parents were visiting and chicken was on the menu for dinner. Watching Dad do his ax bit, Grammie asked him why he did it that way. He shrugged and said he didn’t know any other way. Gram said, “I’ll show you how to kill a chicken.” With that she grabbed the next hapless bird by the head, flung it wildly in an arc over her head, and the headless body landed in the yard. No fuss, no muss! No spurting blood to avoid. Easy as pie! Dad must have been impressed because I sure was!
And chickens really do run around with their heads off!
I have no problem with the killing if it is done as quickly as possible.

Buttonstc's avatar

As a kid who lived right on the waterfront, I went crabbing all summer long. I either caught them with a net on a long pole from the local town docks or dropped baited crab traps from my rowboat.

I rarely ever caught enough for a decent meal. That usually took several days and the crabs already caught were kept in the bottom crisper drawer in the fridge.

So, I definitely developed an appreciation for how much work goes into a crab dinner. And initially I was kind of reluctant to plunge them still alive into boiling water. But I got over that after realizing how quickly they died and turned red.

As an adult, I have no problem plunging a live lobster into boiling water as they (and crabs) are pretty rudimentary creatures akin to bugs with not much brain to speak of. I understand that it would be pretty illogical for me to feel all horrible about killing a crab and not have any compunction about swatting a mosquito. Same difference. Except that a mosquito doesn’t taste so delicious :)

We also frequently went fishing and usually caught fluke or flounder which my mother would cook up for dinner and it was OK.

The only thing I could never bring myself to do (even tho I caught plenty of them) was to eat a freshly shucked raw clam. And I still can’t.

Eating a raw clam or oyster just gives me the heebie-jeebies. But people have gotten horribly sick from eating the wrong oysters so I have no regrets on never eating oysters or clams raw

However, HoJo’s fried clams were absolutely delicious and I wish they were still available.

AshLeigh's avatar

Saw a chicken being beheaded last week. It was kind of neat.

keobooks's avatar

Fish, of course.

Once, my grandfather took me out braunschweiger hunting. While We were looking for wild liver wurst, he “accidentally” shot a rabbit instead. He said we might as well take it home. My grandmother skinned and cooked it and we ate it. I didn’t feel so bad about him killing the rabbit because I thought it was an accident. Besides, it was tasty.

It took me years to realize that my grandfather had tricked me and it was no accident he bagged a rabbit.

jca's avatar

@keobooks: That’s a pretty funny story.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I see fish and shrimps being slaughter almost everyday, whenever I help in the kichen. As for chickens and ducks, many times during my youth. At that time the screaming and the sight if blood horrified me and I often begged my parents to let the animals go (I still enjoyed their meat in the end, which was crazy). Now I guess that experience has hardened me, as I don’t feel the same when I witness fish and shrimps being slaughter. Am I getting heartless?

Dutchess_III's avatar

When my husband was a kid, 8 or 9 or so, his folks had a cabin on a Kansas lake. He and his little bro would get up early and go squirrel hunting. By the time his folks woke up Rick and his brother had a passel of squirrel ready, and his mom would fry them up for breakfast and also make squirrel gravy. My husband said it was so good!

However, early on, before he was 20, he lost any desire for hunting. It was just a Bambi moment I guess. He’s an animal lover X10. Anyway, I’m glad.

Coloma's avatar

Fish yes, trout, salmon. The Salmon was huge and it was a bloodbath.
I have also witnessed a steer, rabbit and sheep as a child, but did not eat those animals specifically. What I remember most was being disgusted by seeing the still thumping heart of the cow and it’s liver in a yellow plastic tub and the sheep, strung up by a hind leg having it’s throat slit and the farm dogs lapping up the dripping blood off the ground. However, these were animals that led cruelty free lives until the very end, doing what cows and sheep do, living in nice, expansive pastures, and frolicking around all day unconfined, happy and free of hormones, medication and the crappy, confined, living conditions of factory farms.

zenvelo's avatar

I forgot to add: dropping a live lobster in a pot of boiling water.

Coloma's avatar

Liberate the lobsters! :-)
I always feel so bad to see their claws rubber banded closed.

anniereborn's avatar

When I was a kid I saw my grandpa kill and gut fish…from a ways away. I never wanted to get up close. I did find them tasty when he fried them up though.

Sinqer's avatar

Fish (caught, gutted, cleaned, and cooked myself), a hog (shot and gutted by someone else) and crabs (caught and steamed in beer and old bay seasoning myself).

I have no problem with the food chain(s) and how they work.

I was taken fishing when I was very little, so learning to clean and prepare them was the same to me as learning to change the tire on a bicycle, or how to cook ramen noodles. Later, I appreciated store bought food more, considering the necessary efforts to raise, catch, or kill it, get it to market, preserve it, and have it readily available to masses of people.

I once read an editorial wherein someone complained about hunters killing animals instead of buying meat at the stores like everyone else… still blows my mind.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why does it blow your mind, @Sinqer? I mean, you have food available at the store, so if you go out hunting, it’s just for fun. How could killing something just to be killing it be considered fun?
If I had to kill to live, I would. No problem. But I am spared that, and I’m glad.

anniereborn's avatar

@Dutchess_III A lot of hunters use the meat from the animals they kill. It’s not always for fun and games. And I see nothing wrong with the former. At least the animal lives a real life before they are killed for food, not like those horrible factory farms.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know they use the meat, but it’s available else where, so they just go out to kill stuff.

The beef cattle here are all free range. They live a real life.

Buttonstc's avatar

Where is the “here” to which you refer?

The vast majority of beef, pork and chicken in the USA is raised in a factory farm system.

You really have to purposely look for a source of anything but.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Buttonstc Yeah. Being surrounded by cattle farms is no guarantee that the beef on your local grocery shelf wasn’t trucked in from hundreds of miles away. You need to check the labels.

Sinqer's avatar

@Dutchess_III It blows my mind, because hunting can be cheaper depending on your method, a reason many take part, and secondly, the killing of one animal during a hunt to feed me versus buying part of an animal that was killed somewhere else by someone else both result in the killing of an animal to feed me.

And you’re conclusion is false. Many hunters do not hunt just to be killing it or just for fun. We eat what we kill. And what any individual considers fun is totally subjective, but for hunters it’s a matter of directly supporting their own needs through their own efforts, and the satisfaction that comes from being self sufficient (it’s up to you whether you want to define that as fun). And, regarding the fun of hunting, if it costs the same to go do something I enjoy that puts food on the table, as it does to spend the money and effort buying food, then it only makes sense to do the former.

It’s like you’re condemning the hunter for killing stuff, because there are other non-hunter-hunters killing stuff to sell to them. That’s like saying bowls are for sale at the store, why do people make their own on pottery wheels? It’s not JUST going out and killing stuff, it’s fending for one’s self and taking satisfaction in doing so… same as making leather goods, knife making, just about any type of arts or crafts. You could go pay someone to frame your photos, or you could frame them yourself. The finished product hanging on your wall means that much more to you when you did the carpentry and framing. Ever considered designing and making your own bag? Same thing, using your own abilities to acquire the things you want and need. What’s the payoff? Not just fun, development of the skills necessary to make and do those things: hunting, pottery, sewing, carpentry, etc.

And if all the cattle are free range and live real lives, then what’s the difference between bob shooting a not-so-wild cow and me shooting a wild deer? Then are you not condemning hunters for doing exactly what farmers do? The only difference I can make out, since you say the cattle live real lives, is that hunters feed themselves and their families while farmers kill animals to sell at market to feed themselves and their families.

My next question is, could you actually hunt to feed yourself? There’s a significant difference between having the will to pull the trigger and killing something, and being able to track an animal after it runs off to die because you didn’t hit the heart. You have to stalk your prey and get in a position to shoot it, or call ducks in to land within range. Can you do those things? If so (and I’m going to assume you can), then you are a capable hunter as well, but you prefer the efficiency and ease of buying what someone else hunted/killed over doing it yourself.

It sounds to me like you support the hunters that raise livestock and then hunt them down in a pen, versus self sufficient individuals that hunt them in the wild. I only say it sounds this way, because perhaps I am missing something. It seems to me that you have drawn a conclusion or formed an opinion about hunting and/or hunters without actually being one or knowing why it is they choose to do what they do. You just have your conclusion as to why they do what they do (i.e. just for fun). I only bring this up, because it makes me wonder how many people draw such conclusions with virtually no experience or relation to those they are projecting their conclusion on.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Sinqer Yes, I could hunt, physically kill an animal if it were the only way to feed myself. I just question the motives of people who hunt for no reason other than to hunt. It obviously isn’t unpleasant to them to see an animal writhing as they die because they shot them, either with a gun or a bow.

I live in a rural part of Kansas. I know lots of people who hunt. None of them have a “need” to hunt. They just do it for fun. They get excited about it. Had one friend of my husband’s describe the death of a deer he had shot. Apparently he’d shot it through the lungs.
I said, “So the deer just suffocated to death?”
He casually said, “Well, I suppose!” He didn’t care. He was just excited about the shot he’d made. No concern at all over the fact that the deer took a long time to die.

Another time, in college, my bf took me hunting with a friend of his. I didn’t have a gun, I was just along for the ride. His friend shot a quail, on the other side of the river, one he couldn’t possibly retrieve. Didn’t matter. He was just excited that he’d hit the thing in flight.

I don’t eat that much meat, but I’m pretty sure that the domestic animals are killed quickly and not left to suffer.

Sinqer's avatar

@Dutchess_III Then I think the answer to your question is lack of sympathy. I generally do not sympathize with unintelligent creatures. I would, and do, avoid leaving an animal to suffer, but then again, I do sympathize with the fear and pain an unintelligent creature can experience, especially if I am the one to administer such pain and fear.

But then we’re really looking at the degrees to which different people sympathize with other beings and which beings. I would never argue that there aren’t hunters out there that only relish in the hunt, though my personal experience finds them to be the minority. Perhaps where you live, they’re the majority. Seeing as hunting isn’t a necessity, we both know anyone who does it, likely gleans some sort of fun or satisfaction from it, but I wouldn’t assume that all hunters hunt for only that reason. It was your use of the word ‘just’ that got me (i.e. just for the fun, just to kill…). It’s a matter of motive, and I avoid assuming motive when I can.

I think your last story answered your question as well. He was just happy he hit the thing in flight. It was a matter of succeeding at something difficult and requiring skill, the same as successfully sculpting a bowl, glazing it with a pattern by hand, firing it, and then having it be of such quality that visitors could not tell it wasn’t bought, or better yet, ask you where you bought it because it’s so nice. Hunting is like any other endeavor, it yields satisfaction where successful, but also satisfies recognizable needs to the same end as visiting the grocery store. Considering this, you questioning the motives of those that hunt for no other reason than to hunt is like questioning the motives of a sculptor that sculpts for no other reason than sculpting, or an artist that draws for no other reason than pursuit of the endeavor. Most of my drawing throughout my years has been studying anatomy and practicing illustration thereof, drawing to get better at drawing. I’m getting redundant… sorry.

Coloma's avatar

Hunting for survivals sake fine, to stock your freezer once a year, fine.
Sport hunting not fine.
There is no good reason to kill for the sport of it, ever.
Anyone that gets off on mounting animals heads on their wall or hunting exotic species is an archaic redneck neanderthal.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You can hardly compare living beings to inanimate objects of art.

wildpotato's avatar

I ended up slaughtering the rooster I asked about here a few months ago. I tried with him, I really did want to keep him, but once the snow started building up and the birds decided they liked living in the goat barn instead of the coop, he just kept attacking us nonstop in the close quarters. Plus he had broken the tip of his beak and hadn’t eaten for a day. There are ways to fix beaks, but ultimately the situation was unfair and unhappifying to everyone involved, including the roo, the hens, and the goats, so we decided it was the best course of action to slaughter him. We made him into coq au vin (which is just about the only thing one can do with a mature roo like that), and it was honestly the most delicious meal I have ever eaten. Knowing him and caring for him when he was alive, and killing him myself, absolutely made a difference in my appreciation of the meal and of his life.

A few weeks later a friend gave us three of his Muscovy ducks to slaughter because he had way too many ducks. We both liked them, but did not have the setup nor space to keep them, so we followed the original plan and slaughtered them. This was emotionally more difficult than doing the roo was – ducks are just little sweeties. Birds have always seemed kind of opaque to me, but these ducks were, I dunno, more personable, or something. We’ve decided to get some ducks and maybe geese someday, but probably just a few for pets. Though those birds were amazingly delicious. Muscovy is unlike regular duck – think of something like a cross between steak and white turkey meat. Soooo good. We did the drake a l’orange, which was the best, and just roasted the two hens. We had the last one tonight, yum. But even so, I’m not sure I am up for slaughtering ducks again.

Since I have dairy goats, part of the deal is breeding them and disposing of any male kids. Goats are super sweet animals, and have a lot of intelligence and personality. To me, slaughtering one of my goats would be like murdering my dog. My goat mentor tells me she doesn’t have a problem with putting the males down because she doesn’t name them or spend time with them, and once remarked that if a person can’t handle this part of dairying, then he or she has no business breeding. While I agree intellectually, I’m very unsure that I’ll be able to actually go through with it. If I did, wouldn’t that kind of make me a psychopath, just a bit? This whole turning-off-the-empathy thing is pretty disturbing, and it disturbs me that I myself can do it – or at least, have done it with birds I don’t know well or who have attacked me incessantly. But my mentor and other homesteading friends who do this stuff certainly aren’t psychopaths. I just can’t figure on how they balance it out, yet anyway.

Some stories to illustrate: One friend let her favorite wether (neutered male goat) grow up and then had to take him to auction when her feed bill got too high for her to afford to keep him. She was crying about it the next day, telling us he was so scared and tried to follow her out of the auction pen. My goat August – who is the sweetest in my herd – had a sister named Apple, who from all reports was even nicer than my Auggie. Apple got slammed by a bigger goat and dislocated her hip, so she could no longer kid, and thus became an economic liability to her owner and was slaughtered. I could have saved her but didn’t have the $100 to buy a non-productive goat. Hell, I could have saved big Red the sweet wether but don’t have the room nor the extra feed money. It’s a real rock and a hard place situation. Farming is fucking brutal. We’re planning on doing meat rabbits next; we’ll see how much that slaughter sucks…

I’m going to start this book next; hopefully it can offer some insight.

Coloma's avatar

@wildpotato Had to do the roo stew ey?
We’re freaking out over here with the avian bird flu that is going around. Some cases in a neighboring county. Looks like the wild mallards are the carriers. We have tons of canada geese and some wild mallards in our pastures and pond here so we are switching boots between the horse barn and pastures and the chickens, ducks and geese up here by the house.

No possible X contamination from walking through goose poo down in the barn and pasture areas. If you had a hard time with doing inthe ducks geese are even worse, very smart, personable. I’d recommend geese over ducks for their eggs, but I could never eat them, seeing as how my best buddy is a goose.

hearkat's avatar

Fish and shellfish, but even then, I remove myself as far as possible from the killing and cleaning process. We buy most of our food from the farmers and we go to many of the farms, so I’ve seen and fed some of the animals that I later ate. I see the photos of the livestock that the farms post on their website and social accounts. I don’t think I could do the killing, unless it was life or death, though; but I recognize that these creatures aren’t wild animals – they are bred and raised for us to eat, just like the plants are sewn and harvested to for us to eat. That is why I sought out and pay more for meat from farms where I know that the farmers truly care for and love them, and where they have a good free-range natural life and aren’t crammed among hundreds of others in a pen somewhere with no sunlight or fresh air or food.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m doing some research, but I’m pretty sure that most cattle spend most of their time on the range, and only end up crammed in cattle pens during the last days of their life.

Coloma's avatar

Does it count if I cracked an egg from one of my hens which had an almost ready to hatch embryo in it?
It must have been overlooked in the nest for a couple weeks and then collected. :-(

Sinqer's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t recall comparing living beings to art… I compared various endeavors that humans undertake, one of which is creating art, and another which is hunting, both often undertaken for the purpose of undertaking the endeavor, the performance of the endeavor is just as much an end as it is a means to the ends it causes.

I’m confused by your statement, unless you’re saying that the death of an animal is some atrocity when not needed, whereas art is never an atrocity because it doesn’t take a life. In which case I would point out that my explanation was concerning the motives of the individual, and that the means are just as much ends in themselves. The sculpting is an end, not just a means to a pot, and the hunting is an end, not just the means to meat on the table. And the death of an animal for meat is always necessary if one is to eat meat. It’s just a matter of who’s doing the killing, and which animal.

And I can compare the life of a living being bred in captivity to a life bred in the wild. It’s ok to hunt and kill cows that are bred and raised to be hunted and killed (in a pen, when the killing time comes), but it’s not ok to hunt and kill other animals bred in the wild? How is one any more ‘right’ or ‘good’ than the other? Both produce food to eat, but one of the two enjoys what they’re doing. Is that it? Is it alright to kill animals as long as you don’t enjoy the process?

Or is the argument based on necessity? A hunter could just as well argue that you don’t need to rely on meat in a store when you could hunt your own. So necessity works both ways; you unnecessarily rely on farmers. How is that better or more ‘right’ than relying on one’s own skills and resources?

Coloma's avatar

@Sinqer Agreed, there is no difference between slaughtering a domestic animal vs. a wild animal, however, that said, the question is ” is there a need?”
Hunting wild life for survival is one thing, sport killing is entirely another.
One provides sustenance to the body, the other only provides strokes to the ego for those that fancy themselves to be some great white hunter.

Also, killing a free range cow or other domestic meat animal does not need to be done in a pen. One can dispatch the animal in it’s field or pasture and not cause it undo stress by herding it into a killing pen. Our neighbors graze about a dozen head of cattle on lush green pastures and once a year they butcher a steer and it is done right in it’s pasture after the other cattle are herded to an adjacent field out of view of witnessing their comrade being killed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

One provides sustenance to the body, the other only provides strokes to the ego for those that fancy themselves to be some great white hunter. GA @Coloma.

Sinqer's avatar

No point of disagreement here, except for the assumption of motive on the part of the sport hunters. If I go hunting, shooting a bigger dear (with more meat) with a nicer rack, and stuffing the head for my wall doesn’t diminish the fact that I am choosing to satisfy the necessity of eating by way of hunting over the way of buying.

The only example I could understand your meaning to not be assumption of motive, is where a sport hunter leaves his kill to rot in the wild, or otherwise discards the meat. And on this, I would agree with you 100% it’s wasteful. I have yet to meet a hunter that plans on leaving their kill to rot. And I have yet to meet one that would leave their kill when they have reasonable means to retrieve it. That’s not to say they aren’t out there, but I have never met one.

What he does with the rest of the animal (stuff it, hang it, sell it, make a leather wallet, etc.) is irrelevant to the fact that he is putting food on his table the same as someone who buys food at the store, though the hunter is at least taking the steps to acquire the meat, while others rely on farmers to handle that part for them. And the ‘trophies’ are for the same reason I explained, a trophy that marks an accomplishment worthy of confidence and satisfaction. I think many refer to it as ‘taking pride in one’s accomplishment’, though I wouldn’t subscribe to the term pride.

On the topic of ‘need’, humans pursue all sorts of activities without need. So it sounds as though you simply disagree with hunters doing the same, because it results in a dead animal. In which case, it sounds like you’re asserting that hunters should not engage in their unnecessary endeavors because they yield dead animals; whereas waterskiing is perfectly alright. If this is accurate, it sounds like a projection of personal judgment to me, that the needless death of an animal is judged by you to be wrong or bad, and you are projecting that judgement onto reality, as if to say that it’s objectively wrong or bad.

I can see a perspective where diminishing numbers of wild animals is an issue; however, I would attribute this problem to the overabundance of humans, not the actions of hunters.

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