Armed & Enlightened: Deer hunting for foodies
Back in July, avid hunter Jackson Landers wondered on his blog if anyone would be interested in a semi-formal class on how to deer hunt from a locavore’s perspective. After all, what better way to eat local than to hunt for your own food? Of course, it’s hard to imagine local foodies more accustomed to shouldering a tote bag at the farmers market than a .30-Ã¢â?¬Ë?06 through the woods in camouflage gear actually shooting and gutting a deer, but Landers says the response was immediate.
Landers, a broker with Landers Underwriting, was bombarded with emails showing interest in the class, from people as far away as San Francisco, which forced him to limit the class size. Today, he says he has about 10 people taking his class, which is in its fourth week.
“The curriculum that I'm teaching is largely a natural sciences approach rather than coming from a 'hunting traditions' perspective,” says Landers, who conducts his class on Sunday evenings out of his office on Water Street, and admits he’s just coming up with the curriculum as he goes along. "Ballistics, evolutionary history, ecology, and tracking are all on the menu.”
Landers says the class may also include an actual hunt with experienced hunters.
“The students are a fun mixture of foodies, locavores and one guy who just wants to be able to provide food for people in need,” says Landers. “ Most of them had never so much as fired a .22 until our field trip to the range last Saturday.”
Landers says his hope is to teach this class year after year in order to produce a “new breed” of deer hunter in Central Virginia.
“Logical, analytical and environmentally conscious,” he says. “ Not that I have anything against the current mainstream American hunting culture – I'm hoping to add to that culture rather than subtract from it.”
If you’re a good shot, though, hunting can also be a good way to reduce your grocery bill. As Landers points out, for the price of a box of ammunition, you can kill up to six deer a season (firearms deer season in Albemarle County runs from November 14 to January 2), which is about 35-40 pounds of meat per deer.
“Compare this to the price of meat at the grocery store and do your own math,” he writes on his blog. “By shooting, dressing and butchering your own meat you can guarantee that you are eating free-range, grass-fed, hormone free food that has never been near a source of E. coli. Just think of it as very slow food, doing with meat what you may already have done with vegetables in the backyard.”
Of course, at the end of the month, Landers says he’ll be holding a class on field dressing a deer, a task decidedly more gruesome than vegetable gardening, and one that could test the group’s commitment to the grim reality of the kill.