Hunters celebrate solace, nature, family, food
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Not all meat eaters are capable of – or interested in – hunting their food, but those who do often find it rewarding on multiple levels.
Todd Dunsirn started hunting in Waupaca when he was about 12 years old.
"My dad took my brothers and I through the hunter's safety course. It's a great course for kids," he says. "I did the same with my two older boys a few years ago."
As a grown up, Dunsirn, who lives in Shorewood, takes his three sons – now ages 16, 14 and 9 – Up North every year.
"I'm proud of them for taking the course and also keeping the tradition of deer hunting going within our family," says Dunsirn. "We've also been diligent on teaching them respect for the animals, the environment and each other."
Dunsirn says he typically goes deer hunting during the gun season in November and hunts turkey during the spring and fall seasons. Wisconsin also has bear, migratory game bird, small game and wolf hunting.
There are many different start-stop dates for hunting seasons depending on the type of animal that's being hunted and the weapon that's used.
After a kill, Dunsirn and his sons either bring the carcass to a butcher or have friends do the butchering. For venison, the meat is put in individual packs and then frozen.
"Personally, I love venison chili. The steaks, if prepared right, are very good as well. Venison is pretty low in fat so you have to be aware of that fact and not overcook it," he says.
Dunsirn says he loves many aspects of the sport.
"I love the solitude of being out in the woods with no distractions. It's a great time to reflect, think," he says. "But even more I love spending the time with my kids. Family is important to me and hunting is really about family being together and teaching your kids. With so many distractions today between the xBox and the iPhone, it's great for kids to experience such a raw, basic activity."
Plus, he says, there are lessons that can only be learned through hunting, such as care and respect for the animals, the environment and guns.
"At the end of that first day of hunting, everyone in our party gathers to talk about the opening day, have a few beers, look at what was caught, tell stories. To me it's a tradition and the memories created are priceless," he says. "And it feels rewarding to eat what you have caught yourself."
Julia LaLoggia did not grow up in a hunting family but became passionate about it around 12 years ago.
"People have been so generous with their time and their knowledge of hunting," she says.
LaLoggia hunts deer, turkey, rabbits, squirrels and recently learned how to hunt ducks through a class offered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
She says she prefers the word "catch" to hunt and often uses the term "hiking with guns" instead of hunting. She believes any time one life is taken for another it must be recognized and honored.
"The whole mentality, for me, is not to kill something," says LaLoggia. "It means a lot more than that to me."
The most important aspects of ethical hunting, according to LaLoggia, are to follow all of the laws and regulations for every shot and to shoot in a way that provides the quickest, cleanest and most humane kill to prevent suffering.
"Ninety percent of the hunters I know are like this," says LaLoggia, who often hunts in the Upper Peninsula. "They are not the stereotype of the beer swilling, gun blasting hunter."
LaLoggia spends about 50 days a year scouting and hunting.
"The main reason I enjoy hunting is being in nature. This morning I watched four blue jays and I was just happy and relaxed to be outside," she says.
LaLoggia has shot around a dozen deer over the years. The first two times she shot a deer she cried.
"Part of it was out of sadness, part of it was out of the intensity of the situation," she says.
But because LaLoggia is a meat eater, she wants to responsibly get her own meat. Even though she respects vegetarians, she is not interested in being one.
LaLoggia does not buy any factory-processed red meat and usually hunts enough meat to last her the entire year. She makes a lot of classic and creative dishes with the meat, including a venison pâté and a Southern-fried squirrel drumstick.
"People who never eat this try it and love it," she says. "Julia Child called the squirrel the ultimate delicacy."
LaLoggia hunts squirrels that live among hickory trees, so she says her squirrels taste like a slightly sweet, nutty chicken.
LaLoggia, who co-owns Ginger Tapas Restaurant and Stonefly, does not serve the meat she hunts on her menus. "It's illegal," she says, "but it's also unethical to take a community resource and sell it."
Great article! I will be visiting stonefly much more often, now knowing the owner is an active hunter/conservationist.
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