Opinion: Why it’s so important to appreciate the game we kill for food


It’s a chilly May morning, the sun a dull haze behind the clouds as my breath forms puffs of mist. I’m warm in my three camo jackets, and it’s so peaceful I slowly drift off to sleep—until I hear a crunch. My eyes shoot open and there, at the edge of the field, stands a small, lone turkey. He cautiously treads over the frosty ground, closer and closer to my decoys. My heart pounds in my ears as I shakily press my shotgun into my shoulder, feeling its weight in my arms. I line up the sights on the gobbler’s head, click off the safety off and look into the creature’s fathomless eyes. One step. One breath. Bam. My first-ever turkey is on the ground (pictured below).

We live in a society where most people take their meat for granted. After all, it’s hard to imagine a hot dog, sanitized and packaged in plastic, ever having a pulse. The value of meat has become so cheap, in fact, people don’t even stop to consider what it actually is. Thanks to my father, I have an alternative perspective.


A lifelong hunter, he grew up in rural Saskatchewan, where kids would shoot gophers so they wouldn’t ruin the family driveway. His first firearm was an old Second World War rifle, and when he managed to scrounge up enough money for ammo, he’d head into the fields looking for a deer. He continued hunting even after I came along, and I remember being beyond excited when he’d return home with a prize in his truck. I couldn’t wait to join him on his hunting trips.

Abigail Angell with her dad and first wild turkey

At the ripe old age of 12, I finally received my own hunter’s licence. Despite being the youngest in my hunter safety class by at least a decade, it was well worth the work. My dad bought me an entire suit of camouflage, and I dutifully practised shooting targets at the range; when the fateful day of my first turkey hunt arrived, I was ready to go. In the wee hours of twilight, we arrived at our hunting blind, loaded our guns, and waited. And waited. And waited. A whole day went by and nothing happened. I was disappointed, but I also learned the first lesson of hunting: be patient. Nothing of value comes quickly.

New weekend. New spot. Same gun. Same result. So this is what it’s like to work for something, I thought, to not just have it served to you on a plate and spiced with a bit of coriander. This was nature calling for a challenge. And so it went for two more weekends. Finally, at the end of the fifth Sunday, as the last vestiges of legal light trickled over the clouds, that small turkey waddled into the clearing. He was a young thing, probably from the previous year’s hatch, but he was in range. My patience was finally rewarded.


I had always helped my dad butcher the creatures he’d hunted, but it was different this time. The body was still warm, and it felt so real. It was such a sharp contrast to the dissections performed in biology class, the smell of formaldehyde stinging your throat as the rat’s milky eyes leer at you. A hunted animal is fresh, it smells like blood. Even in death, it feels so alive.

I thank my dad for taking me hunting, because it taught me we’re just another part of nature

It’s often forgotten in our world of commercialization and mass production that our food comes from the earth just like everything else in the world. We are no more removed from the cycle of life than a shark in the sea or a marigold in the garden. We live because something else dies, and when you’re sitting there in the bushes, about to squeeze the trigger, you are acutely aware of this truth. When the shot is fired, when you step into the sun and silently watch your quarry in its throes of death, you feel the weight of its sacrifice.

I thank my dad for taking me hunting, because it has taught me we are just another part of nature, that our survival depends on something else’s demise. It taught me we should not kill without cause, and to respect the act of killing. Life must always be taken, but it should never be taken lightly.