Getting up close and personal with your food

I believe that everybody should get up close and personal with their food at least once. It is something I have always tried to teach my son. We have grown food in a garden and collected eggs from our hens, and we have caught fish.


My son, aged 5 at the time with fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and eggs collected from our yard


My son aged 5 with his first fish through the ice. A pickerel that was just the right size to be a meal for a boy!








Most recently, my son graduated to the next step. He shot and killed a squirrel, that he knew he was going to have to eat. After the kill, he was required to watch me skin, and butcher the gray squirrel, that a few hours before had simply been going about its business in a woodlot next to the cornfield, where it gathered food.047

Back home, my son watched as I dressed the squirrel and asked about the various parts he was seeing, from the reproductive organs, right down to heart, lungs, and major arteries. He was surprised at the amount of blood.

Killing is a dirty business. Something I have told him since the first time he saw me go after a fox that was killing our chickens. He was excited and proud of his father, and I suppose that is O.K. but I felt it was important that he understand that the fox was just doing what he needed to do to survive.


Less than 24 hours previous, my son’s lunch was a fat gray squirrel gathering spilled corn for its winter food supply.

Now my son is sitting behind me munching on the meal he harvested on his own. My hope is that he as a better appreciation of where food comes from, and that perhaps he may not be so wasteful in the future. I hope that he understands that the meat in the supermarket, all neatly wrapped and put on display in the supermarket was once a living breathing animal.

Perhaps many of you reading this could never go out and kill an animal, but I truly believe you should at the very least call a butcher to see if you can see how an animal is prepared for the market from start to finish. As I say, killing is a dirty business. I believe you owe it to your next meal to understand what it sacrificed so that you may eat.

And to the trophy hunters out there…SHAME ON YOU!!! Especially to the hunters that shoot animals and leave them to rot in the woods. I’m not suggesting that we eat foxes, and coyotes, and other carnivores. There are a few scientific reasons and some Biblical reasons why people don’t eat predators. I understand that.

My question is, how many of you have shot and killed porcupines, woodchucks, raccoons, and skunks just because they were there? These animals are perfectly edible. Selling the hides of raccoons and skunks is better than letting them rot. I admit, I have killed skunks and coons, and not eaten them. But the reasons I had for doing it was because in my younger days I hunted ‘coons for their pelts, and I kill skunks when they have become problematic, and are actively killing my chickens.

I no longer hunt raccoons, and I do not trap for hides.  Whenever possible, I live trap skunks and relocate them as far away from homes as I can.  I never have, and never will kill a porcupine. If I am in a position to shoot a woodchuck? I probably will. I hear they are quite tasty, and I am not afraid to get up close and personal with my next meal!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.