Deer hunting | Zach Everson

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Trend alert: The cool kids are killing their own meat (so sayeth the New York Times)

Me (top) and an 170-pound eight-point buck (bottom).

Me (top) and an 170-pound eight-point buck (bottom).

Well color my deer hunting article for Louisville Magazine’s March issue at the front of the trend curve. From Dwight Garner’s “A New Breed of Hunter Shoots, Eats and Tells in The New York Times:

In May 2011 [Mark] Zuckerberg made a pledge to consume, for one year, only meat he had hunted or slaughtered himself. He got a hunting license and shot a bison. “My personal challenge,” he explained, is “being thankful for the food I have to eat.”

If four new books are any indication, Mr. Zuckerberg is the decidedly nonmacho, non-pickup-driving embodiment of a new breed of American hunter. These young memoirists have loaded their rifles and shotguns for complicated reasons, including culinary one-upmanship. Nothing wows jaded dinner guests like a braised shank of calf moose that you’ve recently “harvested” and “dressed” — hunting euphemisms for killed, skinned and disemboweled — before bringing it to the table.

What feels counterintuitive and new here though is this: These writers have largely taken to hunting, they say, for ethical reasons. They’ve read their Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, their Peter Singer and Jonathan Safran Foer, and are intimate with the horrors of industrial meat production.

They no longer wish to have an anonymous hit man between themselves and supper. They want to thoughtfully stare their protein in the face, to take locavorism to blood-flecked new heights. What they desire, as Tovar Cerulli puts it his new book “The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance” (Pegasus), is as follows: “To eat with my eyes wide open.”

My desire was a little less saccharine: I just wanted to each fresh, organic, local, and cheap—and maybe have a little fun too.

My deep freeze still holds about 50 pounds of venison (next up is a venison chili in our new slow cooker). I’m hoping to bag a turkey soon though. Tim Farmer, the host of Kentucky Afield, which aired my deer hunt, and I have a bet: if Mitt Romney wins the 2012 U.S. presidential election, I’m designing Farmer a website; if Barack Obama wins, Farmer’s taking me to his “honeyhole.” (When pressed he explained that’s man-speak for a prized hunting spot. Good thing he clarified—I’d already bought some brie, which pairs wonderfully with honey.)

Full disclosure: this post is just a cheap excuse to re-run that photo.


Helping sportsmen with sincere mustaches reach hipsters with ironic ones

MAFWAI often wonder what, if any, impact my articles have. Sure, they’re (usually) fun to write and (hopefully) enjoyable to read, but do they lead anyone to action? Beyond reader comments after the article, social media posts, and a few nice words (sometimes) from my parents, it’s hard to gauge.

Last month I spoke with the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (MAFWA) communications officials. They were discussing ways to recruit and retain hunters. On the heels of my feature for Louisville Magazine, “The Deerslayer,” they asked me to discuss “leveraging media to a non-traditional audience.” Basically these people with sincere mustaches want to figure out how to reach folks with ironic mustaches.

So for about an hour, we talked about how they could engage foodies, locavores, hipsters and the like. Hopefully our conversation left them with insight into reaching an audience that includes a lot of non-hunters who might be interested in filling up their freezer with fresh, organic, local game meat.

Thanks to Brian Blank at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for the invite.

Photo: Courtesy MAFWA

Read ‘The Deerslayer,’ in which I kill, take a photograph, model, and, yes, write for Louisville Magazine

I bring the sexy to Louisville Magazine's March issue.Available at fine Kentuckiana newsstands, the March 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine features “The Deerslayer,” a 3,000-word, six-page feature I wrote about my first time deer hunting.

A full-page photo I snapped from my blind is on page 44. And, yes, I’m the sexy fella—both of them, actually—pictured on page 43 and at the beginning of this post. Sad confession: all of the props are mine.

Normally in my blog posts about my articles, I provide background about the pieces. I’m skipping that here, however, as that info is in the article itself. If for some reason you’re craving more though, watch the video of my hunt from KET’s Kentucky Afield.

Thanks to

  • Louisville Magazine’s Kane Webb and Josh Moss for their constructive edits, and Suki Anderson and John Nation for making me and the layout look so damn sexy
  • Jon Gassett, Tim Farmer, and Nathan Sangster with the Kentucky Department of Wildlife Resources for their trust in putting a gun in my hand, and Mark Marraccini for answering my questions
  • Robin and Ellen Gassett of Licking River Outfitters for their hospitality and letting me hunt at their Garden of Deerden
  • my wife, Margaret, for coming up with the article idea in the first place

Photo: Courtesy Louisville Magazine/John Nation

2011 highlights: Israel, Rome, and Wall Street Journal and Fox News articles about home

Traveling with daddy on his work trips, like to Montana's Ranch at Rock Creek, can be rough on a girl.

Traveling with daddy on his work trips, like to Montana’s Ranch at Rock Creek, can be rough on a girl.

And I’m spent.

2011 work highlights included having a full-page spread in The Wall Street Journal, trips to Israel and Rome, and becoming the city’s most-read independent website and winning a couple of big honors in the process.

Luckily my wife and daughter were able to join me on many of my trips. The latter turns two next week and already has visited 18 states and Washington, DC. We got her a passport this year, but it might be a few months at least before she’s able to get her first stamp—her little sister is slated to arrive in February.

Here are some of my writing and travel highlights for 2011:

‘Kentucky Afield’ episode with my deer hunt now online; eight-point buck mount now on my wall

Select the photo and my eight-point buck mount looks even bigger. Do it!

Select the photo and my eight-point buck mount looks even bigger. Do it!

My eight-point buck’s head has returned from the taxidermist (right) and my appearance in KET’s Kentucky Afield is now on YouTube (bottom, the money shot is at 9:20).

I was thrilled with how both came out. The European-style mount, which currently resides on a wall in my kitchen but will soon be relocated to the top of our staircase, looks rustic and arty on the restored barn wood. And the TV show really captured how much fun I had hunting with Tim Farmer and Jon Gassett.

And as tempting as it is to post an update every time I defrost some venison, I promise no more blog entries on The Great Deer Hunt until my article about it is published in the February issue of Louisville Magazine. Speaking of which, I should probably stop watching my TV appearance—how brilliant was the camouflage coverall popped collar!—and get around to writing the story…

My Great Deer Hunt airs this weekend on KET; watch me shoot and kill

Me (top) and a 170-pound eight-point buck (bottom).

Me (top) and a 170-pound eight-point buck (bottom).

The photo to the right probably gives away the ending, but if you’re curious how I evolved from never having shot at a living creature to the slayer of this beautiful eight-point buck in just a few hours, my hunt will be aired on Kentucky Afield this weekend:

  • Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST on KET
  • Sunday, 4:00 p.m. EST on KET
  • Monday–Friday, 11:30 p.m. EST on Lexington’s CW-KYT

For those of you not fortunate enough to live in Kentucky, clips should be on YouTube shortly.

My article on the experience is now slated for the February 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine.

My Great Deer Hunt starts now

Camouflage tip: You can't see me.

Camouflage tip: You can’t see me.

Camouflage tip: Here I am!

Camouflage tip: Here I am!

This Northeastern liberal elitist is on his way into the Kentucky woods to go deer hunting for the first time (at Licking River Outfitters in Cynthiana to be exact). My funeral will be Thursday. As one last jab at my friends, this non-observer’s memorial service will be full Catholic mass. It Latin.

I’ll be on assignment for Louisville Magazine; a 1,500 to 2,000-word first-person account of my two days in the tree stand should run in the January issue. The plan is to focus on the trauma of trying to kill an animal for the first time (I’m a decent shot at clays) and the tension of loving a good dish of fresh local game but being reluctant to kill it yourself. If you’ve got a good venison recipe, please share it in the comments.

Of course, the piece also might examine how much it hurts to shoot yourself in the backside.

I’m going with Jon Gassett, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Rumor has it the TV show Kentucky Afield will be taping the outing too. If I’m still with us, I’ll let you know when it airs.

Photos: Courtesy John Nation

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