By Josh Boyd
To say that we are currently living in strange times would likely be the understatement of the year. Handshakes and camaraderie have largely been replaced by the avoidance of face to face interaction, and a general reluctance to leave the house. For many, work schedules have been significantly altered, or have ceased to exist altogether.
In these troubling times, it can become difficult to maintain an upbeat attitude, as unceasing negativity seems to be commonplace. However, like in every situation, good can be found if only one knows where to look.
During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, an ever-growing number of Americans have reconnected with the great outdoors. For some, this has stemmed from necessity, while for others, an abundance of free time has made an escape from our modern world’s concrete jungles possible.
A Return to Homesteading Practices
Up until the onset of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, convenience had become a way of life for many Americans. If you were hungry, restaurant drive-throughs could be found operating around the clock. If you wanted to cook a grand dinner, every ingredient imaginable was no further away than your local supermarket.
However, in a matter of only weeks, restaurants closed their doors, grocery store shelves became barren, and many among us found it next to impossible to procure store-bought meat. This quickly spawned a return to the rural living principles of old. Gardens are now growing, a resurgence of backyard poultry flocks is taking place, and Americans are more focused on self-sustainability than ever before.
A Fresh Perspective on Home Processing
In the past couple of months, ground beef and other varieties of meat have become a hot commodity. From one store to the next, meat coolers have sat empty, as disgruntled shoppers attempt to locate the main staple of their next meal. This has reinforced the value of having a freezer at the ready, packed full of fresh wild game meat.
Now, more than ever, outdoorsmen and women have begun contemplating the role that at-home processing can play when attempting to live a more self-sustainable lifestyle. Because home processing allows an individual to package their meat in meal-sized portions, and directly dictate how such meat is prepared, those who process their own game meat are better equipped to remain self-sufficient during trying times.
A Rediscovery of the Great Outdoors
A great number of businesses have shut their doors during the recent pandemic. This has left an untold number of Americans without work. Some of these displaced workers are still receiving their pay, while others, unfortunately, are not. While this is indeed a troubling situation, a number of those facing reduced work schedules have found solace in our nation’s wildlands.
Perhaps more outdoorsmen and women than ever took to fisheries nationwide this spring, as did hunters to the turkey woods. In many cases, those that had not participated in hunting, fishing, or the shooting sports for several years, were able to rediscover their passion for the great outdoors.
An Increase in Money for Conservation
As a record number of sportsmen took to the woods and water this spring, a vast number of licenses and permits were sold by fish and wildlife agencies nationwide. These license and permit sales generate a substantial amount of money for conservation efforts on a local, state, and national level.
This money funds many interests that benefit sportsmen, including the purchase of public lands, habitat management projects on state or federally owned properties, and a number of youth-focused hunting and fishing education programs. Funding for these types of projects are often severely limited, and the increase in license sales during the ongoing pandemic will likely make up for at least some budgetary shortfalls.
What We Have Gained
For all that has been lost during this lasting period of difficulty, we have also gained, if only in the sense of a greater appreciation for that which surrounds us. We as a nation have come to understand how quickly we can be forced to do without, if we are reliant solely upon retail goods. We have also watched as many who previously clung to the bright lights of city living, have retreated to a rural setting for peace of mind and enjoyment, when all else ground to a halt.
If nothing else, we have reconnected, in many regards, with the simpler way of life that many of our grandparents relied upon for survival. Sometimes, the virtue of simplicity far exceeds the extravagances of ultra-modern life. This has likely never been as evident as it is right now, in our current state of upheaval, over events of the past couple of months.