A few hundred years ago, the place I'm writing this from in Austin, Texas, was prime Comanche real estate. The Plains Native American tribe boasted some of the American West's fiercest and most capable horsemen. The Comanche used these assets to hunt buffalo and feed entire communities.
After setting fire to prairie grasses to create a barrier, a party of riders armed with spears galloped toward the buffalo herd, driving the animals over a pretermined cliff. If the buffalo didn’t turn to gore the horses and riders, there was a good chance for a successful harvest as the animals cluelessly ran off the edge of the "buffalo jump." Native peoples used every part of the buffalo for food, shelter, weapons or tools. Children begged for liver and gallbladder straight from freshly killed animals, and the tribe made jerky to help sustain them through the winter. They survived because they ate what they killed.
In entrepreneurial circles from Silicon Valley to Wall Street and Thailand, the phrase “Eat what you kill” has taken on a metaphorical meaning: Don’t rely on an hourly wage for protection. Instead, survive on your business successes alone.
It's a powerful concept to motivate hard work -- but sitting behind a desk and generating digital currency is far removed from bringing home real meat from the field. Some entrepreneurs are taking notice of traditional hunting practices, questioning where their meat comes from and taking matters into their own hands.
You are what you eat.
Food is one of the most important parts of human existence. You can't avoid it even if you want to, which is why diet fads spring up routinely and fail just as often. Scientific methods of developing food have helped make calories more ubiquitous and plentiful for the world’s poor, but they have also harmed our health.
Pesticide-laden produce is a major health risk that accounts for poorer mental performance, immune-system problems and other abnormalities. Factory-farmed animals are filled with unhealthy fats. The standard American diet has a ratio of 15:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, but the ratio should be 1:1. This increases the risk of cancer and a number of chronic diseases. More people are becoming uncomfortable with the moral questions that surround commercial meat production, in which animals might live for brief periods in small confinements or exist in other inhumane conditions.
By now, your body has broken down the food you ate last night and reformed all the usable proteins and other "fuel" to become part of your body. Why not at least ask, "Where did this come from?" The truth is, even if you buy organic at the grocery store, you simply cannot know the answer.
A growing number of entrepreneurs are seeking answers. They're sourcing their own meat and becoming more aware of the process for themselves.
Conscious hunting: finding meaning and connection.
People are finding spiritual insights through ancient human practices, such as ayahuasca -- an Amazonian plant mixture capable of inducing altered states of consciousness for several hours after ingestion. But ayahuasca doesn’t have the same negative connotations and stereotypes that hunting does.
Trophy shots of felled game can turn off city-dwellers who believe hunting is a barbaric practice. They're overlooking the bigger picture. Conscious hunting provides a deeper understanding that is central to our existence as humans. When I pull the trigger or let an arrow fly, I cannot help but ponder questions surrounding life, death and the relationship between the two. Hunting can be just as spiritual and transformative as psychedelics or some physical practices in terms of how one sees and relates to the world.
The passage of time while hunting is one of the greatest contributors to this added meaning. It's similar to meditation in that one must invest time to have the chance for success. During a recent antelope bow hunt, I spent no less than 40 hours sitting quietly and patiently in below-freezing weather for a single opportunity.
This has translated directly into my work. My mission and purpose comes through in my businesses more readily because of my hunting experiences. And while many might not fully realize the lessons I've taken from these excursions, they will -- at the very least -- develop a stronger connection to the meat they eat and the process of harvesting it.
Eat what you kill: our moral and social landscape.
Not long ago, most traditional forms of media derided hunting. People who grow up in urban environments (including me) simply didn't understand hunting's role or have any personal experience with it. The very notion of killing animals has gotten a bad reputation, but a new wave of leaders is changing perceptions by creating closer connections with their food.
Comedian and personality Joe Rogan has discussed hunting and his trips numerous times on his podcast, which reaches more than 10 million people per month. In a heated Twitter exchange, Rogan wrote: “Make no mistake about it; if you eat meat you are killing as well. ... Life eats life. My goal with pursuing hunting is to get more connected with that.”
Author and podcast host Tim Ferriss joined Steven Rinella and Dan Doty on the show “Meat Eater.” Onnit CEO Aubrey Marcus organized hunting trips through the company.
Since my hunting experience with fellow entrepreneur Austin Brawner, I’ve been approached by HVMN founder Geoffrey Woo, a Los Angeles-based coach, and at least two other entrepreneurs. All of them appreciate the concept of eating what they kill. It’s a growing movement -- and one you can join.
Related: Tech Is Accelerating a Boom in the Food Business
Getting started: the basics of hunting in America.
President Theodore Roosevelt, who established the United States Forestry Service, prioritized the preservation of wildlife and its habitats. Due in large part to those efforts, we have a bounty to enjoy and a responsibility to manage those resources for the future. In 1900, there were 500,000 whitetail deer in America. Today, there are 32 million. The wild turkey population increased from 100,000 to greater than seven million in a similar time frame. As Steve Rinella says, “Now is the good ol’ days of hunting."
The most affordable place to start hunting is on public land. Nationwide, these designated lands are open to anyone for hunting -- as long as they follow certain guidelines and adhere to certain restrictions. (Some of the best public lands can be found in Nevada, Utah and Idaho.)
Do your homework on the rules and regulations, which vary by state. Depending on your quarry, it could be as simple as obtaining a hunting license, grabbing your gear and seeing what you find on public land. But you must recognize that larger game, in particular, tends to be crafty and intelligent. These animals operate on instinct and have evolved into survival machines. If you don’t have any experience, this may be a fruitless way to start even if you get to enjoy the great expanses of nature.
The other route? Paying for an outfitter to lead hunting trips. This is an investment in education and generally leads to more success than hunting alone. The cost for an outfitted trip could be anywhere from $15 to $25 per pound of meat (assuming you hunt for meat purposes alone rather than trophy). It's more expensive than buying meat in a store, but it's hard to beat for the experience and the assurance of knowing exactly how your food is sourced.