Growing up, I had to learn how to butcher and slaughter even though I did not live on a farm.
Growing up, fresh meat wasn’t the stuff you bought from the super market, it was that pig you just butchered and grilling over an open fire or those ten chicken you just slaughtered after school. If your’ve ever had it like that it does taste different. More…
“To be a good hunter, you have to eat what you shoot.”
That is the one thing my mother always said to me when I didn’t feel like eating squirrel or fish she made for dinner. Of course that’s not true… I think, but it does drive at the fact that hunting is a very basic part of the Hmong culture.
In areas where there are large Hmong population, squirrel population on public hunting land has dropped to almost zero. When I was younger (knee high) I remember driving out 20- 30 miles to the nearest public land and come home with at least a dozen squirrels, as the years past and more Hmong settled we had to go further and further away. Now, if you even want to see a suirrel, the only local (less than 2 hours of driving) places to hunt squirrels are on private land. I remember once when my uncle’s farmer friedn asked if we would help him with his squirrel problem. He had a lot of fox squirrels and they were raiding his corn field, garden and storage. Within two years of hunting, his problem was solved.
That also bring me to another point, the older generation of Hmong men really knew how to hunt. To this day, I still don’t know how they got so good. For every one squirrel my cousins and I shot, my dand and uncles would have at least four. I guess there’s no substitute for experiece, or maybe my mom was right and I have to eat more squirrels if i want to be a good hunter.
Aside from squirrels, Hmong people hunt or gather a variety of thing including: water fowl, fish, deer, rabbits, river snails, frogs, turtle and ferrel pigs. The most popular for most Hmong families are squirrel, deer and fish. Growing up, I’ve eaten a lot of these and I’d have to say, two of my favorite thing to eat are the river snails and frog.