Ontario Trackers club

June 2001 Meeting

at the Browne's


Photos by David Browne.

The text is a combination of Walter Muma's & David Browne's interpretation of the weekend. 
The editing of this page was done by Walter Muma.

This was a very controversial meeting, with very divided opinions about what happened, how it happened, and about what to report and how to report it. In fact, this issue became so divisive within the group that this was in fact the last meeting of Ontario Trackers.

This report is an attempt at combining two very different opinions about what happened, how it happened, and what to say about it, while at the same time striving for objectivity and accuracy in the report.

The theme for the weekend was "The Philosophy of Food"

The gathering was held at Kathy and David Browne's home near Erin. Eleven people attended (including kids).  Attending were Kim and Eric Saunders and their children (Felicia, Sequoia, Autumn Willow and Kali), Alis Kennedy, Brian Herd, and Walter Muma (who was only able to come for Saturday), along with the hosts, Kathy & David Browne.

This weekend originally had over 20 people confirmed to attend. However, there were so many last minute cancellations that we cancelled John Rowe, our scheduled guest speaker from Rowe Farms (an organic farm nearby). We also didn't get the planned chickens to prepare from live either.  Instead, three live domestic farm rabbits were obtained.

The central concept of the weekend was that participants would experience what it was like to prepare food from live animals, in order to gain an appreciation for the giving up of life that all our food consumption entails (including vegetative life). The main vehicle used for this experience was the three live domestic farm rabbits.


During the entire day on Saturday not a lot happened. A couple of people went for walks in the on-and-off drizzling showers. Others napped and read.

The preparation of the rabbits was begun Saturday evening around 6pm, and lasted until midnight. Some people who were present acted as observers only -- not everyone who was present participated in the killing and skinning.

After each of the rabbits was killed (the manner with which this was achieved - with some difficulty - made it a disturbing experience for some who were present) they were skinned so the pelts could be later tanned.  The brains were saved for use in the tanning process. Only one rabbit was killed at a time, the next ones waiting until the previous one was completely skinned.
The above photo shows the group watching Eric and Brian skin one of the three rabbits.

In the days and weeks after the meeting there was extensive discussion about the manner in which the rabbits were killed - where, how, when, etc. It was definitely a learning experience for those who attended, both the participants and observers, and even for some who didn't attend who were involved in later discussions.
In brief, some people felt that the killing was achieved in the best possible manner given the circumstances and experience of the participants. Others felt that the process was disturbing and cruel and were critical of the process, given that alternatives were readily available (of which some were voiced at the time) and not pursued. 
(Clarification must be given at this point that the criticism did not arise simply because animals were being killed for food. It was about the methods used and manner in which the whole process was done).

The skinning process was also a learning experience.
The method chosen by the skinners was to pull the skin down off the animal like a sleeve.
This is apparently the method used by trappers for other animals. However, it made the skinning process noticeably longer.

Participants were surprised at how long and skinny a rabbit really is.


Sunday was spent in some discussion of the rabbit killing and skinning experience, preparing food, and drumming, and just generally hanging out and socializing. There was also a discussion about why so few people seem to come to these gatherings.

Even though there was some rain, it didn't stop the Saunders' girls from enjoying the hot tub.

Kim and Eric brought a hind leg of venison. David cut it up
into 3 small roasts (see below) which were cooked on a spit in the BBQ.

One of the rabbits was prepared in a roasting pan with potatoes, onions, garlic and bacon strips.
The original plan was to cook it primitive style in a pit in the ground. This was not done apparently because of the light intermittent rain.

Kali helped Brian stay awake so he could read his book.

The rain, which was really more like drizzle, didn't deter the girls from
expressing their creativity with sidewalk chalk on the concrete patio.

For a brief moment, "panda-monium" broke out!

Checking the rabbit to see if it was cooked.

The feast is ready: rabbit and venison with potatoes, onions, garlic and Caesar salad.

After the meal, folks packed up and then concluded with a drumming session.

Many who attended said they had a great weekend, and felt that the theme, "The Philosophy of Food", was successfully addressed and they gained a better appreciation for the plants and animals that provide our life energy.

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