The Bull Moose Hunt Society is a small group in San Francisco that focuses on responsible gun ownership, ethical hunting, and human camaraderie. Being an avid outdoorsman myself (not so avid as of recent due to family, work and business obligations), I thought to myself, “Hmmm…Bull Moose Hunting Society in Northern California, specifically the Bay Area…I’ve got to investigate!”
I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with one of the founders Nick Chaset.
A funny thing happened within a sea of opinions against anything remotely mentioning the use of guns and hunting animals. Two friends, Nick Chaset, a native San Franciscan and his friend Nick Zigelbaum, native Bostonian (now living in San Francisco), wanted
to find out more about guns and seeking out critters to kill and consume in a responsible and ethical fashion, hence the birth of the Bull Moose Hunt Society. Nick grew up in a very liberal area of the country, and pondered when he was posed the question over two
and a half years ago, “How is it you can eat something you haven’t killed yourself?” So the adventure began…
Chef D: How did you come about creating the Bull Moose Hunt Society?
Nick C: Once asked the question about “killing what I eat”, it piqued my interest in finding out more about guns, hunting, and all that it encompasses. From preparing for the journey itself, to consuming something I personally sought out, killed ethically, processed ourselves, to ultimately consume amongst friends, proved a very moving experience.
I found as I researched there was actually a lot more people interested in this than I expected. For me the whole process is a very real and humanistic experience. The outdoors and aspects of conservation are abundant. A fun aspect to what we are doing is challenging the preconceptions of hunting and gun ownership in a very liberal community yet in a positive and meaningful way.
Chef D: Was any formal training required?
Nick C: Yes, we wanted to seek out and research the most responsible ways in which to accomplish the activity as a whole. Growing
up in a San Francisco household I wasn’t exactly exposed much to guns and/or gun handling. Never mind hunting. I went to a local
shooting range and spoke in depth with the range master, as well other responsible gun owner/operators attending the range.
Additionally, we visited a local game ranch. We spent a full day with the rancher to seek advice on all the aspects of the animals, land,
conservation and conditions.
Furthermore, we sought out the expertise and advice of responsible hunters and gun owners on the internet web sites and forums. Most people were very surprised by the fact that two guys from SF were not only interested in guns and hunting, but that we actually had a true appreciation for it all.
Chef D: Is the Bull Moose Hunt Society considered to be rare or fairly commonplace?
Nick C: Within our personal education regarding it all we have found it to be very common outside of San Francisco, largely in the Mountain west, Midwest and South. In San Francisco, most certainly it is something that is very rare but it doesn’t have to be. We have approximately seven BMHS members but the friends of BMHS are many, especially when we have a freshly harvested animal. We invite upwards of 100 people; friends, chefs, friends of friends, and friends of chefs for our feasts. Chefs are always especially interested, even more so with the nature of SF’s food scene. It is always a very rewarding experience to expose and collaborate with likeminded individuals.
When we BBQ there is a commonality…sharing heritage, good food and good times, something that we have lost or disconnected with over the years as a society. Being in touch with our hunter/gatherer nature and consciousness of the outdoors, a deeper awareness of our senses, the smells, sounds, animal tracking as a whole is a very moving and personal experience.
At the BBQ’s, preconceptions are left at the door, anti-gun, antihunting or anti-meat is all swept to the side. Again, we love to chat about the hunt, all the preparation once an animal is harvested, the experience as a whole. It is a great education for ourselves and we enjoy sharing that with others. Both of our girlfriends are not exactly thrilled about us having firearms but they know it is very important to us. They also know that we have invested a great deal of education and time in handling and safety of firearms.
There is a large cross section of population diversity that is interested in what we do and even members, as well friends, range from a solar energy installer to a firefighter to liberals and conservatives both. We found there to be people from rural, suburban, and urban centers alike interested and practicing these same interests.
Chef D: When out on an adventure, do you prepare the food yourself or is there a favorite hot spot you gravitate towards?
Nick C: To date we have only done overnight and one day trips, so foods that are quick, hearty or light to carry and provide sustenance is what we typically bring. We certainly make or swap a lot of jerky venison or other game meat jerky.
Being in SF we have access to some of the greatest breads, cheeses and other foods in the world for simple consumption at camp. We would like to eventually do something longer such as three or five –day hunt treks into the backcountry. As with our diligent research with guns and hunting, we will do the same regarding food and equipment for longer trips.
Chef D: What is your favorite adventure comfort food and beverage?
Nick C: Venison jerky from game trades with others or our own jerky. My favorite beverage would have to be a pull of Jameson Whiskey from the flask. This is strictly of course only after the day concludes, ammunition has been unloaded and we are settled at camp for the evening. We can’t stress enough the importance of safety regarding alcohol consumption. It is something we take
extraordinary and serious steps with both our own actions as well educating others on regarding the matter.
Chef D: What is your adventure kitchen comprised of?
Nick C: A simple camp stove for very simple preparations such as stew.
Chef D: What is the biggest challenge of preparing food out on the hunt?
Nick C: Not so much with what we eat while hunting as that is the easy part. It is when we have the opportunity to harvest a live animal, the challenge lies within safely preparing the animal in the field to consume at a later time at home with our friends. How we process, pack, and prepare a freshly harvested animal would be the biggest challenge. Educating ourselves before our first trip was a high priority.
Chef D: Can you recall your most memorable adventure “game hunt”?
Nick C: The very first time two years ago, it was a wild boar sow named Bertha at a game ranch 150 miles north of San Francisco. The complete story is here:
Each time we go it is being in touch with and having our hands on the whole process, going through the motions of seeing a live animal become cuts of meat to becoming cooked product on a plate, ultimately being consumed and enjoyed by friends.
* Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.