It is easy to forget, when fully stocked grocery stores are close by, that there was a time only a couple generations ago when most people in Northern New Mexico had to grow or hunt most of their food.

Hunting skills come through practice. It is an activity as old as homo sapiens. Tips and tricks for tracking an animal and harvesting it humanely with one shot are passed down through generations. So are the ways to properly prepare and store the meat.

Hunting is an egalitarian activity. It doesn't matter your gender, race, political beliefs or job - if you can properly harvest an animal, you get props from other hunters.

Each year, Taos News invites hunters to share their favorite hunts of the year. This is not meant to glorify killing. It is meant to acknowledge the hard work and traditional skill that goes into the people who bring home food they have hunted. Never was this more important than when a pandemic left people panicked and store shelves empty.

Francisco Cortez, Sr., whose entire family has learned to hunt, gives his take on this year: "Elk meat is one of our favorites. A big-bodied bull elk like this will yield close to 300 pounds of meat and will feed our family and friends all year. We will get yummy steaks, roasts for jerky, roasts for the slow cooker, fajitas and several packages of "universal use" ground elk meat. Canned meat is also very good. It is always nice to have a freezer or shelf full of this prized protein during these hard COVID-19 pandemic times. There is no need to go to the the grocery store for meat anymore."

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