Since the beginning of time, humans have hunted for food, and although most people living in modern America have an ample supply of meat available thanks to hardworking farmers, many still find connecting with nature through hunting a worthwhile, enjoyable pursuit.  

In the South, outdoorsmen can find quail, turkeys, hogs, doves and even alligators — but white-tail deer is king. In Alabama, hunters typically harvest more than 300,000 deer annually, making white-tail deer the state’s No. 1 game animal.

Many families build rich traditions around hunting, like the Holmes family in Marion. Cooper Holmes, 31, is a sixth-generation farmer. His family has lived on the same land since 1819. More than 20 historic buildings still stand on the family’s land, including a cotton gin, smokehouse and weaving house. 

In addition to growing row crops and raising cattle, the Holmes family has always hunted on their land. Holmes and his two older brothers celebrated a rite of passage at the age of 8 when they each killed their first deer with their grandfather’s heirloom rifle. 

“Hunting goes along with growing up on a farm and being outdoors,” Holmes said. “Deer hunting was always in our backyard. My dad took us when we were little until we were old enough to go alone. We always took walkie-talkies with us, and Mama had a base station at the house where we could check in.”

Although Holmes stays busy running his new venture — growing certified organic soybeans, wheat and corn along with raising certified organic beef and dairy cattle — he makes time to stay in touch with his roots and stock the freezer with venison. 

“Being brought up with hunting was really important, and I want to do the same as my family grows,” he said.