Having grown up in a very liberal area, hunting was always presented to me in two highly contrasting ways: on the one hand it was a caricature of white ignorant people being cruel to animals and on the other it was a romanticized and vague ceremony where First Nations People (Native Americans) displayed oneness with nature.
In popular culture, especially thanks to cases like that moronic lion-hunting dentist, the animal cruelty perspective seems to be dominant. This is unfortunate, as having grown up in the forests of New England and learning to track from a young age, I am aware of the great value that the hunt can have on ones own personal growth AND one’s understanding of how the world works.
I haven’t really had time to hunt since the end of high-school, having either been busy with University or off in the far reaches of the Earth dealing with people hunting other people. Now though, I am more or less settled down with an epic Wildlife Management Area right down the street. My goal this season is to harvest at least one buck, and possible a bear. I may also go after a Coyote pack getting too close to the yard (and children) of one of my buddies.
While I do think First Nations People have been overly romanticized, just like the Vikings, there is definitely ALOT to learn from their traditions with regard to hunting. Their respect for living things and their ability to utilize as much of the animal as possible is something I would like to emulate and pass on to my son if I can. Not only will all edible meat be harvested but I also plan to make some bows (both long bows and recurve) from the sinew which will hopefully be covered in an upcoming post and some fur/leather clothing (and maybe armor!!!!).
Thus far I have gone on two scouting missions to my hunting ground. I’ve seen a ton of sign (tracks, scat, and rubbings) and even tried to ambush a bear with my 1861 Springfield Musket. As you can see, I also brought my bayonet because… well it’s a bear and lets be realistic- you only get one shot with a musket ;-). No luck but there will be another bear season here in December so we’ll see what the stars have in store!
I did succeed in surprising a Bobcat but since it wasn’t the season neither of us hunted the other, which from the looks of him, was lucky for me! The picture is a bit blurry by such is the nature of things (no pun intended).
There are many reasons why I feel hunting is a more responsible meat solution. My family are big meat eaters and I am aware that the environmental impact of beef is highly unsustainable. The life of your average beef-cow is quite dreary and depressing, especially if it is not free range. The way I see it, anything I hunt and harvest has both had a life of freedom and the opportunity to escape. This seems as fair as possible, and far more humane than the current system in place.
It is also a good way to reduce the family’s exposure to the antibiotics and hormones pumped into the animals we eat from big companies. Plus, I just find it to be a lot of fun. Granted, it also involves a lot of work, but nothing worth doing in life is easy. I will post a few more updates through the season as we harvest game and do some cool crafting projects. The ash staves for the bows are already cut and drying so the bow-making post should be coming up soon!