Since the beginning of man’s time on the Earth, he has hunted. On six continents, our race’s very survival depended on our distant ancestors ability to track, kill, and consume a variety of creatures. At first, man concentrated on the smaller animals that required less effort to catch. They learned what animals could be caught, and what ones were not worth the effort and risk. They invented traps, enabling them to catch more game with less effort. As their families and communities grew, the supply of small animals declined. The human’s survival, indeed our survival, depended on elevating to larger prey. Man refined his tools and methods to take on big game.
Through trial and error, and sometimes through the loss of their lives, humans learned to hunt the larger and more dangerous beasts. At first, they used rocks and spears. But eventually our ancestors learned to hide and wait. They learned to disguise themselves in the natural surroundings. The more they became like the animals, the better they were able to hunt them.
Over time, man came to respect the beasts he hunted. He even learned to kill his prey with mercy. A quick, clean, kill yielded more meat and usable materials. More than that, man showed the animals mercy because he learned to empathize with them. All of the empathy and respect, all of the tools and experiences, all of the knowledge of how to provide for the family, would be passed along. Everything man learned about hunting was imparted to his children, and his children’s children, and on and on. Hunting became a great source of bonding between generations, as parents and children spent hours together on a daily basis.
Over time, the need to hunt became less urgent. Soon, food came from other sources, and the survival of the race was assured. Today, everything a family needs to survive can be found at the local grocery store. The quest for sustenance has been replaced by the search for entertainment. Humans are bombarded with technological distractions like cell phones and computers and are more likely to communicate through texting than in person. Busy families must schedule time together, or be carried away in the frenzy of their hectic modern lives. Technology and culture changed the world and the role of the hunter. He (or she) now hunts on weekends or vacations, while punching a time clock Monday through Friday. The once essential tradition of hunting is now recreational. The skills and techniques of the accomplished hunter have little value in daily life.
Today, the majority of the human population can be found in cities and in suburbs, often far from wild animals. Yet we surround ourselves with reminders of the wild. We spend afternoons in city parks and backyards. We keep domesticated pets. We plant trees and flowers on our properties. We even listen to nature sounds to help us sleep. These are all reminders of our connection to our roots in the wild. These urges can still be satisfied in the forest through hunting.
Though hunting is no longer necessary for our race’s survival, it possesses great value to the individual. It provides bonding experiences for families and friends and opportunities to pass on traditions between generations.
A trip into the wild changes a person’s perspective immediately. A long hike in, carrying a heavy pack, will stress muscles rarely used by even the fittest among us. It does the ego good to have carried everything you need to survive for several days on your back. Those domesticated dogs that lick us when we return home from work may be happy to join us in the forest as well.
Retrievers and scent dogs can be retrained to do what they were actually bred for.
The forest is not regulated by clocks, but by sunlight, temperature, movement, and wind. Camping in the wild allows us to sleep to actual, not pre recorded, nature sounds. And there is no feeling like waking up to the sun rising up through the branches of centuries-old trees. There is nothing like seeing steam rise from huge ferns as the forest warms for another day. There is also no cleaner air than forest air filtered by abundant plant and animal life. Where in the city can someone smell sap, soil, and pond lilies simultaneously? Hunting provides an amazing opportunity to do and see things many people might not otherwise experience. A parent who brings their child on a hunt provides them an education unlike the one provided in any school. Where else can a young adult learn about the circle of life in real terms? They can see true predators in the wild, and witness the survival of the fittest. No classroom or video can replace the personal experience of seeing an eagle swoop down to capture a salmon. No iPhone app tells the story of a pack of coyotes tracking an injured elk in the way a hunter sees it with his own eyes. This is real life as nature intended, witnessed up close and personal. Hunters see hundreds of species of birds and small animals. They witness the grandeur of nature’s mightiest beasts. If they are patient enough, they become more than just visitors. They can become a part of the natural world. If one is willing to learn and practice the ancient tradition of hunting. They will do more than just witness the survival of the fittest. They will become a living embodiment of the principle. Hunters are allowed to explore the animal within themselves.
When a hunter acts with both instinct and intellect, he is ready for the kill. He is ready to ascend to his rightful place at the top of the food chain. Where else, but on the hunt, can one feel that? Like in times long gone, hunting today is built on the idea of showing respect for your game. After all, animals in the wild are there because they are the survivors. The strongest and cleverest of animals reproduce. Game animals face challenges like weather, predators, disease, and competition for resources from the time they are born. They are in the wild because it is their home, and they belong there. These animals often have greater senses of smell, sight or sound than humans. Hunters who don’t understand that they are outsiders will stand out and struggle to make a kill. Or worse, they will become a danger to themselves and others. More than just patience is required to be a hunter, however. There are plenty rules, both the written and unwritten kind.
These rules must be followed when one leaves the city behind. The rules are far from arbitrary and are in place to protect the hunter as well as the animals of the forest. Even in today’s world of information at your fingertips, there is no substitute for experience and preparation. Knowing even a little bit about hunting ahead of time can turn a frustrating day into a successful hunt. But even with years of hunting knowledge, there is always more to learn and even better memories to make. Once a way of life, hunting is now considered a sport. Like the sport of golf, it requires mental discipline, patience, and an ability to learn and improve. The more practice you get, the better you are. You can always benefit from the experience of the experts. It also provides an environment for social interaction away from distractions. Anyone can buy the supplies and walk the course, or trail in this case. In golf, the worst that can happen when you make a mistake is a shanked drive ending up in the trees. In hunting, mistakes can be a matter of life and death. Luckily, there are still those willing to teach the ways of the hunt. There are still those who learned from their fathers and grandfathers, and are willing to share their knowledge. And that knowledge will be passed along to you in the following course.
We will cover the details and subtleties of hunting. This course will tell you how to dress, speak, and even smell like a hunter in the wild. They will give you a working vocabulary used by hunters. They will tell you how to hunt safely.They will expose you to dozens of types of birds, and tell you the differences in how to hunt them. You will learn about small game. You will learn about big game, and how to take them down. And you will learn what to do with your kill. We will pass on valuable tips. These tips come from real hunters, and will save you from making countless mistakes in the wild. And in the end, if you have the patience to practice what you have learned, you will be on the way to becoming a hunter yourself.
Of all the traits shared by all great hunters, patience and a willingness to learn are perhaps the most essential. We cannot teach patience, but you will need to develop it to become a hunter. If you are willing to learn, you already have something in common with the masters of this great sport. Use the following materials as a starting point on your quest to become a hunter. Learn the vocabulary and study the techniques, and then look for real hunters willing to share their wisdom. Pull up a squat and listen intently to lifelong hunters, and take their words to heart. If their stories touch and inspire you, and you are willing to learn, you will be well on your way. Welcome to the amazing world of hunting.