Thursday, September 23, 2004

On Hunting

I am one of those people that hunts. It is both by nature and choice that I do so. I could quote long history and many sources that support my position. But, I don’t need to do so. It would be redundant.

I know by my own nature, and by my own inheritance that it is part of me. It is what I am. It is therefore what I do.

I am not an "outdoors" writer like Terry McKenzie or Capstick or J.L. Hunter or Colonel J.H. Patterson. I cannot wax poetic like the Indians and other wild folk whose talk and tales around campfires for eons past have recounted the stories of great hunts in words, song and dance. When I read their words, or feel the warmth of the campfire and see in my mind’s eye their sacred dances, I feel it in my bones, my muscles, my loins. My blood grows warm.

Yet, when I see the artificial blinds in the woods, the deer feeders, the empty shell casing on the ground, I feel as those do who find a hatred well up inside them. I know that these people feel the power of the hunt somewhere in their souls, but they have lost touch with it. It touches only their concrete commercial minds. I try not to judge them. They in their yahoo enthusiasms and drunken haze are still out there doing what in their nature they are. Yet, they have lost touch with what it is to be a hunter. Like everything else they do, it is without heart. Most of them weren’t reared like I was to feel sad when they kill something. That sadness that makes one weep. That feeling of their own mortality that only a true hunter knows–that he too is going to die someday. No high dollar pick-up truck, air-conditioned and heated blind, no modern rifle or deer feeder is going to prevent that. That sadness I feel is my own death looking over my shoulder, smiling, saying not yet, someday, but not yet, that too will be you.

When I am alone or with friends out in the dove field, the woods, by a quiet stream, a big bass lake, the sandy lagoons, the deep blue sea, and hunting the creatures that live there, it is to feel that connection with Spirit, that I Am that is also Me. When I feel the tug on the line, watch the dove streak past, the deer rutting or trembling that something just ain’t right, it tugs at my heart all the way to my mortality that I share with them. They pull at that everlasting eternal struggle for life that we all share and that struggle we shaman take with us into infinity.

I share kith and kin with the red tail hawk soaring outside my office window, the house cat on the prowl, the dog after the neighborhood squirrel, the leopard in the cool African night air, the alligator in his warm black swamp, all of that primeval longing, that hunger deep in the pit of my stomach, that drive in my legs to go hunt. The call of the whippoorwill, the howl of the coyote, the trill of the screech owl, beckon to me, and at that the same time, remind me that I will die, too.

We all kill. From the microbes our systems reject into oblivion, the pill bugs we accidentally step on, to the meat that somebody else kills for us. Death comes in anti-biotic pills, cans of bug spray, the rolled up newspaper, the saran wrap and butcher paper the meat comes in. We kill, oh yes, even if it’s by proxy. We live our sanitized politically correct lives, and ignore it. We rail at the slob hunters with their pools of blood and beer in the parking lot. We forget that someone makes a living in pools of blood and entrails to feed us, to stave off that hunger so that we can forget that we are hunters and hunted.

I know and can answer those words that haunt the back of my mind–it is only a dream, a program, a consensual reality that we’ve collectively manufactured and dreamt into being. In that case it is only all a dream and the killing is imaginary. But, it is not only a dream. It is a dream as real and engrossing and fatal as any other dream. It is the life we chose when we came here, to feel the heart beat, smell the smell of fear and death, to go on living until we too will die one day to feed some other mother’s babies. But in the dream it is all so beautiful, if you let yourself not be so self-important and judgmental to say, to convince yourself that you are above it. You are hunted and hunter right down to the spider’s web of DNA that makes you. You gather in your organic or commercial stores, safe from the tiger that ate your great, great grandmothers’ sister by the blackberry patch. You are not above it. It is what you are, it is life in this reality, this earth, this dream. You chose it in this time, after a couple of millennia spent trying to eliminate the wolf at the door that calls you when it is time. Why? To get it back. We are given the task, among other things, of regaining that immortal feeling of death and life that circles all around us, so that we may be reminded that oblivion and the Eagle await us if we are not diligent, aware, and careful.

I know what I am. Therefore I do what I do. I live, I hunt, I feed myself and others. I choose not to hide behind a piece of saran wrap. If I were a vegetarian, a vegan, even, I would still respect and yes, love the hunter. He or she is the agent of my death. To not kill is neither sin nor prideful self-importance. To sit in our organically grown cotton papasan chairs and pontificate that hunters are all slobs, and that if everybody ate only veggies and soy like we do this would be a peaceful, loving world is the height of arrogance, self-importance and stupidity. We deny the existence of one half of the world. For as long as there are grazers, there will be hunters, and when the hunters are all gone, there will not be peace, but oblivion. Nothing but fossils of a long gone era. I hope someone like me finds my bones and remembers.

Sitting on a hill
Cold wind chilling my bones
The Stag awaits


1 comment:

Lisa said...

Beautifully written Todd. I often have said I could go deer hunting but I doubt I could handle field dressing a deer. :)

Anyway a quote from my favorite poet/wiseman... Kahlil Gilbran's 'The Prophet'

Then an old man, a keeper of an inn, said, "Speak to us of Eating and Drinking."

And he said:

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.

But since you must kill to eat, and rob the young of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship, and let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
"By the same power that slays you, I to am slain; and I too shall be consumed. For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart, "Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart, and your fragrance shall be my breath,
and together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."