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July 25, 2008

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Why We Finally Stop Hunting

I have an unnatural fascination with prehistoric man and, like a lot of paleontologists, spend time wondering what killed off the Neanderthals. They were around for 260,000 years in the face of some of the worst weather the earth has experienced, but 2,000 to 10,000 years after Cro-Magnons showed up, they vanished. Neanderthals lived in small family groups, and bit by bit, the groups ceased to exist. Finally, it probably came down to one man or woman, and that must have been the loneliest death imaginable.

I'm sure that last Neanderthal's last thought, just before his (or her) heart stopped was "Screw it. Why bother anymore? There's no one left."

And so it is with hunters. Hunting and shooting are intensely tribal. Only another hunter or shooter can understand what we do, and we tend to hang around with hunters and shooters of our own age. The pissant punks who can't remember before GPS and Gore-Tex and laser rangefinders will never understand how older generations view things.

Eventually, you reach the point  where you look around and there is no one left who remembers the things you do. Unlike the poor damned Neanderthal, you may not decide to die, but you very well may decide to hang up your guns. If you have no one left to share your sport with, why bother anymore?

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Comments

Mike in Kansas

My immediate thought after reading was "That, in my mind, is what the Apocalypse would be like". Heaven help us if we all decide to give up.

Jim in Mo.

Its true that hunting is a tribal thing. Sure I get away by myself quite often but look at the hunting camps, the more friends that gather the better. Hell, just look at this blog.

Jim in Mo.

I feel the hair growing on my back as I speak.

Keith

As a member of the pissant punk generation I would like to take offense. I enjoy it as much you or anyone else ever has, I have a compass not a GPS, and I love wool and down. You would be able to identify with us more if you stoped complaining and started teaching. Had I not had a person from the previious generation to learn woods skills from, and an appreciation of simplicity I would likely be using a laser range finder.

TommyNash

Point very well taken. Some of us still remember the joy of life before gadget-hell broke loose. What did a map and a compass ever do to anyone?

SilverArrow

I've begun my annual 'Shape up for hunting season' rituals again this year. It gets a little harder to do every year, largely because there are fewer of the 'Old Guard' out and about. I am a couple years shy of 50 but consider myself born out of time with respect to hunting especially, as such I look to partner with guys (and the occasional lady) in my dad's generation, more and more of those folk are not hunting anymore or have gone on to that next hunting ground.

"The pissant punks who can't remember before GPS and Gore-Tex and laser rangefinders will never understand how older generations view things." DEP. There is one key reason for that; Us! If we didn't instill the values we hold so dear in our next generations it is on us! We can cite the encroachments on available time from the likes of sports, 12 month school in some places, less time off of our work in others, pressures to earn more to buy more to keep up with the boob tube set... But in the final analysis it (it being the responsibility to pass on our values) comes right back home! It does NOT take a village! It takes parental commitment and a passion for what we do value!

Am I close to that point of saying "Screw it! I don't have any reason to do this anymore!"? Hell NO! But that is just me, as I said above; a lot of the 'Old Guard' have already called it quits. Hopefully I will see you all out in the field this fall, with a member of the next generation!
SA

Bubba

Due to the fact that I/we (wife and I) chose to raise a family on a meager income, precluded me hunting in a society that excluded hunting unless you could afford a lease. Since then, I have relocated to an area that has hunting, (my own land) and other spots available through the good grace of church family and friendly neighbors! The church family has provided me with one or two young men whose parents are in the same situation I was in 10/15 years ago. Since all my old hunting buddies still reside in the state of my previous residence, I hunt mostly alone. These two young men, provided not only an opportunity to see a young man develope into a sporting hunter, they have also provided places that, without their presence, I would have been unable to hunt. One has already assisted me in slaughtering a hog and is a real joy to be around. The other is still a bit shy and though a good companion, doesn't talk much.
I have greatly enjoyed the company of these two promising young men (and their parents!) and I'm looking forward to the fall so that I might get them both (one at a time, please!) into the woods!
As long as I can find young people to mentor, I'll continue hunting!

Bubba

Jim in Mo.

Off topic a tad;
I read an interesting piece years ago about how certain genes and traits among men and women are still in existance today as they were in the neanderthal. Men needed to be quite to be successful hunters, to be able to get close to their prey. The quieter the stalker was the better hunter. And those genes were passed on. The women needed to incessantly talk and chatter as they gathered the green stuff so as to alert toothy animals. The noisier the woman the longer they live. And the genes were passed on. I showed this article to my girlfriend and she talked for twenty minutes how full of crap I was.

Max

Damn it Dave I had to take a Zanex after reading you today. More and more kids are asking their dads to go to scouts and camping and hunting, the bloody baby boomers and their "got to be loved by everybody" crap spoiled a generation but we are coming back. I live in an Urban area and half the kids last Haloween were hunters and soldiers. The hunter Genes run deep Keep the faith Dave and have a good weekend....

jstreet

I'm entering that stage a bit now.

My friends (we are all close to 50) like to "talk" about hunting and still go deer hunting the opening weekend of the firearms season, but very little (if any) after that.

My son is entering the age where he can go hunting this year with me and I hope to pass it on.

I've also found that killing a deer is less exciting and a hell of a lot more work than it used to be (gutting, dragging, loading), but I think it's the natural cycle of things.

Old men teach, young men do.

Jim

Mike Diehl

Years ago when I lived back east I had a couple of reliable hunting partners in a friend, my father, and his friend.

Since I've been hunting out west, however, I've often been out there on my own. One thing that is new is that I seem to be more -- errrm --"aware of being aware" -- more into being in the experience in some inexpressably different way.

I think this means I'll hunt until my arms and legs stop working.

Jay

I'm going to be a little facetious here but the only person who likes change is a wet baby. Fortunately the hunting and fishing adventure stuff can be so interesting that if a person sometimes can make enough effort early on (usually with someone's help) or a lot of effort (as the case may be), then it can take root for a lifetime to a varying degree.

Dr. Ralph

The Cro-Magnons killed them Dave... and if men had any sense they would have killed off the blabbermouth women too. Give me good looking and mute and I'll instantly fall in love.

My friends and I had a hunting camp complete with a dilapidated old camper someone had dragged there twenty years earlier and a fire pit and not much else. On the night before opening day there would be anywhere from ten to thirty people pitching tents and playing poker and winching out trucks that had got stuck on the way back there. It was an experience like no other... no women, no rules, just a bunch of rednecks doing what rednecks do. It was basically the only time we were all together and we reveled in each others company. As we got older and married and had children suddenly fewer and fewer were there until I was there with one other person one year. It signaled the end of an era but I didn't stop. In fact I built a muzzle loader and spent more time in the woods and actually began to kill deer. A lot of deer. Hunting to me is about being alone or with my children or brother in law but still sitting in a treestand hundreds of yards away from them and enjoying the wildlife and solitude of nature...

Dr. Ralph

Just read Diehl's comment and I think I was trying to say what he said too... There is a vast difference in walking through the woods at dark thirty all by your lonesome. You are much more aware of your surroundings and the noises and every little movement. It truly raises the hair on the back of your neck and heightens your senses. It's called being alive and returns you to the basic animal instincts we are on our way to losing as we become more "civilized".

Dan R.

Umm, Dave, do you, by chance, suffer from bipolar disorder? After the last post complaining that parents with young children are too busy with other things to teach their children to hunt, you now complain about those young "pissants" who don't hunt the way we do? You can't have it both ways. I love the traditional ways as much as anyone, but let's face it, unless we embrace younger hunters, it won't be long until there aren't any younger hunters. Maybe, just maybe, we might even learn something from them. GPS and rangefinders and the lot are nice to have around, but shouldn't we be teaching the younger hunters how to survive and hunt in case the batteries give out? Keith was dead on point. It's up to us older hunters to mentor and foster the younger guys and gals and teach them the ways of the woods. Some of my fondest memories of my grandfather are when I would propose some newfangled idea to him, and he would kind of smile, give it a try, and quickly point out to me the limitations of my newfangled idea, and show me how to get by without it, but if it was a good idea, he would wholeheartedly adopt it. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be hunting. Thank God for the old-timers with the patience to put up with all of us when we were the young pissants and teach us to be the next generation of "old guard" hunters!

jes

Hell, Dave, if I knew you didn't have any old buddies around anymore, I would have offered my old fogey hand along with a Osceola turkey hunt on public land, with no trimmings but a sit on the tailgate to jaw on old times some....for sure I'm serious, too...there ought to be at least one other fellow around to sit and swap stories with! Here's your offer and no excuses...

Mark-1

Hope you’re not depressed and in sorrow, Dave.

Reminiscing about the “good Old Days” is a sign although reminiscing does seem to be a sign of advancing Age. I seem to fall back on memories more and more as I grow older. Many things are gone never to return. i.e. Bird covers, Hunting the Mountains, Good bird dogs, good horses. …But I think it’s a sign of mortality and vanity returning too often to memories.

Neandorthals likely disappeared because as a group they hit the Wall. They lacked an ability to cope and to adapt to Change…the only reality. This is something for all of us to pause upon.

Enough navel gazing.

RedneckInNY

Keith made a very good point about having someone teach the next generation. Hell, I'm 39 this year and only got started hunting 4 years ago. To this day, there isn't ONE single experienced hunter that has offered to take me out to their neck of the woods on a hunt. When I ask, they're all like, "Well, we already got X-number of guys in the group and they already have spots where they hunt, so sorry." I've heard just about every god-damned excuse as to why I can't go hunting with a group of guys I met at so-and-so club. It's this attitude that pisses me off, and that's the main reason why there aren't as many hunters as there should be these days. These selfish jerks want to keep their hunting spots to themselves. Fine! But don't complain that we're losing hunters.

Bubba

I "usta" belong to one of them ol' "Redneck" camps. No women, I was the only "kid" there because my dad was primary "leaseholder". He maintained contact with the land owner, collected the annual lease money, paid the lease, allowed/disallowed new hunters to openings, passed on new rules, etc, etc..... Basically, the one that was held ultimately responsible!
Opening day rules, (not necessarily a weekend) Members (it really WASN'T a club, per se!) only, no spouses, NO WOMEN(!), no guests for the first seven (7) days of the season and after the first shot, legal bucks only!
These rules were both good and bad. As a "bachelor" group, no women in camp meant no "monkey" business. No guests meant each paying leasee got his selected spot!
The bad part! Leaving the women at home meant they (IF they were hunters!) couldn't enjoy the most productive and best "days" of the season! The "kids" (well, except me!) only got to hunt "after" the woods had been pretty much stirred up.
I have a wife and two daughters now and they all hunt. No women in camp would exclude my entire immediate family! I ain't doin' that!
Guess I gotta give up somma them ol' Redneck ways!

Bubba

Jim in Mo.

RedneckInNY,
Most of us are encountering the same situation as you. I think it's mostly the lack of private hunting land these days and the expense to lease. Too many large organizations are gobbling up tracts of land and raping the hunter. Watch a hunting show this weekend.Those hunters are nothing more than shills for these companys. Looks like public land is the only thing remaining for the common man. Scary and dangerous.

jes

And more challenging! And that's what it's all about! Or maybe you want one to walk up and sit on you...and complain....

Brian T

My condolences to you all who even contemplate hanging up your guns. I can't imagine living in such circumstances. Proper etiquette predicts that we all share in the kill. When the "young punks learn this, I don't mind showing them some sweet spots. In the meantime, I have to wait 5 weeks more before we can begin once again to harvest the finest, organic, food on this fair earth.

Jackson Landers

On the topic of Neanderthals, note that there is a rule governing all ecology stating that no 2 species can occupy the same ecological niche in the same place in the long run. Starlings push out native songbirds in the quest for food and nesting sites. As the range of the imported American grey squirrel spreads across England, the native red squirrel disappears. Etc.

Neanderthals made artifacts and had a true culture. They were intelligent. So even if Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals started out specializing in different food sources, shortly after those early humans showed up, both groups would have started learning from each other's behavior. It would only be a matter of time before they were competing for the same sources of food and shelter.

Alternatively, let's ask what would have happened if the Cro-Magnons and the Neanderthals eventually learned to communicate and regarded each other as mutually 'human.' We're talking about 2 closely related, yet distinct species. Like horses and zebras. It is entirely possible that Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals eventually began to interbreed, but the offspring produced were sterile 'mules.' Eventually, such intermingling would result in one of the 2 species completely disappearing with it's genes no longer represented at all in the population.

I bet that you could run a computer simulation to find out what the thresholds would be in terms of initial populations and rates of interbreeding to determine how long it would take and which group would die out.

Happy Myles

Why bother anymore?

I grew up as a raggedy-ass cowboy but one day got on a Greyhound bus and went away to college. Why? Because I wanted to earn an income sufficient to allow me to hunt one sheep and one lion. My goal wasn't wealth but the ability to hunt. At times I was sure I was the loneliest hillbilly in the world. My goal held firm. My goal held firm then and now. I was in awe of O'Conner and Page, but figured if Elmer Keith could do it I had a chance.

These days, every now and then, after a social gathering, and the usual "how can you hunt?" verbage, the phone rings. The voice of someone who had listened quietly the night before asks if I could take he and his son shooting - that he had always wanted to take his son hunting. Other times, I'm behind my desk and someone calls I don't know. They apologize for bothering me and say they are hunting some place special and "would I mind giving them some advice?" Bother, mind? I'm thrilled to help. These experiences give me hope that hunters numbers may be smaller but serious hunters, not the bottle of whiskey and one weekend a year type. Female hunters are increasing in numbers. Hunting organizations are increasing and becoming more professional getting their messages to the public.

I mentioned in an eariler post I was a dinosaur, I could have easily substituted the word "Neanderthal". I hope I'm not the last one, but I'm proud to be a member of the tribe.

Hanson

Here's something for you to criticize http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6rKgL75POo




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