Wilderness Themes

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Copyright Lark Ritchie 1997.

Hunting as a Separate Reality

I find hunting similar to the experience of the internet computer user, in that it places the individual in "real time", creating a an intense focus that brings us to a different reality. This intense focus is one aspect that makes hunting so attractive to one who has experienced it. But there are subtle differences that I would like make more clear.

Today's world places us in a frame of mind in which we are constantly concerned about the future or the past. Rarely do we actually live in the present. We wake at six , shower, dress, breakfast with a fast coffee, and hurry on our way to the day's work. We take our breaks, lunches, and quit at the end of the working day. We anticipate the next event while we pass through the current event. We carry little pocket calendars to plan our day, week, month, and year. Mortgage payments or rent at the first of the month, club meeting on the 15th, car service on Thursday. On and on it goes, into the future, day after day, year after year.

Time is an element of consciousness of which we are almost always aware, and for the most part, it dominates our life, and we want to know what comes next.

In contrast, when we reflect on our earlier years as a youth and a child, we thought very little about the past or the future other than at special times such as an approaching Christmas or summer vacation.

During those earlier years, we lived to a great extent, in the present or as I call it, the "here and now". When we played with a toy, or with a friend, we became the truck driver, the cowboy, or the scientist. Each day was a mini-adventure in itself, and possibilities for new experiences existed around each corner or under each mossy rock. We lost ourselves in our activity.

As we enter and continue through adulthood, the range of possibilities for new experience is gradually limited by our daily activities and responsibilities. We have to plan and sort our activities with priorities, choosing what and when we can do something for our own selves.

In most cases, when we seek a break, a form of relaxation or preoccupation, we listen to music, watch a favourite television program, visit with friends, or take a vacation. These mini-adventures relieve us from the work-a-day world, and give us a change, which is as good as a rest. But in retrospect, we sometimes feel that the experience did not live up to the full expectation we had set for the event.

Sometimes, as we carry out these activities, we seem to be measuring the quality of the experience as it happens, and we realize that we aren't quite making it. When we do this, we are not truly leaving the burden of our concerns behind and really "getting into" our activity to the point that we can say to ourselves that we lost track of time, our worries, and lived the experience to the fullest. We come away with a touch of disappointment, and sometimes regret, or a feeling that we have wasted the time.

Some forms of hunting can help us to satisfy this desire for living an experience to the fullest. Those that can involve the methods used in traditional bigger game hunt; either sitting at a stand, or stalking.

Hunting in its modern variations such as road hunting, rabbit or coon hunting with dogs or duck hunting on a flyway satisfy a different need in us. Needs which are not as easily separated, and which I sometimes question. However, I will not address those here.

There can be other differences, especially for those like me...
Hunting as an Indian is something few hunters get to realize. The only thing close to it is poaching, but most of those who poach do it for the thrill of the theft, the excitement of getting something done without getting caught.

Indian hunting is something different. It is the being able to chose a set of actions which are spiritually and totally parallel to the truths one holds at his very soul, and without the laws of conservation, politics, morality, and quantity. It is this which is the essence of the indian way of hunting. It is more than finding and killing an animal.

A hunt of an animal is directed by the hunter, who, by his very nature,is superiour. He knows and believes that he is the superior; and he realizes that he can outsmart his quary, althought the actual path may be fraught with obstacles. There is no such thing as an easy hunt. There is such a thing as opportuniy, in the form of hunting grouse or rabbits, and there is hunting is the sense of hunting the bear or the moose. These adversaries are truly that. They have specialized through evolution to survive, and are reactionarily equivalents in the wilderness. To hunt such an animal, one is faced with continual choices and decisions.

Working in this state of mind puts us truly in the present, and awareness fades to the task at hand; to hunt the other animal through the process of elimination of his possibilities, and at the same time, do it honourably, with dignity, and with a respect for the animal.

But for all hunters, Bigger game hunting, which I classify as "hunting an animal which has a relatively good chance to elude the hunter" presents us with a worthy challenge, and an opportunity to lose ourselves in the activity, and through that reality, recreate ourselves within the experience.

For such a thing to happen means that the animal must have given his life for something worthwhile in the total scheme of things.

Lark Ritchie.

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