When you think of hunting, what comes to mind? For some Americans, hunting season means camouflage, guns, bows, and time in the woods with buddies. For others, the idea of killing an animal—for sport or food—makes them cringe. In contrast to these common perceptions, I’m learning how to hunt because I want to explore the spiritual aspects of hunting and survival and the greater connections we can achieve with nature by appreciating how one life ending gives way to sustaining another life.
Tracing back to our land’s heritage, North American Indians held an intense appreciation for nature’s beauty and the spirit of life throughout it. Animals were hunted for food, but were respected as equals to humans, kindred spirits sharing the land. In contrast, in today’s world of commercialized food, the connection with the life that put food on the table is often lost. We rarely consider the chicken that laid an egg for your breakfast omelette, or the cow that died to become the steak on your grill.
Harvesting my own food off the land, whether it’s plants or animals, serves as a way to achieve a deeper awareness of my connection with nature and practice gratitude for the lives that nourish my body as food. Gaining the skills to approach this in a primitive way is also not only a challenge I am enjoying, but a critically important component of my preparation for a three-month expedition in southern Utah. For the next few years, I will be training in anticipation of completing that journey for my 60th birthday in 2019.
During the planned expedition, I will only have basic tools to aid in crafting my hunting equipment from natural materials. Aram Barsch has been a friend and mentor in this exploration and is helping me master the skills necessary for this aspect of survival, including: bow-making; how to use and maintain this handmade equipment in different kinds of weather; how to understand my environment, its natural resources, and the tendencies of different animals I will be approaching; and how to prepare and preserve the game that I harvest.
This expedition will be the most intense milestone in my journey as a survivalist so far, and I’m looking forward to the ways the hunting aspect of this trip will help me gain a deeper sense of gratitude for food as a part of our intrinsic connection with nature.
Are You Simple?
Or simply curious? Changes of all kinds demand courage and stamina, and we need to be exposed to alternative ways of thinking about how we live—and how we could live—in order to uncover our own truth. More of us must vulnerably share our experiences and gratitude so that others may be inspired.
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