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Hunting wild game in the modern world

BY CRAIG CAUDILL

After last week’s column, in which I lauded the benefits of opossums, snakes and such, I received more than one email suggesting I did not understand the benefits of killing animals for food.

I was perplexed because I too have a freezer full of 100-percent organic protein (aka wild game).

Today, I will consider hunting and its benefits. I can only speak from my own experience and mindset. I am not here to tell others what they should do.

For me, hunting is in my blood, it is who I am. There are many points of consideration that prove that hunting is beneficial to everyone.

You may ask, “Why should I take wild game when I can just get meat protein at the grocery?”

Someone else might say, “Killing wild game is an archaic and brutal practice.”

What it boils down to is this: Everyone on Earth right now — you, me even the president of PETA — are ancestors of hunter-gatherers.

Our ancestors all gathered plant material and hunted for their sustenance. In this modern day and age, many of us have evolved out of that. It is not a bad thing.

Modern times have offered us many wonderful things. I do not mean to come off as an advocate that we go back to aboriginal methods of living or native lifestyles.

However, in some of us, the desire to hunt is still strong. Either our family trees or genetic makeup has made us have that strong desire.

I personally believe the desire to hunt still resides in all of us. In modern times, many of us have never had to tap into that desire.

What would happen if modern conveniences were quickly taken from us? What if you could not go to a restaurant, grocery or a market? I think that desire would come out of each of us again.

The closer we are to the source of our food, the better off we are. The idea of hunting, and myself as a hunter, often has its share of critics. Unless someone is a gardener, farmer, hunter, fisherman or otherwise raises or catches their own food, you have no idea where your food is coming from or where it has been.

I do not have that problem when it comes to my primary protein sources, I know what I am putting in my body. I give great consideration and work towards how it is harvested, processed and stored before it is prepared for the dinner table.

We must study the wildlife and the trees. We need to prepare our bodies for the vigorous amounts of physical and mental fortitude to withstand rain, snow, winds and other environmental conditions. There is a huge investment of time and study that goes into hunting.

However, it is a goal in life to be a witness to fantastic things. For me to experience fantastic things, I must put myself in fantastic places. There are many fantastic things I have seen while hunting.

I have had bobcats walk across my legs in the dark (I had one jump from a tree and take my hat off).

I have had songbirds land on a shoulder and sing.

I have watched a mother raccoon come from a den tree with seven little babies in tow. They looked like a little raccoon train heading into the woods hunting their own food.

I have had an owl brush its wings on my face as it flew by me in the dark.

I have watched as a white tail deer nursed her triplet fawns … all within 10 feet of me.

Had it not been for spending countless hours afield hunting, I doubt seriously I would have experienced these things and dozens of others.

In the 12th Century, witnesses said they saw birds flocking to St. Francis of Assisi. Some attribute this as some sort of miracle, or some sort of special skill.

I believe he was simply more connected to the ecology around him. He did not want to be a tourist or an outsider to it all — he wanted to take part in it.

As a hunter, I am no different. I take ownership and responsibility in my environment, and in the ecosystem that feeds me. I have done this my entire life as both an outdoorsman and by helping on the farm when I was younger. 

I have found the more I am connected to the land and the animals, the more responsibility and effort I put into my own food sources. It is then I realize that what St. Francis of Assisi did was really nothing special at all.

Much like a hunter does, he was simply listening to the ecosystem that surrounded him and answering its questions.

Craig Caudill is the director of Nature Reliance School and author of Extreme Wilderness Survival and Ultimate Wilderness Gear. Please feel free to contact Craig at info@naturereliance.org or through any of the various social media platforms available.