Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thinking about Thinkers Who Think About Hunting

Would you believe that we are already well into the evening of the second day of the New Year and New Year's Day is quickly fading into the dustbin? This is terrible! Time is already flying by way too fast for me so I am demanding that time slow down just a bit and give me the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the passing days.
I think that is what I have always enjoyed about the outdoors, whether hunting or fishing. Time seems to slow just a bit and give me the opportunity to breathe in the world around me. That slow down also allows me to take stock of myself and what I am truly trying to accomplish.
These thoughts have been popping into my head quite a bit over the past couple of weeks and I think they are, in part, inspired by reading the work of Dr. Randall Eaton. It is still too early for me to actually comment on Eaton’s work, other than to say that I am starting to believe he is the most important thinker about hunting who is alive today. Or maybe that is too grand a statement to make. There are other people who come to mind as being great thinkers about hunting, Jim Posweitz, founder of the Orion Institute is heading the list of living thinkers.
A problem with both Eaton and Posweitz is they are headlining a list that is too short for the enormity of the problems being thought about. I’m not referring to the common problem of the antis vs. the rest of the community, or even the problem of slob hunters vs. good hunters, but I am referring to the cases (for example) of wildlife management vs. real nature or the unrelenting march of suburbia colliding with nature. Or, in a very frightening way, the abandonment of nature as part of the education curriculum of young people in metropolitan schools in favor of today’s unrealistic “feel good but not fuzzy—everyone gets a trophy” thinking. These issues are not as far from the core issue of “to hunt or not to hunt” as their proponents would lead society to believe. Hunting is core to the value system of making a choice. In recorded history not all men have been hunters but in every great civilization the choice of whether to hunt or not to hunt has been pivotal to that civilization’s social construction. Consider the Greeks and spend a little time with those thinkers who gave us the foundations of western philosophy. Not all of them were hunters but hunting was part of their world and they recognized its varied social roles. Perhaps the role of hunting is the spiritual connection between the human and nature that Dr. Eaton writes about. Regardless of whether hunting’s core relationship is spiritual, physical, or emotional, or an elixir concocted of all three we need to spend more time thinking about hunting and where our relationship to hunting places us within the context of contemporary civilization and the civilization of 2099. Yes, that is not a typo—I mean 2099! Our forefathers made the mistake of believing that once certain truths about hunting were established, those primarily being centered on notions of sportsmanship, hunter’s ethics, protection of wildlife and setting aside lands for the future, then hunting would take care of itself. Had our forefathers placed hunting alongside their desires to preserve wilderness and wildlife, keeping hunting—as a choice to participate in nature, to the degree of being a hunter, or not to participate, or some level in between—firmly entrenched in our national curriculum hunting might not be facing the crisis it is today. So, no matter how much of a spiritual connection can be built between the hunter and the quarry, regardless of how much time is spent discussing ethics, the simple truth is that hunting is no longer part of the core of our national being. This damage cannot be undone by a single Eaton, Posweitz, or the half-dozen other thinkers that exist among our ranks. We need to cultivate more thinkers; men and women who will provide the community of hunters (and anglers) with better answers to questions about the why of the hunt. But, equally important, these thinkers will provide the foundational thinking that generate more questions about the actions of politicians, bureaucrats, academics and the teachers they influence. Questions are what thinkers generate and ours is a time when we need many more questions because the answers we’re being thrown today are too often like scraps of offal laced with ground glass.
Just a thought or two.


NorCal Cazadora said...

I would love to hear more about Eaton's work. What is he bringing to the table?

Eric C. Nuse said...

I've had the pleasure of bringing Randall Eaton speak to the Vermont Hunter Education Instructors a few years ago and I agree he is a very thoughtful person who is deeply committed to the value of hunting to the nations youth. I also have worked over the years with Jim Posewitz as a colleague and as president of the board for Orion. He rightfully deserves your recognition as a top thinker on ethical hunting and it's role in society and nature.
I also have had the privilege of working with Dr. James Tantillo, Cornell University, Dr. John Organ, USFWS and Randy Newburg, director and star of On Your Own Adventures a top rated show on the Outdoor Channel. All three are members of the Orion board.
You might be interested in visiting the following blogs:
Fair Chase Hunting
Orion-The Hunters' Institute

Galen Geer said...

He is exploring a spirtual relationship between the hunter and the game that is truly triggering a lot of thought on my part. The deeper that I read what he has written the more time I find myself giving to thinking about what he has written and my relationship to nature. g

Galen Geer said...

Eric, I've visited a number of blogs and the Orion webesite and I've been reading some materials that were sent to me. I've been amassing quite a file of material on fair chase, ethics and so forth. I'll check the people and others you mention. One thing that I have discovered is that too often people are hiding some questionable thoughts and actions under the banner of "fair chase" when, in fact, the notion of fair chase they are staking a claim to is questionable at best.
I would also posist that the notion of fair chase that we have inherited from our fathers may not be the same as what is being claimed as fair chase within some of the hunting community. Is the time rapidly approaching when we must rethink "fair chase" as the standard of hunting? I'll flip over to my blog and post a question. But again, thank you for the names and direction. I'll follow up on them. g