Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Power of Mind and Hunting

From my own martial arts days of years ago one of the forces I became very aware of, and I am still very much aware of is the “key” power of the individual. I’ve seen it in action on many occasions and I do believe it plays a critical role in the success or failure of the hunt. I am not discounting the social interaction of animals and I do believe there is much more to animal social patterns than present day science may be willing to recognize, but I am not willing to go so far as to accept the offering act as a prima facie truth. Now, that said let me add that I do believe in the following:
1. The power of prayer.
2. The power of positive thinking.
3. The power of the Mind to communicate to other Minds.
4. The power of the Mind to communicate with God (whatever an individual recognizes as God).
5. The power of the Mind to communicate with other, physical, Brains.

My limiting factor here is “Mind” because I am having some trouble (so far) with the notion of animals having a “Mind” because I do believe that we must separate “Mind” from “Brain.” The Mind has the capacity to recognize the existence of this and other universes and while the Brain responds to Mind the Brain does not, in and of itself, enter into the different universes but remains fixed to this one. Am I saying that animals do not possess “Mind”? I am saying that I am having trouble with it and I am open to more learning.

Is it possible that Brain has the capacity to respond to Mind? Absolutely! Mind is the more powerful of the two and even though we will find buried in Brain those paths that lead to specific activities and emotions Brain is unable to return the nonphysical communication to Mind so it must use physical communication, i.e., stopping to look at the source of the communication or, if the source is threatening, it flees. Wouldn’t this be the case when a hunter is so intense on killing the animal it “senses” the danger and flees without ever seeing (smelling, hearing) the hunter? If, when an animal “senses” (which is Brain responding to Mind) the hunter’s presence without any of its senses having been triggered the animal is going to respond in some way that is appropriate to what the animal’s Brain is telling it.

When I was studying martial arts it was not for fun and games but was for the purpose of killing an enemy and we were taught to control our key power—not to focus on the enemy we intended to kill because they would “sense” us and the instructor frequently referred to an animal’s ability to respond to that key power as an example of it at work. In the years since I have often experimented with the notion, the most recent being while I was taking a break on my roof and watching a bird move into one of the bird houses I had erected. While I simply watched the bird it hopped around the yard, flying from bird house to ground to pick up nesting material and carrying it inside its new home. Within a few minutes after I switched from just observing to being focused on that little bird it flew to a nearby tree where it was safe and for the next several minutes scolded me. After I returned to working on my roof it was only a few minutes until the bird was back at work on its nest. I’ve seen the same effect while hunting. When a hunter becomes fixated on a single animal that animal responds to the hunter and it is often without the animal ever having experienced the hunter’s presence with any of the senses. Most hunters dismiss the animal’s actions as something to do with the wind or a glint from a gun barrel or some other fault, which is often true, but equally often it is the hunter’s Mind that reached the animal’s Brain and triggered a reaction—which I still want to call animal behavior.

One argument for animals possessing a quality that enables them communicate with Mind is that many hunters have said they became “aware of the animal behind them.” In this situation there is often a belief that the animal’s equivalent of Mind or Key power has communicated its intention, whether it is sneaking past the hunter, watching the hunter or stalking the hunter (as prey). I am not convinced of this connection. Mind is not bound by any physical borders or restraints and must therefore be aware of a complete area around itself. If Mind establishes a protective area and that area is penetrated by an object, animate or inanimate, then Mind will respond with a warning. (Let’s stick to the animal-human interaction and ignore the human-human, human-inanimate, issues.) But, just as often, the individual Mind fails to provide this warning and the individual is killed or at least injured.


When I go back and read many of the cases of people being attacked by predators they are sleeping after a physically demanding day, they have been consuming alcohol, they are completely preoccupied with another task or they are absorbed in something that is Mind numbing such as being absorbed in listening to their radio with earphones. At the same time survivors of attacks (in most cases) seem to have been aware of their environment and “tuned in” to it, even when they were sleeping. Teir Mind is unencumbered by artificial noise (earphones) or even in their sleeping, Mind remains alert to danger.

So, is it possible that “primitive” (or more nature based?) societies still possess the Mind to nature connection that provides a more powerful link to the animal Brain than contemporary “civilized” man? And, if this is so, isn’t it equally possible that through the act(s) of hunting people of civilization’s complex societies are able to recapture a portion of that Mind to nature link, although in varying and usually lesser degrees?

I know I haven’t addressed the question of social organization within animal communities but I believe we need to keep the discussion more hunter/animal based. At least for now.

What think? glg

Monday, April 26, 2010

A few notes

The roof is done. As in finished, with all of the shingles in place, nailed down and ready for the first real spring storm of the year in my part of the world. Of course my porch is not finished but that’s another project.

In the past week I’ve been doing just a bit of cruising around the neighborhood (okay, the section roads in the area) and I’ve been looking at the sloughs. They are full of water and the ducks are nesting, which is a good thing. Also, this has been a very mild spring and so far we are in good shape for a good bird year. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t have a spate of hard weather after the grouse and partridge settle down to nesting. I don’t worry too much about the waterfowl because they seem to weather the storms better than the upland birds.

This year I am promising myself that I will spend more time practicing with my trusty muzzle stuffer shotgun. I am confident that I can put up a better average than I have in past seasons but I need to focus myself and dedicate at least two afternoons a week to shooting at clay birds.


My project for the coming week or so will be the next issue of The Pines Review. I am truly pleased with some of the progress that I am making with this issue. One big advance is that it will be available in either the PDF file attachment or the more sophisticated page turning format. The latter will make the Review much easier to read and I’ve also eliminated most of those pesky “jumps” that made previous issues hard to read. I am not saying that I’ve eliminated all jumps because I haven’t. If I did that then the text between the opening pages of each story would be painfully long. What I have done is limit the jumps to one per story. I think those of you who read the Review will like the changes.

I hope everyone has a good week—I know I will—NO SHINGLES TO POUND ON!!!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bruised Thumbs and Animal Behavior

Deadlines are looming on my horizon and I’m feeling the pressure. I’ve got a couple of magazine articles to finish plus it is time to start putting together the next issue of The Pines Review. The frustrating thing for me is that my roof isn’t finished. My problem is that I underestimated how long it would take a crippled geezer like me to tote the shingles, lay them out and nail them down—in between meeting other obligations. I’m getting there, though. By my count I’ve got six more rows of shingles then the peak and the roof is finished. All I have left to do on this year’s garage/office project is to build the porch on my office. Today the lumberyard delivered the last of the wood for that project so I will have to get right on it. I figure if the past has been any sort of indicator of my work speed I’ll be finished in time for Christmas. In the old days it would have been a couple of days and done. Isn’t aging a pain in the butt!?

There is also garden to plant and yard work waiting. It’ll all get done. I have learned to take my time, take lots of breaks and ration my pain pills!

There is one advantage to doing things like putting shingles on your roof—you have time to think—as long as it doesn’t interfere with things hammering and scooting across the roof and not falling off. Each time my thumb gets in the way of the hammer I know it is time to get my notebook out and write down what I was thinking about. The funny thing is that everything I am thinking about has to do with some aspect of hunting or fishing or writing about same. Today I smacked my thumb over the simple notion of animal behavior.

Here’s the issue. Randall Eaton writes that often an animal (deer, elk, whatever) “gives itself to the hunter.” (From Boys to Men of Heart; Hunting as Rite of Passage) Of course that’s a simplification of what he writes but the essence is that a hunter who is properly attuned to the spiritual side of the hunt will have the experience of the animal giving itself to the hunter by stopping and standing still for the hunter—offering itself. In my mind I was comparing Eaton’s ideas with those of another writer who is half a world away and believes that he offers dangerous game “the choice of how to die.” The animal can die on the charge where it has a chance of survival. It can “offer itself” to die with a well-placed shot or it can die running away from the hunter. Again, I’ve simplified the writing. When I smacked my thumb (yeah, it’s bruised) I said (aloud) “@#$# what about simple animal behavior?”

Well, what about it?

Years ago, when I was taking the SOF crew hunting every year, several of us came upon a small group of truly trophy mule deer. After some keystone cops moments I finally got the two hunters herded into position for a chance at the deer. While the deer were moving up the side of the hill (not a mountain and only a hundred yards or so away) one of the deer, a magnificent buck that would have made any hunter proud, stopped at the top of the ridge and looked back at us. The hunters, however, were arguing over which would be the best position to shoot from. The deer, alert for danger, watched us for a full minute or two before ambling over the ridge never to be seen again.

Offering itself? Nah, I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of mule deer bucks do exactly the same thing whether I was hunting, fishing or just hiking. (I’ve never seen a whitetail do it. It seems they perceive danger, the tail goes up and the deer is gone.) In those few moments at the top of a ridge, when the buck (sometimes a doe, but not as often) turns to look back, the deer is accessing the danger and deciding whether it needs to put the pedal to the metal and run like hell, or if it should use stealth to escape or if the danger has passed (or is arguing over the merits of shooting positions) find something more interesting to do. To me, it’s just animal behavior. Or, maybe I’m missing something and part of animal behavior between predator and prey has somehow established this sort of connection.

Ideas anyone? glg

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More on (Barf) Competitive Hunting

Competitive hunting seems to have a lot of supporters and they claim that it is no different than any of the dog trials where birds are planted and the dog/shooter is scored on how quickly the birds are found and retrieved.

Guess what? I own a fantastic hunting dog and she has been in Versatile Hunting Dog trials and earned her prizes. But to compare Cookie’s accomplishments in those trials, where the dog competes against itself, to the nonsense we’re being subjected to on the tube, where dogs are running through a fast track of birds, shots, retrieves and on to the next bird without a pause for even a deep breath of air, and all for points and the dog owner’s ego is, in short, bull.

I’ve watched both kinds of field trials and there is no comparison between the Versatile trials and those mockeries of true hunting trials that seem to be taking over. Hunting is NOT about how fast a dog can find the birds and after the shot retrieves the bird. Hunting with a dog is about companionship, watching the dog work the cover and when you make a shot that brings down the bird finding the bird and bringing it to hand. Then the dog and the hunter are truly one. It is a bonding built on many thousands of years of human and dog entwined history.

When the breeder who trained Cookie offered to enter her in the trials I was skeptical but gave in. When I watched the dog that greets me with enthusiasm every time I go to her kennel I became misty-eyed. She was doing what she loved to do and at HER pace. When she retrieved a dead pheasant on one part of the trial she came back with her head high and trotting proudly at her speed. She did it perfectly, by the book and earned her points—for herself without caring one bit about them. When she was finished she plopped down by my feet—exactly where she is as I write this.

No, as far as I am concerned any attempts to compare the field trials that let the dogs compete against themselves, to those abominations on outdoor television, whether it is big game hunting for points or turning a hunting dog’s instincts into a sprint for more points, is a first step down a slippery slope that is greased by greed.