Since the beginning of time, man has hunted.
“How could you kill innocent little animals?” is the usual remark when I mention that I hunt, to which I always reply, “It’s not about the kill; it’s about the hunt and the celebration of life.”
Despite popular opinion, this is the truth for many of us who choose to honor this ancient part of our being.
The kill was celebrated and honored as a gift from the Creator. Earth-based people continue to celebrate hunting in this way. They know that life always returns to the source, that sacrifice is part of the circle and that all life essentially relies on life to exist.
It disturbs me to be stereotyped as a mindless killer.
The media portrays hunters as a bunch of trigger happy “good ole’ boys” with too much testosterone and not enough brains. Reality television glorifies this stereotype, and people make a lot of money in return. “Sport” is a word that makes me sick to my stomach when it refers to hunting or fishing, yet people pay big bucks to have a trophy to show their friends or something to brag about at the bar.
I am adamantly against this type of irresponsible and mindless behavior.
In recent years, I have have encountered more and more hunters who honor the true essence of hunting. The reality is that many of us recognize the calling to return to our ancient role as a hunter/gatherer. Short of labeling it “New Age Hunting,” I am surprised at how many Earth-conscious friends of mine want to learn how to hunt and how many friends have embraced it with a new perspective. In a world that is finally starting to recognize the importance of self-sustainability, hunting—like farming—is essential for many of us.
It is a good feeling to know where my food has come from, and an even better feeling to have participated in the ceremony of the harvest.
Yes, there is a ceremony of the harvest.
I have a very good friend who chooses to be vegan. I respect his lifestyle and his activism against animal cruelty. Taking a life is taking a life. The bottom line for me is that whatever is taken for food should be mindfully considered and thanked for its sacrifice. When I hunt, I ask nature for permission to be there and for guidance on my quest. If I take a life, I thank it, and then I pray. Sometimes I cry. I stay out of the results of the hunt and let nature decide what happens. It is always beautifully orchestrated, and I never leave with unanswered questions or regrets.
I hunt because I do not know of a way to get closer to nature. I have encountered my most profound spiritual experiences while hunting. I have not felt closer to the Creator anywhere else on earth at any time than while hunting. I experienced a oneness with all life that brought me tears of joy. Senses that I never thought existed opened to me. I became the very thing that I hunted. I saw through its eyes and felt its heartbeat. I realized that the hunt was a dance that all creatures participate in. I was not separate, I was truly one with all life. Small creatures and birds walked over me and landed on my head. I was not a threat—I was a brother given the same reverence that I outwardly gave. I was not judged; I was accepted. I was experiencing the miracle of life without words or labels.
I was free.
I return to the woods often. If it happens to be hunting season, I am blessed with the opportunity to remember what might have been forgotten if I did not nurture the hunter/gatherer instinct passed down to me by my ancestors. In the off-season, I hunt flowers, waterfalls, mountain passes and opportunities to capture pictures of beautiful landscapes and the creatures that live there. It is not about the kill; it’s about the celebration of life.
I am free to dance, and nature never refuses my hand.
Rich Wright is an ecotherapist, creative writer, poet, activist, avid cyclist, and outdoorsman. He is the founder of Northwinds Ecotherapy, a nature based business dedicated to teaching the ancient wisdom of Native Peoples and to help people reconnect with nature in order to restore well-being and find purpose in their lives.
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Ed: K.Macku & B. Bemel