Should Modern People Hunt and Gather?


I’ve lived with the land via homesteading and also replicating Stone Age living. I lived for many years on an average income of $3000/year, with most of the money spent on non-food items. I lived along the most remote mail route in the lower 48 states, where mail came once a week by jet boat on the Snake River, and it was a 3 mile walk down canyon to get it. For over 20 years, I didn’t buy meat or fish from a grocery store. I have lots of experience in hunting and gathering, both with modern tools and primitive ones.

I fully support anyone who wishes to pursue conscious hunting, fishing and gathering. Along the way, I suspect that you’ll learn just as much about yourself and humanity as you do about the plants and animals.

Here is what I’ve learned from several decades of living with the land:

Everything wants to live and everything wants to, at some level, contribute to the continuum of life. I’ve witnessed the “letting go” of many animals and plants, many while I’m holding them, and I understand the native concept that animals will “give themselves” to a hunter who is honoring.

Plants also feel and communicate. Differently than animals, but they also want to live and to be honored (connected with and receiving gratitude) and ultimately feed the continuum.

There is much to learn about one’s self by participating directly with the cycle of life and death and life again. Feel it! Hunt and gather and remember… the instincts that we all possess have developed over a time period when we all lived in balance with the land. We also were egalitarian and peaceful, almost without exception, for the long history prior to agriculture (when we first had something to fight over). By engaging your instincts, you also invite the consciousness that was present in humanity while those instincts were developing.

The world doesn’t have enough wild land for everyone to hunt and gather. While true, this is a Wal-Mart argument that seeks cheap abundance rather than quality. For the short term, let those who want to shop at Wal-Mart do so… but I’m not shopping there. I hunt and gather and I walk off the trails. The saying “Take only pictures and leave only footprints” makes nature into a museum and only re-inforces humanity’s dissociation with nature… we think that we are outside of the continuum. The focus, I believe, should be to bring humanity in balance with nature. That WON’T happen by everyone becoming vegan (and the common vegan assertion that plants don’t feel or they sit lower on a hierarchy of sentience is, IMHO, dangerous nonsense).

The world is full of people. We should be reducing the human population and seeking truly sustainable living. We should also be seeking vital, open-hearted, deeply interconnected living. That means being in direct relationship with our sources of nourishment. If you don’t feel a direct relationship with whatever you’re eating, then either you shouldn’t be eating it or you’re not really hungry.

Virtually all agriculture changes the landscape to favor domestication over wildness. Something is lost in that process. To suggest that everyone should get their food from lands that no longer support wildness is incredibly arrogant. When I kill a deer from a wild place, I’m not removing the last deer. EVERY species produces more offspring than is necessary to perpetuate the species (humans, take note, I’m talking about you, too). I receive plants and animals with an awareness of those populations, so that there will always be those plants and animals in that place. Agriculture ends wild lineages. Think of human colonists that find a “new land” and kill off the locals (in the name of God and country). That is agriculture.

Yes, there are permaculture principles that can be applied to food production, and I encourage everyone to seek that. But buying organic produce is NOT sustainable or better than hunting and gathering. Raising your own food is a good step in the right direction, and also begs the questions of “Where do you get your seeds? Where do you get your fertilizer? Where does your chicken feed come from?”

Humanity NEEDS people to hunt and gather today. Just like the embedded wisdom inherent in ancient languages (also disappearing at an alarming rate) and spiritual customs, there is also embedded wisdom inherent in hunting and gathering. Someone who has never done it, never been truly hungry and felt the immense gratitude of receiving nourishment from wild plants and animals, cannot understand. But for those of us who do understand, there is wisdom we can offer to the rest of humanity, particularly about human arrogance, greed and isolationism.


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