Friday, August 13, 2010

0.5% Civilized - 99.5% Instinctual or: I Would Rather Hunt, than be Hunted

© 2009-2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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(I was going through the archives and I found this one from last year. We had lots of comments, and I thought it would be nice if some of our newest members and readers had an opportunity to read and comment on the subject. Your friend, AAR)

"In a very real sense our intellect, interests, emotions and basic social life - all are evolutionary products of the success of the hunting adaptation."
SL Washburn and CS Lancaster

All the PeTA drama of the last couple of weeks, plus the great intellectual stimulation that I have been fortunate to have when discussing animal issues with Brendan of Screaming Chicken Activism, got me to think more deeply as to why I hunt. I think it was Brendan that mentioned to me that I really didn't need to hunt, and that he thought there was a dichotomy in the desire I have to hunt and kill, and my love of animals.
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I believe that when I made the comment that it just sort of came to me. I know it was late and I was tired, so it was more subconscious than deduced and thought out. The answer that I gave him was that I have always been a hunter, even as a child. Not in the sense that I was formally inducted into the hunting fraternity by cousins, uncles, or my dad, no one in my family hunts. But ever since I was very young I stalked animals, bugs, people, birds, even fish. My mother got plenty of phone calls, and not more than a few visits from concerned parents and the occasional police officer with young Albert in tow! (I think it was suggested in hushed tones that perhaps a professional should have a look at me, but luckily my parents figured I would outgrow it... What did they know...) I don't remember how many bows I made from anything remotely flexible, and the scar on my thumb is from a Gillete single edge razor blade that sliced me down to the tendon while I was sharpening arrows made from bamboo.

As I have been contemplating this, it occurred to me to question how much of that was some deep instinctual behavior, versus an observed or learned one. Well, it seemed to me to be more an instinct than anything else. First, I had no role models to instill the desire to hunt in me. Television in the sixties did not have Sportsman Channel or Outdoor Channel. As a matter of fact it was black and white for those of you that aren't familiar with non cable TV! Another factor would be that I was raised in New York City. I only recall two times that I saw a hunter with a deer strapped to the hood of the car. It wasn't like my neighbors encouraged hunting as a leisure activity.

So where did my instinct to hunt come from then?

Why it has to be from the Paleolithic Era of course!

We have been "civilized" for a little over 10,000 years. But for 2.6 million years before that, we were little more than roving bands of hungry humans looking for our next meal, and avoiding becoming one.

2.6 million years as Homo Sapiens, but about 5 million years if you include Homo Habilis, followed by 10,000 years of so called civilization, that has also been punctuated by famines, diseases, and pestilence. 5 million years of evolution and not much has really changed as far as I can tell in the 0.5% of time we have been "civilized."

I'm thinking that my instinct theory is getting some traction here. If all humans are animals, then it stands to reason that we have some instincts left. Just because we are the only reasoning animal on the planet, doesn't mean that we have no instincts left. I and many others must still feel the pull of the outdoors and the need to pit our abilities, as considerable as they are, against nature.

That we don't need to hunt may not be an accurate statement. I am now, more than ever convinced that we not only need to hunt, but it is unnatural to subvert or suppress that need or instinct. As I told Brendan, I could no more be a non-hunter, than he could be a carnivore. Though I think that it might be easier for Brendan to eat a hunk of steak if he was hungry enough and not suffer much emotional discomfort, than it would be to keep me from the outdoors. I think that is very indicative of the importance of the instinct, the natural desire to be the top predator in nature's tapestry.

The more I think about this, the more I conclude that to deny the nature of being human, that is to deny the parts of us tat are still driven by instinct, is just asking to be sick both emotionally and physically. If any of us was forced to forego our basic human nature, physical and emotional harm would soon follow.

For me it all boils down to this: I am a hunter. I am driven by a passion greater than that of those around me because I acknowledge and accept that which nature bestowed upon me. As long as I treat nature and her gift to me with respect, I will continue to be whole... and human.

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...


Michael Spinelli said...

Mr Rasch,

Well said sir! It seems too many people seem to forget, perhaps conveniently, that they are woven into the tapestry of the natural order of things.

Mike S
Mike's Travels... and Travails

Nebraska Hunting Company said...

I think that most people if exposed to the outdoors in a proper and respectful way, will find their instincts. It may take them a day or two, but hey will feel it.

Best to you,
Scott Croner™
Nebraska Hunting Company
Phone: 402 304 1192

Trey said...

very well said. I think I will try and use this logic on my wife the next time I am slipping out the door on my way to the field! :)

Anonymous said...

Albert, I believe we all have that hunter instinct. Granted it has gone dormant in a lot of us but in others it has always showed itself in one form or another.

Either way I feel nobody should be ashamed or hide who they are for what they believe in and for what they are passionate about. That is what make America the country it is.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Muzzleloader Testing

Wild Ed said...

When people get lost or get hungry those instincts start returning even in those that claim to be against it. If you read stories of people stranded in the wilderness it is unreal what some will do to survive. If it hits the fan we would soon be roving bands of hunters again. JMHO

Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors