Leaves are changing; the weather is perfect; it is fall. Fall usually means one thing in the Paulin household (and one reason for my brother-in-law to avoid our house) and that is deer season. Sometimes my decisions may seem rash, but there are usually several reasons backing them, the timing or action may be sudden, but there are long planted ideas behind them. Hunter is no different. Last year I decided to take up hunting. I had been raised around it my whole life, with my dad, brother, uncles, and grandpa constantly missing in endeavors to provide for the family. Meals of venison or wild fowl were part of the norm. I believe that in my head I was always a little interested, but hunting was one of those things that the ‘guys’ did. Hunter was for my brother and dad. Since my inspirational change, though, I thought why I can’t I hunt. I had considered it before and the year before I told my brother I was going to do, so last year I was sick of talking and ready to start DOING. I got my hunters license, my brother got my bow and I was ready for the woods (after much practice with my bow). Hunter has done so much for me and I’ve come to realize a variety of other benefits to hunting.
I was terrified of heights, and the thought of a tree stand frankly made me want to pee my pants. Actually the first time I climbed up to test it out I froze, I couldn’t move from the seat and it took several minutes before I would attempt to climb down (and I considered having them help me, but they were laughing so I had to toughen up and get down). The first couple of days in my tree weren’t much better, but eventually I became a pro of climbing up, securing my safety harness and even moving around (a little bit). This year, my stand is like paradise! I love it, I have absolutely no fear and it one of my favorite places. That little secluded spot inNature away from the world where I am free. I’ve got paint splotched all over my face, no make up, but it doesn’t matter because Nature is not pretentious and doesn’t care what I look like. I sit (or even stand and move around in my tree stand) listening and taking advantage of all of my senses to try and locate that deer. My stand over looks one of my other favorite spots, Snow hill (where I hike), and I am at peace. Hunting does more than start the day off with a little forest bathing and mood boosts, however. Other reasons I love to hunt:
- Meat of course. People wonder how I can kill a deer or any other animal (for one unless you’re a vegetarian I don’t see how you can complain here). That animal is nourishment, not only for me, but for my family. Think about if you didn’t have the conveniences of modern day groceries and your family was hungry, would you kill the deer then? Often we get enough deer that we can eat venison, almost year-round, so that is less money we have to spend on grass-fed beef.
- Self proficiency: it is not only challenging, but rewarding to know that if push come to shove, I could provide and take care of myself. I don’t need someone else to take care of me, but can provide food for myself.
- Primal/Paleo: here at the shop I am constantly studying early man, hunter-gatherers, trying to mimic there style eating. Hunting is just another step towards emulating our healthier primal past. It feels instinctual, like something we’re meant to do. When I go into the woods I feel like I have this intuition (like today I’m going to see a deer early or today I won’t see any at all). I know there are reasons for this, and that if I wanted to study things I would know all the cues (but I’m good going with my gut on this one), like moon movements or bird callings, etc. All I know is when I hunt I feel like I’m doing something that I was intended to do.
- Hunting actually goes towards conservation. All the money I pay towards licensing is going to preserve and help (plus our road tends to be haunted by deer bodies hit by cars, so me hunting for population control and utilizing the deer, is better than some teen hitting one and the animal just being left on the side of the road).
- Family time: my family spends a lot of time together (hello we runa business together!), outside of work. My dad, Cliff and I are able to spend quality time together, talking strategy, equipment, etc. My mother is even involved this year! My father jests that me and my Cliff are neophytes and a pain in the but I know he enjoys it and when our hard work pays off and we get a deer he is so proud (calling his buddies and dad, making us send pictures to them). It is something special that me and my brother can do together, growing up siblings often drift apart when they get there own lives, and hunting is a way for us to support one another (texting each other in the tree so that we can warn of approaching deer).
- Challenge: I love to push myself and hunting is challenging. I’ve got to practice with my bow and my gun to make sure that I can make a clean kill once I do see an animal. Weather can be challenging. It get colds and you’ve got to drag your butt out before dawn to sit shivering in a tree (or during goose season, kneel in a snow-covered field, completely numb waiting for birds to rest in your decoys). Often times you don’t see anything. It’s about putting time in, so you are there when that big buck comes along. I compare hunting to soccer, my family and friends make fun of me for loving soccer (‘It’s so boring’). Well hunting is like soccer. Seeing a deer is like the first time that you get to touch the ball and your heart does a little flutter. Next they’re within range (you’re getting closer to that goal) and you get a shot off. You miss, however (you hit the goal post but the ball doesn’t go in). But finally you do hit your target, and you feel it, as soon as you release the trigger (or your foot kicks the ball) that you’ve done it (GOOOAAALLLLL!). It’s exhilarating and you’re so excited (the crowd, your family, goes wild)! Also challenging, is that I hated touching animals before. I wouldn’t bait my hook when fishing or take off my fish. Now I have no issues, dragging, butchering, field-dressing an animal, covered in blood.
- There are even more reasons, but these are some of my favorites. Back to the title modern-day huntress. The majority of hunters are ofcourse male (although there are an increasing number of female hunters and women hunting equipment and gear). From what I’ve read, though, it seemed that our hunter-gatherer women ancestors were very involved and important to the hunt. When I started, my mother told me that they say women have better aim (sounds like a natural born hunter, right?) Look at lions, my father’s favorite analysis, the lionesses do all the hunting. So I am a lioness providing for my family. Not one to steer towards the crowds (that whole different drum thing is me, I’m in constantly marching my own way), I can’t just be like any other huntress. The modern-day huntress wears her barefoot shoes. Most harness their feet in heavy boots, but I actually prefer to mimic our ancestors more by going barefoot like them (although I’ve come to realize I need to give myself more time to put on my wool toe shoes with my vibrams). Warmth is important, so I bundle myself up in as much Under Armor and North Face as I can, sans the pink. I don’t know why marketers feel they have to advertise towards women by making products pink (pink football jerseys and pink bows), I prefer my camo strictly greens and browns (I actually wore dad’s and Cliff’s camo most of the time last year, although ill-fitting). Being a child and lover of the 80’s I can’t just have a regular camo pack, but a fanny-pack is a must to store all of my gear. So who is the modern-day huntress? She’s a little new (fanny backs and insulated clothes), but she’s also traditional (barefoot mimicking technology and traditional minded). Hunting is part of who I am now and another skill for me to practice. Looking to the past to live today.
BE, Illuminate, Love