Primitive Hunter, Gatherer
Humans have been creatures of opportunity throughout our history, whether they were hunting small or large game or picking berries and nuts. It’s in our DNA and is likely the most important trait resulting in our world dominance.
Perhaps the most beneficial example of our willingness to accept opportunity where it presents itself is when it comes to the food we eat. Long before Atkins, Keto or Vegan, people ate whatever they found on the landscape. Think of it as shopping the outer aisles of the supermarket, except without walls and freezer cases.
Our ancestors didn’t waste anything. They were not “Trophy Hunters.” (Keep reading for more on Trophy Hunters) When they killed something they ate all the parts that were edible and used all the parts that were usable. This applied to plants and animals. Today we simply have more opportunities spanning a wider array of choices.
Homestead Hunter, Gatherer
Why does the hunter, gatherer mentality still exist in these modern times?
I think it’s safe to say that most of you reading this, whether you identify as a homesteader or are just curious what its all about, have an affinity for nature, the Call of the Wild if you will.
It’s not something you can put your finger on any more than a fish knows it needs water. When a fish gets caught out on the bank it flops frantically. It doesn’t see the water and think, “I need to flop into that.” It just flops and flips and hopes it finds familiar surroundings.
Most humans spend a lot of time outside of nature. One might start to think that our inner spirit is “flopping” about trying to find our comfort zone. Maybe its time we started to e
Being in Nature is Good for Our Souls
Ask anyone that hunts why they do it and the most common answer is, “To connect with nature,” or some variant of that answer. Respect for the animal, sharing the harvest with family and friends and contributing both time and money to wildlife conservation are other common answers as well.
Where to Hunt
It is almost a certainty that your homestead will not be large enough to support enough hunting to supply all of your homestead meat. The opportunities to hunt public land near you are variable depending on where you live. You can find information regarding specific states by searching the internet for your State Wildlife Department or Department of Natural Resources office.
Many states require individuals to pass some form of Hunter Safety certification. Even if your state does not require it there is worthwhile information to be had. If your state does not have a course and you would like to take one the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has this online course free of charge.
What to Hunt
Most game species including fish are tightly regulated by the state fish and wildlife department so be sure to check your state’s regulations before you start.
Small game is probably what most hunters start with. Hunting rabbits in the winter or Fox or Gray squirrels in the fall provide lots of opportunities to hone your woodsmanship.
Any of several species of Deer are the popular quarry of big game hunters. It is a fact that hunters kill thousands of deer annually. This is counter-intuitive to the fact that modern-day hunting regulations, taxes and conservation efforts funded by hunting and firearms enthusiasts have resulted in bringing several species of game animals back from the edge of extinction. A side benefit of this effort is that all wildlife species have enjoyed better habitat as well.
What do I Need to Get Started?
In addition to a license, a place to hunt and proper education you will need a weapon suitable to harvest your chosen quarry.
Small game is primarily hunted with either a small-caliber rifle such as a .22 long rifle or a shotgun that can vary in gauge from .410 to 12 gauge in most instances. If you are unsure of which suites you best I’d advise a trip to a reputable gun merchant. Preferably a small local shop and not a big chain box store. Tell them what you want to accomplish and ask lots of questions. Do not buy the first one you pick up, or even from the first place you look. Thank them for their time and visit another shop even if it means driving to the next town. This is an important decision and should not be rushed.
Large game will need a larger weapon but most deer species can be taken with a rifle with amazingly little recoil so don’t be afraid. Another option is archery hunting. Archery seasons are typically much longer with a more generous bag limit. In most states these days you can also use a crossbow. Unlike traditional or compound bows, crossbows are easily mastered with just a little practice.
Another thing that should be considered a “Must Have” when bringing any kind of weapon into your home is a way to keep them safe. All manufacturers are required to provide a safety lock of some kind. Many people opt for a gun safe for storage. If you keep your guns in a gun safe you will need some sort of dehumidifier inside to keep moisture from causing corrosion.
What About Trophy Hunting?
You hear the term “Trophy Hunting” and it is often presented as immoral or something to be avoided. But what is a Trophy? Merriam-Webster says it is; “something gained or given in victory or conquest especially when preserved or mounted as a memorial.” I think the interpretation problem comes when people that do not hunt see pictures of people with their trophy. Or non-hunters see hunting trophies proudly displayed in homes or businesses. People that do not hunt do not have the foundation for understanding what they trophy means to the holder. It’s not merely a decoration.
That trophy has the ability to place the hunter back in time to remember every sight, sound, and nuance to a hunt well ended. But even that is not the entirety of the story. The part most people that don’t hunt never see is the freezer filled with meat taken from the trophy. Earlier we mentioned that our ancestors were not “Trophy Hunters,” but maybe they were. They used every part as do their modern-day descendants. They even displayed their trophies proudly on their walls in the form of paintings. Plus they used the skins for clothing and the antlers for tools.
Maybe we’re not so different after all.
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