Breaking the Mold

I'm no new breed of hunter!

My father with a buck from the 80s. That cute little guy he’s holding is me. The other two (not as cute) kids are my brothers.

I grew up immersed in hunting culture.  My family hunted, I hunted, and nearly everyone I went to school with hunted.  Hunting has never been an activity I’ve questioned or thought of as out of the ordinary.  I’m more comfortable with the pungent smell of a paunch shot than I am driving in city traffic. I guess some would say that I’ve been sheltered in my thinking and my connections with the social acceptability of a hunting culture. And, perhaps, they would be right, because articles like this one confuse me.  I think the author is trying to portray hunting in a good light, but it also appears to me the author is trying to paint the picture of a “new breed” of hunter that is more sophisticated and refined than the old breed of hunters, and this is an idea that escapes my grasp.

The title to the article, in case you don’t feel like clicking through, is A New Breed of Hunter Shoots, Eats and Tells. And that is plumb ignorant in its insinuation.  I can’t begin to guess what makes these hunters different from hunters since the beginning of time, because hunters have been shooting and eating and telling since the first time a person’s belly began to rumble. Hunting is certainly not new – I suppose that an argument could be made, in fact, that it is one of the oldest activities known to mankind.  Shooting is at least several hundred year old – whether it be with gun or bow -,

The tale of a hunt written on a rock wall near Moab, UT many years ago.

and eating is as old as that first rumbling tummy getting filled with dinosaur backstrap – or whatever tasty morsel found its way into the hunter’s belly. Even the telling part has been happening since the advent of the printing press, at least.  And, really, even longer than that.  Before the press, hunters drew images on rocks to tell any interested passerby about their hunt.  Perhaps I took the title too literally, but the idea of it being a new breed of hunter doing these things – shooting, eating, and telling – struck me as ridiculous because these are things hunters have always done.

In fairness to the article, I tried my best to understand what the writer was trying to explain about this “new breed of hunters,” and the conclusion I came to was that this new breed of hunter has decided to tell about their hunting in a way that would justify or explain why they hunt.

Me, at 4 years old, posing with one of Dad’s bulls.

It is a popular thing in our culture to explore the reason we do things.  Our society doesn’t want to accept their actions as being a result of “we’ve always done this.”  So there is a renaissance to find the driving motive behind many of our actions.  For some, this desire has driven them to hunting and for others, it has driven them from hunting.  I admire folks like those quoted in the aforementioned article – folks like Tovar who sought for a way to connect with his dinner in a way that he’d never experienced before.  But, at the same time, I just can’t relate.

For me, it’s not as simple as saying, “I hunt because my family has always hunted.” But, it’s close.  If we go by pure stereotypes, I don’t suppose I fit the mold of an old breed of hunters – the ones that the uninformed would make out to be beer guzzling, southern rednecks with more bullets than brains.  I’ve never drank a beer, I’m not a confederate flag flying redneck, and I own one rifle that I shoot fairly infrequently.  I don’t fit the aforementioned stereotype, but I also don’t fit the new breed of sophisticated, thinking hunters.  I grew up doing this and I have never questioned ethics, morality,  or nutrition.  I was a hunter from birth, and I’ve remained a hunter because of a few simple reasons: I find the hunt to be supremely exciting and humbling, and venison is delicious.  That’s it.  Sometimes, the answer to a problem isn’t near as hard as we make it seem.  I’m not a complicated guy – I like simplicity in my life – and hunting, at least to me, is as simple of a function as is breathing. I do it because my brain knows hunting makes me happy.

Hunting full circle: Hunting with my boys February 2012.

Comments

6 Responses to “Breaking the Mold”

  1. Neil H on October 15th, 2012 4:53 am

    Thanks for the post. I just discovered your blog a little while ago, and I’ve enjoyed reading it. In many ways, I see this “new” breed as just a regeneration of the old breed, with better media savvy. Things that are current trends among urbanites, like baking, canning, raising chickens, and small plot farming, don’t sound all that newfangled to me. Those that grew up in the country and never really left those things won’t find them all that novel. I think it is a movement that simply skips back over the Outdoor TV, rock and roll soundtrack version of  the sport, and connects with more traditional values of hunting as a way of finding food. I also grew up hunting. But I stopped as a teenager and came back as an older person who now lives in the city. So I could be considered part of this new breed, too. The thing is, I see no difference in the values from those I grew up with. What is different, is that these older values, there all the time, are replacing the image of the redneck jacked up truck beer drinking loudmouth stereotype in the consciousness of the uninformed masses. If it takes having the most basic traditions dusted off and presented as something new to change the perception of the NY Times readers, I think it’s fine. And if the new-found connection with the food movement saves a backstrap from being covered in canned cream of mushroom soup, that’s even better. I have a friend that is the chef for a high-end catering company here in the city. A few years ago the sales staff couldnt understand why he was resistant to promoting themselves as a “green” company, using local, organic produce and freerange meat. “I don’t get it”, he said, “I’ve been doing that for 25 years. It’s just called good food.”

  2. tsorenson on October 15th, 2012 6:44 am

    Thanks for the insight, Neil.  I think you’re right – it’s all in perception.  The new values are the same as the old values – it’s just that the “new” values are beginning to overshadow the stereotypes that have tagged hunters for years.

  3. Henry Mitchel on October 17th, 2012 5:34 am

    Thanks for the notes! I really agree to what you say… :)

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