I grew up in Wisconsin. One of my earliest memories (when I was five or six) is of throwing a rock at a grackle, and knocking it out of the sky. The bird fell, and I pounced on it. I had heard something about “blackbird pie” in a nursery rhyme or somewhere, and carried my trophy home with a grand vision of me as provider for our family of six boys and mom and dad.
Another early memory is of my grandmother handing me a length of silver stranded picture-hanging wire and showing me how she used it to help feed her family on snowshoe rabbits while growing up in northern Wisconsin. The wire was fashioned into an inexpensive snare, and positioned perfectly on busy rabbit trails. None of this bowed-over tree nonsense, just a wire loop positioned so rabbit might pass through and get snagged in the process. Well, the hunter in me thought this was a fine idea! Would it work on cottontails?
Over the next four or five years I learned that running a snare line corresponded with my paper route just fine. There were times then that I did bring back enough rabbit to feed the family.
Unfortunately, my parents weren’t hunters. My dad fished a bit, and that qualified as hunting for me! And we had a neighbor that shot a bow and arrow. He mentored one of my brothers and me around archery. From that time on cottontails, possum, raccoon, muskrat, and pheasant within hiking distance of home faced a new threat. Not a particularly dangerous one…but certainly an avid one!
Once with my bow in hand I was bushwhacking along some weedy cover in deep snow, when I saw a flash of brown to my left. I instinctively drew and shot an arrow. It was a perfect heart shot…on a meadow mouse! Funny, but that memory is one that stays with me to this day, over fifty years later.
What is it about hunting? Why have I devoted so much of my life to the hunt? Not sure I can answer these questions clearly, except to say that, like the often quoted Spaniard philosopher, “I hunt to have hunted.” This is really the answer. Our eyes face forward. We are of predator lineage. The sense of joy, and fulfillment, and living of a natural life, a life that resonates around nature’s model…this is why I hunt. And I am truly grateful and appreciative that Anne, my lover and partner, has truly embraced this life.
Along with everyone you will meet here at Shepherd, the same guiding theme of “nature as model” defines much of what we do, and how we steward our life and our property. We welcome you to share in this, to explore whether it brings you to the same place.
Joy of Hunting