In an era where a generation known as the green generation takes on many environmental challenges one must question our less than enthusiastic participation in hunting. Bridging the gap between hunters and environmentalists has always been a challenge. But attracting the younger generation to hunting has never been an issue. Could it be that these 2 challenges are now intertwined? You don’t hear our generation providing loud outcries against hunting characteristic of some of the more, let’s just say, enthusiastic anti hunting organizations. But the declining number of hunters from our generation underscores a certain apathy concerning this age old practice. Whether it is because:
- We are distracted by so many choices in a more complex world
- We are so far removed from our agricultural roots that we don’t see the value in harvest
- The possibility that hunting is viewed as a somewhat undignified practice causing harm to species that many in our generation have little experience with outside of passive viewing
It begs a more pervasive question, “are we denying our true nature and is that healthy for ourselves and our world? Conservationists know it isn’t healthy for the animal populations whose numbers rely on the management activities and resources of hunters throughout the world. Hunters, in a phrase, are the heart and soul of the conservation movement. They are also proactive warriors for the environment because they experience any negative changes directly. They love the stimulation and beauty of the outdoors and are now taking a much more active role in assuring its healthy survival. They see the effects of global warming firsthand. They know when the environment in which they spend a lot of their time is out of balance. And without their funding and their controlled harvests, species conservation as we know it would be far less operative. Hopefully we will never get to the place where one doesn’t have to be very environmentally aware to understand that there are less species on this planet.
Knowing Our Own Nature
Regardless the conservation impact, the fact is our generation may not fully comprehend our role in the ecosystem. Sure, we visit nature and love the wilderness but do we really know nature? And do we really know our own nature? Yes ours is a very intelligent generation, but we have been protected from knowing ourselves by a society that is having a serious identity crisis itself. We live in a society that keeps death at a distance. Death is not supposed to happen publicly. In many ways we live in a death denying society. Because of this it may be remiss to believe that we fully understand how our world operates at its most basic level — all things must die to allow other things to live. The fact is, among other things, we are omnivorous carnivores. It can be argued that that those who don’t hunt have lost their place. Hunters are actively engaged in meat harvesting activities. They know where their meat comes from. They play a more pure role in the natural events of our world. I believe it safe to say that many in our generation don’t consciously understand where their meat comes from – outside of the freezer that is. Maybe if they understood what happens in a factory farm, feedlot or slaughterhouse they would understand that true cruelty occurs in the unnatural process of bringing a cow to slaughter. Many feedlot cows are over medicated, eating an unnatural diet and living in miserable conditions. Most in our generation are shielded from this reality. Hunters know first hand where their meat comes from. They harvest it themselves.
Part Of Nature’s Process
And is it enough to distance yourself from the situation by confirming yourself as a vegetarian? How does that solve the problem of imbalance? How does that better ensure the survival of all species? This all begs the question, “is it really enough to merely visit nature to understand it and be part of it?” I believe not fully, anyway. The distinction between human nature and non human nature is a difficult one. We, human and non human alike, all come from the same place. Yet this is not as obvious to the passive observer. Hunters know no distinction. They are part of the process.