I have been writing a daily essay for a few weeks now, each day in that day’s Daily Guides, a group that exists within the Living Metaphysics community (a location on the Ning platform) It is a community that originated within Zaadz (begun by Brian Johnson, a philosopher), which continued in the community when he sold it to the Gaiam Corporation, only separating off when Gaiam closed our doors, with very little time to remove content.
I am definitely enjoying the challenge. I have committed myself to do a year’s worth of these. It is my first genuine attempt at a disciplined and focused kind of writing, that might be of publishable quality. I write these in the format of a Science of Mind magazine Daily Guide – in homage to, in hope of someday maybe, and just because I have for so many years appreciated them. Mine are quite long by their standards; but I figure they could always be shortened, by editing if necessary, and perhaps these will be a book someday; or at the least, a legacy of my personal philosophies on life, that I can leave to my children and grandchildren.
Since today’s topic is quite universal, I thought to share it, as a blog here at my WordPress blog, because in Missouri – Deer Season is a bigger holiday than Christmas. Your comments and perspectives are quite welcome.
A Year of Daily Reflections by Deborah Hart Yemm
“Hunting for sport is an improvement over hunting for food,
in that there has been added to the test of skill
an ethical code, which the hunter formulates for himself,
and must live up to without the moral support of bystanders.”
~ Aldo Leopold
“God is life. Life cannot produce death.
Death is but the shifting of a scene,
the moving from one place to another,
an impatient gesture of the soul as it seeks freedom.”
~ Ernest Holmes
It is opening day of this year’s Deer Season. Living in a somewhat remote, rural, forested wilderness means that this conservation wildlife practice has a real impact on our lives. Just up the road, our neighbor has an active “deer camp”, right there on his property complete with the recreational trailers of distant relatives who have arrived to be closer to the less inhabited areas, adjoining our neighbor’s home. It is actually remarkably “quiet” of gunfire within hearing this morning but we will curtail our daily jogs and hikes, and replace them for 10 days, with family hikes after dark which even include our 3 cats. Though all of us actually enjoy this alternative to cabin fever, we only hike in the darkness of our forest (of course, with headlamps) during the “forced” daytime exile of deer season.
I thought about an article on oneness perspectives I read this morning in the Science of Mind magazine. Could I somehow apply that perspective about finding common ground with others and see them as “just like me” ? Can I lean upon the spiritual perspectives that I have spent a lifetime in learning, to transcend separation; and so align my awareness with the spiritual realm, that I can feel connected, through a Taoist kind of balance with both the hunter and the hunted ? Can I see a wholeness in what is happening all around me for the next 10 days ?
In truth, hunting goes to the core of human beings as a species of life. We are composed of 2 million years of evolution which began with our survival supported by being hunters and few could argue that human beings have evolved to be the most effective, most adaptable and most successful predators on the planet. One Vermont hunter, named Robert F Smith describes that his reason for participating in the practice is that “Hunting is an ancient dance as old as life itself, written into the very core of what we are as humans”. The old Disney movie “Old Yeller” portrays our early pioneer life with a realistic inclusion of hunting as a necessity of existence, in which young boys are initiated into manhood by bringing home meat for the family.
Hunter Smith goes even further to idealize a long ago time in human evolution, describing it this way – “Hunting a deer or antelope or harvesting wild berries or nuts is only a few hours of intensive work for several days’ worth of food, while raising, feeding, watering, and protecting a herd of sheep or goats, or planting, cultivating, and harvesting a field of grain, is unending labor. While the tribal system of hunter/gatherers led to equality and leisure time, agriculture brought in slavery, religion, caste and class systems, and the plight of poor peasants and field workers that continues today around the world.” It is a perspective worth considering.
Missouri has a serious conservation ethic regarding all aspects of our natural world. In Missouri, the deer and turkey were almost eradicated by indiscriminate hunting – and the population was much smaller then. With modern food distribution, the population is no longer dependent upon hunting for basic survival; but the season that brings many hunters into our community, from the more populated areas of our state and even beyond, is a significant source of revenue for many of the local businesses. I have also contemplated this practice as a need in some human beings for a particular kind of experience, even though it is not one that I personally yearn for myself. An overpopulation of deer does actually pose a danger, when driving on the state highway at night, a danger that I am ever alert to, when the necessity to do so puts me in that position.
In Missouri, the influx of settlers in the last half of the 19th century coincided with the rapid decline of the deer population. By 1925, the number of deer left in the entire state was estimated to be only around 400. With concerted regulation by law and efforts to restore the population by bringing new deer into the state, by 1944, the deer population was estimated at 15,000. Now approx 500,000 hunters participate each year in the harvest of approx 300.000 deer statewide. I think in the best of circumstances, the hunter is reverent, the hunter connects with the animal, even blesses it as some traditions do, for being willing to give its life in the food chain that is our world and even, yes, face mortality, face the reality of what death is and does. There is something truly somber about connecting with the eyes of an unarmed animal who you know will die in the next moment by your own hand. Personally, I forego such experiences but I try to understand, that hunters are just like me and so are the deer – the latter is easier for me personally; but the predator must be understood as well.
I understand a circle of Life that has ever been part
of the wholeness of this planet.
I sense the yin and yang,
the Taoist perspective of wholeness,
in the expression of the hunter and the hunted.
I seek to understand the deep roots that connect
whole families to the history of their intimate tribe
and to the fact that family’s survival
was dependent upon hunting.
I am grateful for modern wildlife management practices
that consider environmental conditions, population changes,
fairness and historical, as well as economic values,
all inherent in the practice of a deer hunting season.
I am at peace, with the realities of life and death,
in all of the many expressions, upon this planet Earth -
I am of it, it is all just like me,
for it is all one Life force diversely expressing.
I wish I could find a scene from Old Yeller that shows the older boy hunting for the family’s food but these “theme song” with movie scenes will have to suffice. If you’ve ever seen the movie, perhaps you can appreciate my using it for illustrative reasons. If you haven’t and are looking for a light-weight, feel-good entertainment, perhaps you should rent it some Saturday night.
I believe that we idolize the pioneer days because life made a kind of basic sense – living by day/night cycles, growing crops, tending livestock, hunting game and all the attendant dangers of living remotely. It was a “hard” life physically; and easily endangered in so very many ways, that the movie does a great job of graphically portraying. There were not the modern conveniences that we so take for granted but there was not the complications of our modern way of life, with its own serious stressors either.