My genetic make-up and likely yours as well came from people who hunted and gathered through the millennium in England and all of Europe . My early English roots arrived in Newbury, Ma. in the year 1637 and my family came from among the deer of England just north of London above Hertford. The name Hertford means “Hert” for deer, and “ford” for where they crossed/forded the river.
As the genealogist of my family, my roots include a 6th great grandmother who was said to be a full-blooded Abenaki who lived on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. A photo of her shares her unfrilled straight black hair parted down the middle. Many of today’s New Englander’s unknowingly have American Indian blood. The Abenaki named the lake Winipisoegee (Smiling Great Spirit).
My early life In the 1950’s was an adventure. When school was out for the summer, my Italian mom kicked my brother and I outside. “Go play” she said, and we did. I had built my very own bow and was shooting at age 7. It helped greatly by watching Robin Hood on TV and Friar Tuck to fish with a string tied to his toe while napping. Very ingenious way to multi-task! I made my first bow in Salem, NH out of a maple sapling and the string in the kitchen drawer and my arrows from golden rod. Watching Robin Hood, I was exposed to God, honor among men, allegiance, care for the down trodden, self-reliance and of course beautiful “Maid Marion”. Who could forget that Marion was both beautiful and skillful with a bow and a sword. I was enamored with Sherwood Forest and its ability to provide secret cover and sustenance to Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
I caught my first pickerel at the age of 7 without my father who worked during the day and I learned on-my-own to tease the pickerel into striking a dancing-worm using a fishing pole of maple and string or thread from my mothers sewing kit. At age 8, I was selling shiners to local fishermen.
By then I was already and outdoors-man of sorts or perhaps I was already a hunter of fish!
My father exposed me to hunting animals at the age of 10, hunting woodchucks who marauded the garden eating the green beans and lettuce and put holes the ground where livestock animals broke legs.
We shot targets and tin cans with my father in the back yard with BB guns and later with a single shot 22 rifle. Later dad took us to our hunting camp up near the “13 mile woods” below Errol, NH. I remember the early 1960’s with dozens of gigantic work horses still pulling logs out of the woods. It was a time of wonder where the deer were plentiful and equally giants of woods with live weights of 250 to 300 pounds.
My two boys, now mature men have been exposed to hunting. Only one of my sons hunt, the other is not a big hunter but approves of the exposure of his kids. I have grandchildren of both boys and girls that I want to expose to hunting.
I firmly believe that without the skills that hunting provides like self-reliance, perseverance, survival skills, satisfaction of achievement, providing food for yourself and others independent of the grocery store, we then become sheep for the slaughter by outside forces who can damage our fragile society, our power grid and financial systems, all too real in today’s world. Survival is key!
Some of my grandchildren may want to hunt because Papa does, others may reject the idea, this is perfectly normal and ok if you decide that it is not for you. I recall the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I believe the best way to expose them to hunting is to make it about family and take them on hikes and fishing and blueberry picking when very young (perhaps at ages 4 or 5) and talk about nature and predator and prey animals and sets up the truth and belief that something must die for us to live, whether it is a carrot or a cow, or a deer. If you own a camp up north, this is ideal for exposure to the wild by canoeing, fishing, and hiking or take day trips. A few years ago, I took my grand kids hiking to New Hampshire’s Mount Major up by lake Winipesaukee. Mount Major is a short day hike even a 7 year old can handle.
For those in hunting families, what we enjoy eating at the dinner table for fish, fowl and big game that someone in the family killed or caught it in a “responsible way” and prepared it for food is a real measure of freedom. Freedom to choose food from the wild instead of a grocery store. Did you like that venison chili or the grilled venison steak? They were yummy, young Tommy says and you got that deer daddy, didn’t you? Yes I did was the reply with a prideful smile. Lesson learned, it is not only ok to kill for food it is great fun in stalking, sneaking and outwitting the game you are after.
I suggest hunter/gathering exposure at an early age before 10 years old if possible take a child fishing and ask for the child’s help in preparing and cooking the fish he caught for dinner. Preparation includes gutting the fish, cutting the head and tail off the fish and cooking and clean-up after the meal. The fish is now resembles the fish seen at the supermarket but instead of buying that fish that someone else caught, you can say with pride, “I caught this fish.” Cooking with a frying pan with butter, oil and spices like garlic, salt, pepper, and Worcester sauce with say some steak tips of venison clearly plants those aromatic smells in the brain. And so the next hunt begins not just to kill but to provide responsibility to each phase of the hunt and create table fare fit for a king and create the hunter skills of survival for a lifetime. It is important as a free society to promote hunting as this is a foundational skill for our military men and women to protect the society in which we live. I can never imagine not hunting, it is a great way of life and family and of Survival. Hunting is in our genes! © 2015
Ed Hale – Editor/Owner