Let’s face it, hunting is not how it used to be. Not only because of the lack of game due to a hundred different ecological factors, but also because of how hunting is portrayed in the modern world. What used to be a principle commodity and way of life has unfortunately become a sport that is often disrespected and unappreciated.

I can’t help but think that our ancestors are somewhere, shaking their heads in disappointment. The real “hunting experience” is still obtainable if we learn to slow down a little bit and pay more attention to our presence in the woods.

Nature is a gazillion times more intelligent than human beings. It has proven this for millenniums. Is it unthinkable to imagine that it knows our intentions as we get out of our trucks and head into the woods? What about all the animals that have managed to survive all these centuries? Do you think that our spastic testosterone goes unnoticed? I think not.

Someone once told me about a Native American hunter who, instead of announcing that he was going hunting, told his fellow tribesmen that he was just “taking his bow for a walk.” What this really meant was that he was changing his intention in an honorable way, one that certainly changed his energetic presence while amongst all of the creatures in the forest. If he was granted an opportunity for a kill, it was the will of the Great Spirit and not his own self-imposed will.

The famous tracker/philosopher, Tom Brown talks about the “concentric rings” that are always occurring. Think of it like dropping a pebble in the water. The rings spread out to the whole pond. He believes that it is the same in nature. Our presence is felt by all and so are our intentions. www.wildwoodtracking.com/awareness/trm/trm3-1pg04.html 

Here’s the point . . . Think about the energy in the woods when opening day hits. Here in California, opening day is like a Keystone Cops movie with hunters bouncing off each other to get to their “spot.” By two o’clock, everybody is out shooting up the forest because nobody saw a single buck. It’s a disaster that happens every year. The whole forest is stressed out and the animals feel it. I bet this would happen even if nobody showed up. Nature remembers and expects this and animals act accordingly. I don’t even go into the woods that day!

Back to the guy taking his bow for a walk. If you seriously want to have a more enlightening (and more productive) hunting experience, give this a try. First, give yourself plenty of time so you’re not rushing. Take your time when you arrive to unwind. Be still, listen for a good 20 minutes to the sound of the forest. Let it calm down before you start out—it already knows you’re there.

An old timer once told me “when you think you’re moving slowly enough, go half that fast.” Think about your mindset—is your heart pumping out of anticipation? Try to take your focus off the “what ifs’ and practice being aware of the present moment. If you have a cool demeanor, all the critters will calm down.

I like to practice gratitude for all the gifts I have and how lucky I am to be able to be here right now. Nature responds to gratitude and respect. If I focus on the hunt, instead of the kill, I am always pleasantly surprised by the results.

This might sound like a lot of Kumbaya, and everyone has different opinions but in my own experience, it has made a world of difference in my hunting and in my life as a whole. Try it, what do you have to lose?

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons