I have a rather interesting before-and-after experience that involves how I connect with nature compared to when I started hunting. I use these principles in all of my outdoor activities and I am experiencing more game and greater pleasure.

When I first started hunting, my mentor was a very matter-of-fact kind of guy. He went hunting to get game and he was very good at it. The idea that we somehow were actually connected to everything was a concept that never entered our minds. It was as if we were a separate entity when we got into the woods and nature was something else, something to conquer, something unknown and fearful. As a young man it was scary being in places where I could be eaten.

As the years went by, I learned a lot about the ways of the woods, survival and how to kill game. I kept that consciousness until one day about eight years ago. I was going through a serious illness and facing an operation that would leave me without a colon. I was high on a mountain alone before the sun came up and suddenly had a breakdown — I hit an emotional bottom. In the midst of the panic and anxiety, I was suddenly overcome with a feeling that soon turned into an experience. It was as if all of nature came and wrapped me up in a warm blanket. I was not alone.

That experience opened something up and I would never see the woods and its creatures the same way again. After my operation, I had a lot of time to study and think. I learned a lot about the Native peoples and how they approached hunting. They had always known what I had experienced. They were deeply connected to the earth and all its creatures. I made a decision to emulate their ways and years later I have incredible experiences even when I don’t get game.

For on my zen hunting methods, click here.

One thing I do as soon as my boots hit the ground is to give thanks and ask the universe what it wants to teach me, then I make a pact to leave all my outside concerns at the truck and become fully aware. As I start my adventure, I pay close attention to my senses from the way I step on the earth to what I see, hear, feel and smell. Instead of looking at myself as an outsider, I think of myself equal to every plant, bug, tree and rock. I become a relative, a brother to all.

Through a few simple conscious techniques, I have learned to think differently about my experience. I see things that most people don’t even consider. My experience as a tracker continues to become more refined and I know through my awareness and observations where to find the animals I want to encounter. I consciously monitor my awareness and it brings me deeper into the natural world.

The best thing about this practice is that we all have the capability to learn it. One of the most important tools to refine is our ability to stop thinking about our job, our bills and any outside issues. Once you get good at shutting off that chatter, you become immersed in everything around you and you begin to see things differently. You actually start to remember primal skills that are embedded in your genes. The more you practice, the more you remember.

I have had the opportunity to teach these skills to kids and it’s amazing how quickly they change and become good little hunters and trackers. They suddenly forget about television and video games and start to become connected to the real world. It’s an amazing transformation.

As we hone our awareness skills, it becomes sort of an addiction (a healthy one indeed) that continues to bring us closer to the things we are curious about. It will make a good hunter better, a good fisherman wiser, a good photographer closer to his shot, and everyone healthier all the way around. Try it!

Photo credit: Dreamstime