Jim here. Ever since I was a little boy my father took me fishing. One of my oldest memories is either fishing for largemouth bass and sunfish in the pond behind my house, for smallmouths in a gigantic childhood pond at a friend’s house, or maybe it was fishing for mackerel, cod and pollock off of the coast of Waterford, Ireland when I was about four…Anyways, I have been a fisherman since I could walk. When I was a little older, it developed into an obsession. When I saw a body of water I would immediately assess how many fish, of what species it would contain, and how best to go about extracting them from the water.
I have fished in freshwater lakes, rivers…I’ve fly-fished, I’ve downrigged for lake trout and salmon, I’ve even fished for piranha in Suriname (Dutch Guyana), South America while wading up to my neck under the supervision of my uncle Irvin, who grew up there. I am not exaggerating. We would catch thirty a day…easy.
I have some kind of instinctive love of fishing, and I feel like it must be more than cultural. Every person who I have introduced to fishing and has had the pleasure of catching a fish has been filled with a kind of visceral delight, an inexplicable pleasure…men or women.
Eventually I became interested in hunting. I got my gun license and my hunter’s safety license when I was around 18 and I had the pleasure of accompanying my friend Wes to his cabin in Manitoulin island, in central Ontario in Lake Huron. It was riddled with snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse. We would stalk them with a little 4/10 shotgun and come home with packs full of the lovely bunnies (they were unlimited during the season).
I soon started to dabble with whitetail deer. This was no easy task. I have always believed that in order to hunt an animal, one needs to have a deep respect for that animal (see video 4 below). If you hunt whitetail deer on foot (in my opinion the only respectable way to hunt them), you will soon discover how intelligent, powerful (see video 1 below), and elusive these ghosts of the forest really are.
I must have spent a month in the woods, camping out with a shotgun or an American longbow, getting up at 4 and getting out there to watch the sunrise, staying till lunch, or showing up before sunset and waiting until after dark. Jeff came along as an observer a couple of times.
My time paid off. After what must have been weeks of time spent in the woods I took a white tailed stag. It was a complicated moment. After I had shot this beautiful animal and watched it powerfully thrash on the ground I was filled with panic, shame, pride, nervous frenetic ecstasy. I was so blessed to have this run in with such a beast. Just recently I had the good fortune to accompany a friend on a fallow deer hunt here in Ireland. We took home a young doe. It’s delicious.
One thing is for sure though, I was always taught that everything you kill, you eat. That’s just the way I was raised. I remember wounding a hare and never catching it. I felt sick for the week. The moment when the animal passes is a confusing sense of release and fulfillment- a good hunter does not want the animal to suffer, and does not take a shot unless it’s a kill shot.
Hunting is possibly one of the oldest practices, one that is associated chiefly with men…however not exclusively. There are burial remains at the neolithic pre-civic site at Catalhoyuk that suggests some women hunted with men. It is a universal taboo among hunting cultures to waste game, and to make animals suffer unnecessarily. Part of the value of hunting is that it teaches carnivores who are normally separated from the process of killing their meat, the true value of these animals, and indeed their own lives. The joy of hunting is the privilege of cooking and hunting game meat, as exemplified by the wild chef, Martin Picard, and Ray Mears, classy hunter/survivalist.
There’s nothing I hate more than American hunting culture – Huntin’N’Fishin TV shows filled with whooping yahoos and about ten minutes of ads for guns, fishing lures, hunting gear, so disconnected from the quiet spirituality of the forest and the primal and poetic game of pursuing and taking an animal. These videos (see video 2 below) are so disgusting. They are the least manly thing you could ever imagine. They epitomize everything that is wrong with contemporary masculinities and hunting culture. There’s nothing cool about waiting in a blind or a tree stand with an automatic feeder and a sexual call for animals who you have made accustomed to your presence by feeding them all year, with hardcore modern semi-automatic weapons….or even worse…in a penned enclosure…For that reason, we’ve included plenty of cool vids, (my personal favorite is the Kalahari persistence hunt-this is truly sporting). See video 3
My Irish deer hunter friend and guide said it best, “It’s not admirable hunting unless the animal has an advantage over you…unless they have more of a chance of escaping than you have of getting them.”
1. Asshole deer attacks family dog.
2. Moronic rednecks shooting live pigeons traps and punching reporters – and masturbating.
3. Kalahari persistence hunters. Possibly the first form of human hunting.
4. Ray Mears takes a Red Deer. This is how a real man hunts.