Leading An Outdoor Life Is A Big Part of Being Human

WORTHINGTON--Some die-hard hunters aren’t fond of global warming, at least in how it has upset our hunting and fishing biological rhythm over the past few years.

This years opening day of upland game season was a repeat of last year in so far as weather is concerned. My hunting partner and I only half-joked that maybe we ought to go fishing instead of bird hunting.

But no, we stuck to the opening day ritual. Hunting buddy Tony Abrell, Worthington, refused to skip another opener after being dilettante last year. But as it turns out, we probably should have gone fishing, because everything was wrong for finding Bob White on the western Greene Co. “prairie.”

”This is only time I can recall coming in with my boots covered with dust instead of mud,” I said as we stomped through inch-think fine dust around a harvested cornfield. As I said that, a 25-mile gust kicked up a regular dust bowl across the fields.

There are few things that can defeat a good bird dogs nose when birds are there. But you add dry, dust and high wind to an opening day in the upper 60s…well, we should’a gone fishing.

However, a tradition is an event that is done on a regular, scheduled basis. Opening day of hunting season is one of those things. Deer hunters often adopt an opening day hunting tradition too; as do salmon fishermen and muskie fishermen on their opening days. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a bird, a deer, a muskie on opening day. Being there is the important thing.

These kinds of traditions are what make hunting such a rewarding activity for us humans. We are the most social of animals (excepting some insects), and bonding with our kind is a powerful force. When human bonding takes place, it is much stronger, more powerful if done while obtaining food, eating it and/or spilling of blood in pursuit of it.

Looking back over decades past, most of my vivid memories include exactly these kinds of activities, but it didn’t have to involve hunting or fishing. Gathering walnuts, hickory nuts, persimmons, hunting mushrooms, picking blackberries, even hunting down decorative sprigs of Bittersweet vine; these were things the family did together. My female relatives were die-hard berry pickers and would wade into huge forests of brambles to get at the biggest berries. Female humans are prodigious gatherers.

This kind of food gathering pays off again and again in our social lives. A blackberry pie is somehow different when you know you and sis picked the berries. Same with a dish of fried quail with mashed taters and quail gravy. The cook or cooks (mom, aunts, grandmothers usually) who were also in on berry picking, harvest praise for their culinary prowess and everyone gets a chance to feel really, really good.

Hunting, fishing, gathering, cooking, and eating together are activities that activate ancient genes. They connect us back through time with those of our kind tens of thousands of years ago. A persimmon pie is your mother's mammoth. Making your own traditions for your tribe is more than worth the effort. It makes you human.

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©Copyright 2007. Donald Lee Jordan.