Friday I did something I've been wanting to do since I started forageSF, I went hunting....well, seeing as I didn't have a gun, or a hunting license, I suppose hunting wasnt exactly what I did. To be more exact, I went on a hike with some people who were hunting. Just so you don't get excited, just to be let down, we didn't get anything. We actually didn't even see any in season animals until we were riding home in the car (one of my blood thirst comrades was close to jumping out of the moving car). In a lot of ways it was hunting though. It was hunting in the way that I felt when I was in the forest. I talk a lot about the way knowledge of wild food changes the way you experience nature. That it gives you a new connection with your environment, and an awareness that a simple walk in the woods doesn't necessarily attain. Its was the same way on friday, but magnified.
We woke up at 3:30am to drive to Napa ( a friendly vineyard owner had given us permission to hunt on her land). As soon as we entered the woods, it was in a different way than I've even done so before. I could hear everything. The rustle of a salamander crawling across our path at 10 ft pounded my eardrums. I walked with a quietness and awareness that I've really never felt before. Even though I wasn't going to shoot anything (hunting license issues), I still felt it. That higher awareness of "getting your eyes on" that we talk about with mushroom hunting. A focusing of the senses, hearing and seeing with an awareness that many of us never experience.
I of course don't miss the irony that this awareness comes at the cost of killing something. That the connection to my environment is attained through death. This doesn't bother me though. We are animals, and animals survive off other life forms. Be it a carrot, an apple, or a pig. One doesn't have more or less value over the other, and the "nothing with a face" argument has always struck me as strange.
I will hunt again. I will hunt because I like to eat meat. Because I feel like hunted meat is one of the most honest meat to eat, but also to feel the awareness again. The fine tuned sense of place that comes with hunting.