Thou shalt not hunt? Hunters and non-hunters often ponder why humans hunt. Historically we all hunted, but no one pondered. We just climbed out of the trees, clubbed a rabbit and ate it.
After a few thousands of years of this activity, humans enjoyed a cognizant awakening. We woke to the realization that we enjoyed hunting. In fact, we thrived on it. Depended on it. Thrilled to it. Loved it. Spotting, stalking, chasing, and capturing our prey were stimulating, challenging, nurturing and inherently satisfying endeavors, just as they are to lions, wolves, eagles and pike. Like all of Nature’s predators, humans reveled in hunting. It was our role in the world, our natural evolution. We hunted fruits, nuts, seeds, edible leaves, mushrooms, mice, muskrats, mastodons and moose. And it was good.
It still is.
I doubt any hunting hominid every greeted the dawn thinking “Ah crap, another day of hunting. I wish I could just sit in an office and stare at a screen for eight hours.”
In cats and dogs we saw a similar appreciation for the chase. They, too, loved it. So we made friends with them. We discovered that dogs would cooperate and hunt with us. Cats, aloof, at least kept our huts free of vermin, so we tolerated them, marveled at their stalking skills and learned from them.
Hunting helped form us, too. It demanded coordination, speed and timing. It sharpened our binocular vision and out hand-eye coordination. More significantly, it encouraged tool making, group cooperation, planning and language. Hunting brought us out of our shells, giving us confidence and inspiring experimentation, innovation, exploration and risk taking. Hunting lured us from the shelter of the forests to the potential of the plains, from the cradle of Africa to the challenges of the world.
It’s a safe bet we didn’t fight our way across Siberia, through the Arctic, down the North America continent and into Patagonia in pursuit of wild asparagus. We became horsemen and nomads, sailors and ship builders, craftsmen and artists, philosophers and families because we hunted. You don’t find carrots, wild figs and bean sprouts painted on cave ceilings.
And now, in the 21st century, on the cusp of becoming enslaved to robots, we are questioning Nature’s ancient wisdom. Some urban, if not urbane, citizens of the overly civilized (at least technologically) western world find it necessary to question Nature, to condemn her for aiding and abetting the evolution of human hunters. Never mind that Nature has been producing and erasing billions and billions of recycled life forms for hundreds of millions of years. Never mind that she has evolved a self-sustaining system of herbivores eating plants and carnivores eating herbivores that keeps the cycle turning. Never mind that human hunters have long been a natural, chosen, designed, predatory part of this. A strident, virtue-signaling minority of arrogant humans has arisen to anoint itself wiser than Nature or any Creator.
These self-proclaimed arbiters of morality are the new high priests of Nature. They are here to save Nature from herself, to correct her historic wrong of enabling carnivorous hominids participation in Earth’s proven system of life and death. God-like, these self-appointed animal rights police will monitor, supervise, regulate and isolate human behavior, instructing all of us on what we shall and shall not eat. Simultaneously they would grant animals the same rights as humans, but not the same responsibilities. Yet they would deny us the same rights given all other animals, i.e. to hunt.
But trust them. Yield to them. For they know what is best. They shall rectify Nature’s mistakes for the good of us all. Thou shalt not hunt.
Ron Spomer is a lifelong hunter and consumer of plants and animals, but he does not seek absolution from the high priests of animal rights.