According to studies, modern humans have walked the Earth for around 200 000 years. 90% of that time we survived and thrived as hunter-gatherers. Hoarding grains, working the land and domesticating animals only came much later.
From the very beginning, hunting has been at the heart of our efforts to form an ethical relationship to nature. Hunting for survival gives the hunter access to a world of awareness, of life and death and of our place in nature.
Today people attend mindfulness retreats, join yoga classes and go dancing to forget life's complications, to be in the present, even if just for a moment.
Ancient hunters lived in the present. Always. They needed to, they're existence depended on it.
It might explain why we humans yearn to connect with nature. If we don't find this connection to the wild, even if it is occasional, we often turn to other vices to fill the emptiness.
Consider how much time we spend looking at screens, staring wistfully out the window or binging nature programs instead of enjoying the world outside.
Hunting offers respite from the pressures of the modern world. It's a gateway to adventure, unique tastes and different cultures. It's also a pass time that prioritizes spending time with family and friends. And, ultimately, shapes you into a conservationist.
Anyone can walk in a park or hike through the woods to appreciate nature, but it takes skill, effort and passion to walk-and-stalk an animal for a deeper connection to nature.
Surveys and studies show that the primary reason hunters hunt is to experience the outdoors and connect with nature. According to Dr Randall Eaton, renowned author and environmentalist, "Hunting is how we fall in love with nature. The basic instinct links up with the spiritual, and the result is that we become married to nature. This marriage remains the bedrock of the conservation ethic, and drives a connection with nature, which simply cannot be replaced."
Ethical and sustainable hunting recognizes our moral responsibility for the taking of life, confirming our connection and our place in the cycle of life and death. This why hunters approach nature with humility, respect and great appreciation. Hunters aren't just observers, they're actively playing a role in the environment.
The physical connection to nature leads to a spiritual connection, stirring up questions about life, existence and our place in the world.
To be successful, hunters learn about and understand the species they hunt, but also other species in the same biosphere.
Connecting to nature can be a form of meditation. Patiently waiting for the right animal, and the right moment requires focus and being present, using all five senses. Hunters have to be intensely aware of their surroundings. They look, listen, watch, follow and tune in to nature.
Some hunters perform an intimate ritual that's passed on through generations – like stroking the animal, breathing into its nostrils and touching foreheads. Others say a little prayer. No matter their beliefs, ethical hunters honour the animal by giving thanks and showing respect. It's widely accepted that gratitude is strongly linked to happiness.
Reflection is how we make sense of events we go through and incorporate them into our lives and shape our present. Hunters reflect upon their adventures around the campfire with other hunters or share the story behind a particular trophy. Doing this, hunters relive the emotions, particularly the feelings of gratitude, again and again.
Hunters love nothing more than gathering around the campfire to tell and hear stories about the one that got away or the perfect shot while enjoying the meat harvested from the kill. It's a fantastic way to connect with nature and people – spending quality time with those who share your love and excitement for the natural world and passing on the tradition to the next generation.
Hunting puts you directly in the circle of life. It's about reclaiming our place in the world, not as dominators, but as humble participants in the beautiful process of life, death, nourishment and rebirth.
Avula invites you to reconnect to nature, the hunter's way.
Take our quiz to see what kind of hunter you are and how you can find a deeper connection to nature