The wind bellows softly as pine needles bristle across my face and I squeeze between trees, balancing on the small 3 foot snowshoes in the endless Maine wilderness. I flatten my body and manage through tiny slits to the edge of cover where I bend gingerly to a crouch. One hand keeping my balance, I survey my surroundings breathing out a steady fog as I gaze towards any sign of movement or track. My heart is bumping and the faint noise of howling moves behind me, I look across the landscape towards the shadowy bottoms of the trees.
There are pockets of light in between the firs and hemlocks that give a disruption of color on the edges of the dark cover of pines. I can see maybe 15 yards maximum in particular sections of my field of view. In the back of my mind I think if ever there were a bear or moose that appeared from behind one of those trees I would have no chance to flee from them. My hands tremble on the cold metal grip of the gun as I scan my periphery for the faintest sign of movement. Hearing isn't all that particularly useful out here.
I stand statuesque for at least an hour knowing there have been fresh tracks through this area, shifting eye-level and balance trying to keep my toes from freezing and my mind attentive. Suddenly a bounce right into one of the open patches between the trees, two eyes peering towards me. My entire body warms and tenses up. I feel fright and excitement as adrenaline jolts me up, I turn and shoot instinctively. I feel the loud band of the gun and the kickback of the shotgun to my shoulder and arms. The silent forest is instantaneously disturbed and almost simultaneously falls back into that silence.
The snowshoe hare perfectly evolved for camouflage and running in this snowy ecosystem lay kicking as it's last nerve endings fire and it's last signs of life vanish. I feel scared, nervous, sad, guilt, excited, relief and pride all in a brief 2 minutes. It's a whirlwind that I have been trying to grip with. Submerged in this wild world, I am transported completely out of the complicated and vain existence that surround Brandcenter and advertising.
I feel conflict in the cruel nature of the hunting and killing of another animal and my desire to find a stronger meaning or connection with the natural world. Being immersed in this environment I feel more attuned to the world and feel a connection to the life cycle, than say buying meat at a supermarket. I feel sad at death but amazed at the experience and comfort in knowing that it was a near immediate kill. As well the meat is being used as food for our camp. It's a feeling of connection that I have always been at a loss for walking the halls of our flesh malls.
I have always felt a weird disconnect to packaged meat, but an acknowledgement that my body needs meat to be healthy. I certainly understand the moral arguments for Veganism and Vegetarianism but I believe that there is a moral argument in responsibly harvested meat eating. In hunting there's a link to nature that puts you back in a world that has existed for many many years, a world that lives by it's own rules of chaos and order. There's beauty in this chaos, it gives a stronger sense of acknowledgement and responsibility to the food you eat and animals you kill. Supermarkets with endless halls of meat displayed at sale prices, shot up with hormones and antibiotics devalues the lives of animals and the work that it takes to get meat. This type of factory farm eating is something that I have always thought of as a point in our history where people will look back and point to to say how backwards or barbaric our people were. Moral acuity that evades the people of its time, such as we would say of the people of our past-if only they were as smart as us to see their mistakes.
Full disclosure I do not always practice this. It's difficult work to only eat meat that you or someone you know has killed, but something that I have always aspired to do. Might lab-grown meat be the solution or future? Maybe. Until that becomes a viable option I do think that responsible hunting and local farm to table is the only moral way of eating meat.
I've always been unable to sit still and I gravitate towards new experiences and try to upend my perspective. But getting out in nature more is something that is a huge struggle at school, so it was great to spend time out in the wild. It's something that I think is the worst part of the working world, we are entrenched indoors so much that we miss these basic connections to the natural world. We look at animals with strange eyes purveying them in zoos and buying our stuffed Shamu's, then wonder why they eat us in these 100 ft tanks. You definitely lose perspective in Brandcenter, but it's important to get it back there's a lot of world out there that isn't in a fluorescent box.