Despite the fact that humans beings have evolved into a civilized society over the course of thousands of years; we are still considered to be the apex predators on this planet.
For untold millenniums, human beings functioned through the evolutionary process in the role of 'hunters and gatherers'. Subsistence depended upon what could be caught or gathered from the water and the land. This process was accomplished while simultaneously avoiding being caught or eaten by the some of the very species being hunted.
Until humans attained the capacity for agriculture, the survival of our species depended upon fine tuning the skills of our natural, predatory abilities.
The development of agriculture was essential to the development of civilizations. Once humans learned to raise food, they rapidly lost the natural ability to hunt.
In his biophilia hypothesis, Harvard University professor E.O. Wilson described this nature heritage in an effort to better understand the human need for nature.
Professor Wilson theorized that despite the fact that humans no longer function as true hunter/gatherers; we remain focused on the natural world. We are attracted to green spaces and we need the outdoors. It is in our genes!
I believe the best proof of Wilson's theory is evident when a toddler first picks up a stick. Although the child may never have seen a gun or a spear before, there is often an innate response that makes the child point the stick as if it were a weapon.
The same situation occurs when a little boy gets his first b-b gun. There is a certain, inexplicable draw that makes him point the gun at the first bird to fly by or the first frog to jump. It's a reaction that occurs across geographic, cultural and economic boundaries. Where does it come from if not a hunting instinct in our genes?
Despite this ingrained hunter/gatherer heritage; man has become a civilized creature. Many of us have lost these once vital senses. Many humans no possess a natural sense of direction, a keen sense of hearing or smell. Some have purposely 'tuned out' these senses to block the bombardment of sensory overload that prevails in the modern world. However, through the long, evolutionary process, our senses have also atrophied from the lack of use. The keen senses that once protected humans from danger and insured our survival are no longer necessary because modern man gathers more and hunts less. Few of us use our senses strictly for hunting purposes anymore.
However, the most successful hunters concentrate on utilizing their natural senses. In the natural environment, our senses are stimulated and exercised. As a result, senses become sharper and keener and we begin to hear, taste and smell better. This may even explain why food always tastes better in camp.
For deer hunters, a constant awareness of scents, sounds and sights is key to success. Despite the fact that 'scent, scent free and no-scent' products have become a mini-industry within the hunting products industry; hunters spend little time concentrating on their own sensory awareness skills.
Try a few simple exercises to illustrate the point. Shut your eyes and listen to the wind. Take a few deep breaths and smell the air to see if you can taste it. Crumple a leaf and listen closely to the sound.
When one sense shuts down, others will compensate for the loss. When you can't see, you'll hear better; you'll feel the wind on your cheek and smell the mustiness of autumn's decay.
In the blackness of an early morning's watch, a hunter may hear every twig snap. But once the sun is is up, the sensory concentration focuses on what we can see rather than what we hear or smell.
The most successful hunters are those that can tune-in to the hunt. They have learned to process the scents, sights, sounds, taste and textures of the woods and to tune out the nonessential attractions.
Whitetail deer utilize scents constantly. They use them for protection, for feeding and for breeding. A deer's nose provides it's greatest protection. It can pick up a scent at a distance of a quarter of a mile.
Successful hunters are those that possess a greater sensory awareness of themselves and their quarry.
Vermont moose season ends
Vermont's moose hunting season finished on November 1 for the 2009 season. It was the state's 17th moose hunting season in modern times, the first occurring in 1993 when 30 permits were issued and 25 moose were taken by hunters.
According to Fish and Wildlife officials a preliminary count shows that 516 moose were taken with 1,230 hunting permits issued for the 2009 season.
David Godfrey of Holland, Vt shot the heaviest moose this year while hunting in Charleston on October 21. Godfrey's 965 lb bull moose also is the second heaviest ever shot in Vermont.
Take a kid along
A child is overwhelmingly more likely to hunt and fish if they have a parent who hunts and fishes. However, research reveals that only 25 percent of youths from hunting households are active hunters.
"No, I'm not a good shot; but I shoot often." Teddy Roosevelt, President of the United States, outdoorsman and Tahawus Club regular.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org