By Sandy Scott, November 6th, 2020
Consider your eyes: set just above your nose, less than two inches apart, designed to zero in on what’s before you. There she is, nostrils working, tail twitching, taking one cautious step at a time, eyes wide to her head’s sides, designed to know what’s all around.
You and this deer are complements of aimed and spread awareness: predator and prey. You are hunting, and your prey is not the slow, shrink-wrapped meat of a supermarket aisle.
Whether we choose to hunt or not, we are of this relationship; it is part of our design. We are, of course, descendants of eons of hunter-gatherers, who found both a living and a place in a natural world tucked full of such relationships. Our social organization turned us into apex predators, and as we grew numerous, we chased other predators (see wolves or lions, e.g.) away.
During hunting season, common wisdom holds that hunters are filling an old role. Less common is an understanding of how vital hunting is to our valued, conserved, and agricultural lands.
In my last column, I wrote of tagging along with a local bowhunter as he looks for deer. To deepen my understanding of the role of hunting in our eco-system, I turned to a number of familiar and new writers, among them Leopold, Thoreau, Dillard. What’s grown in me, as a result, is an appreciation for the ways hunters know and value the land they walk.
My October example came from nearby Crystal Spring Farm, a more than 300-acre mix of farm and forest owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and farmed on over 100 of those acres by Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon’s family.