Traditional Hunting Explained
What is Traditional Hunting?
The search for food including the harvesting of animals has been both a necessity and recreational pastime for countless generations of humans. Relatively modern inventions like guns have made this task much easier, but there still is tremendous value and satisfaction in hunting as our ancestors did using primitive implements, and learning and employing the variety of skills necessary to be successful.
Traditional hunting typically starts with making an ancient implement like a long bow, followed by learning how to shoot it consistently with a high degree of accuracy and in a variety of situations using the instinctive shooting method. It also includes mastering other essential skills like finding prey animals, getting into close position without disturbing them, and knowing how to find and process your kill.
Why is it Important?
The earliest forms of hunting (e.g. persistent hunting) required an intimate knowledge of the local habitat in order to achieve any reasonable degree of success. As modern weapons greatly improved in power, distance, and accuracy, our required dependence on the skills mentioned above declined in direct proportion, and with it our knowledge of the landscape around us and our deep connection to it. Through traditional hunting, you will learn how to:
- Craft a primitive hunting instrument like a long bow, atlatl, or similar
- Master the art of using a primitive hunting weapon (e.g. instinctive shooting method)
- Recognize animal sign including tracks, trails, gaits and other movement patterns
- Understand prey species behavior including feeding habits, mating, defense mechanisms, etc.
- Approach animals quietly without being detected via stalking and moving through cover
- Mask your scent and move discreetly to the downwind position
- Create camouflage using natural materials
- Follow and find wounded prey after a successful shot
- Process a harvested animal for meat and obtain other useful parts of the animal (e.g. the hide)
What the expeditions will teach you...
In our modern society we have become so accustomed to indirectly procuring our food from grocery stores and restaurants that we have largely forgotten the effort required to obtain food via our own efforts, and the ensuing gratitude felt afterward. Via traditional hunting, we directly experience the struggle for life which yields a greater appreciation for what we put on our dinner table, as well as re-grounding us in our roots as biological beings.
On a practical level, you will develop the skills necessary to become more self-sufficient in harvesting a variety of prey animals. And since the fundamental principles related to traditional hunting apply on just about every continent, the majority of what you learn will be applicable to wherever you might go hunting in the future. Your use of these skills will also cause you to feel more connected to the land, and hence your enjoyment of the outdoors will increase.
Primitive hunting and particularly long bow archery has achieved a sort of revival over the last few years as many outdoor enthusiasts desire to move away from an over-dependence on technology, and instead want to enjoy a more traditional hunting experience. As such, there are some great resources that have recently been made available to help instruct people in these "lost" arts. Here are some suggestions on where to start:
There are some high quality books available related to traditional hunting and they generally can be broken down into two groups: those that detail how to fabricate primitive hunting weapons and, and those that cover tactics, strategies, and tips for how to conduct successful hunts.
- Traditional Archery Hunting: Stories and Advice about Traditional Bowhunting, an excellent compilation of insights and tips based on an ecologist's hunting experiences in a variety of habitats.
- Making Native American Hunting, Fighting, and Survival Tools, a comprehensive resource that goes into detail on techniques for making bows, arrows, arrow heads (flint-knapping), spear points, blow guns, rabbit sticks, hooks and line, fish traps
- The Airman's Arctic Survival Guide, a "old-school" guide that contains fantastic illustrations on how to catch and hunt game, transport it out of the wilderness, process it, and much more.
There are increasingly a number of good websites and youtube channels that give great tips and detailed information related to traditional hunting. Here are some good options:
- Master Bow Builder Series, a set of step by step video tutorials that start with preparing a stave and all the way through to finishing a bow and then creating a primitive arrows.
- The Secret to Instinctive Archery, a good introductory youtube video explaining the fundamentals behind the instinctive shooting method.
- Traditional Bow Hunting Guide, a quick but excellent overview of the basic traditional hunting principles, strategies, and preparations needed to be successful.
- Traditional Bowhunter, the online version of the magazine which offers hunting tips, cooking recipes, and interesting stories from other bow hunters.
- 3Rivers Archery, a comprehensive online store that carries a complete line of traditional archery supplies as well as tips and tutorials, videos, and blog posts, and a listing of archery schools.