A cold northwest wind ran underneath the bottom of my chin. Instinctively, I hunkered my jaw down deep into the fleece-lined hoodie concealed by a camo jacket. My eyes were greeted by a mosaic of white oak leaves as I stared down at the forest floor below. I began to think.
How many people would ever care about this particular oak tree? Just me? Or maybe there was another hunter who had an appreciation for this acorn dropper before my parents acquired the property?
How many people care about oak trees at all? Too few, most likely.
My Generation of Hunters
Ranks of oak tree lovers, observant wildlife enthusiasts and the skilled traditional bowhunters are quickly being replaced with new recruits from my generation. We are a group of people who have grown up with cell phones, texting, email and a variety of social networks that only catalyze our desire for immediate communication. One follower of mine on Twitter once wrote "What did people do in treestands before there were cell phones?!"
Thought about how much they loved oak trees I suppose.
But I cannot sit here and avoid the fact that I myself am guilty of participating in these activities all to often when my attention should be focused elsewhere. It's a cultural norm that is difficult to overcome. Posting photos to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from the field seem to be the highlights of the hunt these days, not the mannerisms of squirrels dodging about the woods or the time we are afforded to finally completely separate ourselves from all distractions of modern society. Have we lost our ability to connect with nature? To appreciate our surroundings? To become more passionate stewards of this earth? (Please share your thoughts below)
Becoming More Aware
In an effort to encourage hunters to spend more time thinking and observing their surroundings, I am launching a campaign called #HuntSilent. To participate, all you have to do is silence your phone and leave it in your pocket for the duration of the hunt. Afterwards, feel free to share a thought or highlight from your "silent hunt" by using the hashtag on Twitter. I would like you to think about the people you are spending time in the field with, the game your hunting, what conservation efforts are in place to allow these traditions to be carried on, etc. In time, I believe thinking about some of these questions will help us all to become better advocates for the lifestyle we all know and love.
And maybe add a few more oak tree lovers as well.