In the past, the hunter naturalist was admired and valued above all others in society, for lives and longevity depended on this key provider. Eventually, those who communicated best with nature were elevated to a priesthood, a class akin to God. The motivations that valued them for so long are now embedded in the fabric of humanity. As we cannot but love nature, we have no alternative but to admire those who understand her.
The public's perception of the American hunter has changed. Hunters went from being viewed as brutish men in decline to romantic figures who contributed to a sense of American Identity, and to an understanding of the continent itself. By the time of the Civil War, hunting was a signal of progress, having by this time borrowed the sport hunter ideals of European counterparts, many of them aristocrats, and making hunting attractive to men of power and wealth.
Hunting is under siege and the subject of debate the world over. It is clear that modern society no longer implicitly understands why hunters continue the practice. Society, while in the majority not opposed to hunting, certainly has outspoken minorities who wish to see it banned, and a growing number who wish to understand why it should continue. Is it necessary and should it continue?
From its deep history, we find much evidence for hunting's influence on the modern human form and intellect. Many of the things we cherish in our human capacities, from tool making to food sharing, have been strongly influenced by our hunting past. Furthermore, some of our greatest cultural endeavors emerged as reflections of our predatory lifestyle, and of our attempts to understand our role in the natural order of things.
A Conservation Success Ignored by the World/International Conservationists are Taking Notice
Shane P. Mahoney
The North American model of wildlife conservation is arguably one of the most successful programs of sustainable resource use ever devised. At the time the first of these two stories was written, it had been virtually ignored by the world leaders and private and public organizations alike. However, the challenge of how to maintain human economies and traditions while continuing to utilize the world's natural gifts has been a focus of international agencies for decades.
Somehow the humanity that has wreaked havoc on nature is the same humanity that works ceaselessly for her survival. Like hunting itself this societal contradiction reflects man's unending duality. It also provides assurance that our best hopes for nature rise on the currents of our hunting past. To preserve a world of fullness and beauty, we will need to marshal the very best in ourselves.