Since the existence of life as we know it, hunting has been the key to survival for predators, leaving their prey with the paranoia of being eaten day in, day out. Back in the day, life was all about hunting. Everything’s sole purpose was merely to survive. Then came the dawn of man, who would become the smartest predator to ever roam the planet, dominate the food chain and eventually alter the entire purpose of hunting altogether.
A man’s mind is the source of his power. Without it, he wouldn’t be able to create tools and weapons or think of tactics for hunting. Before analyzing modern hunters, it’s important to understand where they came from and what tools, weapons and tactics they used in the hunting process since their first cognitive thought.
If you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, you should at least see the beginning. Stanley Kubrick shows the dawn of man and how they emerged by learning how to adapt an object into a tool and a weapon. The bone, which represents a tool/weapon, is then visually matched with a shuttle floating through space. This represents the progression humans made with the use of tools and weapons.
Bones, Sticks & Stones: We’ve come a long way from these primitive tools and weapons. Now days, it seems laughable to even think about using a bone, stick or stone as weapon or tool, but this was a remarkable breakthrough for humanity as it sparked the mental evolution of cognition, which lead to greater hunting methods and weapons.
Blades: Whenever humans evolved enough, they realized bludgeoning their prey to death was inefficient and riskier, since a slower death would mean the prey would have more time to fight back and potentially even escape.
• Sharpened Wood: Earlier on, they would sharpen wood on rocks to cut and/or stab their predators.
• Arrow Heads: They soon discovered to sharpen rocks with ROCKS. They were more durable and could kill faster. They fine-tuned these rocks to create arrow heads.
• Metal Knives: Further down the line, blacksmithing and forging was a technological breakthrough as they could bend and forge metal into essentially whatever they wanted.
Advanced Projectiles: This is where humans truly began to dominate the food chain with their hunting methods. Killing prey from a distance was safer when hunting more dangerous prey and stealthier altogether.
• Spears: The first innovative weapon that benefited hunters offensively and defensively was the spear. Hunters were able to take advantage of this weapon’s aero dynamics by launching it into the air to take down bigger animals. It was sharp and heavier, which allowed for a more forceful impact.
• Bow & Arrow: The bow and arrow is essentially a more advanced version of a spear. It’s lighter and faster, which gave hunters the ability to stealthily take down animals.
• Gun: Since the invention of gunpowder, hunters embraced the greatest advancement in the hunting world. From the first hand cannons to modern rifles, hunting has allowed for easier hunting all around.
The roles and tactics of hunting have changed tremendously since the primitive age of man. These roles and tactics were reflective upon what tools and weapons they used.
The Tribe: Back when tribes hunted woolly mammoths with spears, they would surround the mammoth and back them off a cliff. Fear, numbers and intimidation were their tactics here. The spears were just part of the act. More importantly, they acted as a team, which is what allowed them to survive.
The Scout (A.K.A. Man’s Best Friend): When man befriended wolves and domesticated them, they became excellent companions, especially for hunting. Wolves/dogs have a better sense of smell and are quieter and quicker than humans. This hunting companion made hunting and detecting animals much easier.
The Shooter: With the invention of guns, hunting has become more of an independent activity, which has its pros and cons. Depending on what you’re hunting, it could be dangerous hunting alone, plus if you kill your prey, you might have to transport, dress and skin it all by yourself. However, hunting alone means a greater chance of siting prey that have heightened senses. Too many players on the field could compromise the hunt. This type of hunting relies on patience and playing “the waiting game” as some like to call it.
The Hunting Outfitter: Much like the wise, experienced father who teaches his son the way of the land and techniques of the hunt, hunting outfitters these days do the exact same thing for others. They’re the gatekeepers of the land and ensure other hunters understand all the aspects of the hunt. The tactic here is education. Education never dies, it only expands.
Over the course of hunting history, man’s purpose for hunting and the type of prey he hunts has changed. For the most part, hunting has been about survival and acquiring food, but this slowly changed as humanity progressed.
Clothing: Almost on the same line as food, animals provide great warmth and shelter with their fur and leather. Whether it’s for a rug, a blanket or clothing, fur and leather have provided warmth for humans since they learned how to hunt.
Status Symbols: In some cultures, they kept and flaunted parts of animals on their clothing, such as teeth, claws and horns, to signify dominance or to represent a point of power in that group of people. Other, often richer, cultures kept hides, including the heads of the animals, to signify luxury and to be labeled as a certain class.
Profit: When trade emerged, people started exploiting animals for their fur and selling it, sometimes even leaving the meat behind, since the fur was more valuable, plus preventing the meat from spoiling would’ve only been more work.
Leisure: Some modern hunters hunt because they enjoy it. They find many benefits, rather than just acquiring meat. That of course is a bonus, but some love to appreciate nature and the virtues hunting has to offer, such as patience.
Sport: Much of what hunting is today is about finding that bigger and better buck or gobbler. Similar to status symbols, people hang up their buck racks and gobbler beards on their walls like trophies. It gives hunters a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end of the day.
Population Control: Finally, hunting is great for population and disease control. This may not be people’s main purpose while hunting, but it certainly does help with animals getting overpopulated and spreading diseases. However, the reason animal overpopulation would occur if we didn’t hunt them is due to humans hunting predators excessively. In a way, we’ve created this issue, but it’s not really an issue because…well, let’s be honest, I don’t think we’re going to stop hunting any time soon.
Sam Ott writes for KT’s Trophy Hunts, hunting outfitters in Missouri and Iowa.