”Many farmers enjoy hunting on their properties. This is often a family pastime that has been passed down through generations.” The Dictionary for New Farmers, 1st edition.
Most farmers avoid philosophical debates unless they are discussions over tractors, trucks, or this spring’s group of heifers. I find myself far too often getting interested in philosophical questions that the average farmer would have no use for.
Recently, I found myself fascinated by the theories proposed by Daniel Quinn, author of the book Ishmael. Quinn divides the human race into two sub-groups: “the hunter-gatherers” and “the takers.” According to Quinn, until a few thousand years ago, most of us hunted and gathered our food from nature’s bounty — hence the term “hunter-gatherers.” When the agricultural revolution occurred and we began to farm and manage livestock, we became “takers.”
The purpose of this article is not to discuss the merits of Quinn, but rather to express my belief that I’ve always been a hunter-gatherer, at least in spirit. Now I’ve never hunted live prey (other than a few fish) and even though I now own a farm and would, by Quinn’s definition, be considered a “taker”, I can assure you that each trip to the grocery store brings out in me the bloodlust of the hunt.
Instead of the satisfaction of bringing down an antelope, I have the anticipation of being able to quickly snag a pound of hamburger or perhaps some tasty smoked turkey. And, just like in real life, the prey can be elusive. I’ve spent hours tracking down some minuscule item my wife must have only to finally find it deftly camouflaged in Aisle 3 next to the canned artichokes.
My wife understands this primitive need and often complicates the hunt by giving me coupons. This makes the hunt far more of a challenge by not only specifying the kind of prey, but “gender” as well. For example, try finding not just any chicken broth, but a specific brand of chicken broth that is organic and has no salt.
Often, when the craving for the hunt becomes more than I can resist, I go for the quick kill. “Little Debbie” snacks can be found in large numbers and are easily captured with little resistance. In addition, to commemorate the hunt, these snacks can be mounted on any shelf quite easily. With their preservatives, they can last forever.
Any hunter will tell you that it’s not just the prey that make the hunt enjoyable, but also the terrain the hunter must cover in search of his prey. The more exotic, the better. Since I firmly believe that the common grocery store was designed for the female mind (a mind set I’ve never quite understood), I believe the grocery store’s terrain proves quite the challenge for any male who chooses to enter.
You may find this sexist, but I’ve often found myself wandering between aisles in search of an especially elusive prey and have finally broken down and asked a female patron for advice. Their answering smirk and reply is definite proof of their superiority in this environment. And being over 60 provides the added benefit that I often arrive at the store forgetting what I was supposed to get, making the prey all that much harder to find.
This, too, my wife understands and she waits with bated breath and great anxiety to see what I may bring home from the hunt. In the end, it is perhaps only my trusted dog Meg that truly understands the nature and necessity of these trips. She waits at the door for the alpha male’s return and her pupils dilate when she sees the bags in my hands.
She knows a “big kill” when she sees one.
Jeff and Kathy Crisler own a farm where they raise bees, berries and blisters. They are both retired and have two children and six grandchildren. Jeff wrote this column to be published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.