Life in Accordance with Nature

There is a quote from the Greek philosopher Zeno that reads, “The goal of life is living in agreement with nature” To me and my tribe, this translates directly into how we provide food for our table. Whether that is through raising animals, gardening, or hunting, we find the most satisfaction when our plates are filled with a bounty that we gave more than a few dollars to get.

My wife Heather started hunting around four years ago. She didn’t grow up hunting, but she’s a fast learner and a diligent student of nature. Our first time out, just behind our home, we harvested a young, blacktail buck. We ate extremely well that winter and her outlook on hunting was forever changed. Although it took a few years to to harvest a buck of her own, bridging the gap between where we live and where we get our food was instrumental in her thinking process. By shortening this gap, and adapting to a more intimate relationship with our food, we have found some worthwhile benefits important in not only our hunting practices, but also how we choose to live our lives here in rural Oregon.

In this aspect, hunting has become something like meditation for us. It’s an opportunity to unplug from this world we’ve all adapted to: A world of immediate results and digital footprints. Hunting allows us to settle into a natural state of living, whether we are out for a couple of hours, or a couple of days. Scanning hillsides and looking into ravines for that all too familiar shade of brown and black, our minds go with us, deeper and deeper into the mountains. Rather than tuning into what is next on our schedule, we look to the sky to see how much sunlight we have left. We look at a ridgeline and ask ourselves, where can we rest that would allow us to watch for anything approaching?

With meditation we find ourselves practicing many of the same techniques essential to a successful hunt. Rather than glancing at the clock, we are listening to our breath, feeling the change in air temperature as we breathe in and as we breathe out. It reminds us that regardless of what is on the horizon, we are, in fact, limited in our ability to respond to every stimulus. While we might think we can keep adding more and more to our to-do list, we can’t. 

Certain goals are going to take time to reach, and we cannot rush, or try and cheat our way through the process.  If we want to find success, then we have to give equal attention to each step in the process. Anything less is robbing ourselves of potential  You can’t ignore this and hope that next time will be different, regardless of whether or not you choose to change your thought patterns.

Develop a habit of responsible and realistic self-care, and see how your whole world can change.

So we breathe in. 

And we breathe out.

We notice our belly pushing out against our shirt as we fill our lungs with air.

The same way we notice the wind drifting effortlessly up the canyon, as the sun creeps over the horizon, spilling sunlight onto this great canvas on which we have only a short time to paint.

You are going to make mistakes.

You are going to miss from time to time.

And that’s perfectly okay.

Author’s Note

Heather eventually did get her buck. At the end of the 2020 Rifle Season, and days of combing through new terrain, she got off an amazing shot from over 140 yards and took this beautiful 3 point blacktail buck.

I realize that not everyone is going to relate to a post about hunting, and although it might likely even be a trigger for some, for me personally, it’s been one of the most therapeutic processes that I have ever done.

I was hesitant to get back into hunting when I retired, and even though I bought a tag the year before. I spent most of that day sitting in my truck, asking myself if I would be mentally able to get my animal from the field to the freezer.

Something about moving around dead weight and, specifically, bending and manipulating the joints in the legs.

It’s still an instant trigger for me and it takes me back to a handful of casualty evacuations conducted on location. After an IED shred through Hesco barriers and armor plating, I came face-to-face for the first time that this game we were playing had very real consequences. That there is nothing glorious about death.

It’s a harsh lesson that sometimes feels like a distant memory of a memory.

I have since had the privilege of attending several hunts with a group called Wounded Warrior Outdoors, and Adventures Enabled, that were instrumental in my recovery process. They also served to push me back towards my roots in respect to hunting and harvesting wild game.

If I’m being honest, a day in the woods looking for sign is better than any other form of therapy that I’ve ever tried and, for me, it’s the ultimate hard reset.

For you, it might be fishing or hiking and looking for edible mushrooms or berries. I have a close friend that is overjoyed when we are able to find an elderberry bush that is full of bounty.

Perhaps download a plant identification app and learn about the different plants and fauna in your area. This sounds insignificant but, for me, that’s the first thing I look for when I hunt. I can look at a patch of salal bushes and know if they are being perused for their berries or leaves. I can tell you if a tan oak is mature enough to produce acorns, or if I’m high enough in the mountains to look for huckleberries.

Whatever it is, I feel like it triggers something deep inside my subconscious that is normally quiet. As I’m noticing these plants and signs of animals passing through, I feel like I’m in a state of concentration, so deep, that when everyday stressors creep back into my head, they’re dismissed as easily as the sounds of a passing car.

I hear it.

I acknowledge it.

And I let it go.

Just like when you’re meditating.

I’ll be posting some meditation videos shot on location in our beautiful national forests on our Instagram page as well as YouTube, and I’d love to see your comments and recommendations in the comments section. My goal is to give you a calming and serene experience that you can come to when life gets too busy.

Help support this page by checking out some of the amazing rustic wooden flags I make right here in Oregon. I’ve been making these flags since 2015, and have filled over 1,000 orders. The therapy I get from taking these flags from raw lumber, to a keepsake that you and your family will treasure forever, is beyond healing. Thank you for your support and allowing me to walk this path with you!

Hope to see you there.