Waiting in the woods, looking, listening, hoping (?), watching for something to happen. What could be the object of this solitary snowy vigil, you might ask? As Ted Nugent has said, “an encounter with game”, specifically Odocoileus virginianus, the white-tailed deer. And so I play my part in this age-old human-animal scene.

How old? Very. Humans have existed as hunters and gatherers for something like 200,000 years. Only the last 10,000 years or so have people been farmers. Our current period of emerging technologies has been about the last 1,500 years.

Here’s another way to look at this situation. Take a cord (heavy string or rope) that is 3 feet long. Tie 2 loose knots at one end with a final tail that is as short as you can leave. The entire cord length represents the time that people have hunted and gathered. The 2 knots represent the farming period while the short tail would be the age of emerging technologies. That should visually bring home the point. People have much more ancestral knowledge of hunting than of farming, or of being a keyboard jockey. From that long-ago ancestral knowledge comes the desire to sit quietly, waiting in the woods, for that encounter.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep” – Robert Frost, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Of course, there are many other ways to connect with that ancestral knowledge. Gathering (foraging) is another aspect of feeding both body and soul. Learning (or relearning) about plant foods is just as satisfying. There are so many plants that can provide nutritious food that multiple books have been written (examples listed below). Some people even pass on their ancestral knowledge of plants through direct in-person instruction.

Becoming a “Modern Hunter-Gatherer” puts you back in touch with that ancestral knowledge. Providing some of your own sustenance through these ancient skills (with contemporary application) opens new avenues of self-awareness and self-expression. The connections expand to include a greater understanding of the natural world around us and a deeper appreciation of those who have lived this way for millennia. Those are all worthy goals that we can endeavor to reach.


Les Stroud, Wild Harvest — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcuP6J4FXkI&list=PLdteC6yMLFp3rFuyUOu-TdZk65sTrirF3

MacKinnon, Kershaw, Arnason, Owen, Karst, Hamersley Chambers, Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada (also applicable to northern USA)

Hawke & Boudreau, Foraging for Survival: Edible Plants of North America