Saturday, July 16, 2011

What tripped YOUR trigger?

I have often wondered if other hunters ever experienced revelatory moments that were a distinct catalyst in their decision to take up hunting. This is especially true of those who came to this decision largely per chance or after an largely isolated epiphany, one that arose without any clear influences. After some discussion with a new friend, author Tovar Cerulli, I spent time thinking about my own hunting and outdoor influences. Tovar has some excellent and well researched insights into ‘adult onset hunters’, many of these types of new hunters come to the activity without the benefit of a community to influence their choice. This parallels my experience, albeit in my youth.

I have always been passionate about being outside. I was drawn to angling at age 6 which I believe was the result of being entranced with all the bits in a tackle box I rooted out in my late grandfather’s garage. My family were certainly pro – outdoors but no-one in my immediate family was an angler, shooter or hunter. Both parents and my older brother were also very supportive of my often annoying compulsion to spend seemingly uncomfortable hours in or alongside water bodies with a rod in hand.

Dear Anas undulata, thanks for tripping my trigger!
The birth of my desire to shoot remains a fuzzy mystery to me. I was exposed to it a few times and always relished the opportunity to shoot and accept the responsibility to do so safely. By the onset of my teens I was fairly interested in it but by no means passionate, until the revelation happened…

My gang of normally-muddy buddies and I used to fish for carp in a small stream that ran through our local suburb. Late one afternoon while waiting

 for the carp to rise to our floating bread crusts and lazing on the grassy bank, I watched a pair of Yellow Billed Ducks coming in low over the stream, towards the nearby dam where they roosted. I was fixated on their flight. They passed low in front of me, close enough to see their eyes and every detail in their
  plumage. In that moment my entire being was focused on those birds; all I wanted was to close the distance between us. I clearly remember thinking “I wish I had a .410 so I could shoot a duck!” Despite my poor choice of gauge, a switch was flipped in me that radically altered my interests. I read Capstick’s influential Death in the Long Grass, I poured over James Mellon’s tour de force, African Hunter, in the local library and started devising ways to actually hunt. I was 13 and absorbed every piece of hunting related literature and every experience related to hunting that I could. A couple of years later my long suffering father realized I was serious about this stuff and organised a trip for us on a ranch we had holidayed on previously. He borrowed a Parker Hale sporterized No.1Mk3 Lee Enfield and an ancient box of PMP ammunition from a colleague. Undeterred from the minor half-moon I received from the scope, I soon after shot my first ‘real’ game animal – an impala ewe. I am forever grateful for that experience. Many years and many animals later I still find hunting to be revelatory and am happy for the revelations and passion. I have never hunted Yellow Bill Ducks, by the way!

So, what are your hunting roots? Did you ever have a revelatory moment that shook your foundations as an outdoor person and without warning made you proclaim ‘I want to hunt!’? What did your friends and family think? Go ahead and share it with us.

© Brian Joubert


  1. Yes, mine happened one day while fishing about four years ago. I had just killed and cleaned a beautiful rainbow trout and it struck me that this was important. I knew I had to personally shoulder the weight of every death that my hunger was responsible for. I decided to re-adopt a vegan diet, supplementing it only with creatures that I had killed myself. As it turned out, this was impossible because of a variety of food intolerances I discovered and there is no way I can hunt and fish enough to keep myself in the amount of meat that I require, given all the other food restrictions I have to deal with.

    My wife was horrified, but she understood my feelings and has slowly come around, somewhat. Her father is a moose hunter and she grew up in tears, disliking both meat and hunting because of the dead animals that hung in their carport. She is still largely vegetarian. However, she recently read Christopher Camuto's "Hunting From Home" and this has helped her come to terms with it a bit too. From my friends, I've been given a bit of a ribbing about it all. There has been some teasing about my being a redneck and things like that, but a few them have started expressing an interest in the firearms and why I've taken to such things.

  2. Thanks Anthony,

    I am trying to phase out all meat that is from an unknown source. We do well for vension amongst our group of friends and I recently ordered half a pig from a guy who does ethical, pasture raised stock and slaughters them himself, on the the farm. However it is tough to be complete with that quest, as you point out.

    I like the redneck ribbing, just tell them you are a renaissance redneck... You have no-doubt noticed that the disbelief is often, in my experience, just a socially expected knee-jerk reaction. People seldom find it really distasteful once they think critically about it, they just feel culturally compelled to offer that response.

  3. I thought about this question a lot while working on my book. I don't think there was one moment. In part, that may be because I had been a vegetarian for so long. My resistance to the eating flesh foods had been significant, and my resistance to the idea of hunting was much higher!

    That said, there were moments here and there: A conversation with an old hunter. Correspondence with an uncle who hunted. Eating locally-raised chicken and wondering what that bird's life and death were like. Taking up fishing again.

    Like Anthony's, my wife was surprised by my interest in hunting. She had, after all, married a vegan. But she has been supportive all along. Perhaps it helped that my transition was more gradual. Now, she likes almost anything I make with venison; as a matter of fact, I'm thawing out some for this evening...

  4. I guess my onset was largely gradual and also the sum of smaller influences. However that moment on that day stands like a beacon in my desire to hunt! Like the culmination of all the preceding influences.

  5. There has been some teasing about my being a redneck and things like that, but a few them have started expressing an interest in the firearms and why I've taken to such things.