When we hunters set forth to pursue wild game, is it for recreation, species management, to gather food, or simply due to an ingrained predatory instinct? Regardless of whether you look favorably or unfavorably on hunting in general, that question has been bandied about by both sides for decades with less than satisfactory and unbiased answers from either.
Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D, of Purdue University, holds a M.S. in ethology (the study of animal behavior throughout history) and comparative psychology, and a Ph.D. in ethology, and has spent his adult life studying human behavioral patterns. Dr. Eaton is considered one of the top authorities on man’s urge to hunt.
“As an inherited instinct, hunting is deeply rooted in human nature. Around the world in all cultures the urge to hunt awakens in boys. They use rocks, make weapons or sneak an air gun out of the house to kill a bird or small mammal. In many cases the predatory instinct appears spontaneously without previous experience or coaching, and in the civilized world boys often hunt despite attempts to suppress their instinct.
”Hunting is how we fall in love with nature. The basic instinct links up with the spiritual, and the result is that we become married to nature. Among nature pursuits, hunting and fishing connects us most profoundly with animals and nature. As Robert Bly said in his best-selling book ‘Iron John’ only hunting expands us sideways, ‘into the glory of oaks, mountains, glaciers, horses, lions, grasses, waterfalls, deer. Hunting is a basic aspect of a boy's initiation into manhood. It teaches him the intelligence, beauty and power of nature. The young man also learns at a deep emotional level his inseparable relationship with nature as well as his responsibility to fiercely protect it.’"