An Introduction to Hunter-Gatherer

Kau’ilani Morehead getting ready to strike with the atlatl

This will be a series to introduce you into what is considered a Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle to include questions from experts as well as excerpts from my personal journey. Please continue to check back for this and updates in the near future.

It seems that recently the term Hunter-Gatherer is gaining more traction from a multiple perspectives. Social media including its ability to utilize hashtags and other searchable methods are bringing this “new” thing to light.

The issue is, it is not new and it is not a fad. This has been a way of life for millions of years. While the debate rages in anthropology circles on whether it was Cro-magnon, Neanderthal or Sapiens, the fact remains, the philosophy and actions are not a newly discovered means of living. To top it all off, there is a delineation of when agriculture started which changed the entire future (after 10,000 B.C. for those that care).

The first question may be, “What exactly is a Hunter-Gatherer?” followed closely by “Why is it now becoming popular?”. I guess a definition is in order to get us started.

Miriam-Webster defines it like this: Hunter-Gatherer – a member of a culture in which food is obtained by hunting, fishing, and foraging rather than by agriculture or animal husbandry.

dictionary.com defines it similarly: a member of a culture in which food is obtained by hunting, fishing, and foraging rather than by agriculture or animal husbandry.

And lastly some dictionaries add the word nomadic as opposed to member of a culture.

Regardless, we see the common thread as one who gains food via hunting and/or gathering. For me, this is kind of how I grew up. I learned to hunt and to fish and pick berries and some plants in order to eat or what grandpa called “grabbing a snack”. We would grab blackberries or muscadines as we were heading to go fishing or while I was waiting for deer when my dad would take me hunting.

But this does not explain the new interest that seems to be on the rise. Keeping in mind, this is only my opinion but my instinct points us to some other “new idea” which is Primitive Technology. Again, this is not a new thing but a surge where people desire to learn the ways of old for fun or for purpose. By learning some of these ways, whether friction fire or primitive hunting, there seems to be a movement of a new generation that wants to learn from the older one.

Things start to overlap from one skill into another but in some respects a line is drawn. People want to learn how to forage for wild edibles and medicinals and self admittedly, I am expanding my abilities in this area. But only a smaller handful want to learn the other side of it, the Hunter portion of Hunter Gatherer. 

I overheard several conversations of a young adults stating, they “could never take the life of a creature/animal”. The more interesting conversation was the one I heard where a young man stated, “I can kill the animal but I don’t know what to do to make it edible”. The rest of the conversation was what made me chuckle though, “Then that sounds like the skill you need to learn”. The young man scratched his head and stated, “hmm, I don’t know that I’m ready to do that…don’t all animals have blood and stuff?”. 

Maybe I shouldn’t have chuckled and walked away because he was being honest. I was not trying to shame him but he had to come to his own realization that either he wants to learn or does not. There is nothing wrong with being a Gatherer or just a Hunter. One has to decide on what they want to do for their lifestyle.

I moved to Atlanta with my family shortly after the Olympics in 1996 merely because someone offered me what I thought was a ton of money to work for them. I later realized that it was not a ton of money and it would still be little enough to cause my family to struggle. 

The sad part about this was what it cost me. I seemingly lost who I was. I blame no one. I stopped learning and doing. I quit hunting because I traveled so much and any spare time was being used to supposedly be a husband and father. Providing for my family was by dollars and cents not time or self provision.

This continued day after day, week after week…well, you get the picture. However, in 2013, I felt this tug to get back to who I really was. My instincts were saying, “you know what needs to be done”. I started reading and re-learning all the things I learned when I was younger. In 2017, I think I finally reached even keel, meaning, I was where I was prior to moving to Atlanta. I became familiar with all the things I had already known and refreshed my memory with all the lessons learned up to 1996.

It took me FOUR years just to get to that point. Whether bad or good, slow learner or just a lot of knowledge, I had made it. The issue was, the world did not stop in 1996, so there was more to learn. Anthropologist and Archeologists were making discoveries daily around the old ways. Primitive Technology had not changed, but had been clarified. Botanists and Herbalist had discovered new plants and new ways to use the old ones. I was still behind. 

In spring of 2018, my wife and I drove to Cherokee, NC for a vacation, look for a new place to live, and gain some clarity on many remaining questions and future life focus. While we did not find a place to live, I did receive the clarity I was looking for. We discussed it at length and started focusing on a plan that is still being revealed to us daily.

In order for me to teach, I have to learn. I started searching out those that knew more than me and some that knew better than me. Age was not a limiting factor as even Jesus taught the elders of the church. (No I am not comparing anyone to Jesus, it was an analogy)

I had learned hunting in a modern way but a lot of the skills transferred from the primitive path. Instead of using a gun or compound bow, I learned to use a recurve bow and arrow. While not a straight bow or hand crafted, the skill is still considered primitive. 

Stalking and tracking was a direct skill that translated over to a primitive path, but there was a deeper understanding that I had not gained and needed to learn. Because of this, I signed up for a class and learned it and started honing the skill. But it was not until a twenty three year old man, who had been taught since he was a child in Hawaii, started helping me hone my skills, did I start to really learn. I am still and always learning. (More on him in the next post)

As a child, I loved both Anthropology and Archeology which led me to learning some of the older ways, so I started studying it again. I started learning a new skill to me, Flint Knapping. While I was introduced to it by an anthropologist in Georgia as monkey Knapping, I started honing the skill to make not just usable blade edges from stone, but arrowheads and something that I could use for hunting or fishing. I sought more knowledge in this area and found a great instructor while I was in Idaho at a skills gathering event. 

He taught me how to take a stone and adjust it to start producing a sharp blade every time I hit it. This changed my mindset because I had seen this before, but did not know how to do it. The benefit is now I can carry two stones, one for hitting and one that is basically a blade machine. It even transfers if I am not carrying anything because I can now obtain stones while I am out in the wild.

The reality is simple of being able to always increase my knowledge. But this is about me. The question that still needs to be answered is what does this have to do with the subject or with you?

Tune into the future posts to find out more about how this may pertain to you and your future. It may even expand things you already know or just re-energize the inner caveman towards the things you have already learned.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive

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