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History of the Hunt

Notes from the North Woods

It is hard to believe that two of the most dangerous animals in the United States can appear to be so innocent.

It is hard to believe that two of the most dangerous animals in the United States can appear to be so innocent.

Before the beginnings of basic civilization, the human race survived primarily on their gathering, foraging, scavenging and hunting skills. It was part of an evolutionary tract that occurred simultaneously around the world.

Hunting as a means of gathering food is truly an ancient activity. This age old, pursuit has essentially been conducted on a regular basis around the globe for tens of thousands of years.

Although hunting methods have been refined over the years, with the use of new tools for the hunt and the establishment of game laws and conservation efforts, the purpose is still the same. Hunting in 2011, remains as it was in 201, the only difference are the tools of the take.

There is illustrated evidence of early hunts painted on cave walls all across Europe and Asia. High on the soaring, stone cliffs of Canyon de Chelly in northern Arizona, there remain numerous ‘Indian billboards’ which feature pictographs of the deer, antelope, turkey and ducks that were once plentiful in the region.

Passing travelers read these signs, and understand the message. Over the course of time, various nomadic Native peoples began to settle in other similarly fertile, game rich environments.

In the Southwest, it appears early man hunted primarily in groups, using first, spears and eventually bows and arrows, to harvest wild animals.

As agricultural societies began to establish a presence in North America, bows revolutionized the efficiency of these ‘hunter-gatherers.’ The animals provided the people with food, clothing, shelter and tools.

Eventually, their hunting strategies were refined to utilize such techniques as herding animals into a box canyon, stampeding them over a cliff, or driving them from safe shelter by employing the use of fire.

The earliest known archaeological evidence establishing the use of bow and arrow comes from Western Europe, where some Mousterian sites are dated to approximately 40,000 years ago.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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