by Betsy Spomer - Monday, March 23, 2020
We live in scary times. But hunting can make it less frightening.
I live on an isolated ranch, miles from the nearest town. But that doesn’t insulate me from the news. And, wow, is that news ever scary.
Coronavirus. A new and invisible threat has turned the world to panic. To hear it discussed and rehashed every hour on the hour on every radio, TV and Internet news channel has certainly got my attention. But should I panic?
Probably not. Because we have been scared before. Remember Ebola? SARS? The bird flu? I’m old enough to remember polio and measles. As a 5-year-old, I lined up with the other kids for polio shots at school. There were no moms or dads to hold our hands. Just classmates front and back to share our screams and tears. But, somehow we survived.
Despite decades of medical advancements, this coronavirus reminds us how vulnerable we are to unseen forces, how dependent we are on others for the basics of everyday life, everything from electricity to food and water. Natural disasters can bring the most intelligent, advanced society to its knees. So it makes sense to strive for a bit of self-sufficiency.
I use to laugh at the preppers and their end-of-the-world scenarios, but every image of long lines and empty supermarket shelves on the cusp of a simple hurricane—or this new virus—has made me stop and think. No, I do not think this is the next world-changing pandemic. But it illustrates how complacent and dependent we are. And it sure makes me want to stock up on basics. Enough frozen, canned and dried foods to hang on for a month or four if necessary. At least. And drinking water. What if the city water treatment plant goes down? What if too many shippers are too sick to deliver basic supplies? Consider where your basic life-sustaining materials come from and you can appreciate the cascading effects of disruption. Just one link in the chain has to break…
And this is why I’m glad I am a hunter. Not the kind of hard-core, died-in-wool, can’t-get-enough hunter my husband and various friends are, but hunter enough to have the guns and ammo and skills to use them for augmenting the food supply until the system can recover. In light of coronavirus or any other potentially large-scale disruption, filling the annual deer tag takes on a whole new meaning. As does freezing, canning, salting and otherwise preserving that meat. Canning and drying garden tomatoes, beans, apples and other basics suddenly makes a whole lotta sense, too.
So maybe this coronavirus scare has a silver lining. It’s not over yet, and, hopefully for all of us, controllable. In the meantime, this might be the warning call that makes us all stop and consider some basics. Like hunting skills. And the need to maintain enough wild land and wild species to compensate for mass destruction of domestic species when things like the bird flu hit. I’m guessing by about the third day facing empty shelves even soccer moms will be eyeing the backyard squirrels with a new attitude. Maybe those big, brown-eyed deer harassing the shrubbery will be more than animated scenery. Maybe the trendy attitude of disdain for heartless, bloodthirsty hunters will moderate, maybe even evolve to respect. Bringing home the bacon takes on a whole new meaning when there’s none in the stores.
And maybe the corona scare will inspire more women to discover the hunter that lurks within. Hunter/gatherer DNA enabled moms, aunts and grandmothers to fuel the family and clan for thousands of years. You can smother it with cultural norms, new fashions and civilizing social pressures, but it’s still there. It just sometimes take a crisis to expose it.
Women, we are told, are supposed to be nurturers and protectors. I can’t think of anything more nurturing than providing food for your loved ones. Hunting and gathering are just the oldest way to do it.
Regardless of how this coronavirus plays out, I’m laying plans to enlarge the garden, fix up the old root cellar, apply for an extra deer tag or two, and research some new rabbit recipes. A country girl can survive.
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About the Author
After a 40-year career as a registered nurse, Life Flight Network helicopter nurse and sepsis coordinator for a major metropolitan hospital, Betsy Spomer "retired" to help manage and restore an off-grid ranch in the Rocky Mountain West. She and her husband augment their garden produce and chickens with pheasants, grouse, deer and elk.
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