We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
My Mom, who was a vigorous and athletic woman into her 80s and a big hiker, instructed me that the best way to observe nature was to find a good spot on the edge of a meadow, at the edge of a marsh, along a stone wall, in the woods at the edge of a ridge or hill, and to sit alone. Ideally, on an edge so there is a mixed habitat.
To sit in dull, non-synthetic clothing, and just to watch and look around for an hour in an relaxed, meditative, but alert state. For hunters, this is normal in a deer stand or in a duck blind, but it can be done without a firearm too.
Do not move much except to scratch your nose. Compose yourself. No camera, no binoculars, no firearm, no dog, no friend. An hour sitting quietly, especially at dawn or dusk, can be an education.
Hah, quite right. Have you ever noticed animals to tend to move upwind? Whether it's grazing, hunting, or just general movement it's upwind (within whatever territorial strictures they have as a species).
I sat sometimes by the edge of a stream just behind my house for longish periods, as close to motionless as I could manage, wearing a wide brim hat and dark glasses. Three memories come to mind.
A chickadee landed on the hat brim and hung on upside down right in front of my eyes, looking for bugs, I suppose.
I saw some sun dapples moving in the woods just across the stream , and as I concentrated my gaze there, I realized a deer was moving there.
And, a blue heron moved past my position, wading in the water, just a few feet away at the closest.
More than just educational—there are actual health benefits. Whoda thought? Apparently forest bathing and ecotherapy are new things.
Discovered it myself accidently when, last summer, there was a day too hot to get any work done. Carried a mesh lawn chair and a book down into a secluded woodsy area, and stripped to the buff to take full advantage of nature's convective cooling. (Whose idea was it that mens' summer attire should cover the entire torso and thighs where 90% of body heat is produced?) Hardly read the book—hadn't noticed before just how fascinating the woods were.
You guys keep going to the gym and picking up heavy stuff. My fitness regimen will be sitting in the woods, annoying the resident squirrel who thinks I'm intruding.
I can't say I've enjoyed every time I've gone hunting--I've come home cold, wet, tired, and empty-handed--but more times than not, whether I bring home meat or not, I've enjoyed the time. That's why it's called "hunting" and not "killing"; it's always one, not always the other. Either way, I commune with my God and his works, and am a better man.