About Me

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Seaside/Monterey, California, United States
Originally from a small town in the south, I grew up running around in the backwoods, fishing in the creeks, and chasing all sorts of critters. Now I am a proud active member of our nation's military which has given me the opportunity to travel the world and put my "hunter-gatherer" passion to practice in strange new places.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To What Do We Owe The Animal

Staring at my computer screen for the last half hour I have been trying to come up with a way or manner in which to discuss this topic without sounding to "preachy". I don't think its any surprise to many people when I say that the average modern day American hunter is not the shining, exemplary model of the male physique. I am sure the rebuttal of many to this statement would be something along the lines of "Well I am a little out of shape, so what? Does that mean I can't enjoy hunting and the outdoors?" To that my answer would obviously be no of course everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors, but to pursue game is another story.
Before I go any further let me say right here that I am not referring to those with physical or mental handicaps or impairments in any way, unless you include being addicted to the couch or the local buffet as a handicap. I have heard it put this way. You don't see wild animals that are fat and out of shape just like you wouldn't see a fat, out of shape cave man. To quickly refer back to the title of this post, the game which we pursue depends on its ability to stay fit in order to survive in its environment. When we do not strive to maintain our own fitness, in my opinion, it is an egregious insult to the animal and our hunting heritage.

To be clear I don't want to imply that every jim bob, bubba, and weekend warrior out there should make having 6 pack abs part of their hunting season to do list. But I think we can all benefit from not only some "hunter oriented" exercise but also a proper diet. The thing about hobbies and pursuits like hunting is that they should ideally improve our lives whether through making us happy, giving us a sense of fulfillment, etc. But why can't our passion for hunting also benefit our health? Walking, light jogging, even just stretching are exercises and activities that not only improve our health but benefit us when we are hunting. For those of you that are bow hunters you especially know the benefits of staying in shape. For most of us pulling back a bow with a 70 pound draw weight takes a little practice. Beyond practicing shooting the bow itself there are many flexibility and weightlifting exercises that can help every archer. It is not just archers. Think of some of the most successful "hunters" the world has ever seen. I am talking about the men who serve or have served as US military snipers. As a member of the military myself, I can tell you that those men are some of the most physically fit individuals in the world. Their job, their lives, their ability to slow their heart rate before they pull that trigger all counts on how well they maintain their bodies.

The next point some may bring up is that being physically fit is all well and good but when hunting many species of game we are always at a physical disadvantage, so we have superior weapons to make up for the disadvantages and that being in good physical shape really isn't necessary. I feel that this is scratching the surface of a much bigger issue than just hunter fitness. This is venturing into the philosophical and ethical aspects of hunting. But for the sake of the topic at hand my rebuttal would be that yes there are many times when we as humans are at a disadvantage when hunting certain animals. However the greatest tool we have is not our physique, nor our weapons, but our minds. The most successful hunter, and the most dangerous prey in the entire world are humans solely because of our capacity for complex thought which allows us to develop tactics, strategy, and even predict our prey and our pursuers actions. The combination of a sharp mind and a healthy body is what makes a great hunter. His weapon is merely an inanimate tool; a device which augments his already present strengths.
Let's talk practically about this. The benefits of exercising as an outdoorsman is three fold. Not only does it benefit your health and make you a better hunter, but it also will save you some money. A great example of the latter is many hunters are leery of hunting on public land because access is often little to none. Besides unfamiliar with the land which can be conquered through a bit of research and scouting, the main thing holding most hunters back is their fitness. Traversing rough terrain can be a daunting task for any hunter especially those who have to carry all that expensive gear and a "spare tire" around their waste. Hunting public land can not only give you access to pristine hunting land, but its cheap. Ask anyone who has paid a premium price for a private lease with good access.

So after all of this preaching to you about the importance of fitness as hunters you may be thinking why am I so adamant about this and how would one begin to start a "hunter geared" fitness routine. Well currently serving active duty in military has made me realize how exercising and eating healthy affect not only my job but really every aspect of my life. In the past four months through a strict diet (search Paleo diet for more information) and rigorous exercise routine I have lost 40 pounds and am now in the best shape of my life. I can't wait to hit the woods this fall with my "new" body and the confident feeling that I can take on any hill or holler to catch my prey. (Picture of me with a Kentucky Whitetail. This was me when I weighed nearly 60 pounds heavier )

If you are serious about being a fit hunter the first step is to put words into action. Start out slow and don't expect instant results. The best types of exercise for hunters is mainly going to be a good deal of aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, riding a bike. But if you are like me walking on a tread mill or in a circle is no fun at all. Make it fun! Walk in the woods, or do a trail run. Besides aerobic exercise flexibility is very important. Being flexible will help you crawl that extra 100 yards to get into position for a shot, or sit perfectly still while you are waiting for that big tom turkey to close the distance. And last anaerobic or strength training can also be added to a hunter's workout routine. But don't focus on weightlifting. Lifting weights has many benefits but it can work against your flexibility. Instead try pushups, crunches, sit ups and a lot of core workouts. And please remember I am not a professional trainer and please ask your doctor before trying any strenuous exercise.

We not only owe it to the animals we pursue to stay fit, but we also owe it to ourselves and to our families to stay healthy for a better, longer life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Historical Hero Outdoorsmen with the "Primal Gifts"

The old adage that the best way to improve the future is looking to the past holds true when discussing what it means to be a true outdoorsman. Obviously a few people come to mind right away. The exploits of great men like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Lewis and Clarke, and Teddy Roosevelt are legendary and contributed greatly to the hunting and outdoor heritage we enjoy today as Americans. But there are other men who have been known for great accomplishments, but maybe their love for the outdoors was overlooked. This is important because I feel that their passion for the outdoors, its pursuits, and the primal gifts they were given all contributed to the accomplishments of the their lives.

One great example is one of my favorite historical figures. Although when it came topics like owning slaves and removal of native Americans from their lands, Thomas Jefferson was not a saint. He did however organize one of the greatest real estate deals in all of history - the Louisiana Purchase. Shortly after the deal was over Napoleon Bonaparte said,"This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride." Besides the political significance of such an event, shortly after the purchase Jefferson dispatched Lewis and Clarke to "explore" this brave new territory. We can never be sure the extent of Jefferson's time spent in the woods or holding a cane pole on a river bank, but we can be sure that it took an outdoorsman with lofty dreams to think of such aspirations for his country.

Teddy Roosevelt has been called "the last great romantic". To be a romantic simply meant someone who might have lived in the period of Romanticism in the late 18th and into the 19th century in Europe and America. But more than just living in that time, a romantic, among other things, was known as being an emotional and sometimes even brash individual. One key characteristic was that they allowed themselves to feel that sense of awe from encounters with nature. You have probably had this feeling before. When you see a beautiful vista, meet a wild animal along the trail, or just have a blissful moment in the outdoors, and then the goosebumps come. The only difference between that feeling and being a romantic is simply romantics allow that feeling be their inspiration that drives their will to live and to do. That's what Teddy Roosevelt had and I call it the primal gift.

It is ironic that we should call President Roosevelt the last romantic because unfortunately I fear we are seeing less and less people with this nature driven inspiration and passion for life. Sure we see it in many but it doesn't manifest itself as being the will or heart of a true outdoorsman. One example of contemporary romanticism is Ted Nugent. That's right I said Nugent. If you look past the long hair, mutton chops, and crazy rockin' guitar player, you find a true outdoorsman who allows nature to inspire him not only while he is taking part in the wonderful recreation nature provides, but also allows his primal gifts to permeate his everyday life. But it is important to note that you don't have to be a famous president or a rockstar to epitomize the model outdoorsman and romantic. One of my good friends who is serving in the US Army currently is one great example. His love of nature is only trumped by his love of his family and his God.

I have just come to the realization that all the men I have mentioned (especially my army friend) possess a hero quality. Maybe being a romantic, an outdoorsman, and having the primal gift means that, whether you like it or not, you become a hero to somebody no matter how great or small.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Entry: THE Question

Hello to all of you who have decided to check out my blog. First of all thank you for your time. I know it is valuable to you. I am excited to finally start blogging about something that I truly love to talk about, which is, the lifestyle of and what it means to be a true outdoorsman. Like I said in my bio I am a serious hunter and fisherman, but I think to be a true outdoorsman one has to be more than just a harvester of the fruits of nature. Obviously protecting and being a good steward of our natural resources is equally important. But I think that one aspect of an outdoorsman's life that goes unnoticed is the ability to let our passion for the outdoors truly permeate our everyday life to the point that it affects our psyche and the manner in which we critically think and make decisions. I know that sounds like a just threw a bunch of words together so let me put it this way. Our love for hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. needs to extend beyond the weekend. We should allow our brains to function the same way they do when we are stalking a trophy whitetail as when we are filling out resumes and "scouting" for employment. I know that is probably not the best example and right now you are saying to yourself "but Aaron hunting is actually fun." I know that sometimes it is hard to make that connection. The great thing about being in the outdoors is that it allows us to get in touch with what I like to call our primal gifts. I define this term as those traits of human beings that our contemporary lifestyles have dulled or veiled in a mask of SUVs, concrete buildings, and computer screens. Our hunter-gatherer heritage is rich because every time we enjoy the outdoors it seems to bring out the best in us. So THE question I have is why can't we apply some of these primal gifts to the rest of life? I think there are many areas of our lives that can benefit from this ideology. Join me as we explore what it means to be a "Man of the Outdoors."