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Is Hunting Good for Bad Kids?

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Dr. Randall Eaton

Dr. Randall Eaton

Is hunting good for bad kids? Does it teach violence or does it teach empathy and compassion? Would it be a more peaceful world if more kids grew up hunting?

 These are some of the questions addressed in a recent book entitled From Boys to Men of Heart: Hunting as Rite of Passage.

 The book’s award-winning author is Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist with an international reputation in wildlife conservation who has been studying hunting for 35 years. While producing “The Sacred Hunt” in the mid-1990s, a documentary that received 11 awards, Eaton interviewed scores of recreational and Native American hunters all of whom used the word “respect” to describe how they feel about animals they hunt.

 That prompted Eaton to conduct questionnaire surveys on 2,500 mature hunters who described their attitude toward animals they hunt as, “respect, admiration and reverence.” Over 80% of these recreational hunters claimed they prayed for the animals they killed or gave thanks to God. Eaton’s survey also asked hunters what life event most opened their hearts and engendered compassion in them. Choices included death of a loved one, death of a beloved pet, becoming a parent, teaching young people and taking the life of an animal.

 Women hunters overwhelmingly chose “becoming a parent,” but most of the men chose “taking the life of an animal.”  Eaton said, “These results indicate the basic polarity of human life: woman are adapted to bring life into the world, but men are adapted to take life to support life.”

 The same survey asked respondents to choose those universal virtues they learned from hunting. The top three choices were, “inner peace, patience and humility.”  Eaton believes that inner peace and humility are the foundation of religious and spiritual traditions across time and space.

Eaton insists that hunting is instinctive at least in boys who around the world start throwing rocks between the age of 4 and 5. His survey indicated over 90% of the men spontaneously had killed a small animal before the age of 10, compared to less than 20% of the female hunters. 

“These are the same men who claimed that hunting had done more to open their hearts than any other life experience. Typically the boy cries as 8-year old Jimmy Carter did when he threw a rock and killed a robin. I consider it no mere coincidence that Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela both won the Nobel Peace Prize and both are avid hunters,” Eaton said.

The book interviews Dr. Wade Brackenbury, who for 13 years led groups of delinquent boys into the wilderness for two weeks where they had to survive off what they could forage. Brackenbury is convinced that it was hunting small animals for food that had the greatest transformative influence. Surveys conducted a year later indicated that 85% of the boys had not got into trouble after their survival experience.

A best-selling authority on how to raise boys, Michael Gurian, also is interviewed in Eaton’s book. He agrees that hunting does teach males compassion, and that it would be a more peaceful world if more boys hunted.

The book presents compelling evidence from several disciplines that adolescent males need rites of passage to become responsible adults. Eaton says that the original rite of passage was hunting because it proved a young adult male could provide and qualify for manhood and marriage.

“Without transformative rites of passage that open their hearts and connect them to nature and society males may become destructive and dangerous.  Untempered masculinity is a major factor behind juvenile crime and gangs,” he said. 

Inspired by Eaton’s book, Dr. Karl Milner launched H.E.F.T.Y, Hunter Education for Troubled Youth, in Wyoming where the courts are sending juveniles to his program.The kids are engaged in conservation work on private lands where eventually they will be able to hunt.

Endorsed by the Wyoming Fish and Game Department,  Eaton and Milner expect H.E.F.T.Y. to grow across the continent. “Dr. Eaton and I see the program  helping thousands of wayward youth. It also will encourage more parents to get their kids outdoors,” Milner said.

“Hunting and fishing are good for bad kids because they are good for all kids,” Eaton added.

 To get Eaton’s newest production, “Why Hunting Is Good for Bad Kids,” visit his website at www.randalleaton.com. To learn more about H.E.F.T.Y. visit: www.hefty4kids.org 

For more information contact Dr. Randall Eaton at 513-244-2826 or email reaton@eoni.com. Contact Dr. Karl Milner at 307-299-2084 or email karl@hefty4kids.org

Dr. Randall Eaton will be contributing a number of columns on hunting and its importance in our modern society at Cork’s Outdoors in the coming year…So, stay tuned!

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Doin’ the Crawdad Crawl

Posted on 12 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Never a dull moment with my buddy, Dan Caughey. Last time we went on a canyon jaunt was two years ago, during the heat of the California A zone deer season. I almost died from heat exhaustion and dehydration—and the Columbian blacktail buck we thought from a long distance was a legal forked-horn, ended up just being a non-legal spike as we drew close.

When we found a spring at the bottom on that death march, I sucked up all the cold fresh water I could, straining through the dead branches and leaves, thanking my stars later than that I didn’t get anything into my system, like giardia.

Dan Caughey flipping over a rock to see a crawdad

This time we were after monster crawdads, which meant we’d be walking the creek 90 percent of the time. Still, I filled my Blackhawk Camel Bak and carried it comfortably on my back, as we made the first initial leap off canyon road to the stream below. It’s very comforting and relaxing to be sucking refreshing water as the day heats up.

It would be a hell-crawl on hands and knees through thick underbrush on our way out, but for now, it was almost an idyllic hike through tall redwoods. I already knew I had picked the wrong footwear to use on this trip—slip on sneakers.  I should have used some Hi-Tec-type sneaker boots or at least a pair of lace up sneakers with thick soles.

Though my feet were feeling every small rock and pointy object as we walked, it was my knee that was giving me problems. Heavily traumatized during some very high-impact events in Central America during my early 20s, all injuries were now making themselves known. Twisting, and pounding as I jumped from a high embankment to creek, the knee felt it the most—the next day I wouldn’t even be able to bend, or walk on it, without extreme pain, but for now, the promise of crawdads as big as small lobsters drew me forward.

Pacifastacus leniusculus, generally known as the Signal Crayfish, was our target. Signal crayfish aren’t indigenous to Northern California. A 1912 Department of Fish and Game experiment gone wrong (they just dumped the crayfish into the local San Lorenzo River of Santa Cruz County when they were done investigating the depredatory effects of crayfish on small trout), they’ve overtaken the coastal streams from Monterey to British Columbia, and made their way into all rivers feeding into the Sacramento Valley their home.

With the drop in populations of the endangered steelhead, I consider it every steelheader and salmon anglers responsibility to take as many of these small fish and fish eggs eating freshwater crustaceans they can…and even if you’re extremely lucky, you might make a tiny dent. They’re just all over and they’ve pretty much taken out not only a number of small fish and the offspring of larger sea-run trout and salmon, but are endangering the much smaller indigenous crawdads in the waterways they’ve overtaken.

Is it any wonder that there’s no limit on signal crayfish in California?

With this in mind, I wanted to get as many as we could. Caughey’s record was 400 in a day’s haul. That’s what I call a feast on a great scale with what I endearingly call the “Po’ Boy’s Lobster”!

Look at the size of those sweet meat claws!

Though a much larger haul can be got with crayfish traps, Caughey enjoys more the hunting and fishing-like activity using his normal bass and trout fishing rig, with a steak as bait; a dip net for actual capture: Remember to not have any fishing hooks in your possession, because the warden will cite you if you do so on rivers and streams closed to normal fishing—such as coastal steelhead streams during the summer.

Finding a pool that was only about four feet deep, and crystal clear (many think it’s because of the voracious appetites of the overpopulated crayfish that eat frogs, fish and vegetation), Caughey stopped and said, “Let’s try this one.”

From one of the two 5 gallon paint buckets were carried with us, he grabbed the cheapest, pot-roast I could find at the supermarket the night before, and sliced off a steak.

“See what I’m doing?” he said, as he began slicing out from the center of the steak in a daisy-wheel pattern. “This gives them something to hold on so they don’t let go before we can get the net under them.”

He tied it on with a few wraps of the fishing line lengthwise and then crosswise across the meat (going in between the cuts), ending with clipping the line with the swivel. With a short cast, the chunk of meat was in the water and it didn’t take long…

A steak for a Po’ Boy Freshwater Lobster…

Three minutes later it was covered in five crawdads and the pool seemed alive with crawdads crawling out of their holes and from under rocks, excited by the scent of fresh meat and blood in the water.

“Ready?” Caughey asked.

“Yep.” I pulled up on the rod as I had been told, working the meat straight off the bottom and toward us, making sure to keep constant drag, but not so fast as to make the steak pinwheel: pinwheeling sends the crawdads flying, and sudden stops and sinking back, cause the crayfish to let go immediately. The key is to keep them holding on.

“Keep it coming,” Caughey said as he slipped the long-handled dip net under them. Bringing the crawdads and meat up in one lift, we had six big, fat signal crayfish—what a great start to the day!

The next four hours was spent walking up the cold stream, sometimes deep enough for us to have to remove our wallets and keys from our shorts and carrying them above water. When we got to Dan’s girlfriend Vivian’s home, where she would prepare them in the style of her Norwegian heritage, we counted 286 of the feisty little buggers, many not little at all: the largest was 9 inches long from end of tail to tip of claw!

 To  fill up on fresh crayfish and help native steelhead, trout and salmon…you’ll need the following:

  • Fishing license.
  • Stiff fishing rod and with strong line, say 10-15lb strength line is good.
  • Bait net with at least a 5 to 6-foot length handle.
  • Pot roast.
  • Swivel.
  • Knife to cut the meat.
  • Five-gallon bucket, with a few small 1/16 inch holes drilled into the side of the lower half of the bucket to let fresh water in and then as you work you way up the waterway.
  • Burlap bag or material to moisten and lay on top of the crayfish to keep them moist, but not suffocating in still water.

Vivian’s Traditional Norwegian Dill and Saltwater boil Recipe:

This is probably the easiest recipe you’ll find for crawdads out there, and it’s in its simplicity that it lets you really enjoy the sweet, lobster meat taste of the crawdads.

Ingredients:

  • 10 gallons of freshwater
  • 1 pound of Kosher salt
  • 3 full bundles of fresh dill

Steps:

1. Start the fire under the water pot and pour in the pound of salt
2. Unbundle the dill and throw them in whole
3. Once the dill and saltwater is at rolling boil, begin tossing in the crawdads
4. As they finish cooking, the’ll float up to the top bright red.

 

Vivian likes to seal the crawdads in large Tupperware containers for later enjoyment. According to her, the length of time in the freezer, in the saltwater and dills really helps impart the flavor into the meat, and makes them that much more delicious.

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Welcome!

Posted on 10 March 2009 by Cork Graham

In the coming weeks and months we’ll bring you all types of episodes on proactive conservation, whether hunting, fishing, or field management and agriculture. We’ll also release shows on cooking and field medicine and other techniques related to hunting and fishing, both on land, and in the water–yes, spearfishing and abalone diving will be included.

And for you photo and video buffs who want to know how to do we what we do, we’ll even be bringing you how-tos on that too, so that you can record your own conservation efforts!

Cork with snows and specks

Cork with snows and specks

Our first episode was a goose calling one that we shot at the end of the 2008-2009 California waterfowl season. We were hunting with one of the better goose callers out there: Blake Bunnell.

His operation is run out of Northern California, near the Sacramento and Delevan Wildlife Refuges, and well worth a call. He can be reached at www.goosehuntingnortherncaliforniaguide.com. That episode is available for viewing hereNEW YEAR’S SNOWS. Check out the related cooking episode, too!

In the next month we’ll focus on wild boar, trout and steelhead, with perhaps an abalone dive thrown in for good measure.  We’ll also be sure to key you on on new equipment and technique developments so that your own experiences in the wild will be that much richer!

Good Adventuring!

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