My family and I were hiking through a thick bamboo forest in Rwanda, the mist kissing our faces, the peacefulness of which was in sharp contrast to the two armed military guards in front of and behind us. We were tense, expecting at any minute to encounter the powerful beasts we were tracking. As we ventured on, the landscape transformed, and nettles the size of dinner plates threatened to reach out and sting us as we crested a hill to view a breathtaking valley. It was covered in ferns so tall that we had to bend our necks to see the tops, and so thick that when flattened to the ground we could walk on them without ever touching the earth. We rounded a bend and I almost ran smack into an enormous silverback mountain gorilla.
Everyone was speechless and spent the next hour observing the wild animals in sheer awe. We laughed as the younger apes and babies expressed their curiosity, coming so close that we could have picked them up, and marveled at how much they resembled us. When it was time to leave, we knew that it was an experience we would never forget and were ecstatic to have seen these rare, majestic creatures in the wild. Hunting is not only about harvesting animals, but also involves conservation of wildlife. To be a hunter means to have an intrinsic, deep-seated appreciation for nature. On this trip to the Dark Continent, we played the role of both hunter and conservationist, ensuring that these creatures would be available for my children to observe many years down the road. Hunters are the fine balance between destruction and creation that holds the natural world in place, and on this trip, I attempted to emulate how an ethical hunter should toe this line.
Posted on Tue, August 5, 2008
by Alec Janda filed under