GENETICS

My hunting camp is only a couple hours from DC but we have no Internet or cell service. I’ll be there for the next few days building an indoor outhouse. In the meantime, here is something for you to ponder:

All that lived in the vicinity of Indian Creek in what is now Monroe County West Virginia were gathered in Cook’s Fort. They had been there for a while due to the marauding escapades of Shawnee Indians. Problem was, food was running low. Jacob Mann Jr. accompanied only by his rifle and dog set out on the first of many trips to secure rations for not only his family but also for all of the fort’s occupants. After narrowly escaping capture he returned to the fort with venison. The year was 1778.

Three years later, eight Shawnee Indians attacked the home of William Meeks and killed all but two children which they carried away with them. Jacob rallied six men and took off on a hunt for the savages. Several days later they found the Indians camped along the river. At day break each of the settlers took aim at an Indian and fired. The remaining Indian jumped into the river attempting an escape. Jacob swan after him armed with only his hunting knife. The Indian never found shore

Jacob Mann Jr.

Jacob was my Great, Great, Great, Grandfather. 220 Januarys after he was born I became one of his many descendants. For as long as I can remember I have been a hunter. Yes, a great deal of it was for sport but I have also fed mine and many other families with the bounty from the wilderness adventures. Hunting for me never seemed like a hobby or a bad habit I picked up; it has always seemed like something I should or maybe even needed to do. My father and mother were both hunters though their passion for the endeavor, strong as it was, seemed more like a seasonal escape than an occupation. Is me being a hunter a product of genetics, a result of my environment or merely just a chance happening?

Some will argue that genetics will not produce hunters and maybe more precisely that genetics have no influence on a hunter’s ability. They will cite the choice to be a hunter as one that is induced by milieu and explain hunting skill as a product of education and devotion to the activity. Those raising champion hunting dogs or even racehorses will firmly disagree. They stake their livelihood on genetics by acquiring good stock and practicing selective breeding.

Does hunting have to be in your blood before you find it of interest? In reality if you are human (I have met some folks I wondered about.) it is in your blood. For much longer than we have been eating Big Macs and slurping soda pops, hunting was a condition of survival. Since humans have been on earth they have been hunting for food in the woods, garden and grocery stores. And, regardless of how hard we try to domesticate ourselves, there is a lot of evolving that still has to take place to eliminate that drive. Hunting is human nature. How and when that genetic code manifests itself in the individual is different for everyone. But rest assured, it is there for if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be!

Both of my sons have been surrounded by hunting since birth. My oldest at 21 is full of wit and intelligence but he is far from being a hunter. I think when he does hunt it is mostly to be with Dad or to seek my approval. There are no hunting magazines shoved under his bed and he has never asked Santa Clause for a new rifle.

Born 35 Januarys after me, my youngest son now age 10, is a tad bit different. He can successfully identify all of North America’s big game animals and his collection of toy guns outnumbers my real ones. About six years ago I came into the den and found him on the floor with his fluffiest Teddy Bear. He was working at it hard with a small plastic survival knife that came with a dress-up soldier set. Standing over him I asked, “Bat, what are you doing?” With an expression as serious as I have ever seen on his face – that seemed to suggest you should know – he looked up and said, “I’m skinning my bear.”

This fall, just like old Jacob, I will take my rifle into the timber with anticipation and hopes of besting a whitetail buck. With enough skill I will prevail. The meat will feed my family, the buck’s antlers will decorate my wall and his hide will make something useful. It is something I must do. I won’t be alone; over 13 million other American’s are hunters too. With all the other forms of outdoor adventure available you cannot dismiss the choice of hunting by this many folks as occurring by chance. Many hunters were not raised in environments where hunting was common or even existed at all. It has to be something else.

Environment or Genetics? An argument could be made for either.

Me? I’m betting on good breeding.

for Mom & Dad

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About gunwriter

Born and raised in the West Virginia hills, Richard literally grew up in the woods. He has chased coon hounds until daylight, waited out whitetails perched high in an oak, canoed the New River and hunted from the Montana Mountains to the Green Hills of Africa. During service in the Army and later as a municipal police officer and Special Agent with the railroad police, Richard obtained numerous certifications in small arms instruction. He has trained military personnel, law enforcement officers and civilians in the application of firearms for defensive, competitive and recreational use. Richard won the West Virginia Governor’s Twenty Award for law enforcement, the West Virginia National Guard State Pistol Competition and earned his Distinguished Medal with pistol. Badge turned in, Richard is now a contributing editor for several magazines. He was the compiling author of the book, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter and conceptualized and contributed to Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle. Richard also contributed a chapter to the John Velke book, The True Story of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. Richard has patents on a riflescope reticle and a revolutionary bullet testing media. A hillbilly at heart, Richard lives on Shadowland - his shooting range in West Virginia - with the most understanding wife in the world, their three kids and a very protective ridgeback hound.
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