I just finished editing our film Kodiak Black: Sam’s Last Hunt.
I didn’t go on the trip to Kodiak last November. I don’t remember why – exactly, but I probably didn’t want to spend the money. Ah, the money – a limited resource we put our lives into orbit around.
As I edit, I watch Chase and the guys run a skiff to shore, put their feet on solid ground, and move about the uninhabited parts of Kodiak Island. Josh describes it best, “Forty-five mile an hour ocean winds, snow-capped mountains, and tall peaks.” As he talks, I cut away to a clip of the ocean waves lapping incessantly on the shore. Sam continues the thread, “It’s pretty incredible, just… the emptiness, the vastness, the hugeness… game rich. Just perfect.”
I think about where I am now – the freeway traffic beating at my eardrums. I’ve grown so used to it that I don’t realize it’s there. And I think about those snow-capped mountains stretching down to the shore and those ocean waves in constant motion beating into it. It’s happening right now as I type. Right now, as you read. It’s always happening. That shoreline is always there. Those mountains are always there. That cold ocean wind – always there.
We are myopic animals, seeing mostly what is right in front of us. A deadline at work. An event with the family. The new house we want to move into. The traffic we’re stuck in. We see the rat race. It looks like life. We chase the cheddar while those waves are still there, colliding into the mountains. It’s completely – entirely – 100% indifferent to us being here or there. The motion continues.
How many humans who don’t hunt can ever say they’ve taken a boat to the far ends of Kodiak Island? Or landed in a super cub at the top of an alpine pass. Hunting puts us in places that are oblivious and unconcerned with the race. Hunting puts us in eternal places, temples, and synagogues that man didn’t build but are far more sacred. It puts us in that liminal space between life and death before an event collapses to one side or the other. We are, in a sense, Schrodinger’s cat, both alive and dead at the same time.
I go hunting to be in those places. To explore that liminal space.
I sit here tapping away at this keyboard, but my mind and soul are sitting high above that ocean shore, watching the waves beat at its sands, the ocean winds on my cheeks, its moist air filling my lungs. And I am richer for it.
Hunting is conservation. But not in the way the hunting influencers’ Instagram profiles intend. Hunting is the conservation of the human’s very being. And it’s more meditation than any month-long retreat at a manufactured temple in a faraway land. At least it can be if you take the time to notice the constant motion around you.