I've hunted my whole life.
During this same length of time, I've also been an artist. I've learned a lot about hunting and art over the years, seen failure and success in both, and seem to grow in both arenas each season.
As my passion for hunting and art has grown over the years, I can't escape the similarities between the two. In my career as a wildlife artist, it's become nearly impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends. Hunting influences my art, and art influences my hunting. Experiences afield fuel creative new ideas in my studio, and the demands of creating art have caused me to look my time in the field differently.
Hunting, like art, is: Timeless
Since the dawn of time, hunting and art have been uniquely tied together. Hunting was a core part of the lives of our earliest ancestors. So was art. Thousands of years later, we still marvel at their creations, preserved on cave walls for the entire world to see.
I imagined these primitive hunters returning from a successful hunt after dark, eyes wide and adrenaline pumping, retelling an epic story over a campfire with hands spread wide, exaggerating the size and brute strength of the animal they felled. The next day, still amped from the thrill of the hunt, they took a break from skinning and preparing meat to tell their story in art. They found ways to mix pigments that stuck to cave walls and used crude, primitive tools to create the first wildlife art known to man. All this effort was fueled by a passion to pursue game and a desire to share the story of the hunt with the next generation of hunters.
Knowing what I know about hunting and art, I refuse to believe their efforts were purely educational. They weren't formally documenting their lives for archaeologists to find centuries later. They loved it. They were enthralled with hunting and the adventures and challenges that came with it; it occupied their minds and their free time. Their enthusiasm spilled over onto the walls of their dwellings, leaving us with the earliest forms of art known to man.
Today, our tools and techniques are different. My brushes are synthetic, made of material that didn't even exist then. My paints come in metal tubes with free shipping, rather than being crudely mixed on a rock. (Which, I guess, also had free shipping.) Rather than sharpening a hefty stick to forge a primitive spear, I simply load up my 870 with Winchester Long Beard XR on the tailgate before a hunt. In lieu of an obsidian arrowhead, I screw a Wasp expandable broadhead to the end of a carbon arrow with a lighted nock.
Yet despite these dramatic differences in technology, the core of hunting and art has remained fundamentally the same over thousands of years. It's amazing when you think about it. Hunters leave the comfort of home to pursue game on their turf, deep in the wilderness. We pass our experience and knowledge on to younger generations, initiating them in the ways of the wild. We share the experience with other members of our tribe, our inner circle. We tell epic stories. We feed the harvest to our families. We remain enthralled with big antlers and explosive action (Ever see a cave painting of a doe feeding passively in a field? Me neither). Most importantly, our enthusiasm for wild animals and wild places still spills over onto our walls, wether they're made of rock or sheet rock. The love of wildlife and the love of wildlife art are synonymous.
This spring, remember that Hunting is an Art. When we hunt, we're actively engaging in a tradition that's as old as time itself. Art plays an important role in that tradition. Now you can not only can you decorate your wall with it, you can also wear it on your chest. Purchase your own "Hunting is an Art" Signature Series T-Shirt below and wear it with pride this spring.