I think anyone my age (older than dirt) remembers the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees”. The meaning of that saying is simple enough. It means that we are so focused on our mission, whether that is hunting, fishing, job, kids, etc. that we get tunnel vision and we fail to notice all of the other things. In other words you can’t see the prize because all of the trees are in the way. We see this a great deal today. We are so focused on making money that we are willing to sacrifice our world to do it. Things like reducing the size of national monuments and opening them up to increased mining and cattle ranching at our expense is a good case in point. If any one of you believe that it will open land for more hunting and fishing you had better look again. It won’t be long before you will run into posted and fenced land. Mark my words.
Though I grew up hunting and fishing I was lucky enough to have parents that encouraged me to explore, without gun in hand. Whether it was gathering the cones of White pine, Black spruce or Red pine to be used in decorations or tapping trees for the sap to make syrup, each adventure taught me about the world around me. In other words, the “big picture”. I learned about the interaction between all creatures and how our actions have lasting effects and we all are part of a much larger circle. The lessons I learned over 50+ years have 1) made me a better hunter and 2) made me appreciate just what I have. Above all, I have learned what it means to truly live.
It is about wetting a fly with my late friend Jack, who not only taught me to fly fish, but also how to live. How I miss his guidance and words of encouragement. It is about sharing a trout stream in Vermont with a mink and being so interested in the mink that I forgot I was there to fish. It is about the slap of a beaver’s tail first thing in the morning as you glide the canoe across the fog covered pond. It is the bellow of a bull moose and knowing you only have a shotgun loaded with birdshot. It is about passing up the shot on a deer simply because of its beauty and it is the feeling of remorse you get when you make a kill.
It is about the simple peace experienced while sitting on a ridge in Vermont or watching two pronghorn bucks lock horns in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is about just watching Nature do its thing; the constant struggle of life and death. It is understanding that all things deserve to live and just because you can legally shoot it, sometimes it is just best to leave things alone. Life goes on. There is a master plan and only The Creator knows what it is.
Coyotes, wolves and wolverines kill deer; that is life. We don’t own the deer. The deer are part of the circle and are a resource for many. To simply say, “kill all the wolves, coyotes and wolverines” is simply the wrong way to think. They, like us, are part of the circle. Perhaps our time would be better spent protecting habitat that we all use, animal and human alike, as opposed to eliminating perceived threats. Far more damage is done by mining, oil drilling and cattle ranches than is done by coyotes and other predators. We need to look at the big picture, or in other words, “See the forest for the trees”.