The Hunt

[Editor’s Note: This story includes images of an elk carcass as well as incidental blood from a hunt. The images are a great deal less gory than, say, most modern horror films, but we’re letting you know in case you might be uncomfortable with such images. -Bryon]

Mike Wofle Hunt

Thank god for this rock to rest. Me taking a much-needed breather while packing out my bull taken November 2013. We packed out the bull in one carry. Each of our packs weighed over 150 pounds. Photo: Nick Silverman

Another year ends. It’s supposed to be that time of year when we self reflect. Reflect on the year past, and on what we want the new year to hold. Blah, blah.

I’ve been thinking about a certain question for a long while. I’m sure all iRunFar readers have been, too. This is the big question that you continually ponder, no matter what time of year it is. I was able to put some of my thoughts and beliefs into coherent sentences now, at the end of my two favorite seasons, race season and hunting season. This is because I finally figured out that hunting is racing, and racing is hunting. I love to hunt because I’m human, and I’m human because I hunt.

The question: Why do I (you) run?

To some, it may feel like a tired and old endeavor to even attempt to answer this question. Others can instantly rattle off any number of personal reasons they know firmly in their heart for why they run. Every ultrarunner gets the question: why (or how) do you run 100 miles? Or 50 miles? How do you answer it? Is your answer always the same?

Sometimes I think I know why. Sometimes my reasons shift and change. Sometimes after a long season I hate running, but I’m still strangely compelled to go out the damn door every morning. What is wrong with me?  I was asked this question, on camera, a few weeks ago at The North Face Endurance Challenge. Why do I run? I felt awkward answering it. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t want to say it on camera, and I felt annoyed that I was even asked such a grand and all-life-encompassing question. So, I’ll answer the question now.

I figured it out. Well, at least in part. Or, maybe I should say this is intuitively what I believe, based upon personal experience, and reasoned self-reflection.

Why I’m driven to run. Human evolution. Instinct. Its in my (our) DNA, that’s why. Predator. Prey. Survival. The drive to hunt. To provide meat to our families, our tribes. Hunt. Gather. Eat. Survive.

* * * * *

Crawl out of the bivy sack. Shake off the shivers. Try not to get the thick, flake-y frost into the long johns as I pull them on. Find headlamp. Stumble to the frozen creek nearby. Break ice. Fill Jetboil with water. Make coffee. Though, I don’t even need coffee on this morning, excitement and adrenaline are already coursing through my veins. Almost like pre-race jitters. Only thing is, I’m not racing today.

It’s 5 a.m. in mid-September. It’s going to be best the best day ever. Why? Because it’s bow-hunting season in Montana, and the elk are full throttle in the rut, all around us.

Mike Wolfe - elk tree rub

My brother gawks at an insane rub tree, where big bulls thrash trees with their antlers during the rut, September 2012. Photo: Mike Wolfe

I am not gearing up to race a long running race in the mountains. But mentally, and physically, I’m gearing up for an equally long day— running, thrashing, climbing, descending, crawling, packing—in serious, rugged, mountain terrain. If all goes well, I’ll be just as exhausted after this day of elk hunting as I would be after a good, hard, 50-mile race.

When most non-hunters think of hunting, running is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Even for avid hunters, I would guess hardly anyone thinks running could have any possible use in hunting, other than getting into shape pre-season. When most people think of hunting, they think of guys sitting in tree stands or duck blinds drinking beer and whiskey. Or, packing deep into the mountains, where horses (or ATV’s) do all the work.

I will certainly admit, for those of us who hunt on our own two feet, it is not at all similar to going for a run. There’s no short short-wearing, no gels, no single-minded focus on the trail immediately in front of you. Hunting is slow most of the time. Deliberate. Quiet. Trying to consciously move slow, be 100% aware of your surroundings. Every sound, sight, smell. Completely in tune with the world around you.

But, you have to have this laser focus throughout an entire hunting day because at the moment you least expect it, you have to be ready to pounce. To pull the trigger. To pull the bow back. Animals, especially elk, are like ghosts. They are never there. Then suddenly, they are there for a split second, and you must act. Racing a running race is the same. It requires long, arduous periods of laser focus to endure. Then, you have to be ready to make a move on your fellow competitor at just the right time. Kill or be killed.

the hunt coffee

Literally drinking up ‘The Hunt’ the morning after packing out my bull harvested in November 2013. Photo: Mike Wolfe

The more I run, the longer I run for, the more I question why I do it. The more I hunt, the more intimate experiences I have stalking animals in the mountains (or have animals stalking me in the mountains), the more I understand why I run. Why our ancestors ran. Why it’s in our DNA to be runners. The thrill of uncertainty. The unknown. The risk. Risk of failure. It’s the same hunting as it is in a race. The competitive drive. This is nothing new to the field of evolutionary biology. If you believe in that sort of thing, as I do.

Many have written on this firmly established theory that humans evolved to be long distance runners, in order to hunt and procure food. Legendary ultrarunner Bernd Heinrich writes about this in Why We Run. David Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, outlines the details in The Story of the Human Body. Christopher McDougall touches upon the idea in Born to Run.

Lieberman sums up my belief perfectly:

“Today, humans run long distances to stay fit, commute, or just have fun, but the struggle to get meat underlies the origins of endurance running. To appreciate this inference, try to imagine what it was like for the first humans to hunt or scavenge 2 million years ago. Most carnivores kill using a combination of speed and strength… [i]t must have been extremely perilous and difficult for slow, puny, weaponless hominids to enter into the rough, tough, and hazardous business of eating other animals for dinner. An important solution to this problem was endurance running.”

Science may or may not convince you. My convincing has come from personal experience. I have run numerous times during exciting hunts. I have run with a loaded rifle in my hands. I have run with a bow in my hands, arrow nocked and ready. The most exciting hunts I’ve ever had were those running wild and reckless after animals. I chased after a group of antelope with my brother in 2009 where we all-out sprinted three or four times in attempts to get ahead of them for a shot.  We were successful in the end.

Again hunting antelope, with my father and my wife, I chased down another buck in 2011 with a serious of crazy uphill sprints and belly crawls through cactus. The same fall, my season ended with a last-minute effort to shoot an elk. My brother and I spotted a small group on the run and I sprinted to the verge of blacking out to head them off and get a shot. Running allowed me to fill the freezer again that year.

Pat Wolfe - elk hunt

Bull harvested by my brother, Pat, during bow season and height of the rut, September 2012. Photo: Pat Wolfe

It gets my blood pumping just thinking about all of it! Way more than any thought of racing. I start to feel like a carefree kid again, wild with enthusiasm, thinking about those hunting memories.

Although these stories may sound like a crazed, blood-lusting redneck out carelessly killing poor, helpless animals, my intentions, and ethic, is quite the opposite. Though certainly having a solid upper hand while wielding a rifle and a slight edge with a compound bow, my hunting ethic is absolutely fair chase: only hunting and harvesting animals via the fairest means. In the broad spectrum of hunting these days, hunting on public lands only on foot is as fair as it gets. Putting in a 12-hour day hiking around on steep, off-trail terrain, ending in a few uphill sprints with a rifle and pack on your back, evens the playing field. It is extremely difficult to by sly enough to get the jump on an elk. Ever tried it? If you happen to be lucky enough to harvest an animal, then the real work begins. Put your headlamp on, spend three hours butchering a 900-pound animal perched on a 45-degree snowed-covered slope, then put on a 100-plus pound pack and hike four to five hours back to the truck. Pretty fair in my book.

I believe all the crazy, thrill-seeking sports we see these days are very rooted in our evolutionary makeup. The drive to survive gone completely haywire. Or, maybe just evolving to the next level. But, I know where the drive comes from, what it was meant for. Survival, not an adrenaline rush after a base jump, or the endorphin rush after winning a race, or finishing a 100 miler. It comes from the satisfaction after a 10-hour day hunting when you finally killed that antelope, and the knowledge that your family will survive another few weeks.

The drive to get up the next day and do it again. In 2014, it’s burning in your subconscious because you know your competitors are out there training, that you have to push it to stay competitive, that will power to feel the endorphin rush and feel alive. But, that push out the door used to be that urge to stock up more meat for winter. Pure survival. You know that deep appreciation for the simple things in life after running a 100-mile race? The taste of beer. The taste of bacon. A shower. A pillow. Ever experience the satisfaction of eating a steak you harvested, quartered, packed, sweated for, butchered? All the hours you put in?

I swear that’s where the drive comes from. The OCD. At least in me. I will speak for myself. We have let our beautiful, perfect, evolution be warped into wildly different motivations than what nature intended.

Lieberman goes on in his book to describe how weak and feeble early humans evolved to hunt. Persistence hunting. The unique ability of humans to run for long distances, take advantage of no hair and millions of sweat glands, and push a wild, game animal to the point of exhaustion and overheating. Then, the hunter would kill the exhausted animal with a spear, bow/arrow, or other blunt, throwing object.

I freely admit that I did not kill any of the animals I ran after by running them to exhaustion, or using a spear. I have killed animals with bow/arrow, but certainly not what my ancestors were using. I used a compound bow that is more lethal than a rifle up to 60 or 80 yards. Or, I used a high-powered rifle that allows a hunter to take an animal from hundreds of yards away. But, I know what inspires me deep down inside to run. The age-old, simple instinct ingrained in my DNA to hunt.

Now, I know what you are thinking, and you are correct. Yes, I cannot call myself a man until I have successfully killed an animal like my ancestors did, with the persistence hunt. Some have tried it, almost all have failed. Hence, 2014 and the next adventure.

Elk skull

Back to camp after a successful harvest and pack-out. Photo: Mike Wolfe

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

We are aware that Mike’s essay will not align with all readers’ beliefs on hunting for food. We do ask you, however, to respect Mike’s ethic in reading and commenting upon this article. Thank you!

  • While running, have you ever felt connected to something other than the actual process of running, in that moment? Connected to human evolutionary history? An outside force you can’t explain?
  • For those of you who do run and hunt on foot, what connections between the two disciplines have you found?

There are 119 comments

  1. lstomsl

    I'm ok with hunting. I lived in Montana for 5 years and survived on game meat I hunted myself. But for me personally, that instinct has zero to do with why I run. I'm an old mid-packer, I don't race to win, or derive pleasure from hunting down my competition. I just want to push myself, enjoy the comradery of my fellow mid-packers, and enjoy a day in the mountains, hopefully someplace new. And I don't run in order to train for racing. In fact I rarely race unless I get sucked into an event that friends are running as an excuse to socialize with them.

    I have no doubt that the primal hunting instinct drives some people in ultra-running. But I have a theory that there is another primal instinct that drives many other people. In every population of animals there is a small segment that are prone to dispersal. These animals leave the area they were born in and travel to new areas. They connect isolated populations and enhance them through the infusion of new genetic variability. They allow them to adapt to changing situations. Without them populations would stagnate and die, so the disperser gene survives.

    As animals, some humans also are born with the dispersal gene. But opportunities are limited in today's cubicle dominated work force. It doesn't seem normal to many of us and we chafe at the bit when we find ourselves shoehorned into a world that doesn't seem to fit. And so we run. Early in the morning, or after work, and we dream of finding a job that allows us to fulfill that innate desire to get out, go someplace new, do something difficult, and connect with new people. We can't help it, we are dispersers.

    Most people think we are nuts. Why do you do that? Why would you go there? Isn't it scary and dangerous? They will never understand us. They don't have the dispersal gene. And we will never understand how they can be content staying home, watching tv, with no desire to get out and see something new and meet new people. We are the minority and feel weird in the larger world but when we go to an ultra we meet other people who understand inherently what we do and why we do it and it feels like going home should feel. Comfortable, with people,,even if they are strangers, who understand us better then sometimes our own families do. And they become like family and we connect deeply with them.

    That is why I run. I am a disperser.

    1. BuzzBurrell

      I'd never heard of a "dispersal gene" … not sure if there is such a thing, but if there is, I'm dominated by them … thanks for an interesting new concept!

      1. lstomsl

        Yeah, I don't know that anyone has identified a "dispersal gene" per say. Most things genetics are way more complicated than that and I was trying to keep it simple. But dispersal is a huge topic in conservation biology and population genetics. It becomes especially important as wild populations become smaller and more fragmented. But as humans our population is becoming larger and less fragmented so dispersal, like hunting, becomes less important and with fewer outlets for expression of those innate desires.

  2. sandi

    Can you please take the pictures off of the blood and once beautiful animal. It's fine he hunts but posting those pictures on a running website where I'm sure quite a few readers love animals and are vegetarians isn't right.

    1. Ultrail

      I'm not trying to stir up controversy, but I can't let this comment go without a remark.

      With all due respect to the author, hunters like Mike don't kill animals out of malice or because they don't "love them." I know this is a hard concept for some vegetarians to grasp, but people who regularly kill animals for food — hunters, ranchers, farmers, homeowners with chickens — don't do so out of malice, but with a healthy respect for the animal and what it can provide. In an age of industrialized agriculture and meat processing, where people are dozens of steps removed from what they consume, I think hunting is one of the more responsible ways of putting meat on the table. Now, I understand that rational people can disagree about these things. People have been abstaining for meat for millennia for a variety of reasons. But regardless of what PETA (or The Smiths) have to say about it, meat is not murder.

      As for not showing pictures of dead animals because you find it unpalatable . . . well . . . seriously? Are you really suggesting that we ban images from websites if any viewer finds them offensive? Should butcher counters and delis at the grocery store be eliminated because some patrons don't like it? I suspect that what you find most disturbing about these images is the animals have blood on them. I hate to break the news, but meat is bloody. You kill something, it bleeds. From the looks of it, we shouldn't be chastising Mike but commending his brother on what looks like a nice, clean shot.

      When it's all said and done, I would much prefer that people got their meat by hunting than by buying it — clean, odorless, neatly packaged — in the grocery story. My two cents.

      1. @SageCanaday

        I think Sandi's point is that since this is a running website (where people go to search for inspiration and learn about the sport of ultra-trail-mountain running) the two pictures of bloody animals/animal parts are just unecessary. I was eating my breakfast when reading this, and when I got to those pictures I felt a little sick to my stomach. The writing and subject matter of the article are perfectly fine (and I'm a big Mike Wolfe fan), but those two pictures just caught us (vegetarian ultra runners of course) by surprise. I think Rob Krar, Mike Wardian, and Scott Jurek would agree!

        1. JoeSka

          Pictures of animals got you sick to your stomach? Pictures of veggies in a Vitamix make me sick to my stomach. Relax, your girlfriend can defend herself.

          And stop speaking for other runners. I'm pretty sure vegan/vegetarian understand and respect hunting.

          Asking a website to take pictures off it because they offend you? really? That's some entitlement right there.

          1. sandi

            Hey, sorry to stir up any negative feelings. I said it was fine Mike hunts because I respect other people enjoy that lifestyle and I know most hunters are really kind people and we would get along just fine. I didn't ask for the article to be taken down for that reason, I was just hoping for a little compromise. I'm sorry people are in disbelief that I would feel bad about two pictures. I can't help it, things like that really do make me upset. I just feel like I should be able to avoid things like that on such a great running site. Mike writes very well and I don't think taking two pictures down will hurt the article. I am kindly and respectfully asking for there to be a little compromise. Happy trails to everyone!

          2. Bryon of iRunFar

            JoeSka,
            This comment doesn't come across as appropriately civil or respectful. It's obvious that you don't agree with Sage's point of view; however, he was quite respectful in his comment as was Ultrail in his/her comment below in which he or she espoused some of the very same concerns you have. There's room for kindness, understanding, and civility in disagreement.

            Thanks,
            Bryon

        2. Ultrail

          Sage, I totally understand your point. But it seems to me that a line is crossed when we move from feelings of surprise — or even disgust — to requesting that images be removed from a website because somebody finds them distasteful. I think the former is everybody's prerogative, while the latter is a slippery slope that can quickly digress into self or group censorship.

        3. krispeterrun

          Photos like this can indeed cause squeamish individuals to feel sick in the same way that epileptics can feel ill from bright flashing lights. It's a medical issue to some (in addition to the ethical issue to others). A simple warning message might be a good idea in this case.

        4. Bryon of iRunFar

          Hi Sage,
          I'm sorry for your and Sandi's discomfort at the images included in this article. We could have included an introductory note such that folks aren't surprised by the images. I've since added such a note – please let me know if you think it fits the bill.

          It's hard to convey tone through a keyboard, so you'll have to trust me that I'm not attempting to be little your point here. Honestly, the thought that these images might offend never crossed my mind as they are likely benign to the vast majority of readers (especially in the context of modern media exposure). I'm not sure why that is. Whether it's that I see the neighbor's (named) goats before and after they are slaughtered, the occasional animal carcass I see on my runs, or the investigation of the occasional blood trail on my winter runs. Who knows. Regardless, I'll certainly be aware that such future.

          And, Sage, I say this as someone who over the past 15 years has bounced between vegetarian and consuming a /very/ low meat diet. Heading into this new year, I recommitted to consuming even less (we'd been eating a bit of seafood at home) or no meat.

          1. @SageCanaday

            Thanks Bryon! The "Editor's note" works great. Obviously there is a huge divide in stance when it comes to these things, and no doubt that that influences the comments (mine and Sandi's included). Thank you for the support!

            1. Steve Pero

              Ha! This is awesome….guess I'm not a man, either. Deb and I are both veg heads ;-)
              I'm with Sandi on the photos, this is a running website, not "Hunting World".

            2. Bryon of iRunFar

              All I think he's saying is that so long as there's a warning, the articles fine for everyone. I don't sense any implied dichotomy there. No need to dilute your lentil soup! ;-)

            3. @DrGalactus

              That's good, tears are the product of animal suffering so it wouldn't be vegan then :P

              Also I'm fine with the warning, even as a hippy I can see the attraction in hunting, I'd just rather shoot them with a camera

      2. TDawgNight

        Maybe you should ask someone why they hunt? Maybe they actually hunt to provide food for their family because it's cost effective, and they like to see their wife and kids eat.

        Great article Mike. I look at running and hunting as a great way to enjoy nature. By the way, ask someone their feelings about hunting, and you'll get a lot of disgusted looks, but ask someone where their cheeseburger came from and how it was killed, and they'll usually look at you with a blank face, then walk away. Love the website, Bryon. I check it at 6:01 eastern every morning.

        1. TDawgNight

          Actually I read an article in Time magazine today that says just the opposite. There are more deer in the U.S. today than any other time in our country's history. There is a huge black bear problem in New York and especially in New Jersey. Feral pigs are all over the south. And since I'm from Western New York, I get the privilege of dodging deer every morning and evening in my car or on my bike. The damage they cause can be deadly, and ask your insurance company about the millions of dollars I'm sure they enjoy paying out for deer strikes. Oh yeah, they tend to increase your rates, or drop you after one of these. All five members of my wife's family, and myself have hit deer. That's six of us…and five totaled cars. Not fun, especially when you have to wait for the State Trooper to show up, take out his shotgun, and kill the poor deer that's been suffering in the road for the last half hour. And I know it's hard to believe, but I feed my family through hunting. It's gives us the tiniest bit of financial freedom. And I know this is going to upset you, because I'm going to say another positive thing about hunting, but we donate some of our venison to Open Door Mission, which is our local homeless shelter. All that said, and I've never once felt any power over a deer. I feel good when I can provide for my family, and maybe someone a little less fortunate than myself.

    2. JoeSka

      The animal is still beautiful. So…we should somehow cater to vegetarians feelings now? You know…hide the reality? Hunting is conservation. It would be a disservice to Elk to NOT hunt them. That, or we stop ourselves from encroaching on their habitats, but we're (yes, even vegetarians) too selfish for that.

  3. stayvertical

    Mike,

    Well written and congrats on a great season in the elk woods. This kind of real adventure is so far removed from today's sterilized modern existence that it is sure to offend. Thankfully, September is never that far away to remind us we can still exist in a somewhat natural state. We slip out into the crisp morning and reconnect with reality.

    For a similar perspective on ultrarunning's ties to hunting and a bit on persistence hunting: http://stayvertical928.blogspot.com/2013/09/2013-

    Best wishes,
    jer

  4. pcart

    Thanks for posting this. I frequently am asked both why I run and why I hunt. Both are difficult to answer in sound-bite type snippets. Most of the time, if you understand, there's no need for the question, and if you ask the question there's no way to explain!

  5. @chasingultra

    I fail to comprehend the rationale of someone who asks that the freedom of speech of the writer be altered/stifled so that the views of the person who is reading the article may not be offended. Only in modern (regressive) America would a person ask someone else to not express their freedoms so that his/her beliefs are not offended.

    This is a great article about the the correlation that Mike draws between running and other areas of his life, not to mention that he seems to be a responsible hunter, packing out 600lbs of animal on foot, rather than leaving parts behind or driving an ATV through the woods.

    1. andymxyz

      It appears you may not understand the concept of freedom of speech.

      If Byron invites me to write an article, and I want to include a picture of me *****ing my ***** with a *****, and Byron says he will not include it, has he stifled my freedom of speech? Hardly, because it is his site – not a public forum.

      For what it's worth, I was not offended by the article, though I found it and its contents to be irrelevant to ultrarunning (despite the weak attempts to create a link).

          1. Weitlaeufer

            Hi Bryon,

            it is this freemindedness of yours that I like most here. It was brave to put The Hunt on your homepage. But as long as everyone stays cool and does not offend anyone, we should be able to discuss different tastes, beliefs and ,OK , running gear.
            I am almost an vegetarian most of the year, since I eat only the meat in can hunt myself. When I read this article, I knew what was to be read in the comments.
            Keep on doing it your style, Bryon! Greetings from Germany

            1. Bryon of iRunFar

              I don't think I've ever heard of anyone (in the modern, Western world) taking this approach to their diet – meat when they can kill it, veggie when they can't. I'm sure there are many more who do, but it's new to me. Seems like a natural, eat what you can when you can approach.

              Ps. Thank you for your support. Really.

            2. Weitlaeufer

              Hey, you are my hero, my link to the true grit runners …

              Well some call it shizo, some call it extreme (when they finally get to know that I run ultras, the call me nuts…).
              Lately one said, that this was true `paleo` style.
              Everyone tries to do his best.
              Let´s discuss, not fight.

  6. alexcarmichael2

    I am not sure why anyone would want to be photographed beside a dead animal. That does not seem like a nice way to respect the animal.

    Yes, people will always hunt. Good thing its the minority, because if everyone did, there would not be any animals left!

    A point for the hunters…
    At least they do the killing themselves, instead of letting someone else do it for them.

    Personally, if I had the choice to kill something, or not, it makes sense not to.
    But that's just me.

    1. TDawgNight

      It actually isn't in the minority. If you go to the grocery store and come home with a steak, you just hunted. And not very naturally by the way. You're right, you didn't personally kill that cow if that makes you feel a little better.

  7. dragorbedragged

    Reading while eating is a very bad habit. Please remove this comment. 'Eyeroll' Please, just everyone relax. Let Mike express what gets him all fired up. This is true diversity.

  8. JoeSka

    "I am not sure why anyone would want to be photographed beside a dead animal. That does not seem like a nice way to respect the animal. " That's certainly an opinion, but I think people seriously underestimate the difficulty of a hunt. It's an accomplishment to commemorate and be proud of.

    "Yes, people will always hunt. Good thing its the minority, because if everyone did, there would not be any animals left! " – I'd argue if everyone hunted, we'd have far less commercial farming which, if you look into it, is far more unpleasant/unethical.

    If nobody hunted, we'd had a pretty big problem on our hands with herds of animals suffering due to lack of resources. We ALL contribute to taking away those resources by living where we live, building where we build, traveling where we travel, etc…

    Most states control hunting with quite a bit of research and conservation being the number one priority. Herds are tracked and hunts only issued to benefit the herds. It's not quite as barbaric as people think.

    1. JoeSka

      Actually, that's exactly what they do in Colorado. They control the amount of elk tags commensurate with the health and sizes of the herds. That, is at least what I'm led to believe, but I'd love to read some facts and numbers backing up your claims.

      1. JoeSka

        Tell that to Estes Park where they are practically rodents. Or, we can re-introduce wolves…although we voted that down. We can't have our cake and eat it too. So, we do our best.

      2. Bryon of iRunFar

        I do believe that most state biologists do attempt to manage game species for stable, healthy populations. Period.

        On the other hand, at least some of the wildlife agencies that these biologists work do make decisions based primarily, if not solely, on hunting tag and local economy income as well as recreation value. For example, the Utah DWR recently introduced mountain goats into the La Sal mountains. They are a non-native species to this range (and were not present in Utah when the pioneers arrived). They were introduced over the objections of scientists and the US Forest Service. http://upr.org/post/dwr-unveils-plan-mountain-goahttp://www.thewildlifenews.com/2013/09/14/la-sal-

      3. TDawgNight

        What kind of magic bubble do you live in? Certainly not the ones where we get to crush animals on our way to work everyday over hear in Western New York. If you'd like to play deer roulette on my road at 6 in the morning with your car, feel free. That's what you get when you let an animal suffer. It will do, and go anywhere to scavenge for food. For example…..Crossing a poorly lit road very early in the morning. Oh yeah, and since they're old and suffering, they are too slow to get out of the way, until next thing you know, they're coming through your front windshield. Always a great time for the animal and the human. I feel so happy and powerful after that…..

    2. lstomsl

      Respectfully your logic is flawed. That's like saying we shouldn't feed people until their ribs are showing because they are not really hungry yet. Dense populations of ungulates will eat everything to the ground before they starve. That means almost nothing left for other animals and unhealthy forests. The northern winter range of Yellowstone was horribly degraded by elk due to the absence of hunters. Sagebrush right to the river banks, little grass, no willows, no aspen regeneration, no beaver dams, etc. but tons and tons of elk. With wolf reintroduction all that has improved. It's amazing, I've watched it before and after.

      The purpose of wildlife management is not to prevent suffering. Every wild animal on the planet is going to suffer a horrible death. Much worse than a gunshot wound. The purpose of wildlife management is to maintain healthy ecosystems so that we all have sustainable herds to enjoy. And sustainable rodent and tweety bird populations as well.

      Other factors can enter the equation as well. Hundreds of thousands of deer are killed to enable soybean farmers in Iowa so vegetarians can have their tofu. In more urban areas auto collisions are a very real danger when herds are unmanaged. Everything we do has impacts.

      And wildlife managers have made some screwed up decisions as Byron eluded to. Some of them are yahoos (I could tell you stories). But most are just doing their best to balance multiple interests and hunting is one of the only tools they have. And they do it sustainably through the sale of hunting licenses and taxes on hunting equipment, which is pretty cool. Elk and deer were virtually extinct in the US before someone it would be a good idea to manage the herds.

  9. @runjimparryrun

    I think I missed something. Wasn't this article about why people run? I really could care less about what people eat and am assuming the author feels the same. That is why he didn't write an article about what others eat. Let's try this…how about a comment about the article and it's purpose? Here goes. When I started running it was purely to race. I felt that primal urge to catch someone, put them in a world of hurt, and beat them. I rarely won races with that mentality. I realized everyone starting a race had the same idea. I trained harder and took a different aporoach to racing. I tried to win, but if someone else wanted that win, they were going to have to go through me to get it. It was then that I started winning. Slowly my objective shifted to helping my students and others learn to love the sport as I do. I love the freedom I have that allows my body to explore my environement without tiring to the point of quitting. I thrive on exploring my limits. Those same limits the author states no one else understands. http://mrparrysendurancechallenge.blogspot.com

  10. @joegeezi

    This is the internet, correct? You can post whatever you want on the internet, correct? The title is "The Hunt", correct? If I have such a love for animals and a hatred for hunting why would I even click on an article talking about hunting?? I don't understand how this conversation got here.

  11. runcamille

    This was a cool read- thanks for sharing Mike! I remember at the age of 7 making my own homemade bow and arrow and running/walking around the fields by our house looking for snakes and rabbits. It's amazing now to reflect back that I was living out an innate thing at a young age.

  12. careycuprisin

    I'm a non-hunter, so I really appreciated this post. Gave me some insight into the joys of hunting, which I've never experienced.

  13. TomCaughlan

    Cool post. I'm married to a vegetarian and I eat meat less than once weekly mostly because I get excellent vegetarian meals at home. However, I will say that when I got to experience harvesting/ butchering meat from hunting trips taken on by out of staters who just wanted the hides (a black bear, and an elk) I truly enjoyed the process and the end product for almost 18 months. While I abhor the way that most people hunt which involves very little hiking or driving their trucks onto public land rather than field dressing, this type of hunting does interest me.
    Mike, I hope that you try persistence hunting. It would be a great write up! Thanks for the article!

  14. @JMichaelHodges

    Great post. I have always seem massive correlations between ultra running and hunting. And not just hunting but many other fundamental outdoor pursuits… farming, exploration, homesteading, ranching, etc… many run long distances for an intimate relationship with a demanding landscape. Intimate knowledge of the land. Hunting as Mike describes very much falls into this realm of human desire. It's foundational. At the same time, however, I understand we are all beautifully different and some wont see the correlation and some will be offended (in one way or another) by various aspects of this post (pics, choses activities, etc).

  15. @LoomisBob

    I'm an avid runner and hunter for over 35 years. Why do we run? Because we enjoy it! Why do we hunt? Because we enjoy it and can provide high quality meat for our families! The primary similarity between hunting and trail running is the simple basic fact that we enjoy being out in our beautiful natural world and we are getting great exercise. I run and I hunt because I like to "feel the excited beating of my heart"! Also, as a trail runner we should all recognize that the hunting industry provides direct monetary value to wildlife and habitat restoration. Hunters pay a special excise tax which provides for wildlife and habitat restoration of about $188 million per year, which improves the land. Much of this beautiful land is where we run! To Everyone that has responded prior to me: "You all have valid points and your comments are appreciated". To Bryon: "Thanks for including all of this". To Mike: "Congrats on a great hunt and nice article!"

  16. ClownRunner

    Top ten reasons to go Elk Hunting with Mike Wolfe:

    (1) When you hunt with a dude with the last name Wolfe, you're bound to score some large land-roving mammal.
    (2) If you get tired, Mike could just put you in that massive backpack and tote you around till you are recovered.
    (3) Montana is awesome.
    (4) Mike is a former lawyer, so you could debate Elk hunting all day and night.
    (5) Actual persistence hunting is so much more fun than just reading Born to Run.
    (6) You could get famous on a cable TV Hunting program. You can't get famous just running.
    (7) It's good cross-training…sort of.
    (8) If you don't catch anything, I'm sure Mike has a few left-over gels from his race season.
    (9) Ultrarunners usually aren't wacko, so there's little chance you'll get wacked with a stray bullet.
    (10) Mike Wolfe has a definite man-card, so if there are ladies around, you'll party all night.

  17. @entrinzikyl

    I'm a runner and not a hunter, but I haven't been running long enough to know: what do hunters think of runners when they're out hunting? There is one trail near me that sometimes gets a "hunting in progress" sign near me. That always freaks me out, but does it really mean I shouldn't run there? If so, that doesn't seem fair. Also doesn't seem fair that I can't bring my dog with me then, but I guess I can compromise.

    What's the accepted behavior in hunter/runner interactions?

    1. lstomsl

      No ethical or intelligent hunter would hunt near a busy trail. People scare the animals away. If you stay on a trail you probably won't see anyone actively hunting although you may see one using the trail to access the area they want to hunt.

      Other then that be respectful like you would to anyone else. And if they are acting aggressive leave and tell somebody. You have just as much right to be there as they do and so does your dog..

  18. @kevl82

    great article. being a hunter and a fisherman, it's nice to see something other than the usual "i'm vegan and so should you" column on a running website! Thanks for the neutrality iRunFar! :)

  19. tylerwilliambaxley

    I loved the article! There is nothing like chasing wild boar on foot and channeling that primal spirit! Whether it's running on the trails or tackling the elements during a gnarly hunt, a little blood on the saddle will be sure to increase the stoke factor!

  20. JonPaulding

    Excellent post Mike! One aspect of hunting that I enjoy is to get off trail and see the natural world that so few others see because they are always following a trail. The joy of traveling cross country, in and out of drainages feels so free and makes you in touch with the land. Hunting also lets you notice ALOT more going on around you than when you run. Both are fantastic!! I took a bull elk with a traditional bow in 2010 and I would suggest you try that for a new challenge- especially with a homemade wood arrow! Happy Trails…

  21. D_VanderGriend

    Great article Mike. I was raised a hunter and gave it up to be a runner. In my twenties there were months of many years when I lived to hunt and now I am as obsessive about running as I once was about hunting and rifles. Maybe we run long because we have obsessive personalities and we have experienced significant disconnects in our pasts between how we perceived our efforts and how the resulting outcomes felt like betrayal of those efforts…be it in our careers, relationships, or even hobbies. And in long running we find a reward for the pain, instead of more betrayal.

  22. akopa

    To each his own, but put me down with the peace & love crowd. Animals are my friends, and the last thing I would want to do is kill and eat my friend. But that's just me. This story is creepy.
    May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

  23. Hels205

    It makes sense. Why have we evolved to be capable of surpasing and hunting down what would have been considered high value sustinance and without sheer brute strength? The need to survive is ingrained. But there’s a few elements missing. We used to be prey to others as well. Being able to suddenly out pace a predator or even out think a predator while hunting as well. Following the trail of food and making sure you’re not leaving your own trail for predators to follow. Working as a team to outwit prey and predator together. Teamwork. Social forces that make us stronger by working together to outwit and outpace hunger and death. The fear of becoming prey is the driving force of all of us – death hunts us in different forms now. It used to be tooth and claw, now it’s unhealthy lifestyles and disease.

    I run because the thrill of the trail attracts and challenges me but most of all I’m running away from death because it’s stalking me with every cake I eat. Different targets – same instincts. We’re all still prey underneath.

    As for the hunting – not my thing but if you’re going to use what you’ve hunted then that’s fair. My grudge would be if you’d killed just for the joy of killing with no respect to the beauty or strength of the beast you felled. Nuff said.

  24. senelly

    Not just absence of sound, the hush is a palpable silence as I silently approach my quarry, the tasty morel.
    The woods are still. I hear no creatures, no birdsong. Having run for many miles along the forest edge and into treed deep chasing down this wild, camouflaged creature, I listen only to the sound of my own breath as I slowly return it to a resting state. As usual in my hunts, I will resist the temptation to stuff this prize and mount it as a trophy. Sliced and fried, morels have no flavor peer.

    But… back to the hunt. I slowly draw my harvesting blade and make quick, clean work of the kill. I kneel and close my eyes as I thank the gods for the life I have just taken and for the nutrition it will become. Now comes the arduous job of packing it out. As a devoted mountain runner, I am only slightly built and the morel is big and fat. Though weighty, it is a rare and worthy burden. Dinner will be tasty tonight!

  25. Vaportrails

    Great article! I completely disagree with all this evolution mumbo-jumbo. But I totally agree about that inner drive ('to hunt'/'to run') being in our DNA. I'm not a hunter myself but I understand the drive behind it and the joy that comes in tagging your first big game. Thanks Mike.

        1. RVAdrew

          Just thought you may have been joking about your evolution comment since DNA itself is known to mutate and plays a lead role in evolving organisms. I was thinking that people may have been misinterpreting your comment is all. Apparently not.

          1. Vaportrails

            Ahh, I see. Nope, I disagree wholeheartedly with the theory of evolution. It's really just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to me. Of course, I'm talking about 'macro' evolution (the whole fish to monkey to man thing). DNA, as you say, does play a key role in 'micro' evolution (the whole black bird to speckled bird thing). So I agree with Mike on the point of DNA (what God created us with) playing a big factor in some of the reasons why we hunt or run.
            I'm sure this is completely against the grain of many of the readers of this site who have fallen completely in love with this belief in evolution. And I'm fine with that.

            1. Meghan Hicks

              Vaportrails,

              Calling someone’s belief system/scientific theory “mumbo-jumbo” is not respectful. It’s absolutely okay to debate differing opinions in this forum, but please treat other positions with the same level of respect you desire of your own. Thanks for reading and commenting.

            2. Sam

              a) Wow.

              b) evolution ‘mumbo-jumbo’ have you ever wondered why you need a new flu vaccine each year?
              “Gravity is not a version of the truth. It is the truth. Anybody who doubts it is invited to jump out of a tenth-floor window. Evolution, too, is reality. You don’t decide whether to believe or not believe it on the basis of whim or culture. The evidence supports it. Evolution is the plain truth.”

            3. Bryon of iRunFar

              Hi All,
              We're probably not going to convince someone else to change his or her mind regarding evolution vs creationism vs ancient alien visitors or whatever in the comment thread to this article. Aside from that it's straying pretty far from the topic and, more important, the discussion of it is not likely to do much other than cause emotions and tempers to flair. If all that sounds reasonable enough, maybe we can let this line of discussion end here? :-)

              While not a whole lot less controversial, I think it's much more on point to discuss to what degree hunting is in our DNA/human nature. Personally, I'd have little trouble thinking that we have many external conditions that trigger innate physical and emotional responses in modern humans that would parallel human experiences/reactions in pre-modern societies. Anyone else out there ever get the feeling that they're being watched by a predatory? On occasion (ok, more often than occasionally), the hair stands up on my neck and my body courses with its flight or fight response.

              Respectfully,
              Bryon

            4. AtomLawrence

              No evolutionary biologist argues that humans evolved from monkeys. The only people I have ever heard say this are creationists. And props to everyone standing up for evolution on this thread. That said, the specificity of the endurance running/ persistence hunting hypothesis is debated by many serious biologists and anthropologists, all of whom accept the simple, elegant, factually supported, and powerfully explanatory framework of evolution through natural selection.

            5. AtomLawrence

              To clarify: all organisms on earth share a common ancestor (unless there were multiple episodes of abiogenesis 3-4 billion years ago, which is possible). Humans happen to share the most recent common ancestor with the other primates, with chimpanzees being the closest relative. Humans and chimps last shared a common ancestor an estimated 5-7 million years ago. This is demonstrable through molecular genetic techniques, if the behavioral, social, and morphological simularities between humans and primates aren't sufficient to convince you. Humans are much more closely related to the apes than the monkeys (although as primates, we're all more closely related than we are to any other organims), but that just means we share the most recent common ancestor. So saying humans "came from apes" is less wrong than saying we "came from monkeys," but still wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee%E2%80%93h

    1. dwrdsndr

      Have you ever had that nightmare of being chased by someone or something wanting to kill you? You don't really even know why, you're just running, and scared. Have you ever had that dream? That's reality for many animals that are stalked and hunted, by man or anything else. In nature, it happens for survival; one dies so another can live. We do it for sport! It's no longer necessary for our survival.

      Just because this is the first article on the new system that made me want to sign up and comment doesn't mean I'm a troll.

  26. DavidGel

    I suggest to Mike taking on paintball session to satisfy his hunting need… Not only it would be fair game as you are fighting with equals, but no living creatures need to die for no reason…
    No hard feeling ;)

  27. lstomsl

    Neolithic hunters drove entire herds over cliffs wasting tons and tons of meat. They used whatever means they had available to survive. What's your point?

    Until humans are willing to allow a full complement of predators into our backyards, we need hunters to control animal populations. We have many examples of what happens when ungulate herds are allowed to expand unfettered and ecosystems are overgrazed. It's not pretty.

    I have hunted a lot when younger. I have seen very impressive examples of ethical hunters. I have seen things that horrified me, even from people I thought I knew. Road hunting, herd shooting, disrespect, etc. there are things to be admired and things to be disdained in hunters, but regardless of how we might feel of their personal ethics, we need them. The goal is to manage herds and maintain healthy, sustainable ecosystems. Hunters were the first to be upset about the decimation of American wildlife 100 years ago. They did something about, demanded management, and paid for it themselves. They are still paying for it. And not just elk and ducks. Their financial contributions are responsible for things like Lynx and Otter reintroduction and Prebles jumping mouse research in Colorado.

    American wildlife is an amazing success story. Our wild lands are saturated with wildlife. Large predators are expanding their ranges. That is not happening very many places on this planet. I've backpacked through Guatemalan forests for days and not seen a squirrel or bird. Through Patagonia for weeks without seeing large wildlife outside of a park. I've spent months in Mexico and only seen one or two deer. And I'm always amazed when I return to Colorado and I have to literally dodge deer and turkey's on the road and chase bear off my front porch. We have hunters to thank for that. For demanding restoration, demanding regulation, and for paying for it all themselves. I have not hunted in 15 years and I may never hunt again but I am grateful for them as a group even if at times I find their personal actions distasteful.

    All living creatures die. Most die horrible deaths, being torn apart by predators or if they are unlucky, living until their teeth rot out and they starve to death or get so weak they freeze to death, or their immune systems are compromised and they suffer a terrible disease with no health care or morphine. To think that if they are simply not shot they will live long happy lives and die comfortably surrounded by loving friends and family is absurd. Nature is awesome but it is not pretty.

    1. AtomLawrence

      I know of one animal in particular that reproduces rapidly, consumes far more resources per individual than any other organism on the planet, and yet nobody suggests that they should be hunted and murdered to control population numbers. That said, I agree that all animals die, usually badly, and I certainly respect hunting as an alternative to consuming factory-farmed meat. At least the hunted animal gets to live a free existence up to the moment of death, and dies outside. My point was simply that I don't see modern hunting as having much to do with our evolutionary programming for persistence hunting and tracking (although there are more and less technical ways to do it). Anyway, this is a thoughtful post, and I'm not trying to be a jerk. I understand the population argument, and it's not an irrational one. But there are objections it needs to answer.

    2. @LoomisBob

      To Istomsl: Great comments – they are spot on. Anyone that believes that wild animals are "friends" have no concept of the real world of nature. The world of nature is about life and death. As each of our generations has moved further away from the land/farms we have been distanced from the reality of life: all creatures are born and all creatures will die. This is real. ALSO, the USA hunters are the primary reason we have abundant wildlife and beautiful land to enjoy. Hunters speak not only with their money to sustain and support wildlife and the land, but they truly honor the animals they hunt.

  28. mikehinterberg

    Late to the party, I learned long ago that not everyone wants to see bloody hunting pictures (even more true on social media today). Because of the tradition and enjoyment I got out of it, it was hard to understand why others might not, but later learning of the millions of people who won't kill animals for philosophical/religious reasons, it seemed reasonable to be sensitive to other values and opinions. The disclaimer seems like a good compromise.
    I'm disappointed with some the discourse (and "voting") here being unnecessarily polarized. There are many ways to live a mindful, thoughtful life! "Thoughtful" vegetarians and hunters alike probably have more in common than the more average American eater, who thinks little of food consequences on health and ecosystem.

    I enjoyed much of Mike's essay, I think he did a good job describing his hunting ethics, and I appreciate the desire to hunt with less advantage. But I think that describing persistence hunting (more appropriately done in groups and warm-weather conditions anyway) as "being a man" is an unfortunate choice of description (although I get the drift, "being in tune with my ancestors" might be a better description) — with the corresponding arguments back and forth against vegetarianism. Some may consider "being a man" to be growing a vegetable garden, identifying wild and edible plants, cooking/canning/pickling and building a natural root cellar, owning a cow or goat, being a father (or mother!), providing for one's family through meaningful work. This may or may not have anything to do with hunting or eating meat or not, and may have to do with philosophical and religious beliefs, in which I think there are many ways to "be a man." It is rewarding to appreciate these differences rather than rank them, and a hallmark of being "human" is precisely these interesting differences.

    HOWEVER, I am more disappointed with the discussion of running with a "loaded gun in [his] hands." Ironically, because this is a running website, it provides an unfortunate juxtaposition that was not noted, but I am confident it would have been called out in a hunting forum. This was clearly denounced in my hunter's safety class in Wisconsin 25 years ago: "Never run, jump, or climb with a loaded firearm", and is equally spelled out in a quick internet search of western states:
    e.g.
    MT: http://www.hunter-ed.com/montana/studyGuide/Preve… "Never jump or run while carrying a loaded firearm."
    UT: http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2010_pdfs/201… "Never run with a loaded firearm"

    I realized that a loaded gun, uncocked, and/or with safety on, is safer than when cocked; and I realize that myself and others don't always follow every law or code situationally; but given the minimal noise and time to re-chamber a round (versus the noise and time to run in the first place), and the fact that running with a loaded firearm is STRONGLY discouraged as a safe and ethical hunting practice, it's not something I'd write about proudly in front of an impressionable audience, if the goal is to promote safe and ethical hunting as well as explain it to non-hunters.
    Peace, and happy, safe hunting…

  29. stljoshwright

    Super interesting article, and equally interesting comments.

    I would think that the self-reliant ethos of hunting would appeal to my ultra/trail brethren. I understand and respect the fact that some folks find the consumption of animals to be morally objectionable, but if that’s not your position (i.e. if you consume products that require the death of an animal), then I think it’s really difficult to lodge a logical argument against hunting. It only takes one visit to a stockyard to understand why properly harvested wild game is an ethically preferential source of food (not to mention healthier and more appetizing) than livestock raised exclusively for consumption. I’ve also found that hunting tends to make folks less wasteful and more appreciative of their food–attitudes that are healthy, increasingly uncommon, and apparent in Mike’s story.

    All that being said, it’s typical that hunting publications intentionally don’t show the blood or wounds of harvested animals. In fact, when you go through the hunting certification process in my home state of Missouri, often during the ethics portion of the class, it’s recommended that hunters not publicly display pictures of animals showing blood or wounds or post them on social media. The strong reactions they can illicit from non-hunters can overshadow all the benefits that hunting has to offer.

  30. jaxcharlie845

    Great article. Your excitement bled through the article and for a moment made me feel I was in the wild and on the hunt. Very much like the feeling I had on Sunday's long run, doing a section of technical single track through the swamp at break neck speed with one of my running partners hot on my heels and my dog right there with us. What a blast!

  31. frankandonion

    Respectfully, NOT a great article for iRunFar. Myself, along with my fellow trail ultrarunning friends, run for the beauty of our surroundings and that includes the live animals we gratefully encounter along the way.

    There is no connection between ultrarunning and hunting. Ultrarunning is gentler and far more courageous at the same time.

    We have evolved to not having to kill and it's proven that we don't need to eat meat (i.e. look at many of the top athletes).

    Also, why include the photos at all? Who likes looking at or posing with a dead animal? I feel like we should be past this.

    1. Bryon of iRunFar

      Frank,
      Thanks for sharing your perspective. Folks run for a great multitude of reasons. Here's /one/ of those reasons that /is/ present in our sport, but that we never hear about. This article and its premise certainly won't resonate with /most/ of our readers, but that's ok. I certainly don't run to hunt. However, I appreciated Mike sharing his perspective and having the courage to do so when it surely wouldn't be more popular. I know I'm made a better person when I'm exposed to new ideas and perspectives even… or especially if I don't necessarily agree with them.

      On the other hand, the premise of the article was made clear upfront such that those who don't want to be exposed to such ideas, images, and what have you, could move along. Soon enough there'll be more stories of folks who like to gallivant over hill and dale simply for the joy of motion, presence in the moment, and shear aesthetic beauty around them… with pictures to suit. We trust you'll enjoy those more. :-)

      Respectfully,
      Bryon

      1. frankandonion

        Having grown up in the Midwest and with a dad who hunted, I've been more than exposed to hunting. It just seems more of an unfair "sport" at this point in time. If Mike were to tackle the elk with his bare hands, maybe it would be fair, but the need is no longer there. He doesn't need to hunt for food, so it's just cruel, unnecessary, and indulgent.

        Most of all, it only misrepresents evolution and our beautiful, gentle, courageous, bad-ass sport.

        Thanks Bryon for your kind reply.

        By the way, my dad in his later life gave up hunting because it reminded him of his service in WWII. Now there's a connection.

        1. Bryon of iRunFar

          Frank,
          Thanks for taking my comment as intended. This topic is emotional for many (understandably!) and it's hard to convey respect in the written word.

          At the end of the day, we all do share one thing in common… a love of running on the trails! :-)

          1. frankandonion

            Thanks Bryon for your respectfully kind responses.

            In short, killing what we love to see on our runs is confusing and sad, and a story I didn't expect. I wouldn't expect a story of a runner who works in deforestation either.

            Different perspective or not, it comes off as unnecessary and a killjoy.

            Thanks again Byron for your responses.

    2. Justus

      Respectfully it is not up to one man to say why any other man runs or spends time in the wilderness. We all have our reasons for the things that we do. God created the creatures and gave man dominion over them. Part of that responsibility is treating them with respect, even when that means killing them for food or to control the population. Nothing in the article shows a lack of respect for the animals, in fact it shows a great respect.The idea that man does not have the right to harvest game within the law is a ridiculous one. This is a God given right, just as we all have the right to run.

      I respect that you consider ultra running courageous, but for most of us, including me, I would bet it is just something we do. Being a soldier, a firefighter, a police officer, the person fighting cancer, the single mom working 2 jobs to feed and shelter her family are the courageous ones. Not someone who goes and runs a lot. Ultrarunning is more selfish than courageous.

      It may also be true that one can live without eating any meat, but in reality this is not practical for 99% of us. Personally I would much rather harvest wild game or purchase grass fed free range products than consume commercial mass produced meat.

      Lastly, Congrats on the hunt Mike. Taking an elk like that is an accomplishment.

      1. frankandonion

        Who says it's up to one man? I didn't.
        And as far as the God bit, I'm not buying it.
        It's cheap to throw in "soldier, firefighter, etc" into the argument as those are all obvious forms of courage; albeit in a different subtext.
        Also, posing with the "kill" shows a lack of respect and little accomplishment. Taking someone's last breath is nothing to be proud of.
        Justus, I carefully read what you wrote and admire your passion, but I respectfully disagree.

        1. Justus

          You did state “There is no connection between ultrarunning and hunting” therefore you are being that one man. Hunting has been a part of life since man first existed (regardless of we got here). My point is it is not up to you or anyone to make broad statements on why someone does or does not run. It is a deeply personal thing that we all have.

          Out of respect for Bryon and his comments in a post much higher I will leave the God thing alone. I suspect we have very different views on this.

          We will have to disagree on the courageous thing. There are so many more important things in life than running, so on the grand scale it cannot qualify as courageous. I have never felt courageous at mile 80, I only feel like I am an idiot for doing such long efforts.

          1. frankandonion

            "Courageous at mile 80" is pretty funny. Thanks for lightening it up a bit.

            It's not my intention to make any broad statements. All I can say is that when I run with my friends (and I've been running for a very long time) we never once hunted in the process or even spoke about it. We usually admire our surroundings and when we're lucky enough to see an animal we're in awe that it's with us, running with us.

            As for courage, perhaps you took my words too literal. You don't have to tell me there are "more important things in life than running." You're assuming I don't already know that. Life is just that. As for us and an animal, it's for the living.

            Happy trails, tread lightly, and thanks for the lively conversation.

    3. DavidGel

      Hi Frank,

      I for one completely agree with you. I especially like 'Myself, along with my fellow trail ultrarunning friends, run for the beauty of our surroundings and that includes the live animals we gratefully encounter along the way.'

      I have to say that I am extremely surprised that the ultra community on iRunFar seems to be pro-hunter judging from the thumbs-up/thumbs-down.

      I wish all runners were to be in harmony with their surroundings including animals.
      That being said, I wish everyone happy running!

      David

      1. frankandonion

        Thanks David. Somewhat surprised as well. Might be a small group, because these are not the ideologies I've encountered throughout my years of trail running.

        Keep saying your thoughts regardless of popularity. That goes for the opposing argument as well. Civil debate is a clearer path to hearing one another.

        Leave no trace.

      2. Justus

        David,

        It is very possible to be in harmony with your surroundings and also be ok with people who hunt. I have not counted myself as a hunter in about 10 years, but see no issue with legal and ethical hunting. I stopped simply because I became addicted to running. My life is busy and there is not time to do both. If one day I can no longer run I will go back to hunting as it achieves a similar goal of being in nature and taking in the beauty of it all. Any way you look at it running in nature in hunting are connected now and will always be due to the fact that both are done outside and in remote areas. I suspect that many runners also hunt, or used to before starting to ultra run. I know that you can be pro hunting and still in harmony with your surroundings. Your statement that assumes this is not possible is simply ridiculous. Have you ever hunted? If not then you are not qualified to comment on this.

        1. DavidGel

          Justus,

          Thank you for your comment. I have to respectfully disagree with you. It is not because you haven't experienced a situation that you cannot have a opinion on it. Otherwise, myself and many people wouldn't be allow to comment on topics such as slavery, abortion, and poverty. I believe it is important for people to voice their opinions as we live in a democracy.
          On that note, I wish you a nice day my friend!
          David

          1. Justus

            David,

            I fully respect your right to have an opinion on any issue. This is one of the foundations that makes the US a great place to live. We all have to rights to our opinions. My intent was not to detract from yours. You implied with this statement "I wish all runners were to be in harmony with their surroundings including animals." that it is not possible to be in harmony with ones surroundings if you hunt or are hunting. In my experiences this is not the case at all. My love of animals and nature was forged in my youth through early mornings sitting in the woods hunting whitetail deer in Pennsylvania. You would be amazed at what you see when you just stop and sit. I remember one occasion when I watched a squirrel collect acorns for at least 30 minutes. You could never witness that as you ran by. I have seen so many more things when slowing down and taking it all in than when running. Maybe that is the lesson we can all take away, slow down and sit a while and see nature. I bet for most hunters (especially ultra runners) the harvest is just one part of their reason for hunting.

  32. jeffinNH

    Congrats on the kill Mike . Fortunate enough myself to get a nice whitetail in New Hampshire this season . You should think about a trip east for a little bit of hunting and White Mountain running .

  33. Lane_E

    It’s a very pleasant surprise to see iRunFar demonstrate tolerance and give a voice to ultrarunning’s atavistic twin. Running and racing the trails all year allows me to stay fit for the rigors of bowhunting hunting deer, elk, turkey, etc., in rugged terrain. Trail running gives me a great excuse to commune with nature when it’s not hunting season. The much slower pace of hunting guarantees a higher level of discovery and contemplation. I won’t apologize for the tiny percentage of time spent killing animals, and neither will I deride non-hunters. It’s a learned skill and most people haven’t had the choice or opportunity to acquire it.

    To help answer Meghan’s second question, see my comparison of trail racing to elk hunting at http://feralpursuits.blogspot.com/2013/10/elk-hun

    1. Bryon of iRunFar

      Hi Lane,
      Sorry for the delay in your comment going up… it was caught in spam filter's automatic moderation queue for some reason. Just getting around to looking at iRF's comments on a Saturday morning. :-)

      Bryon

  34. Alex_Kaine

    I found the article very interesting and then I got to the images…. After that, continuing to read the article became difficult. I scrolled down to the read the comments to see if I was the only one who felt this way, and I was relieved to see that I am not.

    I am not vegan, nor vegetarian and I highly doubt I ever will be. I am not opposed to hunting. I have a great deal respect for someone that bow hunts rather then hunts using a rifle. But I do take issue with including images of the dead disembodied animals, or corpses being modeled for a post mortum photo op. I feel it detracts from the message which (from my reading and understanding of the article) Mike is exploring innate primal drive of survival and sharing how that drive connects and is expressed through his desire to run and hunt. The images seem to suggest something else entirely – that the reason we run and hunt is to collect trophies and pose with them (again very human and evolutionary based but a completely different topic and before you judge who hasn't taken a picture with that 100 mile buckle). However, I don't think the point of the article is to explore the human desire to trophy collect and so I find the images not only graphically inappropriate but disconnected from the articles theme. Images of people cooking or eating or an image of the boots fashioned from the animal pelt would not only be less graphic but better demonstrate how the animal's death fulfilled the survival drive.

  35. DaveC

    Bryon, big ups for publishing this.

    I'd submit that on a landscape level the trauma inflicted by industrially farmed grains and produce shipped between hemispheres makes an ungulate with a bullet through the lungs inconsequential by comparison. Not seeing the virtual blood in your oatmeal is nothing but a failure of imagination.

  36. hugoportugal

    Can one image stop me from reading the article? Yes it can…
    Can one image stop me from reading the i-used-to-love-it-irunfar?… Yes it can.

    All the best… well not really.
    Hugo

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