It does not take much to impress or excite me these days. As you may be well aware, I love receiving mail of any sorts. It could be a hyena swathed in bubble wrap or a leg lamp, as long as its addressed to me, I get really, maybe overly, excited about what lay therein. I become entranced by the sound of thunderstorms, rain thudding upon the roof like a thousand angry babies, pounding their tiny fists for a mushy breakfast. New kinds of wine I have never tried but taste of liquid velvet can turn an otherwise dreary day into one to be celebrated. The best part about being easily excited is that small things can spring up, catching me off guard and in the process, altering my entire day. Such an occurrence happened during my daily jaunt to work.
My new commute to my new work takes a lengthy twenty minutes. During these early-morning minutes I people watch, gazing into my fellow commuter’s chosen mode of transportation and wonder, who is this person? Where are they going? Why are they singing with such gusto and for that matter, what song is making them belt out like Celine Deon? I then catch myself singing whichever country station is played amidst 15 minutes of banter by the morning DJs. Last week’s journey to work was different than usual, as Charlotte was being bombarded by the finest of Nascar aficionados. Hence, gas prices around the track, which encompasses my homestead a mere mile away, increased due to multiplying demand. Fortunately, my work’s increased proximity to the racetrack allowed for cheaper gas. So, with an empty tank and a few spare minutes before work, I pulled into a gas station that had been catching my eye for weeks.
Orange flames met my gaze each day when I passed this particular gasoline establishment, their stagnant flickering left something to the imagination but worked nonetheless. I pulled in, stepped out of the jeep and noticed that the gas pumps were old, older than any other pumps I had ever operated in my short 24-span of life. My knee-length cowboy boots carried me to the counter where the nice gentleman informed me that using credit did not incur a higher price. I inquired about this and he informed me that since there was no way to change the price on the pump, cash and credit are seen as the same monetary entity. I thanked the man not only for his insight but also for his cheap gas and went on my way.
At this point, I was excited. Days before, DU had noted that back home in Indiana, he had used old pumps with the flipping dials which made it easier to make the gas price come to a full dollar, not one cent off. Hence, I took to this as a neat way to fill my Jeep with its life-sustaining fuel. I took the pump out of its hinge and inserted it into my car. I then stared at the pump as a whole. It then came to me that I had not the slightest clue as to how to begin pumping the gas. My eyes gazed around the whole of the area, knowing that I had seen piles of cars waiting for gas previously, but no one met my gaze. Alone in a gas station ghost town, I had to rely on my not-so-keen commonsense skills to pump the gas. I began pushing any buttons, pulling on any levers that looked like it would help. Mercifully, a lever flipped down and gas began its jubilant freefall into my vehicle.
This pump posed a few problems, but I was able to figure it out with a level of ease. Best of all, my gas was cheaper and bringing it to an exact dollar was simple. I will return to the flame-riddled station not only because their product is cheap but also because the pumps give me a taste of life gone by, easier and more precise in its engineering.
Days prior to this, I read an article by my friend and fellow blogger, Albert Quackenbush. Besides having an amazing last name, Quackenbush is also a devoted bowhunter and advocate for hunter support. I stumbled upon a posting he crafted which bashed a news story about how “technology has made [hunting] too easy for real hunters”. The article itself was absolutely ludicrous; from starting that compound bows travel “faster than a bullet” to claiming that high-tech gear gives hunters an “unfair advantage” over their prey. Quackenbush battles many of the points beautifully and reflected many of my own thoughts upon reading the article. If I were able to hunt the way that the author of this article is describing, I would still be feasting upon the 18 deer, daily limit of ducks and multitudinous gaggle of goose I harvested with dynamite this season past. Quackenbush debates many of the points within the article so there is not much for me to touch here, besides the point about technology. As I saw in my old-gas pump adventure, my purchase was not only cheaper using older pumps but also more exact, more precise in its price. However, the process of actually getting the gas was difficult in its execution, which can be a beautiful analogy in terms of modern hunting.
Hunting is a primitive action that has been done for as long as anyone can remember, as told on cave walls drawn with an archaic hand. Today, modern conveniences have transformed hunting but has it really gotten “easier” because of it? As Quackenbush so eloquently puts it, “Sure, [technology] gives us an advantage, but you give the impression that those of us that hunt with a compound are flinging arrow after arrow and bringing down an animal every time we shoot. This is far from the case.” The author attacks the cushy, modern technology that makes hunting, apparently, easy. However, as we have seen with the gas pumps, technological advancement, in our society, is a necessary evil. Individuals are working to constantly change how things are done, either to make them more cost efficient, easier or just more effective in execution. The author’s lack of statistics, besides the patronage of a primite bowhunting magazine, is startling as his points are made with no real statistical evidence to prove his points. Hence, there can be no case made that compound bow users relish in the “ease” of hunting as opposed to recurve enthusiasts.
A point also needs to be made concerning his hunting upbringing. The author in question was raised hunting primitively; hence his predilection towards such hunting was born early. In contrast, I was introduced to hunting relatively later in life. However, I shoot a recurve, muzzleloader, and compound bow without any distinction between them, primitive or modern. I see the value in antiquated hunting techniques but at the same time, utilize technology in order to hunt more effectively. With all of the restrictions placed on hunters today (ie: location, permits, bag limits and the like), it is almost impossible, except if you’re living in Texas on an over-abundant game destination, to come home with wild game to feast on if one does not employ all hunting techniques in his or her arsenal, old and new.
This point became ever more apparent to me while I was watching my favorite program on TV, Swamp People. This season is better than the last (if that is possible) as the creators of the show decided to incorporate some more colorful characters of the Louisiana swamp. Glenn and Mitchell Guist resemble swamp fossils. They employ the same tactics as their ancestors to acquire sustenance off the land from catching frogs in their bare feet to roasting some freshly harvested squirrel for dinner. In the latest episode, the dynamic duo take advantage of the full moon by venturing out into the night to catch frogs. After a successful night, the men return home via a swampy, dangerous waterway . On the way, the car battery they were using to charge their flashlights begins to die. Slowly and painfully, the light dwindles until the men are enveloped in darkness. The opaque screen stays until a lamp comes into view. Never leaving home without their grandfather’s trusty lamp, the boys use the day’s-old technology to light their way home. However, the lamp emits just enough to ward off a small amount of the night and the boys are stuck in their boat until sunrise. They wake up just 50 feet from their truck.
During their entire ordeal, I kept thinking back to the article that Quackenbush had so beautifully argued against. The boys used a modern technology that failed on them so they revered back to using a tool their grandfather depended on a century beforehand. While that technology worked, it did not work effectively enough to get the pair safely home. They trusted on instinct and ended up exactly where they needed to be. Hence, I argue that it is not simply the technology that makes hunting, or being in the outdoors, easy, nor is it the use of primitive tools that makes hunting more difficult. It is in the cohesive use of the two together, combined with the user’s primal instinct and outdoor knowledge that makes a hunt successful. That, and a little common sense.