Hunting Without Harming

A “hurtless hunt” is an accessible way to connect with wildlife. Use this nature walk to track and spot animals, and even to observe how to improve their lives!

| April 2017

  • If your nature walk will be a long one away from home, don’t forget to pack the essentials for animal identifications and for emergencies!
    Illustration by Lisel Ashlock
  • A field guide to animal tracks is the perfect way to identify which critters may have passed before you.
    Illustration by Lisel Ashlock
  • “Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better” by Tracey Stewart.
    Cover courtesy Artisan Books

Combining straightforward facts, practical advice, DIY projects, and personal stories, animal advocate and former veterinary technician Tracey Stewart has written Do Unto Animals (Artisan Books, 2015). This book is a passionate and important guide toward awareness of just how easy it can be to help pets and livestock as well as wildlife. Stewart’s desire for a kinder world is apparent in every section, and she details just how joyful it is to enrich the lives of our creatures.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Do Unto Animals.

The Hurtless Hunt: How It Works

It’s not hard to have a Hurtless Hunt — there are just four steps. You can do a solo Hurtless Hunt and connect with nature in a whole new way. Or try it with your mate, your kids (and maybe a few of their friends — but not too many, since noise will scare away the critters), or some friends of yours. You might stay in your own backyard, or you might venture into nearby woods, fields, water areas, or parks. The trick is to get quiet, tune in, and open your eyes and ears. I guarantee that the Hurtless Hunt will open your heart to the many creatures living and working all around you. If you really pay attention, you’re sure to come up with a way you can help them.

1. Pack your bag

I have my kids pack a bag with items they’ll need to identify the animals we encounter on walks. They take notes and make sketches of what they see along the way. Pack your bag with what you’ll need to jot down notes and capture every detail you see. Remember to be prepared and carry anything you might need in case of an emergency — from a map to a first-aid kit!

2. Choose a spot, head outside, and observe

Keep your eyes open to spot the various animals living around you. Whether you’re in your backyard, in the park, or in the woods, remember that the sound of your steps will alert animals to go into hiding. Tread lightly, and try standing still every once in a while. After several minutes of stillness, you may see or hear animals that were nowhere to be found when you first arrived.

I always remind my kids to keep their distance, be respectful, and be careful not to frighten the animals, disturb their work, or encroach on their turf (don’t touch or handle nests, webs, or other places critters frequent).

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