Posted: 4/2/2001 8:37:48 PM EDT
Wolves Circling the Fire
Of Beasts and of Tyrants
Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
There was a time in Man's evolution when he huddled around the nighttime
fire gazing outward at the glowing ring of eyes - the predators who viewed
man only as food. A few of these predators came in and joined Man at the
fire and became dogs. Others remained outside and have always been wolves.
These early Men learned to build structures, not only to keep out the rain
and the cold, but to protect Man and his weaker family members from the
ever-present wolf, who circled hungrily and constantly, always ready to
snatch as a meal any unwary member of Man's family.
In fact, one might reasonably view Man's entire development and the
creation of civilization as a process of fortifying against wolves, chief
among Man's predators. So, the process of civilization has been a contest
against wolves, with savagery and risk being at one end of the scale, and a
complicated system and evolution of security being at the other.
There are people nowadays who believe we need more wolves. There are
people who have understandable trouble grasping and accepting the great
complexity that modern Man's society has become, and who openly or secretly
yearn for more primitive and simpler times, where lines are more clearly
drawn, and the customs, associations and processes are not complex. These
people thrill with a comprehension of that which is wild and primitive in a
way that Jack London would certainly understand.
However, there is a reason for the colloquialism, to "keep the wolf from
the door." Because of its insatiable predation and unending hostility to
Man, the reputation of the wolf properly echoes down through the corridors
of time as the enemy of Man, and perhaps the greatest single impetus for
Man's journey along the path of civilization.
So, the contemporary struggle between those who wish more wolves to share
space with man, and those who still seek to protect themselves and their
families from wolves, may be viewed as a struggle between the progress and
regress of civilization itself.
The equation becomes more interesting when one notices that the leading
supporters for the pro-wolf, civilization-regression often live most
closely in the heart of civilization, in the steel and glass constructs of
Man's major hives. These may be the people most harried by the press and
complexity of modern society. For them, the advocacy is strictly an
intellectual exercise, a remote game they might play as in a game arcade at
the shopping mall.
Would these same supporters send their children to play in the forests and
hills where real, live, hungry, flesh-eating wolves actually roam? Only if
they are so genetically removed from Man's heritage that they have lost all
personal survival instinct.
Yet, it is a tribute to the complexity of our society that these same,
well-fortified city dwellers, living in circumstances designed to "keep the
wolf from the door", can compel others of us living in the forests and
hills to live with those ancient enemies of Man constantly in our midst.
They make their warm and fuzzy movies about wolves, they give the wolves
names agreeable to children, they promote wolves as friendly,
(almost)stuffed animals to schoolchildren, but return each night to the
civilized security of their glass and steel caves, where their flocks and
their children remain protected against Man's ancient adversary. In their
understandable yearning for simpler times, they are selfishly willing to
expose others of their kind to risks and predation that they do not and
will not suffer.
Whatever the motives of the predator-advocates, the effect is undeniable.
Not only the flocks of Man suffer, the billions of dollars sportsmen have
invested in restoring and enhancing populations of deer, antelope, elk,
sheep, moose and goats is disappearing at a disastrous rate. So, the
predation occurs at an alarming and increasing rate, if not upon the flesh
of Man, then on his wallet, his estate, and his ability to survive
Under these circumstances, one might ask, who are the predators? Are the
predator advocates not preying on the others who will suffer the
consequences? I believe that the predator advocates actually understand
their own predator status, and are convinced they have the power and right
to compel the conduct of the prey - the others of their kind who will
suffer from their schemes. When they identify the animals for which they
advocate as elite and powerful, they also see themselves as elite and
powerful - an identity transference of sorts. The obvious question is,
when will those who they view as prey, upon whom they would vent their
predatory savagery, when will the prey wake up and understand the nature of
To bring the discussion full circle, those who believe we need more wolves
may be right, albeit for the wrong reasons. Maybe we have been too long
without predators, and we are getting soft. Maybe we need predators and
tyrants nibbling around the flanks of our flocks and families to challenge
us to rebuild the fortifications and sharpen our marksmanship. But, the
predators against whom we must fortify are those among our own kind who are
comfortable seeing us as prey, those who would threaten the survival of our
freedoms for their own whims, the would-be tyrants who would prey upon our
liberties to serve their own agendas.
Maybe the wolves are a blessing - a wake-up call. If we are not awakened
from our slumbers near the fire by the howling out in the darkness, maybe
we deserve to be food for the tyrants.
intresting, but i like "of wolf and man" by metallica. acually, that song can be inturpeted to really be about hunting, if you lister the the words.
i feel a change
back to a better day,
the hair stands on the back of my neck,
in wildness is the preservation of the world
Seek the wolf in thy self
It's not about hunting.
Potshot, I am the last of my family who will ever likely live on a farm. I live in a suburb of Dallas presently, but my family farm is still awaiting my retirement in West Texas.
In the meantime, I go there every chance I get.
The fact that the place is crawling with wildlife is it's very draw for me. In addition to the occasional Mexican or gray wolf, there are mountain lions (seen [u]one[/u] in the past 30 years, about 1995, but tracks everywhere), Russian and European Boar, and rattlesnakes out the wazoo!
Now I'm not making a living off the farm like the farmers and ranchers in Montana might be, but the cost of a calf or two here and there to coyotes, etc., always seemed to me to be a pretty good trade for the totally enjoyable life that I could live there.
I think the idea of 're-wolving' the West ain't such a bad (or even a liberal) idea.
Kinda like the weather - it get's pretty rough out there, but the beauty of a sunset, colored by the dust storms upsetting the fields of farmers further west, is a small price to pay for a life you have chosen with eyes wide open.
Knowing, of course, that the dust of my fields would provide the glorious sunsets to those further to the east of mine, and so on.
So when it comes to wolves being released onto the open prairie, farms or no farms, I cannot say but that I catch my breath and remember the ancient Latin prayer [i]'Libre nos a lupis'[/i]
('Deliver us from wolves').
When I was young, I remember sitting around the campfire at that same farm with members of my extended family. The coyotes would give us a evening concert and the Granddaddys would tell us a story or two about the 'olden days' when Texas was more of a dream than a reality, when Injuns were indeed behind every bush, and how if'n the crop didn't come in the way it should, we'd all have move to into town and get jobs until next planting season.
But when the wolves began their howling, even the Grandfathers would hold their voices and check their weapons. It must have been from force of habit from the days of blackpowder, but even men with centerfires would swing open the cylinder or check the action, all in unison.
All the while making like it was just a casual thing for them to do.
We kids would just swallow hard and say nothing
as the adult men would gather away from the fire to discuss the location of the cattle, the proximity of the wolf, or wolves, or whatever, all out of earshot of women and children. We didn't breath much until they took their seats, at last. Then a rush of such a feeling would overwhelm you that you knew in your little heart of hearts that God was indeed in heaven and all was right with the world!
Until, that is, you realized your father and your favorite uncle had not reappeared with the others and were off on some group-sanctioned mission in the dark. You didn't even dare ask what they might be doing. They're just checking the gates. Maybe.
Minutes turn to hours in your mind and then the crack of a Finnish military-rifle-turned-sporter, followed seconds later by the crack from a similar rifle. By the time your father and uncle returned, it was truly time to go to bed and sleep the sleep of the Redeemed.
BTW, did they get the wolf? Dunno, they never said. Like they were both in New Guinea, Luzon
and the rest of the Philippines. Did they kill any Japanese? Dunno, they never said.
So let the children be gathered, let the womenfolk be warned to stay in