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Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase

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Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase

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This chapter takes a reflective approach in exploring hunting as a form of outdoor recreation with benefits to the returning combatant. This is explored in a few sequential steps, by first introducing the author's own intertwined military and outdoor recreation story, moving into the transition of that history into scholarly interests, and finally briefly describing his current research and preliminary results regarding hunting and the return of the warrior.
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Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
1
Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase
Keith G. Tidball, Ph.D.
Cornell University
Outdoor recreation is gaining attention as a novel and very useful modality for dealing with a
host of ailments and injures that returning combatants face. As a veteran I have my own outdoor
recreation experiences to augment my own interest in this phenomenon, and as a scholar and
practitioner in this area, I have followed with fascination the proliferation of this approach. I
began tracking organizations involved in outdoor recreation targeted specifically at injured
returning warriors in 2007. At that time I was only aware of a handful of small groups making
efforts, and now, there are hundreds, many of them extremely well -funded and organized.
Within this growth of outdoor recreation focused upon returning warriors generally, there has
been a corresponding increase in consumptive outdoor recreation programs, mainly dealing with
recreation forms such as fishing and hunting. However, at the recent gathering of scientists and
practitioners which was the impetus for this volume, there was virtually no mention of hunting or
hunting organizations. I found this perhaps unintentional exclusion interesting from multiple
standpoints; as a scholar, as a veteran, and as a hunter. This chapter takes a reflective approach in
exploring hunting as a form of outdoor recreation with benefits to the returning combatant. I
explore this in a few sequential steps, by first introducing my own intertwined military and
outdoor recreation story, moving into the transition of my own history into scholarly interests,
and finally briefly describing current research and preliminary results regarding hunting and the
return of the warrior.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
2
Background
I was an outdoors kid, steeped in the prairies, woods and lakes of rural Minnesota. My identity as
a child was wrapped up in the historical characters of Redwood Falls and A Little House on the
Prairie, where I grew up. I dreamt of adventures like those of the soldiers of Fort Ridgley and
Birch Coulee where I played as a child, or of the ones Paul Bunyan had, or the voyageurs, in the
lands to the north where we vacationed every summer. I loved to fish, to attempt to hunt or trap.
In the old family photo albums, there are funny pictures of me wearing my uncle’s woodland
camo BDU’s (he retired from the Army as a Colonel) while playing in the back yard as a
youngster. I imagined myself as some kind of hunter warrior to be sure, and I suppose it was
then that “the military” became something more than an abstraction to me. Though my father
served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and my grandfather in the Navy during the
WWII era, my only connection to these men’s service were fairly traditional black and white
military portraits on the mantle. But putting on the uniform, or the parts of my uncle’s uniform
that would fit, hefting my Daisy Red Rider BB gun and heading out for untold boyhood
adventures helped me begin to situate myself in the service of the United States of America.
The transition from boyhood fantasy to the realities of entering manhood began when our family
moved to Detroit. I was like a fish out of water, frequently depressed by my suddenly new urban
environs. But I found solace in the hidden wild places, sections of the Middle Rouge and the Flat
Rock river, became my oasis of escape. I coped, I grew up. I enlisted as an infantry private in
1990 in the Michigan National Guard, at the Detroit Light Guard Armory. I was a reasonably
smart kid, and also athletic. I was a captain of the high school football team and had entertained
options to play scholarship football in a few regional NCAA Division II schools, but instead
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
3
opted to accept an offer from Albion College to play football, and to benefit from what was in
my opinion a far superior academic experience. But the National Guard would be my back-up
plan, and I would not only have the GI Bill, but a better summer job than most.
Some NCAA Division III rule changes, or more accurately some tightening up on existing rules,
made my financial aid situation at Albion College untenable, and I was forced to move on. At
the same time, having successfully attended basic training and advanced infantry training at Fort
Benning where I felt like for the first time in my life I was truly thriving, I was scheming to find
a way out of my very traditional National Guard contract and into a new arrangement where I
could pursue more elite levels of military service Air Assault, Airborne, Ranger, maybe even
Green Beret. So I moved to Kentucky, transferred into the Kentucky National Guard, and was
then in proximity to Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. I worked hard as a grenadier in my platoon,
while continuing my studies in Kentucky, and was eventually tapped for Officer Candidates’
School. I spent a year completing OCS at the Kentucky Military Academy at Fort Knox, where I
graduated first in my class, honor graduate, which meant I had my choice of duty stations.
During this period in Kentucky, I also began to bow hunt for whitetail deer.
I had heard of members of certain Kentucky National Guard units engaged in reconnaissance and
other related work in support of marijuana eradication efforts in eastern Kentucky (Potter et al.,
1990, Mendel, 1992), which I interpreted as another potential step in the direction I wanted to go
with my military career. I was happy to be assigned in 1993 to a mechanized infantry unit in
eastern Kentucky as an infantry platoon leader, and was quite vocal about my desires to be
involved in these “high speed” activities. Perhaps too vocal as it turns out.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
4
I enjoyed stopping by favorite mountain streams to fish, or just to hike and decompress after drill
weekends, on my way back to the Lexington area where I lived at the time. I was still developing
my skills as an archery whitetail hunter, and had been thinking of scouting some public land on
the route to the armory where I was posted that I had seen on one of my stream excursions. I had
a drill weekend upcoming, and had my uniforms hanging by the hanger hook in the back seat. It
was a normal day, and a day that forever changed my life. I was identified as a soldier, as a
Kentucky National Guardsmen by unknown individuals, who ambushed me in the darkness on
my way back home from this trip. I sustained multiple head wounds, and extensive damage to
my right eye. I don’t remember how, but I somehow managed to make my way to a friend’s
residence, who brought me to my apartment, and shortly after, to much needed medical attention.
I missed drill that weekend, enduring a few days of excruciating pain and equally excruciating
shame -- I was so embarrassed that I had let this happen to me. I was ashamed to tell my story to
the authorities, to my chain of command, even to my own family. As time passed, my eye injury
worsened. I tried to avoid being medically discharged by seeking a transfer to the Inactive Ready
Reserve, hoping to buy time, so that I could have the surgeries that would make my vision whole
again, so that I could continue my mission as a soldier, continue my training, and achieve my
goals to be a part of the Army’s elite forces. But each surgery failed to improve my condition. I
got worse, my vision decreased. I became depressed and angry.
On Sept 10th, 2001 I had my last eye surgery. I lay in my recovery bed on the morning of
September 11th, 2001. I will never forget the surreal events of that day, nor the bitterness that
rose up inside of me because I fully realized that I would not be joining the fight. I was a dud, a
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
5
“lots of potential” firework that failed to burst. I would ride the bench for the fight of my
generation. I wanted to die.
The Path to the Research
I will continue to return to the story above, as I describe the path that led me to my current work
regarding hunting and the return of the warrior. The path begins with the reading of an
important book called A Sand County Almanac (Leopold, 1949) wherein the author espouses a
single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The
land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and
animals, or collectively the land” (p. 204). I took from this a broadened sense of the community,
that included the landscape, and I wanted to further my involvement in deepening my connection
to the community expressed this way. I realized that I had become disconnected from myself, my
family, and the world around me, and Leopold’s work inspired me to think about reentering thru
the back door, thru renewing relationships with the land.
Until my vision in my right eye finally gave out, I continued to learn to be an archery hunter,
finding this pursuit to be my preferred pathway to attempting to reconnect with the community
as I understood it. I felt better when I was hunting, or even thinking about hunting. I had a sense
of pursuing something again, a goal, an elite status of being a skilled archery hunter. One day a
well-meaning neighbor brought me a deer that he had killed. He said something like “I know you
have been down lately, and that you are struggling to shoot a deer too, so I brought you one.”
Regrettably, I exploded on the well-intended friend and hurled invectives and shouted him away.
Minutes later, as he drove off, I felt sorrow and remorse about the way I treated him. My wife
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
6
approached and expressed dismay; we were struggling financially as students, and the meat
would have helped. I had to fight not to explode again.
I later discovered an explanation for what I felt that day, by the philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset
(1972). In his classic work Meditations on Hunting, he says that “One does not hunt in order to
kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted...If one were to present the sportsman with
the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to
conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it:
the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.”
This was another “Aha” for me, along with the work of Leopold. Not only did hunting hold out
the possibility for me to reconnect via the land ethic, it also presented a unique form of mastery,
with multiple ancillary benefits. As I continued to study Ortega y Gasset, another quote from him
intrigued me; A good hunter's way of hunting is a hard job which demands much from
man[sic]: he must keep himself fit, face extreme fatigues, accept danger. It involves a complete
code of ethics of the most distinguished design: the hunter who accepts the sporting code of
ethics keeps his commandments in the greatest solitude, with no witnesses or audience other than
the sharp peaks of the mountain, the roaming cloud, the stern oak, the trembling juniper, and the
passing animal” (p.31).
Finally, the vision in my right eye degraded so completely that I could no longer shoot my bow. I
had completed my college studies, and all of the other attractions (military career advancement)
that held me in Kentucky faded with my vision. I turned my attention to other service to my
country, and my wife and I vacated our home, selling many things including the bow and
accessories, and moved to Washington DC. I was hopeful about a new direction, but lived with
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
7
deep turmoil and shame regarding my episodic military service. And the brief respite brought
about by hunting and my reading about it seemed to have been taken away by my vision’s
deterioration as well. But as we settled in to our home on Capitol Hill and our new existence, I
did not forget the glimpse of connectedness to community that hunting provided.
In time, while working as an international affairs expert for the US Government, a colleague I
worked closely with mentioned that I should meet her husband sometime, that he enjoyed the
outdoors too, and had taken up hunting. Shortly thereafter, my wife and I dined with my
colleague and her husband. The husband and I hit it off and became friends. He soon began to
show me his favorite spots, but it was summer so we were exploring, not hunting. On one of
these excursions, it was decided that we should take advantage of a firing range on one of the
state management areas. Though I was nervous about my eye, I agreed.
My friend was relatively new to hunting, but he enjoyed the classic workmanship of old side by
side shotguns and the mystique associated with them in terms of upland bird hunting. Like many
outdoorspeople, he also had a Remington 870 shotgun. We first tried our hand at the pump
shotgun. I was much better at throwing the clay pigeons for him to shoot than hitting them as a
gunner; I couldn’t hit a single one, much to my supreme embarrassment. I felt the old anger in
me growing about my eye injury, and the associated frustration and sense of injustice. I was a
great shot not too long ago, and had badges dangling from a uniform to prove it. Now I was a
terrible shot. I continued though, keeping my angst inside as best I could. My friend suggested I
try the side by side, that it was easier to swing and shoot, but the results were the same. Finally,
after several more misses I blurted angrily “I can’t do this ‘cause I am F-ing blind!” There was
silence. My friend didn’t flinch, and he didn’t ask for details. He looked at me for a moment and
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
8
suggested softly, “Try it left handed.” I had stinging tears of frustration in my eyes, and was
tempted to shout him away like I had another friend earlier, but I did not want to ruin another
friendship. I said, flatly, “No. I have never done anything left-handed.” He looked at me, loaded
the side by side and handed it to me, and then loaded a clay pigeon to be launched. “Let me
know when you are ready, soldier.”
The moment became clear, slowed down, the sound around me diminished. I felt challenged and
doubtful all at once. It was a confrontation… I was confronting possibility, opportunity. Here in
the field, on a range, out with a future hunting buddy, was a moment put before me pregnant
with the possibility of a breakthrough or of more failing. I felt that metallic taste of pressure,
like so many times in infantry training or field operations. I remember clearly the words “make it
happen” going through my mind. I exhaled, and startled myself with the volume of my command
“PULL!” The fluorescent orange disk sailed off straight away and rising. I raised the side by
side to my left shoulder and tracked the moving target behind the bead, surprised at how well I
could see it. I fired. It shattered. I moved the tang safety to safe and lowered the gun, still staring
down range. Was that beginners luck? I replaced the expended casing with a new shell, closed
the breach, and looked to my friend, who had already loaded another disk. “Ready?” I asked.
“Ready” he replied. “Pull!” I yelled again. This time I missed with the first barrel but connected
with the second. We repeated this sequence many, many more times that day. Left-handed, I shot
about 75% on my first try. There were no soap-opera sob-fests, or hugs, but when I had shot
enough for one session, I handed the side by side back to my friend, and simply said thanks. To
this day, I am not sure he fully appreciates what he did for me that day, but I know that I went
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
9
home with a fire in my belly. It was a road-to-Damascus-like conversion, a sudden realization
that I did not have to be imprisoned by my new disability.
A short time later, my wife and my new friend conspired to purchase a side by side 20 gauge LC
Smith shotgun for my 30th birthday. I was able to go to the gun shop, now closed, and pick from
a huge number of beautiful doubles. The one I chose was one that the store owner initially
discouraged me from considering. “It is damaged, scarred” he said. “Really? Let me see that
one” I replied. I looked it over. It had an eye-shaped scar on the hand guard. “I’ll take it.”
About a month after 9-11, my friend encouraged me to come with him on a trip to Maine to hunt
grouse and woodcock. I agreed, and we travelled via airports, and planes that were virtually
empty. I was pensive, dealing with a huge new dose of turmoil, regret and remorse, guilt and
anger, in that, as mentioned earlier, I would not be getting any better in terms of my head injuries
and vision in my right eye, and that my career in the infantry was effectively over on the eve of
the fight of my generation. I was vexed, but trying to hold on to the sweet memory of that
summer day on the range where I began my odyssey as a left eyed shooter and hunter. Arriving
in Maine, we rented a vehicle and drove through glorious October-glazed northern forest,
through Baxter State Park, and to the Allagash River drainage and the Great Northern Forest.
We arrived at a remote cabin on the lake, with no running water or electricity, and were greeted
with the sound of a loon calling as we opened the doors. Already, I was feeling refreshed and
renewed, breathing in the familiar scents of balsam, pine, and the smell of a birch wood fire.
Though I was meeting the rest of the party who were total strangers, I felt lighter than usual.
The ensuing week-long hunting expedition involved hiking mountains, paddling remote rivers
and lakes, wildlife encounters, first kills, dog handling, camaraderie and teamwork, land
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
10
navigation, barracks life, home cooked meals. There were six of us on that trip, and those men
have become my best friends. At the completion of the trip, on the drive out of the forest, I
commented to the friend who brought me that I was happier than I had been in a long time.
“Why do you think that is?” he asked me. I replied, “because I feel alive again, like I
accomplished something, like I am thriving… like I felt in the infantry,,,”
Since those dark days of 2001 I have thought a great deal about my progress, such as it is, and I
am convinced that that day on the range and the trip to Maine were saving graces. I decided in
2002 to leave DC and moved my family to upstate New York to begin work at Cornell and to
make it my life’s work to rejoin the community, in the Leopoldian sense. As a part of those
efforts, I have focused a large portion of my work on better understanding the benefits of outdoor
recreation for wounded warriors, especially hunting and fishing. I have interviewed dozens of
veterans while hunting or fishing with them on expeditions like the one I described above, and I
have heard powerful stories, some like mine, some focusing on other aspects of what hunting and
fishing bring them, but in virtually all cases, the underlying theme is healing.
The Research in Brief
I was able to successfully compete for some funding to further explore the healing benefits of
outdoor recreation for wounded warriors. In order to get an initial understanding of the universe
of values associated with specifically hunting and fishing, I convened groups of veterans in the
Fort Drum area to explore how outdoor recreation helped them reintegrate with their families and
communities.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
11
I employed a method I have called “Collaborative ‘Cut and Paste’ Concept Mapping” (C3M)
wherein participants are broken up into teams of 3-5 persons and are then given a simple task to,
in this case, map the multiple ways in which outdoor recreation is important to veteran
reintegration. Participants are given no elaboration on the task and outcome, but are simply given
a large supply of magazines ranging from general health magazines, hunting and fishing
magazines, non-consumptive outdoor recreation magazines, gardening and hobby farming
magazines, lifestyle magazines, and electronic industry magazines. They are also given scissors,
glue sticks, sticky notes, a package of markers of different colors, and easel paper. Participants
are then instructed to spend the first 15 minutes of group time “brainstorming” what they as a
group feel are the important meanings and messages they would like to depict, and sketching a
general schematic of how they will depict these meanings and messages on their final C3M map.
Participants then begin a 90 minute period of interactivity to create the C3M map.
This method is useful both in terms of the final product, which is a visually interesting and
conceptually intriguing collage, and in terms of the interaction opportunity to share with fellow
veterans in a topic-focused, collaborative and creative endeavor. The following images are
examples of the themes and linkages generated via this method.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
12
Figure 1. Two Collaborative ‘Cut and Paste’ Concept Mapping” (C3M) posters developed by
combat veterans in the Fort Drum area.
Figure 2. Images and concepts from C3M exercise wherein participants report concepts and
values such as reward, personal growth, maturity, patience and safety.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
13
Figure 3. A C3M image with descriptors focusing on notions of togetherness, being with
someone in the outdoors.
Figure 4. Multiple concepts are represented on this C3M including peace and solitude, goal
orientation, and stewardship.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
14
Figure 5. In addition to values of love, respect, and connection to nature, this C3M cluster
indicates a strong feminine notion of interrelation, illustrating that the values of hunting as
therapeutic outdoor recreation are not necessarily limited to males.
Figure 6. This is C3M image and interpretation point to one of the more recurring themes in
hunting as outdoor recreation, a complex notion of family, feeling need and part of a group, and
the ability to mentor junior members of the group.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
15
Figure 7. An example of the importance of problem-solving and mastery in outdoor recreational
activities.
Figure 8. This C3M clearly emphasizes notions of re-connectedness, and the relationship
between interaction with animals and outdoor settings.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
16
Figure 9. Another iteration of the importance of sanctuary, quiet relaxation, and simplicity.
I used the general themes and concepts that emerged from the C3M to develop a semi-structured
interview protocol, which I then used over a period of years with an organization focused on
hunting for combat wounded veterans, interviewing roughly fifty men and women. I attended
and participated in the hunting excursions and informed my fellow veterans about my objectives,
but down-played any academic activities for the first few days, instead focusing on hunting and
relationship building. By day three or four on each event, enough social capital had been
generated to make the interviews relaxed and free-flowing, with the interviewees feeling
uninhibited and not threatened. Though these interviews offer myriad specific and idiosyncratic
explanations for why hunting had been a healing experience, especially hunting that occurred as
a part of organized outings sponsored by my partner organization, important themes and
concepts emerged across the interviews as well.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
17
To understand and organize these themes, I used Kellert’s biophilic values (Kellert, 2005), plus a
few additional themes that emerged from the interviews. Because this chapter is not intended to
be a research article, I will simply summarize the thematic organization and hope that the
interested reader will seek out the pertinent scientific research in journals.
Kellert has worked in the realm of biophilia for some time. I know him, and I know him to be a
hunter, so I didn’t worry too much that the biophilic values approach might not be appropriate. In
short, biophilia means “love of life” (Wilson, 1984, Kellert and Wilson, 1993) or the “attraction
to other living things.” Kellert refined this notion into a kind of typology of biophilic values or
expressions, as depicted below. I have added specific examples from the work with veterans to
more fully flesh out the values for this particular context.
Figure 10. Kellert’s Typology of Values of Nature, with examples from veteran hunter
interviews. Adapted from Gullone 2000 and Kellert 2005.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
18
Preliminarily, the first five values seem to be the most frequently mentioned in interview data,
though counts of specific instances for comparison are not yet available. As we continue to
interpret and analyze the data, we expect to be able to quantify the frequency and prevalence of
each value and likely subcategories of each value theme. The values listed above, though useful,
may miss some subtler nuances when it comes to what returning combatants report are the
therapeutic elements to hunting and hunting excursions.
Conclusion
Returning to my own story, though my wounds were not a result of closing with the enemy in the
traditional sense, I have been able to share incredibly moving experiences with other veterans
who see past that distinction to those things which we have in common. Many combat wounded
veterans have commiserated with me on the vagaries of survivor’s guilt, of shame, of feeling that
one has not done enough, performed at a high enough level, sacrificed enough. I don’t for a
minute equate my travails with those returning from the nation’s recent wars, but it has helped
me relate. Though up to this point my story speaks of the importance of key individuals and
events involving hunting that helped me to an epiphany that saved and then shaped my life, I
now see that a greater measure of healing awaited me, a salve unexpected.
Though my professional work is revealing a powerful form of healing in the form of hunting for
returning combat veterans, and peer-reviewed scientific publications will be the measures of this,
my personal healing has been magnified in ways unimaginable by having had the opportunity to
ruck up and join a handful of soon-to-be friends to go on a hunting expedition together. It is true
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
19
that I have gotten as much out of this as the people I have participated with. Returning to the
philosopher Ortega y Gasset mentioned earlier, it seems that what we are after is having to win
it, to conquer through our own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the
immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from our job, or
the jobs and duties we once had, or what we lost or left behind. It seems that we hunters, or
aspiring hunters, are seekers, like the climbers, and the paddlers, and the fly-fishers. But hunters
are seeking something besides the conquest of peaks or rapids, which are in themselves laudable.
The hunter warrior today seeks a reconciliation with the land, and a reconciliation and reframing
of spilling blood and taking life, and perhaps more importantly, reconstituting it in the form of
nourishment rather than the waste of life on the battlefield. Not all hunt or seek the will of the
proverbial red gods, but some do and those that do often experience intense reconnection to life,
atonement among brothers and sisters, a resurrection of a once-actualized self as a warrior, as a
proud and courageous member of the warrior class.
Some will argue about the wisdom of encouraging veterans to take up arms and hunt, fearing that
they will harm themselves or others. Most veterans I have interviewed find this insulting and
contradictory, given the sacred trust their oath entailed and the rifle that accompanied it. Some
will argue that there are safer forms of outdoor recreation, but again, like the climbers, the
paddlers, the hunter warriors I have lived and hunted with don’t necessarily equate safety with
healing. The return of the warrior is a struggle for the preservation of dignity, while learning how
to deal with loss without being personally diminished. Like other forms of outdoor recreation,
hunting is a unique approach to entering that struggle and prevailing. It is certainly not
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
20
necessarily superior to the other powerful therapeutic modalities in the field of outdoor
recreation; it is novel and unique because of its complexity and ability to fascinate.
Drawing on a hunting metaphor, as we came to understand at the recent meetings that are the
foundations of this book, the quiver representing therapeutic outdoor recreation has many
arrows, but is not full. There must be room for another arrow or two, and hunting would seem to
be an excellent candidate. As briefly described in this chapter, returning warriors report multiple
benefits from hunting activities, based in a suite of overlapping biophilic values. Further analysis
is warranted, and is under way, but more will need to be done. The work being introduced here
will hopefully represent the qualitative basis upon which to build rigorous quantitative studies
that will illuminate the mechanisms at work and account for success in meaningful and
measurable ways, in the hopes of better serving and understanding the hunter, outdoor recreation
and the return of the warrior.
References
Gullone, E. 2000. The Biophilia Hypothesis and Life in the 21st Century: Increasing Mental
Health or Increasing Pathology? Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 293-322.
Kellert, S. & Wilson, E. (eds.) 1993. The Biophilia Hypothesis, Washington, DC: Island Press.
Kellert, S. R. 2005. Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature
Connection, Washington, D.C, Island Press.
Leopold, A. 1949. A Sand County Almanac, Oxford University Press.
Mendel, W. W. 1992. Counterdrug StrategyIllusive Victory: From Blast Furnace to Green
Sweep. Military Review, 74-87.
Cite as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This
Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for
Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana , IL: Sagamore Publishing,
LLC.
21
Ortega y Gasset, J. 1972. Meditations on Hunting, trans. Howard Wescott. New York: Scribner.
Potter, G., Gaines, L. & Holbrook, B. 1990. Blowing Smoke: An Evaluation of Marijuana
Eradication in Kentucky. American Journal of Police 9, 97-116.
Wilson, E. O. 1984. Biophilia, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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El presente art�culo se centra en la modelizaci�n econ�mica y el an�lisis emp�rico de estructuras sostenibles del consumo privado, tratando de extender los modelos econ�micos convencionales de consumo. El punto de partida para el an�lisis de consumo sontenible de energ�a para el transporte es el concepto de funciones de producci�n de los hogares. El punto principal del an�lisis son los servicios de consumo derivados de una combinaci�n de stocks (sistema de transportes) y flujos (principalmente, energ�a). Los patrones de consumo sostenible pueden alcanzarse mediante una sustituci�n de flujos por stocks (por ejemplo, mejoras en la eficiencia energ�tica del sistema de transportes). Los dos factores esenciales en el contexto del consumo sostenible son, por un lado, los cambios en la demanda de los servicios de consumo deseados y, por otro, la estructura de la combinaci�n entre flujos y stocks necesarios para la provisi�n de dichos servicios. The paper focuses on economic modelling and empirical analysis of sustainable structures in private consumption and strives to extend conventional economic consumption models. Starting point for the model analysis of sustainable consumption of energy for transport purposes was the household production function concept. The focal point of the analysis is consumer services derived from a combination of stocks (transport systems) and flows (mainly energy). Sustainable consumption patterns can arise, when within service demand production substitution of flows by stocks (e.g. improvements in energy efficiency of transport systems) takes place. Two essential factors are crucial in the context of sustainable consumption: the demand shifts concerning the consumer services desired, and the composition of the stock-flow mix necessary for the service provision.
Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families
  • K G Tidball
as: Tidball, K.G. (2015). Hunting and the Return of the Warrior: Therapeutic Possibilities for the Chase. In This Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature's Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and their Families, Daniel Dustin, Editor. Urbana, IL: Sagamore Publishing, LLC. References Gullone, E. 2000. The Biophilia Hypothesis and Life in the 21st Century: Increasing Mental Health or Increasing Pathology? Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 293-322.
Meditations on Hunting, trans. Howard Wescott
  • J Ortega Y Gasset
Ortega y Gasset, J. 1972. Meditations on Hunting, trans. Howard Wescott. New York: Scribner.
  • S Kellert
  • E Wilson
Kellert, S. & Wilson, E. (eds.) 1993. The Biophilia Hypothesis, Washington, DC: Island Press.
Counterdrug Strategy-Illusive Victory: From Blast Furnace to Green Sweep
  • W W Mendel
Mendel, W. W. 1992. Counterdrug Strategy-Illusive Victory: From Blast Furnace to Green Sweep. Military Review, 74-87.