…no, I don’t have actual video of spear hunting. Sorry if that’s false advertising.
I was shooting some footage for a documentary I’m working on with this naturalist guy, who was teaching a bunch of high school kids about animal tracking, camouflage, and wilderness survival skills.
During a break, he came over to me and said, “I get what you’re doing. It’s like spear hunting.”
I said, “huh?”
He explained –
In the days before the bow and arrow was invented, a tribe’s hunters would pursue big game with spears. And, as you might imagine, you have to get pretty close to kill a deer or an elk with a simple spear.
So, you don’t just chase an elk through the woods, throwing spears at it – which, if you think about it, is a pretty dubious proposition. No, a hunter spots an elk and follows it for days. He gets relatively close, and just hangs out there, in proximity.
The elk of course keeps a close eye on this hunter – who gradually, silently moves closer, until the elk is spooked by this strange presence, and bolts.
That’s where the tracking comes in: the hunter, in no great hurry, tracks the same elk until he finds it again, and repeats the same process – edging slightly closer, moving slowly and carefully, until the elk gets fed up and takes off again.
As the naturalist explained it, the elk simply can’t keep its guard up all the time – it gets more and more accustomed to having this human nearby, who still hasn’t made a single aggressive movement. Soon, the elk begins to accept the hunter’s presence, gives in to sheer familiarity, even starts to ignore him.
And still the hunter moves closer, until he’s well within range, maybe less than an arm’s length away, and waits for the best, unguarded moment. He strikes swiftly, catching the vulnerable, unsuspecting elk completely by surprise, and kills it.
Just like documentary filmmaking.
I loved that.