Category Archive '“Being a Beast”'

27 Jun 2016

Hunting From the Other Side

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CharlesFoster

Charles Foster is a modern incarnation of the madly eccentric British naturalist, traveller and explorer. He teaches Medical Law & Ethics at Oxford, is a Barrister, and is a qualified veterinary surgeon.

In his latest book, Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide, Foster has a go at living as a badger, an otter, an urban fox, a red deer and a swift. Frank Buckland would be proud.

Outside Magazine excerpts Foster’s account of being hunted, like a red deer, by one of Britain’s bloodhound packs.

I was behaving very much like a hunted deer. My adrenals were pumping out cortisol and adrenaline. The cortisol made me taut. (The next day its immunosuppressive effect threw open the drawbridge of my throat to an invading virus.) Blood was diverted from my gut to my legs. Though I was slumping from the effort, I’d stop from time to time, hold my head up high, and reflexively sniff. If I’d had mobile ears they’d have pricked and swiveled. Though I looked for water, as deer do, to cool me and to send my scent spiraling away, I ran on the driest ground I could find. I knew (from well before birth, rather than because I’d read books and watched hounds) that dry earth doesn’t hold scent well, or, if it holds it, hugs the particles close, leaving few for snuffling noses.

Unlike a deer, though, I longed to be out of the wood. It’s often very difficult for staghounds to push deer into the open. Sometimes it takes hours. The deer double back, lie flat in deep cover, and saber-rattlingly confront hounds rather than breaking out.

It would have made sense for me to stay in the wood. Scent bounces off trees like balls in a pinball machine and eddies like the dark, curd-coated corners of the East Lyn River. It’s hard for even the most educated nose to read it there. Out in the open, there’s a slime trail of scent through the grass. It points in the direction of the prey.

My preference for the open was therefore strange. I suppose we want to die where we’ve evolved, just as an overwhelming majority of people say that they’d prefer to die at home.

Read the whole thing.

What can I say other than: “Lieu in, hounds! Hunt him up! Tear him and eat him!”?


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