Sophomore Delaney Anderson smears camouflage paint on her cheeks to match her full-body disguise. After loading a book, cookies and her .243 rifle into the Jeep, Anderson heads out to her assigned deer stand. She gingerly sprinkles the cookies near the deer feeder, a unique trick acquired since elementary school, and sits down to wait for her first deer.
Anderson’s first kill came in the form of a deer in third grade. In the pouring rain of her grandparents’ South Carolina ranch, Anderson reaped the rewards of patience and a watchful eye by her father’s side.
Nearly every winter during the annual break, Anderson and her family spend nearly two and half weeks at her grandparents’ ranch. During this time, Anderson has become accustomed to a popular pastime often overlooked in Marin: hunting.
According to a recent Bark survey, 23 percent of students self-reported that they have been hunting before. Though since 1970, there has been an approximate 70 percent decline in hunting in California according to ABC7, however several Redwood students have discovered a connection with the sport in addition to or in place of traditional athletics.
Similar to Anderson, who was exposed to hunting as a child, junior Hunter Bueman has been hunting since he could explore outdoors with his dad.
“My dad was bird hunting since he was a young boy with his dad. I got into it because of him. I would walk the fields with him, not holding a gun or anything, but because it was a thing we would do. When I came of age, around ten, I started hunting,” Bueman said.
While Bueman goes on about ten big hunts yearly, Anderson usually does the majority of her hunting during winter break. For Bueman safety is the most important factor when it comes to hunting and in a typical hunting excursion, safety takes priority.
“We get the guns out of the gun safe, load up the truck, head out. We walk the field and always make sure we’re safe with that. You walk in a line when you’re hunting so you don’t walk in front or behind anybody. Make sure you don’t swing your rifle. There’s a lot of safety stuff,” Bueman said.
Senior Sam Mauro was also involved with the sport as part of a hunting group in Colorado. Though he did not grow up in a typical hunting community, his background of traditional English Fox Hunting in Colorado has given him a unique experience. Accompanied by 72 hounds and on horseback, Mauro and about 40 men and women of all ages clad in traditional English dress would trek over 160 acres of land every Sunday. In search of a sole coyote, the Hunt Master would trail behind the hounds leading the mass of people. This weekly tradition continued until Mauro moved to Marin in eighth grade.
“Everyone has to keep up on their horses, it’s going through a bunch of obstacles and it’s a lot of horsemanship. Going up and down embankments, under trees, through creek beds. The hounds get on the trail and catch up to the coyote. They’ll actually make the kill,” Mauro said.
Mauro found that the following potluck at his hunting club, the Arapahoe Hunt Club in Englewood Colorado, was equally as exciting as the hunt.
“My whole family would come. All our friends would come. Everybody would go, either follow the hunt in cars from a distance and watch or come together after the hunt to eat and talk about it,” Mauro said.
“If you’d never been on the hunt where a coyote was killed you get what’s called bloodied. That’s where they cut the paw of the coyote and smear the blood on you,” Mauro said as he demonstrated the path of blood along each side of his face.
After his move to Marin, Mauro has hunted less and began to build a skillset as a fisherman.
“There weren’t a lot of ponds near where I lived but now with the bay right here, I’ve turned more towards fishing,” Mauro said.
Though he has not fox-hunted recently, Mauro continues to interact with animals by through horseback riding and hopes one day to go into the veterinary field.
Bueman and Anderson both emphasized that they do not hunt for the purpose of killing. Bueman and his family eat everything they hunt, storing it in a freezer throughout the year and Anderson’s family even donates some of their hunted meat to shelters.
“You have to explain that you’re not killing the animal just to kill. It’s going towards a good cause: you’re eating it or donating. You’re going to a grocery store anyway. This way you actually experience what happens instead of just buying [meat],” Anderson said.
Bueman has received some pushback from the community, it has not halted his hobby.
“Every conversation I have goes differently. It’s definitely controversial around here, but most of my friends understand that I do it for meat. I don’t do it because I like killing things. Not a lot of people agree with it around here,” Bueman said.
Anderson believes she has had influence on her friends to try her out-of-the-ordinary hobby with her, especially with her recent interest in bowhunting and the purchase of her first bow. Anderson was influenced by her dad’s interest in bowhunting to try out a new type of hunting, different from her childhood experiences. Anderson recently obtained her first bow.
“That’s something that’s not like a gun. You can have a target in your backyard and shoot just to practice. My friends tried it and they really liked it. You introduce [hunting] to other people,” Anderson said.
Though Anderson now hunts by herself, it took a lot of practice before her dad felt comfortable letting her go alone.
“The first couple years my dad wanted to make sure I knew everything, how to track the deer if I killed it, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. Honestly with the deer stand, I bring a book because you have to wait. My heart beats,” Anderson said.
Mauro reflected upon hunting in comparison to other sports, noting that it doesn’t always bring the immense satisfaction many seek.
“It’s very rewarding, but it’s tough work. With the hunting, a lot goes into it. You have to make sure your horses are okay and then sometimes you’re on a trail forever and [you can] be super excited and it turns out blank,” Mauro said.
Mauro also noted the individualism that hunting can bring, offering a varied experience from typical sports.
“In sports there’s an opponent. [In hunting] there’s nobody you’re trying to beat. Versus sports, there’s no winner or loser… It’s all kind of relaxed and you can take your time with it. Not everybody is into the whole team mindset or into team sports. By going out and being an individual you can do your own thing and not be told what to do,” Mauro said.
Bueman believes more students should learn about hunting and hopefully enlighten themselves about the sport before getting involved.
“Definitely educate yourself before you try it and make sure you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, you will get hurt. You will offend other people. Be careful what you say because it will get around and then the community won’t like you,” Bueman said.