SCOTT RALL COLUMN: What about the frog?
WORTHINGTON -- When I write an outdoor column, which I have done just a handful short of 500 times, I often wonder if the subject matter is as interesting to the readers as it is to me.
This column might not be like those other 500 that have come before it, but the content of this writing has affected me profoundly. It has changed and broadened my basic understanding of how the human race connects to wildlife. This is part one of two on this subject.
I was at the 30th annual Pheasants Forever convention last weekend, which included speaker Shane Mahoney. He has a list of accomplishments that could fill an entire volume of the old World Book Encyclopedia. I can't tell you what even one of them were. Mahoney's delivery had everyone in the room sitting absolutely still with their ears tuned into his message.
He spoke of his love for large, wild animals. He also spoke of the human attraction to large animals going back to when man first started walking upright. He has traveled all over the world studying the human/animal interaction going back hundreds of thousands of years. Much of this research has taken place in the study of cave art, dating back tens of thousands of years.
Mahoney took almost a half-hour describing some drawings he has studied in a cave that was more than a mile deep and only about 3 feet tall. In those caves 100,000 years ago, the artists had only a small hollowed out rock filled with animal fat that was lit and burning to use for light. This was the precursor to the modern wax candle. These historians figured they could only draw for short periods of time and hundreds -- if not thousands -- of trips were needed to complete what he saw.
What he saw was a drawing of long-horned bison that roamed the planet tens of thousands of years ago. The drawings included an entire herd of these animals and were painted to the most exact of details. The humans that were also depicted in these drawings were nothing more than stick men. The human attachment was to the animals and not the humans that hunted them. He asked what would cause an ancient form of man to wander in almost total darkness for 10, 20 or even 30 years with only a crude candle to these depths to make these paintings.
It was man's deep spiritual connection to these animals as hunters that created this reverence to all wild animals. The land of the modern-day human world is what I call the "fast food philosophy."
When I am hungry and have $5, I can order, receive and consume that meal all in the total span of five minutes. I can go from hungry to full in the blink of an eye.
I can imagine the first hunters stalking prey for days or weeks to get it into position so it might get killed by the man before the man was killed by it. When harvesting a wild animal meant the family or tribe could exist for an additional number of weeks, it makes it easier to understand why early humans experienced and developed a spiritual bond with the prey they sought out to kill and consume. This human/animal bond is so deep that I have never found a writer who could adequately explain it with words. Their very life depended on this act.
Even though there is a very small percentage of the current human population that outwardly expresses their love of large, wild animals or any wild creature for that matter, that love of wild things and spiritual connections still exists in every human being on Earth. I am certain of this fact, even though many would deny it exists at all for most people.
Let me use Mahoney's explanation to make my point.
First, start by wandering the globe and gathering up 500 children, all at age 6. These children would come from 500 different countries, speak 500 different languages and have 500 different religious backgrounds. They would come from every socio-economic class -- some would be from poor families and others from rich families. They would be decedents from families of farmers, business executives and others from places with no organized government of any kind
You would then gather up every invention ever designed by the mind of a man designed to entertain children. There would be thousands of such inventions from all over the world developed over the past 1,000 years and they would all be placed in a large arena. The 500 children would then be allowed to roam in this room looking for whatever item garnered their curiosity. When all 500 of these children were engaged with one or more of these human inventions, we would then add one more element to this exercise.
I would then take a small number of frogs, rabbits or puppies and quietly disperse them throughout this arena. I believe in my heart that with no prompting on anyone's part, these children (all 500 of them) would -- without hesitation -- move to interact with the wild creatures. Many of these children would have never seen them before in their entire lives.
What is it in the human core that makes every human being share this intense desire to interact with and be drawn to wild animals? These children were not taught this feeling, this desire, this magnetism. They were born with it, and I think each and every human is also born with it.
We can deny that it affects us -- and many do -- but the truth is that every human being is born with a love and respect and an unexplainable attraction for wild animals large and small. I was filling the water tank on my Polaris Ranger last summer and a large frog jumped from the tall grass next to the water hydrant.
At 51 years old, I was just like those 500 6-year-olds who had something inside that just had to experience this wild creature. I ran all over the yard until I caught it. I gently wrapped it up in a damp cloth and after I showed everyone within two miles how cool it was, I released it back into the creek.
Who can say they are not like that 6-year-old? When you stop just for a moment to think about it, you will see this same internal attraction in yourself and your children.
Next week, I will share with you two more examples of how every human is unconsciously drawn to the human/wild creature interaction.
Scott Rall is The Daily Globe's outdoor columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.