Master wordsmith Spencer Turner said it best, when he said:
"The celebration of food, captured from wild environs and presented to family groups and tribes, was what defined Homosapiens, the human animal. Some 35 million years ago, evolution separated out a line from other human-like want-to-bes, ultimately becoming modern man. Archaeologists, anthropologists, and paleontologists believe the use of tools was the turning point for the human line.I disagree. It wasn't tools, but food, and the wonderful family and tribal rituals which evolved around the capture of prey; return of successful hunters to the family and tribe; and the camaraderie associated with the preparation and consumption of wild foods. Although separated by millions of years and all the accouterments of modern man, we still celebrate the act of hunting and killing of game, and the return of the successful hunter to the family by the preparation of the bountiful harvest. In our world, expert and artful preparation of fish and wildlife has replaced simple roasting over the communal fire, yet the symbols and psychological response of the soul to the wild foods still rings true. It is this connection to our ancestors which drives hunters and anglers to seek new and better ways to prepare the harvest."
I seldom make a trip into the hinterlands to capture wild foods without Turner's words ringing in my ears. I have enjoyed untold numbers of trips with friends and family members over the years to harvest the bounty which nature provides. The camaraderie and pleasurable rituals of organizing our groups, assigning tasks of the hunt and preparation of the meals are all means to the ends of sitting around the communal campfire to consume what we, together, captured and prepared to eat. Food is what brings us together.
Nothing stirs the hunting and spearing spirit more than to hear the first bullfrog of the evening rumble its content with the world. As darkness enshrouds the river, we push off into the night with headlights bobbling and creating eerie shadows. We especially enjoy the shrieks of new youngsters tagging along for the first time. A bug in the mouth is the first event to stir their fears. However, we assure them that the evening will produce far better tasting fare of frog legs.
A magical ritual takes place on these frog gigging escapades. Trembling children who leave the safety of lights and trucks on the river bank transform into confident hunters after having experienced the encouragement and support of the group to spear their first frog. Once their first harvest is made, the newbies realize they have gained stature and acceptance into the clan of the frog hunter. And a frog leg feast in their honor solidifies their commitment to future hunts with the tribe.