Dylan Smith of 'Wilderlife'

  • BY Dylan Smith

For as long as I can remember I’ve tried to live a life rich in wild experiences. Adventures in my back yard as a child limited only by my imagination, combined with beautiful access to fishing on neighbouring properties set me up for a life of compulsively wanting to know what’s around the next bend. As an adult with many days in the sun under my belt I can only see my passion further developing as new opportunities present themselves. For each item ticked off my imaginary list of things I want to achieve or experience, many other ideas are added and spending countless hours and resources in pursuit of these experiences excites me. In doing so I hope to live a life that is interesting, sustainable, ethical, and ultimately wilder than what most other people would be willing to allow themselves.

One of my main motivations in choosing this lifestyle is as a result of the huge disconnect I see between not just people and food, but people and almost anything to do with nature. How has this disconnect become so prevalent? It’s certainly not as a result of a lack of fascination with all things wild; look at the number of documentaries, advertisements, clothing brands, amongst other things, all associated with animals. It could be argued that people in this day and age are exposed to more media about nature than ever before, yet, it seems, many are disconnected from their human origins as hunters and gatherers. Or are they in denial?

Chasing wild game with a traditional bow is the ultimate in wild experiences.

Perhaps a more realistic way of analysing this disconnect would be to say that there are plenty of people in the world who are happy to observe, but few of us want to truly engage with nature. To be at one with nature, and be an active participant, as we all know, is more fulfilling than sitting back and spectating. For me, wanting to participate was initially born out of a love of animals. Besides watching as many documentaries and reading as many books as I could, the stories my dad told me about his experiences with animals really got me hooked. The ones about him seeing a bird of prey take another bird in the air were the most fascinating to me. What connection is there in nature that is more compelling than that between predator and prey?

Most of us can recall in detail the first time we went bush with a firearm and the intention of taking the life of another animal. It was a foggy June morning in a New England State Forest with my brother when I first hunted. Besides excitement, relief, and all the other feelings people talk about in this situation, I was overcome with a sense of authenticity. To hunt is a pursuit that is older than humanity itself, and in that moment, I felt connected to the bush in a way I hadn’t before.

So, what does living a wilderlife mean to you? I imagine that we can all tell similar stories about times we have been in the bush and felt that connection. I believe we are genetically programmed to feel this connection, and this is why it feels so natural. Some may describe it as an addiction, and I don’t believe being addicted to spending time in the bush is capable of having a negative impact on our lives.

Until next time, enjoy living your wilderlife.

Instagram: @_wilderlife_

YouTube: ‘The Wilderlifer’

A ragout made with venison neck from the buck in the previous picture. To see how to cook this dish check out the video below.