Adult Programs: West Pathway
START HUNTING | ADVANCED HUNTING | MENTOR FUTURE HUNTERS
The West Pathway for adults and teens is the Sacred Hunt, a year-round skills training focused on the consumptive use of fish and wildlife in an ethical and respectful manner.
This pathway offers instruction, practice, and mentoring in every aspect of archery and primitive forms of hunting. Classes are held far enough in advance of Indiana hunting seasons to allow students time to acquire their own clothing, equipment, and archery tackle to participate in mentored hunts.
Completing a Sacred Hunt course makes you a member of the Sacred Hunt Community, a network of students and mentors in the Indianapolis area and beyond. Through the Community, you will receive encouragement and fellowship during your lifelong adventure as a hunter.
The Sacred Hunt is an incredibly challenging Pathway filled with exhilaration, reward, and humility. This Pathway guarantees a deeper understanding of one’s place in the environment and their own ancestral lineage.
Are you called to The Sacred Hunt?
More About the Sacred Hunt
Many called to the Sacred Hunt Pathway as adults have never harvested an animal or participated in a hunt. Humans have hunted and gathered for most of our existence as a species, so it is entirely natural to feel called to this Pathway. Some students desire to provide food for their families, actively participate in their ecosystem, or simply want to reconnect with nature. Others are concerned about the effects of factory farms, industrialization, obesity, or global trade. Regardless of specific reasons, all who walk the West Pathway have a deep calling to be more involved with their food.
According to the USFWS, across the United States the number of hunters decreased 16 percent from 2011 to 2016. This is a trend that has been ongoing for decades, as our society becomes increasingly urbanized and competition for our leisure time is ever greater. This attrition of hunters is having a profoundly negative impact on the conservation movement, which largely relies on funding provided by hunting and fishing license sales, as well as taxes on some hunting and fishing equipment.
In generations past, young people would learn to hunt small game from their elders. As teenagers, those called to the hunter’s pathway would enhance their skills by stalking and harvesting ever-larger animals. This lineage has been broken for many of us, who never learned to hunt from our elders. The Sacred Hunt Pathway at White Pine strives to re-establish familial mentorship by drawing on our community of instructors and mentors.
The human family tree is an epic testament of knowledge, skill and drive. Our ancestors embodied mastery in all of the 5 elements of the Sacred Hunt. Our courses offer training in these five areas, but only those who dedicate themselves to years of practice and mentorship can hope to master them:
- Tracking (biology, sign, trailing, aging)
- Camouflage (scent control, blinds, clothing)
- Stalking (movement, stillness, bird language)
- Weapon construction/acquisition (bowyery, shopping, sizing)
- Weapon utilization (archery and training)
CONNECTION AND COMMUNITY
The White Pine tree is a symbol of hope and connection. Like the 5 needles in the White Pine bundle, we have 5 roots of connection that make up our mission.
- Connection to place
- Connection to ancestry
- Connection to self
- Connection to community
- Connection to the Indigenous of place
Consequently traditional cultures embodied mastery of the 5 roots of connection.
- Place- they are truly at home in their territories. From the topography and weather patterns to the flora and fauna their knowledge of place is truly remarkable.
- Ancestry- Traditional cultures view wisdom as belonging to the elders or ancestors that have passed on, thus they are a part of a living lineage of hunters and gatherers.
- Self – Through ceremony and rites of passage, the pathway of identity is revealed
- Community – Through self identity ones place and value in community is revealed.
- Indigenous to place- The sponsoring beliefs of having originated from the land and belonging to the land are universally found in traditional cultures. Through field research and solidarity work we approach the truly sustainable land ethics practiced by the original caretakers of place.
Completing a Scared Hunt course makes you a member of the Sacred Hunt Community, a network of students and mentors in the Indianapolis area and beyond. Through the Community, you will receive the following support as you begin your lifelong adventure as a hunter:
- Mentored hunts from White Pine Instructors and Volunteers. Mentored hunts are free, however tips and/or donations to the Ethan Runnels Scholarship Fund are appreciated.
- Invitations to pop-up events for processing, tanning of hides, and other field-to-table opportunities.
- On-demand assistance with animal tracking, processing, and other after-the-shot questions.
- Attendance to quarterly open houses to share stories and learn from other like-minded hunters.
At White Pine, the core of our ethics revolves around our Five Agreements:
- Respecting The Circle: Compliance with all laws, hunting regulations, and seasons. Being respectful to law enforcement officers, professional scientists, and managers.
- Respecting Each Other: As representatives of a lifestyle that is fighting an uphill battle, we must be non-competitive and avoid elitism. The utmost respect for private property boundaries is essential.
- Respecting Ourselves: Patience, and redefining success as not dependent upon a harvest. Failure is simply the starting point of a lesson. It is always ethical to pass up a shot.
- Respecting Life: Conducting the Sacred Hunt in accordance with not just Fair Chase principles, but an understanding of a hunter’s place within the broader ecosystem.
- Leaving No Trace: Utilizing as much of the harvested animal as possible, through the arts of field dressing, processing, meat preservation, and hide tanning.