Yoga for Duckhunters

from the studio to the tidal flats


Without thinking much about it, my day starts in a darkened bedroom. The yawn of an English setter lends a voice to my stretching of arms. Half-asleep, the faucet in the bathroom runs cold while I stand bare-footed in front of the mirror, daring not to look. My short hair is standing on end. My eyes are smudged black from a forgetting to remove yesterday’s mascara. I had crashed into bed recklessly again. The cold water feels good on my puffy eyes and hot skin. If someone asked me why I felt a need to “put myself together” before the office or a day in the field, it’s because they haven’t seen me in the morning.

Source:’s long been a fantasy of mine to leave the civilized world and live alone for a year in the wild. There, I would get wooly and wise. The wreckage of my morning looks would be purified by abstinence of all things contaminated and contaminating. Free of alcohol, espresso, and mascara, I would instead breathe mountain air and feel the sun and wind on my skin. My eyebrows would surely grow together as nature intended, but I would see my image in the river and not know the difference. Such are dreams.

The civilized world, on the other hand, provides a set of problems and solutions that do not exist in nature: the economy requires a vocation; the sedentary life requires a gym; the food industry requires a diet; pain and boredom require medicine and entertainment; relationships require excessive verbalization and therapy; time requires time-saving devices; the home environment requires cleaning products and organization; technology requires meditation; safety requires security; and, “education is the cure for imagination.” When asked if I wear makeup while hunting, it seems an arbitrary question given everything else a human brings (or ought to leave behind?).

Conservation, in the hunting arena, is the way in which hunters value, restore, conserve, and share wild resources. It is the marriage of the human world with the wild. My love of hunting began with a desire to recognize my dependence on other creatures to survive and encompassed the benefits of doing something difficult with skill and reverence. Until asked, whether or not I wore makeup in the field did not occur to me. It was something I put on like a clean shirt. However, the discussion with other hunters on the subject grew to include such topics as vanity, fashion, and the sexual objectification of women.

Those discussions are the sort of thing that make me want to run to the mountains. There is little difference between a man who purchases a gentleman’s upland hunting outfit to wear in the field and a woman who puts on a little bit of makeup. The idea that we should go afield un-washed, un-shaved, un-clothed, and sans made-up doesn’t make complete sense. Should every article of our person and personage be held to such a high level of scrutiny and sliding scale of judgment?

Interestingly, while discussing the subject with women hunters, many deny wearing makeup in the field, but wear it nonetheless. It’s a polite deceit that is something like saying to an unexpected house guest “I didn’t have time to clean the house” when the eyes of every taxidermy mount shine and say otherwise. Some women don’t wear makeup because it is not their idea of beauty. They leave the modern world to breathe and experience the outdoor environment. Still others admit to wearing it because they look the way I do in the morning and want to spare the world the ravages of a work-week and night spent face down and drooling on a pillow.

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1 Comment

  1. Your writing is exquisite.
    Thank you.

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