A Texas Family Connects With the Outdoors… Through Squirrel Hunting.
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="282" caption="Shelby Lee Johnson, hunting squirrel; a recent kill displayed by Shelby’s father, Royce. Photographs by Jody Horton. Texas Monthly"]
[/caption] Royce Johnson, 65-year-old farmer, says in an article in Texas Monthly, "I've got nothing against computers, but I find them so boring. I can sit on a stump just about anywhere in the woods and be fascinated for hours." Is he talking about farming? Nope. Johnson is a squirrel hunter. Philipp Meyer followed Johnson and his son out into the wilds of Texas to see squirrel hunting close up. He found a culture of outdoorsmen who love the woods, the hunt, and feel keenly the environmental losses the region has experienced due to the replacing of slow-growing hardwoods with faster evergreens by paper companies seeking to maximize production. The forest has changed and it has driven the deer out - but not the squirrels. Johnson and his son have an understanding of their particular patch of the earth that only comes by constant contact with it, a contact growing increasingly more rare in our technology-saturated age. Meyer writes,
"Kids here don’t need Michael Pollan to tell them where their food comes from. They can look at an acorn and tell you the type of oak it fell from; they can name most of the animals that live or pass through the forest. They know that the squirrels they shoot in the morning will be eaten for lunch—and not just by people in camp. ... When you come out to a place like this, you get a sense that God was pretty complete in his operations.”