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  • Writer's pictureLouisa Willcox

Episode 39 - David Stalling

David Stalling

Don’t miss this incredible interview with David Stalling, hunter, angler, writer, activist and former Force Recon Marine! A devoted conservationist, David here shares his experience as “an anti-hunter who hunts,” a serious bow hunter who has rejected the high-tech gear of many hunters – and the kind of equipment he used as a Marine. David considers himself a “Leopoldian” for the great conservationist, writer and philosopher Aldo Leopold who shared his love of large carnivores such as wolves and grizzlies. David survived some wild adventures, bushwhacking from Missoula to Alberta, and digging through the snow into a recently occupied bear den. David is a fabulous writer too – check out his site “From the Wild Side: Wild Thoughts from an Untamed Heart.


"[When bow hunting] I follow the elk, and wherever I am when it gets dark, I just sleep there. I climb in my bag and throw the poncho over me if I have to. Or set up a shelter or climb under a thick spruce tree or subalpine fir… I never build a fire and I don’t cook food, because I’m usually sleeping close to the elk -- I can often hear them bugling at night -- so I try to keep really quiet."

"Not too long ago I read about these people in Idaho who were using rifles similar to our sniper rifles to shoot elk at like 1000 yards from across the canyon. And it’s literally -- to steal a phrase from the Humane Society, “it’s a war on wildlife” – that’s what it feels like. All the camouflage, all the high-tech gear, people hunting with AR 15s using night vision scopes, using GPS units for their location…My experience made me realize: “this really violates the concepts of fair chase.” And it takes pretty unfair advantage when you have this kind of technology you’re using on these animals that evolved with the kind of predation of a grizzly bear or mountain lion, or maybe a Native American with a bow.

It’s so funny to me to hear hunters quoting Aldo Leopold, and then they’ll bash wolves and make up lies and misconceptions about wolves and say: “they’re eating all our elk.” And they’ll use all this high-tech gear -- and all these things Aldo Leopold wrote against and spoke against."

"I had one interesting encounter with a grizzly bear sow with some cubs that I ended up encountering. And they weren’t aware of my presence -- the wind was coming my direction. And I laid down and stayed quiet behind this big log. And I just watched them for hours…I’d see the cubs running over to the sow and trying to milk, but I think they were a little too old for that, and she’d kind of swat ‘em with her paw and they’d go rolling. And then -- not to be too anthropomorphic -- but it looked like she was a bit regretful of that, and then would go over and start licking them, like maybe: “I was a little too rough.” …And I just remember thinking: “they are what they are, they’re not evil, they’re not some sacred mystical thing, they’re bears and they need space, they need tolerance, they need understanding, they need respect.'”

"I had never been in a bear den -- and I climbed in there and the smell, the musk, you could smell bear, you could smell it! … all this hoarfrost hanging from the ceiling of the den, like a little small cave, very dark and damp and musky smelling. And you could see where the breath from the bear had reached the top of the cave, and then froze, and so there was some kind of ice hanging down. And there was the bed made of bear grass…"


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