North Carolinian Kelly Darden enjoys his time in the woods small-game hunting.

Hunting and fishing are “a way of life … a fundamental part of it,” says Darden, of Greenville, N.C. There’s something “simple and fundamental about it that take you back to your grassroots.”

First thing he does in the woods is “just sit down and be absolute quiet and listen. Not hear, but listen.”

Born and raised in eastern North Carolina, Darden – a conservationist, writer/advocate, and public speaker – says that what he finds most rewarding about the small-game hunting experience is the “peace and tranquility, a very cleansing, very soul-cleansing sort of process.”

“It’s not about what you take, it’s about the experience, the thrill of the unknown and what you may possibly find,” says Darden, who equates his time hunting in the woods to “almost a kind of religious experience.”

“I always prepare myself mentally by saying a little prayer, and being thoughtful and appreciative for another day to go out and experience the creation.”

Mounting climate impact concerns

But Darden is concerned over what he and his fellow hunter friends now are seeing. Darden says he and other hunters have become “more attuned to noticing things that change over the years.” He now finds ticks a concern well into November and December. And now, as early as March, he experiences being “bombarded by mosquitoes, an infestation that was unheard of as a kid.”

“Mother Nature tells you in a myriad of ways that something is a-kilter,” Darden says. He points to the importance of using turkey calls and says the sounds “carried better when woods were not so foliated.” Now they leaf-out earlier, hurting hunters’ success rates, he says.

”‘We Click To Tweet

Darden says he is concerned that modern-day lifestyles increasingly lead many to spend more time indoors – “in our cocoons, from houses to our automobiles, to our jobs, to our churches.” He wishes more people would spend more time outdoors experiencing nature first-hand.

“We cannot continue to do what we’ve been doing and expect results to be different,” Darden says. Talk and debate about the changing climate have gone on “long enough,” he says.

“We need to start yesterday.”

Kelly Darden: Outdoorsman, Conservationist from Climate Stories NC on Vimeo.

The Darden video is part of “a multimedia storytelling project about the daily lives of North Carolinians experiencing climate change,” funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Produced by David Salvesen of the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment, it is reposted here with permission.

Bud Ward

Bud is Editor of Yale Climate Connections. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission on Air Quality, before...