Naturalist and award-winning author Mark Warren will host a program at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Milford Nature Center on the art of stalking wildlife.
The program, called the Secret Art of Stalking for Photographers, Wildlife Observers, and Hunters, aims to teach participants not just how to track wild animals in their natural habitat, but to bring them closer to the natural world around them.
While the skill of stalking wild animals is and always has been a hunter’s skill, it can also be used by those who want to photograph or simply watch wildlife without being observed themselves.
“For myself, some of the greatest adventures of my life have been from stalking wild animals and simply observing them,” Warren said. “Getting so close to their lives that it just draws me out of myself and makes me have a new empathy for the animal. In my opinion, the beauty of all this is that it takes this giant leap for the student who is doing the stalking. They become no longer a spectator but a participant within the whole circle of events that they are stalking in. They are part of the forest.”
Warren said those who attend Saturday’s event will take part in what he calls “a very physical discipline.”
“They’ll be involved on it in different levels,” he said.
While learning, he said, students may not immediately feel the sort of intense connection with nature experienced wildlife stalkers do. Warren compares it to learning a martial art.
“It demands a lot of you physically and mentally,” he said. “But then, with that tool, they can go off on their own and that’s when the real relationship starts building between that person and nature.”
The course will be a how-to, rather than an expedition. To put such skills into action requires people to go off on their own to observe wildlife, according to Warren.
People should, however, be prepared to engage in some athletic activity and tests of their patience, balance, and strength.
“Of course, a stalker’s selected clothing must jibe with the particular landscape he/she is in, but the physical techniques taught in this class are virtually universal to all climes,” read a press release promoting the class.
Warren, who owns and runs Medicine Bow Wilderness School in Dahlonega, Georgia, said he often has new students come to his school with no real knowledge of how even to ask the right questions. However, if they continue to attend classes, he said he often finds those students want closer relationships with the natural world. However, as they continue to learn, they grow as people and embark on their own journeys.
“Each person finds his or her unique relationship,” Warren said.
This visit is part of a book tour for Warren’s most recent publication, “Promised Land.”
The book is the final installment in a trilogy exploring the life of Wyatt Earp.
Warren his also promoting his four-volume nature series, called “Secrets of the Forest.”
These books, he said, teach “primitive” skills such as fire making and water purification techniques to those who want to learn them and help individuals such as park rangers and scout leaders to engage younger people in nature.
Warren feels it’s important for people of all ages to appreciate the natural world around them. He said the culture — especially among younger people — has begun to lose its connection with nature.
“We have a tremendous competition from lighted screens, now,” Warren said. “Those things can just hypnotize a child and make them not even want to go outside. They can experience virtually — they think — the outside through games and whatever. But the reason that’s a critical issue is that makes nature become just a backdrop to their lives — like scenery. And if they don’t really have any engagement with it, they will never have a reason to respect it. They’ll never learn that we are all still depending on it.”
If people don’t understand where the everyday items they use are sourced from, Warren said, they will never understand why there’s a need to conserve those sources.
“That kind of mindset is a disaster,” he said. “It will end in a disaster, because that means that no one is paying attention to the environment.”