Shane Dorian is a living legend in the surf world. His big wave antics (if one can call them antics) have cemented him at the top of a very steep pyramid. You’ll be hard pressed to find a person that surfs big waves that doesn’t look to Dorian as a godfather, of sorts. When he’s out of the water, though, he’s just as impressive at his other pursuits. He’s not a person that spends his time indoors–an avid hunter, Dorian can usually be found either in the water or in the woods, and he’s instilling many of his values in his son, Jackson.
Jackson is growing up under a very strong tutelage. He’s being taught to appreciate the wild like most other kids never do. He’s doing things that are dangerous. He’s doing things that many people think he shouldn’t be. He’s handling knives, surfing big waves, and shooting bows. These are things that used to be a little more normal for children. But in a world that is becoming increasingly sheltered, exploring real life, getting hurt, and learning how to really live is something of a rarity. “That’s how little boys should grow up,” says Dorian. “It seems like people keep their kids cooped up these days… I want to get my kids outside.”
Hunting is a sticky issue for many. Like it or not, though, if you eat any meat at all, it would be better if you hunted it yourself. Killing one animal and feeding your family with it for months is infinitely better than buying a package of ground beef from the grocery store. That beef probably came from a place where the cow lived a horrible life, was pumped full of growth hormones, and was part of a massive slaughter. If you don’t like the idea of killing, when you’re buying meat, you’re paying into an industry that kills on a massive scale. Of course, trophy hunting is a whole different story, and that’s not what I’m talking about here. Trophy hunting is complete bullshit. Hunting for food isn’t.
Most of the hunters I know are more conscious of the environment and what meat actually is. Years ago, I was hunting elk in northern British Columbia. I sat in silence with a friend for hours. Just as the sun was coming up, a bull came out across the field we were sitting in. The sun was behind it, and the air was cold enough to see our breath. The bull stopped behind a bush, but through the scope I could see every hair, I could see the moisture on its eyes. He bugled once in the clear morning air, his breath steaming out. I didn’t shoot him. Instead, I just watched through the scope until he sensed our presence and took off. I still have never shot an elk. The next day, though, I sat down to dinner and ate elk. I have never appreciated a steak more in my life, because I was aware of exactly what I was eating, where it came from, and the majesty of the animal. And although eating packaged meat from a grocery store carries the same implications, it’s not something that most are aware of, although it should be.
Jackson Dorian is growing up learning what life is. He’s not being sheltered, and that’s a good thing. “Do I want my son to follow in my footsteps?” asks Dorian. “I want him to have fun and go nuts and be a wild little banshee. But I also want him to be a good kid and treat others with a lot of respect. I explain to Jackson all the time that everything is fine until that arrow leaves its string. As soon as that arrow leaves its string, you can’t get it back. It’s gone. It’s on its way.”