Hunter or Gatherer?

Are you a hunter or a gatherer? Is one better or worse than the other? And how does this apply to modern life? After all, we’re not cavemen anymore, right? Let’s start with a brief overview of each.


A hunter hunts. She pursues, she stalks. A hunter follows the prey—they go where the food goes. The herd is constantly on the go. And so is the hunter.

A hunter eats what he kills. He only eats when he kills. No kill, no eat.

A hunter must continually hunt. The meat spoils over time. She can’t store it away.


A gatherer gathers. He picks, he plants. A gatherer tills the ground—they stay where the food grows. The crops takes time and care. And so does the gatherer.

A gatherer eats what she harvests. She only eats what she harvests. No harvest, no eat.

A gatherer must continually cultivate. Crops require attention. Some crops can be stored away.


For the better part of my life and career I have been a gatherer. In the job world, the employee is the gatherer and the employer is the crop. Usually this means living near suitable employment. This can be a good thing. Get up, go to work, go home. Every two weeks collect a paycheck. Year in, year out. Season after season. Some years are bountiful, some years there’s famine.

But always at the mercy of the field. And nature. In other words, circumstance or world events or self-interested leadership or the economy. Heck, even Mother Nature herself mixes things up now and again.

But the gatherer is always at the mercy of the field. There are always elements outside of his or her control. That’s nature.

And so it has been with me. I gathered. I chose to stay where I thought the food would grow. I staked my claim and planted roots. I worked the local soil as best I could with the tools that I had. Some years have been plentiful and others not so much. But always I have been tied to the ground—always at the mercy of whatever the land would yield.

But never the big kill. Never the mammoth feast.

When I was growing up, my father was a hunter. He was always willing to go where the food was. We moved a lot. I went to 3 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools in 3 different states. This was exciting because I had many great experiences. It also left me feeling disconnected because I had no roots.

As my dad’s hunting skills improved, the kills got bigger and better. Life was on an upward trajectory.

Then he got older. The constant hunting and moving got tiring. He gave up hunting and shifted into gathering. Then the economy tanked and his life unraveled. He was, and is still, at the mercy of the field.

So which is the better path? Honestly I can’t say. I have been the beneficiary of both methodologies. I have been the fall guy of both systems as well. Am I advocating physically moving to follow the herd? Not necessarily. Only you can decide what is best for you. But these days with the internet, email, video conferencing, self-publishing, etc., it is possible to hunt and still plant roots.

Happy hunting.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone