Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Eating Bambi

And so we continue the conversation.

There are a couple of problems with your figures, the main one is that you are looking at the process of persistence hunting from a modern viewpoint.

The people (or proto-people) who practiced persistence hunting were hunter-gatherers and to understand how the process can work well you have to look at it from that point of view.

If you remember, in my last post I said that persistence hunting was a group effort, and there are few cultures better at cooperation than hunter gatherers.

One of the more important aspects of a persistence hunt is the fact that the hunters will be spelling each other. The whole group does not need to go all out at the same time. They just need to keep the prey running. Also the prey will not be traveling in a straight line, it will be being herded by the hunters. The hunters will have food and water with them typically, so they can recharge on the fly.

There is also no need to "bring the food home". We are talking about a nomadic group, wherever they are IS home. Typically, the entire group will be following the hunt at a slower pace. The women and children will be gathering as they go as well. The group will also typically be somewhat smaller than your estimate. Most bands of this type were not more than fifteen souls. Hunter gatherers need a fair amount of land per person for support.

Lest you think it is unreasonable for the women, children and older people to keep up, we have the example of Geronimo's famous escape from the San Carlos reservation. He ran with 18 men and 53 women and children from San Carlos to the Dragoon mountains in one night, a distance of about seventy miles if my memory serves. So by the time the game was in the pot so to speak, the family had arrived for dinner with the vegetables for the side dish and fruit for snacks.

All that being said, your calorie figures are absurdity high.

According to the paper "Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running," published December 2003 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a man expends an average of 124 calories per mile running and 88 walking. A woman expends 105 calories an hour running and 74 walking.

That is a whole lot less than the 992 calories an hour you posit. Shucks, an ultra marathon runner is usually only replacing 200 calories an hour, and they are trying to outrace everyone else, not just stay within the sight of the animal being hunted.

So lets say that after a six hour chase our hunters end up with 45 lbs of meat, that averages out to about 3 lbs per person. The men will eat a bit more, the children a bit less, but that's a hefty chunk of protein. And remember that's what we're after here, not just calories. Hunter gatherer groups usually get 80% of their calories from gathering and 20% from hunting. But that 20% is the difference between our brains and that of Australopithecus, who was a vegetarian.

Also remember, a persistence hunt does not need to run the animal to death just to the point where it is incapacitated so that you can get close enough to safely dispatch it with short range weapons.

1 comment:

Mo'in said...

Dear Mushtaq,

Very interesting post!


All good wishes,