The 6 Manliest Ways People Still Hunt for Food
In a world where you can have hot food delivered to you within minutes even if you're in the middle of the wilderness, many of you probably believe that there are no more hunter-gatherers left. You would be wrong. There are still some places where buying a meal simply isn't an option. Fortunately, there are also still badasses who plunge through ice caverns, stare down lions and pop live testicles between their teeth just to survive another season.
The Nepalese Dangle from Cliffs for Honey
Endangering oneself for the sake of honey is a task normally left to stuffed bears, but there are people from isolated villages in Nepal who routinely scale towering cliff faces to pilfer the homes of millions of bees for the sweet golden reward. The tremendous risk involved is unspoken, but understood by every villager (sort of like Grandma's racism at Thanksgiving), as is evidenced by the fact that many of the cliffs are named after people who fell to their deaths while trying to collect honey.
For example, this one is named "Tensu the Drunk."
The gathering is done by highly coordinated teams of insect-robbing specialists, each tasked with a specific duty, sort of like if the A-Team recruited a bunch of sugar-thieving cereal mascots to steal breakfast from withholding children. Presumably each group is prepped with a sobering viewing of Macaulay Culkin's bee sting death scene in My Girl before going out into the field.
Once at the cliff, the first step is pissing off hundreds of thousands of bees by igniting a massive blaze at its base. The logic here is to get all of the bees out of the hive -- if the bees are swirling around in a homicidal frenzy, they will sting the shit out of everyone, as opposed to just converging on whoever climbs up to take the honey and annihilating him. While the fire is being started, another squad lowers a ladder laden with buckets and ropes from the top of the cliff. Once it is in place, a team member called the guru carries two long bamboo poles up the ladder to stick his face into a one-ton gigafuck explosion of angry bees.
"Oh God, I think the EpiPen fell out of my pocket."
The guru ties himself to the ladder with one of the ropes and begins to blindly smash the poles into the beehive, following instructions being shouted at him from both above and below. The goal is to dislodge pieces of honeycomb into the buckets, which are then hoisted up by the team at the top of the cliff. The team at the bottom is responsible for moving the ladder around to reposition the guru as needed. Keep in mind that all of this is done via coordinated instructo-screams between the two teams -- the hurricane of furious bees keeps anyone from seeing what the hell they are doing for themselves.
The Deadliest Catch seems somehow less impressive now.
Meanwhile, the guru is being helplessly dragged across the cliff face and getting stabbed in the face and hands by the venomous ass-daggers of thousands of merciless insects. Most of the time, he's just covering up as best he can, but whenever there is a break in the bees, he maneuvers the dangling bucket into place with one pole while chopping away at the hive with the other.
An entire gathering usually takes over four hours, without a break, hanging from a cliff in a cloud of smoke while being stung by the world's biggest bees. Because honey is delicious.
The Masai Steal Food from Lions
At some point in history, the Masai people of Africa decided that hunting would be way easier if they just stole all their food from lions (to be fair, there are definitely fewer steps involved). Before you dismiss this as hollow bravado, watch this video as three guys roll up on 15 blood-soaked lions and send them scattering into the underbrush:
It takes more people to successfully cover a Radiohead song, yet these dudes stroll in like they're booting a bunch of 12-year-olds off of a basketball court, and it totally works. The trick, according to the crusty English narrator who has never done anything like this before in his entire life, is to both maintain and project confidence, which is advice typically reserved for dating blogs, not situations where you're confronting a giant ravenous machine that sees you as a delicious walking hot dog.
"Don't worry: He won't hurt us. I brought confidence."
At any rate, the men stand straight and shoulder to shoulder, marching purposefully toward the lions without faltering, slowing or hesitating in any way, letting the lions know beyond a doubt that they mean business. They don't shout or brandish their weapons or make any obvious threats, but the lions are thoroughly intimidated and suddenly take off, abandoning their hard-earned kill to the three awesomest guys on the continent of Africa.
Now, the sobering reality is that this bluff won't last long -- it won't take but a minute or two for the routed jungle cats to figure out that 15 goddamn lions have an absurd advantage over three men with knives and arrows. But that's long enough for the men to hack off what they need and carry it back to feed their people, allowing the lions to return and sheepishly drag the carcass off to a more secure location to conceal their embarrassment.
"I swear to the great kings of the past, this had better not end up on YouTube."
Percebeiros Free-Climb Ocean Cliffs for Barnacles
In the deepest, darkest depths of Spain's picturesque, tourist-friendly coastline, intrepid individuals risk their lives for goose barnacles, a kind of mollusk apparently named by someone who had never seen a goose before.
Not pictured: a goose.
The barnacles are known locally as percebes, and they're a popular delicacy, selling for around 200 Euros a kilogram. This is incentive enough for professional percebes gatherers, called percebeiros, because people will do absolutely anything for money. Percebeiros work in teams of at least two -- they head down to the rocky coast of Galicia, Spain (where the barnacles live), and take turns scrambling along the jagged outcroppings to scrape off bagfuls of the slimy sea boogers, scuttling up a safety line or leaping into cover as massive waves come crashing violently through like Jack Nicholson in a hedge maze.
At best, they have less than a minute between the surging blasts of ocean, which at first may not seem so bad, what with the safety line and all. The trouble is, if they want to get at the larger (and consequently more valuable) barnacles that grow lower down toward the base of the rocks, they can't use the rope. They just have to parkour their asses from stone to stone and hope that they don't slip and bust their skulls open or get hammerpunched by Poseidon's rage and carried out to sea.
The incentive actually increases in rougher conditions -- as fewer percebeiros are willing to risk a mangled drowning, the available supply of percebes dwindles, elevating both the demand and the price of the barnacles. And the risk of death is very real, with about five percebeiros dying every year so that restaurants across Europe can feed the slimy creatures to rich people.
"I hope you choke on them."
The Inuit Dig Through Frozen Sea Water Caves for Mussels
The native Inuit of certain areas of northern Canada eat a shit-ton of seal meat, because there really isn't anything else around (not even plant life), and Applebee's has yet to recognize the franchise potential of the Arctic Circle. After subsisting on nothing but adorable flesh for months on end, the situation becomes so desperate that the Inuit are driven to dig directly into icy chunks of frozen ocean for a chance of finding some mussels, essentially walking right into a natural booby trap.
There is a thick layer of ice that covers the arctic sea for most of the year, as you might expect. However, when the tide recedes, it just leaves a big frozen slab. The sea level drops by almost 40 feet, leaving mussels on the seabed exposed for a few crucial minutes beneath that perilously unstable sheet of ice. The palate-bored Canadian Inuit will dig through the frozen layer and enter the shifting, groaning ice caves formed by the receding tide to collect these mussels, because they are seriously that fucking tired of seal meat.
They have maybe a half an hour to scuttle through the ice caves and scoop up bucketfuls of mussels before the tide returns, flooding the caves and pushing the ice back into place, trapping them underneath. Of course, that's assuming the caves don't just collapse on top of them -- with the ocean gone, there is literally nothing supporting the weight of the ice. It's only a matter of time before they get crushed or drowned or both, all for a few pounds of seafood that will probably be eaten in a single evening. But hey, it's better than eating more goddamned seal!
The Sami Castrate Reindeer With Their Teeth
"Hell no. You go in that tent."
The nomadic Sami reindeer herders of Siberia traditionally half-castrate their male stock for practical reasons that surely must have existed at some point. Half-castration is when you don't actually remove the testicles, but merely pulp them within the scrotum, like smashing a sock full of hard-boiled eggs against a refrigerator.
However, there aren't any veterinary clinics within hundreds (maybe thousands) of miles of the Sami people, and those reindeer balls aren't going to crush themselves. So, calling on that practicality and tradition we mentioned earlier, most of the Sami herders still do their castrating the same way their parents and grandparents did before them -- with their teeth.
"Susie, it is time to learn the ways of your people. Did you bring a roll of floss and some mouthwash?"
As you can imagine, biting reindeer testicles is a two-person job, because doing it alone would just be ridiculous. One person cheerfully lassos the panicking deer and holds the struggling animal down while another buries her face in its crotch to chew on its furry beanbag. And as this bizarre quasi-Epcot Center video makes perfectly clear, storied tradition dictates that the ball-munching be done by the Sami women:
Why this cannot be done with a mallet or two big rocks is never made clear, nor is it clear why the Sami don't simply cast their male reindeer in a Farrelly brothers movie to receive the necessary groin trauma. At any rate, the resulting half-castrated reindeer will still produce male hormones, so he'll grow to full size and strength, but will be much less aggressive (due to, and we cannot stress this enough, his balls being jellied in his nutsack by a woman's teeth). Fully castrated reindeer don't grow as large, producing inferior pelts and antlers, and are less suitable for pulling sleighs.
"Minka may have squished my testicles like fruit-filled Gushers between her teeth,
but at least I get to drag bastard children through the snow with a bell around my neck."
Also, the Sami method of half-castration doesn't break the skin, unlike the way a full castration does, or a spirited boot-heel axe kick might. Since the animal is left with no open wounds, this greatly reduces the risk of infection, which is a good thing because medical facilities are thin on the ground in an icy wasteland. Frenzied testicle chewing was simply the Sami ancestors' best available option, and since Siberia hasn't been developed much beyond the Road Warrior Christmas special it's been for the past several centuries, it's still pretty much the best option. To produce the best herd of pliable and efficient sleigh pullers, half-castration is almost a must. This is another way of saying that Rudolph, before guiding Santa's way to the chimneys of virtuous children, was probably busy lighting Mrs. Claus' midnight scrotum gnashings.
The People of Lamalera Stab Whales
Yes, that is a man flying through the air and dive-stabbing a whale. Look, no one likes seeing whales die. That's something just about everyone other than Captain Planet villains and the Japanese can agree on. As such, there has been a worldwide ban on whaling in place since the mid-1980s. However, the people of the Indonesian town of Lamalera are exempt from the international whaling ban, because whaling in Lamalera looks like that.
That dude in the middle just leveled up.
The Lamaleran whalers begin a day of hunting on the beach, peering owlishly at the surf, watching for the telltale breach or blowhole geyser of a whale. If one is spotted, the whalers race to their boats, shove them quickly into the water and then spend a couple of hours paddling out to where they last saw the whale, because Lamaleran whaling vessels don't have motors. Check out the above picture again (which is ridiculous, we know you never stopped looking at the picture) -- it's just a bunch of dudes in a rowboat with ropes and bamboo harpoons. They don't use modern technology of any kind. Lamaleran whaling, you see, is based on a series of heavily contingent "if"s.
If they manage to make it out to the whale before it leaves, and if they can maneuver their boat close enough, one of the designated harpooners will grab the bamboo tool of his trade and fling himself at the whale like King Leonidas if Persian Moby-Dick had bitten his leg off. After being stuck, the whale will either thrash its tail and dive, often smashing boats apart or dragging them down with it, or start circling the whalers. Provided they haven't been obliterated or drowned, the rest of the whalers will start jabbing at the whale with harpoons and other traditional stab-struments like machetes.
"Send those Whale Wars guys out here. We'll eat them, too."
If one boat gets destroyed, the whalers swim to another, often going through several in a single hunt. On one occasion, a whale trashed two boats before dragging the third (and all its occupants) all the way to Timor, which is a different freaking country. Many of the whalers eventually forgo the boats altogether and leap directly into the water to hack at the whale with knives, which is especially dangerous when you consider that a bloody melee in the ocean is exactly the kind of party that sharks attend.
Once the whale is finally too exhausted and wounded to continue, the whalers drag it back to shore, singing a song that is part gratitude and part apology to ease the whale's departing spirit. Every part of the whale is then harvested as either food or resources to sustain the entire town. Before you write it all off as gruesome or cruel, think of how many times you've bothered to sing to a bucket of KFC as you drove it back to your family. The answer is probably less than five, and you didn't participate in any stage of the chicken hunt.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 People Who Should be Banned from Driving in the Left Lane.