Pondering these loose ends—questions answered and some still nagging—I urge
young nature-lovers to seek out three sorts of experiences that have pivotally influenced
my worldview. The first would be to go backpacking: to feel responsible in your sore,
uncertain bones for food, water, shelter, and unforeseen calamities; better yet, at least
once, to carry out feces, as we did in Paria Canyon, holding oneself accountable for
even personal waste. Another experience would be to walk among Africa's megafauna,
thereby getting a firsthand sense of what we've lost in North America, what we stand
to lose soon all over the world, forever. And third, I would encourage novice naturalists
to slaughter and eat a large mammal—the vegetarian alternative being to clear a chunk
of habitat that houses several rabbit-sized fur-bearers, dispatching every living thing
before sundering the ground with a plow and planting fruits, grains, and vegetables.
During decades of studying predators I've often wondered what it would be like to face
fully the implications of an omnivorous primate lifestyle. But we'll head down that path
in the next chapter.