01/20/2015 11:02 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Nature's Law: Run Fast or Die


We recently arrived at our mountain cabin in central Idaho and discovered a flock of eagles eating the bloody carcass of a deer. The raw, vivid scene made me appreciate the true drama of life and death in the wilderness. I was also grateful for strong doors with locks because it felt much safer to be secure inside the cabin while hearing the howls of nearby wolves and the night screams of prowling cougars. So far there is no proof that wild animals can pick locks.

In the light of day, we inspected the animal tracks around the body and concluded that a mountain lion had killed the deer because the carcass was intact. Wolves and coyotes usually tear apart their prey and scatter the bones. After the wild animals had devoured most of the flesh, the eagles and other birds had picked off every extra scrap. Two days later, only a few ragged bones remained in the blood-stained snow. Some people photograph bunnies and kittens; I take pictures of ravaged skeletons.


The brutal but accepted scene verified two important laws of nature that could apply to human life: To survive, you must get up every morning, rely on yourself, or die. Second law: Scavengers can't be too persnickety because leftovers are better than nothing.

Here are some more nuggets of knowledge that you should know when comparing nature to real life:

1. Survival is the daily goal of wild animals. When you roll out of bed each morning, you should squint into the mirror, growl from the depths of your loins, and decide which problems to vanquish by noon. You don't have to be the fastest runner; just be able to run faster than one other person.

2. Hunger is a strong motivator. Your New Year's diet of carrots and broccoli won't keep you in predator mode. Just as the savage cougar seeks a tasty deer, fuel yourself with proteins, and eat healthy meals. You can cook your steaks, if necessary.

3. Choose your pack carefully. Be with others who share and value your goals. For a good time, share a fresh and tasty meal with friends. Humans have a major advantage over the animals because you can pair your food with delicious wines.

4. Be able to recognize and escape predators. Sometimes it feels as if you are running for your life as you navigate jobs, families, marriages, community responsibilities, and home maintenance. Remember to avoid dangerous negative people who will suck out your energy and steal your snacks. You should also take time to escape the rat race and schedule a few hours to relax before you go back into the jungle. Take a cue from the wild cats that sleep most of the day, and go take a nap.

5. Scavengers have their role. Improvise your talents for utilizing leftovers, including food, clothes, or clutter. Create a way to use the scraps or give them away or toss them into the garbage. The animals don't waste anything, and they live lean. They don't wear cargo pants with multiple pockets or rent storage units, and you shouldn't either.


Finally, knowing wild life facts could make you an interesting guest at boring dinner parties. When a stuffy guest pontificates about some absurd topic, just announce with conviction that a mule deer can run up to 40 miles per hour but a mountain lion can sprint at speeds up to 50 miles per hour and can jump upon the deer's back and crush its neck. That should amaze and impress everyone. If not, just growl and clean your plate.