348. Rite of Passage: My Sacred Hunting Experience W/ Mansal Denton

Mansal Denton

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Mansal Denton, founder of Sacred Hunting, reflects on the relationship between life and death through the act of hunting and the lessons we can learn from killing and eating meat with intention.

Mansal Denton "Little Beaver" is the founder of Sacred Hunting, host of “The Mansal Denton Podcast,” and the subject of an upcoming documentary, “BELOW THE DROP,” exploring our relationship to life and death through hunting.

Feeling insecure in early life, he chased a woman to Europe, which led him to prison. Struggling with shame and confusion of what it meant to be a man, he found his calling with the sacred art of hunting. He now desires to share this practice with more men.

His indigenous name comes from a Crow Sun Dance chief. His spiritual lineage is derived from six years of mentorship from a Muskogee (Creek) medicine man named Will "Star Heart".

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

In this episode, I go off-grid with Mansal Denton, the founder of Sacred Hunting: an intentional hunter who combines plant medicines and indigenous practices into each hunt. 

So many of us have become disconnected from what we consume, becoming all-too-accustomed to buying sterile cuts of meat in plastic, often from questionable sources. My recent voyage with Mansal reclaimed the innate human desire and necessity to live from the earth and interact with life and death with intention and respect. I reflect on my four-day ceremonial hunt and the breadth of emotions, judgments, and fears I faced when killing and skinning a wild boar. 

Mansal Denton’s sacred and sensitive vision for hunting, framed by his six-year training with an indigenous Muskogee (Creek) medicine man, shreds any preconceived judgment that hunting is an egotistical expression of toxic masculinity. After experiencing his unique mastery of the field firsthand, I’ve witnessed the care and compassion he has for the land, its creatures, and humanity. 

10:35 — Mansal’s Background, Rock Bottom and Prison Sentence

  • Time spent in prison
  • Ethnic-divisions in prison
  • Restrictions post-sentence
  • My own sports hunting experiences growing up 

33:59 — Motivations to Start Hunting 

  • Desire to get closer to his food
  • Drive to express his aggression authentically 
  • Thinking and consciously embodying masculinity
  • Reflecting on his first kill 
  • Ayahuasca lessons and healing 

51:48 — Disconnect Between Eating Meat and Killing It

  • Experiences being vegetarian 
  • Connection to the natural life cycle
  • Hierarchy of suffering in the wild vs. regenerative farming
  • Creatures embodying their mission in the ecosystem
  • DMT energetic release at death 
  • Seeking connection to plants and animals

1:20:33 — Dealing with Animosity 

  • Sports hunting and the perceived lack of consciousness
  • Shadow and ego in the hunting community
  • Indigenous hunting vs. Western hunting 
  • Analyzing hierarchy in the ecosystem 

1:34:38 — Training with Indigenous Cultures 

  • How a Muskogee (Creek) medicine man gave him sacred hunting tools
  • Relationship with rattlesnakes
  • Sacred ceremonies during intentional hunting 
  • Why he uses psychedelics on a hunt 
  • Reconciling with the “way things are” after a kill
  • Upleveling consciousness on a hunt 

01:59:10 — The Future of Sacred Hunting 

  • Democratizing sacred hunting practices 
  • Plans to partner with land 
  • Collaborating with women
  • Reaction from traditional hunting groups
  • Conservation efforts within the hunting community

More about this episode.

Watch it on YouTube.

[00:00:00]Luke Storey:  I'm Luke Storey. For the past 22 years, I've been relentlessly committed to my deepest passion, designing the ultimate lifestyle based on the most powerful principles of spirituality, health, psychology, and personal development. The Life Stylist podcast is a show dedicated to sharing my discoveries and the experts behind them with you. Here we are again, Mansal. This time, we're in civilization, or de-civilization, you could say, depending on your perspective.

[00:00:33]Mansal Denton:  Right.

[00:00:34]Luke Storey:  So, we recently shared a really incredible experience known as sacred hunting upon my arrival here in the Austin, Texas area. And it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, especially in one particular moment that we'll talk about later. So, without going into too much of a back story, because there's so much to unpack here of value for people in the work that you're doing, what I'd like to start off with as a beginner point is what was your rock bottom moment that led you into exploring your consciousness and your relationship with nature? 

[00:01:18]Mansal Denton:  Thank you. Good question. And thank you for your reflection about our experience together. It's great to hear that you had a powerful insight there. My rock bottom moment came in prison. I spent six months in prison. And when I look at the hero's journey that is my life, there was a night when I remember speaking to my family and hearing that my grandfather was likely going to pass away before I could leave prison and spend time with him again.

[00:01:57] My sisters were really young and they were feeling a lot of sadness around the loss of their brother, but they didn't really understand what had happened. And it was a particularly challenging part of my life when, of course, being in prison, I had a lot on my mind. And I remember going to my bunk, laying down, putting the covers over my face and just crying. And that was, in prison, the stereotypes are real. You don't really want people to see you crying. And that was very much the rock bottom point in my life, where I had a real big trajectory change, the rest of my experience there. 

[00:02:50] And really, it was governed by a lot of focus on myself, my self-responsibility, the sovereignty that I wanted to have as an individual, and also growing myself as a man. And I think that theme of what does it mean to be a man who is responsible in this world, who is sovereign in this world, set me on a course to define for myself what is masculinity in the absence of any rite of passage. Culturally, in the absence of really strong mentorship and guidance, I started this path of trying to figure out myself. And that is where the slow but sure calling towards nature came from.

[00:03:37]Luke Storey:  Cool. Wow. Yeah. If prison isn't a bottom, I don't know what is. That's probably always been my number one fear. And even when I was doing things that I should have been in prison for, I was more careful than your average knucklehead, because I was so terrified of that. As a strange side note question, being half-White and half-Indian, what racial group were you segregated into, if I understand the social construct of prison like I think I do?

[00:04:07]Mansal Denton:  Dude, such a good question, and an insightful one too, because most people don't even consider that. I, in certain prisons, I was often considered White, because of being half-Anglo, and because of my education, because of my upbringing, upper middle class, except for when it came to eating. So, like I would spend time with all the White people, et cetera, but when it came time to eat my meal, they wouldn't allow me to sit at the White table, because I wasn't fully White. And when I got to another prison where I spent most of my stay, it was almost exclusively Mexican and Black, and I was adopted by the Black.

[00:04:57]Luke Storey:  Oh, really?

[00:04:58]Mansal Denton:  So, at a certain point, they just said, listen, you're Black until further notice. Like you can touch the TV, because there's a TV for each of the racial groups. There's a TV for the Mexicans, TV for the Blacks. And the de facto leader of the Blacks was just like, you're Black until further notice, like do whatever you want with the TV. And it's an interesting story to have in my resume.

[00:05:24]Luke Storey:  Oh, my God. Yeah. Anytime—I mean, I don't do it too often, because it's just depressing, but I am sort of fascinated by the phenomenon of imprisoned humans, I think based out of that fear of my personal freedom, I guess being one of my highest values, and also, the sort of survivor's guilt of being someone that, as I said, probably should have been there, at least for a period of time, depending on what laws you find to be valid or not, but around drugs and things like that.

[00:05:55] But yeah, watching those shows, it's so complex, the social hierarchy and the segregation that's kind of self-created, and then supported by the prison system in a, I'm assuming, vain effort to keep some semblance of peace in there. Yeah, I just thought of that question, I was like, well, you could pass for Mexican, for sure, maybe part-Black, but you don't like White to me. So, it's interesting. I could see where they were like, cool, you're one of us, but not at food. That's funny.

[00:06:21]Mansal Denton:  It's kind of like, you're one of us in the way you speak, and the way you talk, and your interests, and all that kind of stuff. But for some reason, when it comes to actually delineating it, your skin doesn't reflect what we consider to be White. And there were moments where it kind of hurt a little bit and brought up some old racial stuff for me, but generally speaking, it was kind of like, this is a whole another universe, I'm not buying too much into this game that they're playing.

[00:06:53]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Did you have any conflict with being mixed race growing up in Texas?

[00:06:59]Mansal Denton:  I did feel a lot of conflict. And I don't think it was necessarily being in Texas. I think it had to do a lot with the culture of Indians and some of the, what I would consider like internalized racism that comes from Indian culture. So, my mother, what I heard from a lot of what she's shared was that being non-White, I would have to be on better behavior. I would have to be more successful. Basically, there was a sense that I would have to work harder to get to the same place as a White person. And so, I really internalized that as being inferior.

[00:07:48]Luke Storey:  Has that proven itself to be true in your life? Do you feel that you've been disadvantaged in any way for not looking like a Caucasian dude?

[00:07:55]Mansal Denton:  I have felt in moments that it has come up. I have never felt that my lot in life has—well, let me rephrase that. There have been moments where I've wanted to play the victim. Now, I recognize in retrospect, there was never a moments where I was truly hindered by my race.

[00:08:16]Luke Storey:  The question begs, what, and I know the answer to this because this is a funny story—or maybe not funny, but one that you wouldn't expect. Tell the listeners what you ended up getting locked up for.

[00:08:29]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. Well, it does play an important role in what I do now and the work that I do now. I think like most teenagers, I felt relatively insecure. That race component played a big role in how I perceived romantic connection with women. And in essence, I just put women that were White on a pedestal as a result of that struggle with race. But there was one woman who, long story short, I fell in love with. She was in Switzerland. 

[00:09:08] And I spent the last couple of years of high school essentially learning German to fluency so that I can talk with her and connect with her. And in retrospect, it was a lot of a desire to feel loved, and affirmed, and connected to a woman. And in some ways, it led me down a great path. I had so much motivation to learn an entire language. It just shows how great the human capacity is when we have some kind of need.

[00:09:47] But it also led me down a dark path, which was if I was going to go to Europe, I had to come up with a certain amount of money in order to be able to survive over there. And I was stealing historical documents from a small museum that I was working in as an intern when I was 18, 19 years old. I went to Europe for two years. And when I came back in the United States, I was arrested.

[00:10:15] Long process, I spent almost four years getting a degree, starting businesses, essentially waiting for the trial to come to some kind of completion or the case to come to completion. And then, when I was 24, I finally got sentenced to spend time in prison. So, between when I actually committed the initial crimes and when I went to prison, I was 18 years old. I went to prison when I was 24. It's like a six-year gap. And that is just a part of the judicial system, unfortunately, but it was, I still say, the best thing that ever happened to me, to go to prison.

[00:10:58]Luke Storey:  Did you steal any more documents after you got out of the prison?

[00:11:01]Mansal Denton:  I didn't.

[00:11:02]Luke Storey:  I bet.

[00:11:03]Mansal Denton:  I didn't.

[00:11:04]Luke Storey:  And how did you know which documents to steal and that were of value? And where the hell does one fence historical documents?

[00:11:13]Mansal Denton:  Man, the whole situation was very much, it was accidental, and then it was the perfect storm for this kind of bad behavior as a child. I was super fascinated by World War II and history. I still am. I'm interested in all types of history, but I collected World War II items. So, uniforms, medals, all kinds of stuff when I was in high school. And there were some seeds there in high school of how I still show up today. I would spend a lot of time with veterans, much older, wiser men in high school. And I started as an intern working for this small museum.

[00:11:58] This guy had essentially a collection in his garage that he had converted into a museum. And I was an intern there ostensibly to boost my resume. And I was working with these documents, thought nothing of it, but I knew how much they were worth, because I was a collector already of these kinds of things. And so, when my parents said, if you want to go to school in Europe, you've got to come up with the money yourself. It was so tempting. And the part of me that wanted to take the easy way out instead of working some terrible high school cashier job or something like that, I just stole the documents, took the easy way out.

[00:12:48]Luke Storey:  And how did you find a buyer for them? And how much money did you get?

[00:12:52]Mansal Denton:  I had buyers before I even thought about selling.

[00:12:54]Luke Storey:  Oh, okay, because you were already collecting stuff.

[00:12:56]Mansal Denton:  Yes. So, it was so plug and play. And for a 20-year-old, it probably was like $20,000—so for an 18-year-old, actually, that was a lot of money.

[00:13:06]Luke Storey:  Yeah, absolutely. Did you have to pay restitution throughout? 

[00:13:11]Mansal Denton:  I have to pay restitution? We got a significant percentage of the documents back from the people that I sold it to. And there was restitution in a civil court case. And then, of course, I did prison. So, it could have been worse, but I definitely had the book thrown at me.

[00:13:29]Luke Storey:  Yeah. You paid your dues to society.

[00:13:31]Mansal Denton:  Yes. And to be really truthful, my parents paid a lot of the dues. And they supported me a lot through that entire period, because as a kid who had already blown all the money going to school, I didn't have the money for the lawyer, for the restitution, et cetera. 

[00:13:50]Luke Storey:  You could have gone and stole some other shit. No, we don't want to do that. Yeah. I find your story, and having gotten to know you a bit, and you telling me your story, I think, when we met a couple of years ago in LA, and I find it so interesting, because I would perceive you to be a really good kid. You have some insecurities, you have some issues, you're shy, you don't fit in, whatever those kind of things, but you weren't like a juvenile delinquent. You weren't a drug addict.

[00:14:17] You weren't running amuck. And I find that so interesting that you were so incentivized by those unmet needs that you did something that seems to be quite out of character for the kind of kid you were. I mean, I said kid, 18. At 50, an 18-year-old is a kid. It's kind of what happens later on in life. But yeah, I find that really interesting, because I know the version of you now to be so integris, and carry yourself with such honor and dignity that it's really interesting for me to think back about that one slip up. 

[00:14:50] And what a heavy price to pay, man. Like that's not a slap on the wrist. I mean, going to prison, I'm assuming, affects you for the rest of your life. Have you ever had any situations in which—and by the way, those listening, we are going to get to the topic of the show, which is about hunting, but the setup is interesting to me. Do you ever have any issues in which that record haunts you and prevents you from having certain rights or a spot on your resume kind of thing?

[00:15:19]Mansal Denton:  Well, it's been a long time since I've been worried about my resume. I just kind make my own way through the world, luckily, and I'm very grateful for that internal drive, so to speak.

[00:15:32]Luke Storey:  Yeah, you have the entrepreneurial spirit, clearly.

[00:15:34]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. I had it then, too, which is-

[00:15:36]Luke Storey:  Yeah, misdirected. 

[00:15:37]Mansal Denton:  Misdirected. 

[00:15:38]Luke Storey:  Ignoring other people's boundaries, perhaps, but yeah. 

[00:15:42]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. That is what happens with trauma. It has frustrated me in some ways. I mean, the most ironic example is when I go hunting, I have to use a bow. For legal reasons, as a felon, I'm not supposed to be in possession of a weapon. Other people can be in my presence. Other people can own them. Other people can use them. I'm not supposed to be using them and I'm not supposed to be hunting with them. So, it's incredible the work that I do, and it's all kosher, but I'm walking a fine line and there'll be scrutiny until I can work through the final pieces of the litigation, and things like that, things that are currently in the works with my lawyers, et cetera, to make things a little bit safer for me.

[00:16:42]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it makes sense. Wow.

[00:16:43]Mansal Denton:  But it doesn't impact me too much.

[00:16:47]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I just think about anything I've ever applied for. I mean, it's been a while, whether it was a job or just, I don't know, questionnaires that you have to fill out. And one of the questions inevitably will be, have you ever been convicted as a felon? I was like, no, I can't believe not. But when I got caught for felonies, I was under 18. So, they don't show up anymore, thankfully.

[00:17:10] But yeah, that's an interesting thing to have that on your record, especially as I said, because you're not someone who led a life of crime, was this really hardened criminal, badass addict, violent person, or something like that, where you'd expect that. It's just that one slip up, and then it's sort of on your record for a while. And I guess that affects you to whatever greater or lesser degree it has. But yeah, I thought that's interesting. When we set out to go hunting, you mentioned that, and I thought, oh, yeah, that's right.

[00:17:38] But also, as we'll get into, was interesting how that played out, in that you pursued bow hunting, which I presume to be quite a bit more difficult. And I'd say in terms of a fair fight with game, a much more fair fight than having a firearm, so it's interesting that that ended up being the case with the reverence that you have for the natural world, and the animals that you're working with and killing as a hunter. So, we'll definitely get into that.

[00:18:08] So, for a little context, and I know this is probably going to be a pretty conversational episode just because there's so many things that have transpired in my life in relation to hunting, and then the experience that we had. It's difficult to have a Q&A type interview, but I'm going to do my best to give you plenty of space to share your experience. But for those listening, to be able to unpack this a little bit, prior to my going hunting with you a couple of weeks ago here, right after I arrived in Texas. 

[00:18:39] And it was really the first hang I had with anyone. It's like going out into the wilderness with a big gun. It was a really meaningful experience for me for a number of reasons. One being that as a kid, I primarily lived with my mom and she was definitely not into hunting. She hates when I call her a hippie, but maybe she was kind of a bohemian, let's just say that. She's like, hippies didn't shower. I wasn't like that. I was a mod. But she was from Berkeley, very liberal, ended up meeting my dad in Aspen, Colorado.

[00:19:08] They got married, popped me out. And they got divorced when I was four, and I grew up in California with my mom, listening to Zeppelin, smoking weed, riding skateboards. Dad, however, started hunting when he was, I think, seven years old, he got his first little six shooter, which I have now, which is one of my favorite family heirlooms. I have great story about why did I hand someone a loaded six shooter. I'll tell it. It's like I handed my buddy, G. Joe, my gun, I was like, check out, my dad gave me his first gun, his childhood gun.

[00:19:41] It's a really cool little Smith & Wesson, little 22 caliber pistol revolver. And then, I walked in the other room and I hear boom, fucking G. Joe pulled the trigger and fired it into the carpet by accident. So, 50% dumbass, don't pull the trigger on a gun. And then, my part, of course, being perhaps more than 50%, don't hand someone a loaded gun, and especially not if you don't tell them the gun's loaded. But anyway, I digress. Back to Dad. So, Dad, very avid hunter, fisher, just taking down game like a beast my whole life.

[00:20:15] And I never identified with that, because I was a soft, sensitive kid. I mean, even if I wasn't raised by my mom, I just didn't have that kind of aggression in me. I was always just more emotionally based. And I just wanted to go play with the animals, and just be in nature, and swim in the creeks, and much like I am to this day. But I did have a couple hunting experiences with my dad, hunting bears that were pretty gnarly in terms of just the level of violence and things kind of going wrong, and the way that they would hunt bears were with dogs. 

[00:20:52] And so, they did have a pack of dogs with radio collars and they would bait the bears with this rotten meat and gunny sacks. They'd go out in the area they were going to hunt, and start bringing all the bears to the yard, and then they'd go in and set the dogs loose, and you'd watch the dogs on your little radio transmitter thingy. I'm sure it's gotten more sophisticated now, but you'd be able to see, if all the dogs stopped together, you're like, there's a bear there, and they would tree a bear.

[00:21:16] And then, the hunters, my dad, and his friends, and I, as an accomplice, would go to shoot the bear out of the tree, and they would skin the bear, got the bear, the whole thing right there. And then, just like leave everything there except the hide. And even as a kid, I didn't know anything about indigenous traditions or Native American hunting ways or anything, but I just intuitively knew that there's something wrong with that. Like why would you cause suffering like that when you're not hungry?

[00:21:43] You know what I mean? And there was another experience of the bear where I'm not sure if they killed the mother bear without knowing it had two cubs, or if she ran off, or what happened, but we ended up treeing two cubs the very top of a pine tree, and they're not coming down. So, my dad's friend went up with a chain saw, saw the top of the tree off to fell the bears. One of the cubs got impaled and immediately died on a broken branch, and the other one lived, because it fell on something soft, like a bunch of branches or something.

[00:22:13] My dad's friend grabs a sack, and goes, and catches the baby bear. We throw in the back of the truck and bring it home. We had a pet bear for a while in like the dog kennel. It had its own little kennel, and then it got too big. And my dad's friend took it to his house in Golden, and kept it on his property until it was a massive bear, and then eventually had to give it to the Denver Zoo. So, those experiences definitely turned me off to the whole idea of that, because it was just sport.

[00:22:45] There was no real, like meaningful utility in that. And so, I didn't do that for a long time. And even when we would go out, and we'd shoot woodchucks, and squirrels, and stuff just for fun, like target practice, and I would like it until I walked up and saw a blown apart little animal for no reason. So, that's like how I walked into this experience with you. That was my experience of like, this is harsh. Like I don't think I ever want to do that. 

[00:23:12] But there was something that called me to this experience as, I think, a rite of passage into just being a natural human. This is what humans have been doing forever until the advent of agriculture, and us figuring out how you could entrap, and breed animals, and keep them on the property that you now decide as your property, and that whole system that we're in now. So, the experience I had with you was meaningful in so many levels, because it was an experience that I kind of miss sharing with my dad in a meaningful way. And because he and I had such different interests, there weren't a lot of experiences that we really could share.

[00:23:51] And he would take me and do the things that he liked to do, because when he was a kid, he would have loved to do the things that he was taking me to do, but we really lacked that common connection. And now, he's older and doesn't do a lot of hunting, and so it's not something I've had the opportunity to do with him. So, there was like a lot of sort of historical relevance for me in this experience. And I just wanted to share that as kind of a preface, so people understand the rest of the conversation going into this as what a foreign experience it was for me in so many ways, especially the way that you do it. What was it that led you to hunting?

[00:24:28]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. Hearing you share that story, I can even feel the reflection of my own traumas, et cetera, that led me to hunting, and to the way that I view it, and how so many people have those back stories like you shared. Whether it's more mainstream or in the family, et cetera, there's so much that is bound up in hunting. And I came to it through ostensibly a desire to become closer to my food. That was the initial motivation. And I found much, much more than that. 

[00:25:19] And in retrospect, what I really was seeking was a practice, an embodied practice that would allow me to express some form of my masculinity. Because even though I was a sensitive boy similar to you, I had aggression and it showed up on the soccer field. I would just knock kids out. And so, that aggression that I had, and you shared your own instinct with the squirrels, there's something innate there. It was some type of an aggression, something that's very innate to our species. And unfortunately, we don't have the guidance.

[00:26:02] We don't have the other side, which is the reverence that can guide us into right relationship with that aggression. So, in retrospect, for me, it was a way of acknowledging what is true for me, expressing it, and tying to orient my life around certain types of practices that could embody masculinity, because it's one thing to read books about masculinity. And there are some great books, The Way of the Superior Man, David Deida, tons of great men's work and stuff there. There are men's groups, Mankind Project, et cetera. All of that, I found valuable, but it's different to be thinking about masculinity versus embodying it in a practice. And that is what I found hunting to solidify for me.

[00:27:02]Luke Storey:  I think that a lot of us Westerners that are male have a difficult time navigating what it means to be a man and what a healthy expression of our masculine nature is, especially those of us that have had fathers that didn't, at least at the time, model that for us, or that were abusive, or that were not present. And it seems to me that this is a bit on a philosophical tangent, but I think the root of a lot of the problems that we see in society is really due to a lack of healthy masculinity, of healthy role models, and those rites of passage that usher boys, immature boys, into being conscious men that use their power wisely and with compassion. 

[00:27:56] And I know men like that and some of them are that way, because they had a father that was like that. But they're the exception. Most of us, include me with you, I've had to kind of figure it out through whatever practices seem to be attractive and effective for doing so, right? Because to sway to one side creates an imbalance. And I think that a lot of people that are sort of down on men and the patriarchy have a very prevalent misconception that masculinity is the problem, and the men that perpetuate wrongdoing on others and on society in general, and cause harm are acting out expressions of masculinity. 

[00:28:40] But I've always looked at it that they are just more out of balance, and especially in the case of someone who is very violent and rageful, are actually more in their feminine, because they don't have the ability to control their emotions, right? And they don't have that sense of care, and nurturing, and responsibility that comes with an integrated male animal of any type, really. And most male animals in their natural state are like that. And we humans have a prefrontal cortex that we can use to build discernment into how to channel those energies.

[00:29:14] And so, I think that's a really interesting thing that you were drawn to that as a way like, what does it mean to be a man? What have been historically done? Whenever I'm looking at how to be a person, how to be human, I think of, what are the best things our ancestors have brought forth? And what are the things that have been lost? And what are the things that we've outgrown, that no longer serve us and that cause unnecessary suffering? So, that's a really interesting perspective. Do you remember the moment that you killed your first big animal?

[00:29:48]Mansal Denton:  I remember it distinctly. I don't think I'll ever forget it. It was an antelope. And I remember this herd of blackbuck antelope that were moving in front of me as I was sitting in a blind. For those who are not aware, a common way of hunting is called ambush hunting, where one is hidden in a certain spot, and is waiting around either a body of water, or some kind of food source, or something like that for animals to come. And that's especially true for archery in the beginning, because archery is so much more challenging. 

[00:30:31] And so, this herd of antelope come into my view and it was immediately creating a lot of physical sensations for me, the closeness of the animals, there's something about knowing that it's a potential energy, kinetic energy, potential energy. There's a potential energy there where you know your mission in that moment is to hunt an animal, and you have this tool, and that animal is almost within this range of when you can use the tool, whether it's a rifle, bow, whatever. 

[00:31:19] So, I felt that. I felt it coming quite strongly. My heart, my adrenaline started to dump. And one thing that I noticed was this family of antelope was so connected with one another and that the sense that I got was there was a jovial familial play that was going on. There was probably six to eight of them. And I wasn't thinking about this much at the time. It was kind of in retrospect. But when I took the shot, I saw the animal jump.

[00:32:02] Usually, if you hit them in the vital organs, they do kind of a kicking jump, and then they run. So, I saw there the antelope run. I saw her fall over with my binoculars. And then, I saw her kind of in her death throes, just struggling. And then, I saw at a distance this like foam coming from her body, which is the oxygen that has reached the lungs. And it's a sign that the shot was going to kill it. 

[00:32:37] And at that moment, I'm feeling joy, I'm feeling pride, but I'm also feeling sadness, because I'm seeing the antelopes, what I judged to be sisters, aunts, mother. They are confused. They're close to the animal. They're sniffing it. They're looking at it. They're looking around. Obviously, anthropomorphization is something that people recommend against, but when you're in that moment and you see the animals behaving in a certain way, it's impossible not to empathize with what they must be feeling.

[00:33:17]Luke Storey:  So, assigning a humanlike quality to their behavior. 

[00:33:21]Mansal Denton:  Right. When they left, they eventually came to terms with it and they left. They went off the same direction that—well, they came in, and then they went off the other direction. When they left, it was a completely different situation. They had their heads down. They were slow. They were moving in like a single file as opposed to when they came in together, playful, running around with each other.

[00:33:52] And there was not enough time for me to integrate all of the feelings. It was only later when I pieced together what had happened, when I reflected on that disparity, that change, that I could really evaluate the whole situation. And it took support from plant medicine. It took support from my spiritual teacher, but it was an extremely profound experience to have that intention to kill an animal with a bow and to have it be successful. And to backtrack just a little bit, I had gone to do an ayahuasca retreat a month before that hunt. 

[00:34:48] And in that retreat, I thought about the animal that I'd be hunting. And I started crying just thinking about the fact that I was going to be killing this animal. And the gravity of it really struck me under the force of ayahuasca. And in that moment, I asked higher power, please just allow the arrow to go straight through the heart of the animal, and kill it quickly and cleanly. That was the only thing that I asked. And that was very important for me, because that was the first time I ever had a relationship with a higher power. 

[00:35:21] That's the first time I felt such a need for support that I would ask. And sure enough, when I killed that antelope, and we later took all the meat, and all the guts, and everything, it went straight to the heart. And it took less than six seconds for the animal to die. And so, it was very important for me to see what I saw, to see the emotions, to empathize with those animals, to be successful, to have a mission that I had completed, but also, to have support from a higher power, at least in my interpretation of the events.

[00:36:00]Luke Storey:  That's so interesting that you made it through six months in prison without referring to God. Like I get a hangnail, and I'm like, God help me, help me, this hurts. That's wild. So, what a setup to go have an in-depth experience with ayahuasca, knowing that you're going into that. And then, if I have the story right, then didn't you follow that up with yet another ayahuasca retreat after that initial experience?

[00:36:28]Mansal Denton:  Yeah, it was a month later. By the way, none of this was planned. Everything was accidental. I was in a place where I was following what was calling to me. This retreat was calling to me. This hunting experience was calling to me. Another retreat was calling to me. So, I just did them. And I didn't do them intentionally. But when I went on the second retreat, I was understandably fascinated with death at that point, because I had just killed an animal. There was other things that were up for me.

[00:37:04] I think somebody had recommended a book. And so, I was reading many books on the subject of death. I took the skin of that antelope down to the ayahuasca retreat, scared all my neighbors who were trying to have their own ceremonies, and they open their eyes, and see the skin next to them, laying there. And that was also a profound experience that helped to contextualize for me what I had done, killing an animal, I connected with the spirit of that antelope and it was done in a very loving way. I felt no judgment from the antelope. 

[00:37:45] I felt like it was in coherence and resonance with me. I realized some things about the meat that is mostly available in the United States. I had some really profound realizations there, and made some commitments around the kind of meat that I want to be eating, and putting into my body, and having become a part of me. And that was, yeah, one of the triumvirate of these three experiences that really, really set the tone for me for what became my current life's work.

[00:38:21]Luke Storey:  Yeah. You found your dharma in the most interesting way. Around the piece about where our meat comes from, those of us that choose to eat meat. And I think there's a lot we can explore perhaps in a bit about those that don't, because I was a vegetarian for many years. One of the things that motivated me to explore hunting with you was this sense of hypocrisy, for lack of a better word, there might be another one floating somewhere.

[00:38:50] But as someone who feels best when I eat a fair amount of meat and don't feel good when I don't eat enough meat, it's just the fact, I've tried every kind of diet known to man, I think, and the one that works for me is like eating a lot of mean. That's the only thing that I feel fulfilled by and energized by, really. However, the fact that I perceived at least before this experience with you that I didn't have the guts to go do the deed myself, it's like I'm hiding in my house, not getting my hands dirty, figuratively or literally, and order my grass-fed meat from wherever, Belcampo.

[00:39:34] I mean, I do get my meat from farms that I've either been to and observed the procedures. I mean, of course, if I go out and eat, hopefully, it was that way. But if I order meat at home, it's going to be from Belcampo. I've been to their farm. I've been to the slaughterhouse. I reconciled the process of how they raise, and treat those animals, and specifically how they're slaughtered. And then, another ranch called Covenant. I got it wrong on a podcast and he emailed me.

[00:40:01] He was like, hey, thanks for the plug, say our name right, Covenant Pastures, I believe it's called, in Bakersfield. It's a small operation. And I got on the phone with them. I said, what water did they drink? How are they treated? Are they kept in a pen? Blah, blah, blah. How are they slaughtered? Et cetera. And it passed the sniff test for me in terms of the most humane way that I can get meat.

[00:40:22] But that said, there's still a disconnect between me and the natural world, and I feel like a hypocrite for not being willing to participate in the ecology cycle that makes a plant turn into an animal and that animal turn into my food. And as you said, I so correctly into the body that I'm carrying around. And that was a huge motivator for me, because I've always felt guilty about eating meat as a vegetarian. 

[00:40:52] Not so much anymore, because I mean, I've had a lot of deep dives into the nature of death itself, and we can get into that, and many of those realizations came during our experience with the mushrooms, which comes later. But that was a huge motivator for me, was just like, God, humans have been doing this forever, and then we figured out how to make it easier on ourselves, and the rest of us have someone else go and do that work for us.

[00:41:21] And that doesn't mean that I'm going to start hunting all the time and live exclusively off hunted meat like you do for the most part. It's that, it's not everyone's job to go out and be the hunter. If I take myself back 20,000 years in my tribe, I might not have been the hunter guy. I might have been the musician or whatever. It's not necessarily in everyone's nature to go out and have that be their job.

[00:41:44] But it's like I feel if you're going to be sort of a CEO of a company, it's probably a really good idea to work in the mailroom at some point, and do some accounting, and have a full experience of your role. And so, my role is here talking on a mic, but part of my role is also interfacing with the natural world. How much of that was part of your motivation of being disconnected from meat, but still feeling like your body needed to eat it?

[00:42:12]Mansal Denton:  A huge part. I grew up vegetarian, So, like you, I spent much of my life or a sizable portion of my life, actually, as a vegetarian. My mother's from India. She was raised vegetarian, so she cooked. And there were no judgments towards me. It was just, she cooked almost every meal, so I was de facto vegetarian. When I started eating meat, I probably gained 20 pounds in muscle. I felt so much better and I kind of started on that path as a result.

[00:42:44] But I, too, had the question, there is a disconnect here between the fact that I'm eating meat and the fact that I only ever see the meat that I eat in packages or in a restaurant. I've never been a part of that process. And that was initially what stimulated me to go into hunting in the first place. Obviously, much more came from that. But one of the ways that really clicked for me was in that second ayahuasca experience, having the book, The Body Keeps the Score, very much at the forefront of my mind, the quick synopsis of that book is plenty of studies show that we don't simply hold our trauma in our mind, but it's actually stored in our body, stored in our muscles, in our movement patterns. 

[00:43:46] It's a very well-documented and popular concept. So, if we hold our trauma in our body, it stands to reason that an animal would, too. And if an animal's holding trauma in their body, and I eat that, and that literally becomes a part of me, I'm just bringing on their trauma. I don't have a well-versed relationship to the karma and some of the Eastern philosophies, but I suspect there's a linkage there, so there's some kind of connection there. So, anyway, that's how I viewed it.

[00:44:25] And I really wanted a relationship to the meat, as you were suggesting, that would reflect to me that they led a life that was relatively free from trauma. And yeah, I choose hunting, because I want the animals to be free, and wild, and live the way that they, for the most part, were meant to live. And then, in a quick moment, they're dead. But it can happen in many regenerative operations. Belcampo's great. There are many others. So, the only thing that I find important that gets neglected about the conversation with hunting is how important the connection to a living being dying is to our consumption.

[00:45:32] It is so much easier for me in my past to have wasted food and meat if I had no connection to it. It's so much easier for me to overconsume meat if I have no connection to it. And the more disconnected we are collectively from the death that we're creating, no matter what we eat, no matter what clothes we wear, no matter what we do, we're creating death. The more disconnected we are from that, the more compounded the problems we create for the Earth in my judgment. 

[00:46:09]Luke Storey:  That's an interesting point I hadn't thought of. I thought my notes were pretty comprehensive, but that's interesting. So, yeah, it's like if we're disconnected from that process, that natural life cycle, which I always just observe everything. And this is part of the reconciliation when I decided to eat meat was when I really got down to it, from bacteria on up, everything's eating everything all the time. That's all things do, is eat other things and transmit energy.

[00:46:40] One thing needs energy, so it takes the energy from another thing, a bigger thing takes its energy, and so on, and so on, right? And for whatever reason, we ended up being the apex predator, because of our ability to create weapons, and organize ourselves around hunts, and things like that. But yeah, it's like if you are more interconnected to that system and are doing that in a conscious way, it seems like there would be, as weird as this might sound, and I'm sure—well, I guess that at many points in this conversation, it could sound like rationalization to someone who chooses to be animal-free in their diet or whatever, but it's like the consciousness that's created by being part of that process has, I would assume, according to what you just said and expanding on that, a greater net effect on how you consume the energy that you consume as one link in that chain, right? 

[00:47:35] If we're just disconnected from it, it's like it doesn't have any meaning. Just like you said, it's something we got in a package. It's like, cool, that's a hamburger. It's not, oh, I remember the moment when that animal took its last breath. Man, that was a really profound moment. I'm going to take this in with a reverence, and a respect for that experience and that animal sacrifice. I don't have a connection to the sacrifice of a cow I eat, or if you went to McDonald's, it's probably 70 cows that you're eating in one burger or whatever, right? 

[00:48:07] That's a really interesting perspective. In terms of an animal's natural life, how you were talking about wanting to participate in taking an animal's life that's lived free, and roamed, and express themselves for however long they were around, do you think an animal that becomes prey, or food for a bigger or smarter animal, what's the hierarchy of suffering between an animal that's killed in the wild, an animal that is killed in a slaughterhouse?

[00:48:39] Like when I watch the Animal Planet and I see some hyenas take down a gazelle, that looks like a way worse death than a humane-certified death of a cow on a regenerative farm or something like that. It's just, boom, they're gone. So, in terms of not only their death, but what about their life? Like does an antelope out in the wild in Texas suffer more by being chased around by mountain lions and whatever their predators are than a cow just gets to chill in a pasture? You know what I mean? Like which animal has it harder in life and in death?

[00:49:10]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. So, there are so many layers to this. I'm going to start by saying, what I'm about to share might sound like a rationalization and I'm really intentional that I don't rationalize for myself or for others, because I feel what many vegetarians or vegans might project onto me, I do feel guilty. I do feel sad. I do feel empathetic. I feel all of those things. And my goal in life, but specifically in this work, is to feel those things fully instead of quickly going to a story that can avoid those emotions. So, I'll set that there.

[00:49:56]Luke Storey:  No bypass allowed on this show. 

[00:49:58]Mansal Denton:  Yeah.

[00:49:59]Luke Storey:  Let's go deep.

[00:50:00]Mansal Denton:  When we talk about the lives of these animals, you're absolutely correct that wild animals live some of the most brutal lives and they die in the most brutal ways, sometimes. If you look at the way predators evolve, predators and all animals, really, they're living on the razor's edge. They have to conserve energy and they will evolve to conserve energy in any way possible, which means a lot of predators have no desire to kill an animal. They have a desire to get the energy from the animal.

[00:50:45] So, you'll see countless examples of gazelles that are still alive with the hyenas ripping out their insides, because the hyenas don't care about the animal's life or death. It's just, how can I get this energy? So, it is much brutal in the wild, much more brutal. And so, you compare an animal that might be living on a farm who's got protection of a fence, is fed, has all these pastures for grass, and then it's looking in one direction, and you just kill it, doesn't even know what happens, et cetera, there's a great argument for like a really great regenerative operation to do that.

[00:51:28] And that's a very kind of humane process. But if it is not that great of an operation, and you're saying, wow, these animals, these cows are getting fed, they're living a luxurious life, they feel good, look at the wag you beef, it's all fatty, because they're just relaxing and having a good life, and then one day, they're dead, versus the gazelle that we have seen, kind of lives a really hard life, trying to scratch a living off the grass that they find and avoid predators, and then they have kind of a brutal death. 

[00:52:10] Well, one thing is we have tons of humans that are the same way, and they're not happier, they feel more depressed, more anxious, they have everything given to them, they're not fulfilling their purpose in the world, versus people who might have lived like hunter-gatherers, hunter-gatherers that still live to this day or still scratching a living off of rocks, eating grubs, and other things like that, but they feel much more fulfilled. They feel much more connected, et cetera.

[00:52:48] So, my argument is just I think there is something to be said about a creature embodying the way that it was meant to be on this planet. And so, that gazelle, the wild animal that I kill, probably in some ways, had a harsher life, but it was fulfilling its mission and its role in the ecosystem. And my hope is that I can embody what is collectively a very human experience to be a predator in that way as well.

[00:53:28]Luke Storey:  It's interesting, on those Animal Planet shows, and I don't know if this is true for everyone, but definitely is for me, if you look at the lion chasing the gazelle, I'm always rooting for the gazelle. I noticed that one day. I was watching one of those shows, and I thought, why am I not rooting for the lion? The lion's hungry. And you see those lions. They walk around for days and they have cubs they can't feed. They're starving. They're emaciated and just dying for something to eat.

[00:53:55] And it's just interesting that I always am on the side of the prey, and I feel so sorry for them, and my heart breaks just seeing them get torn apart like that. It's just brutal. But on the other side, it's like, well, what about the hungry lion and those cubs? And that takes us back to that cycle of life where things are seemingly evolving into a higher consciousness or higher intelligence beings.

[00:54:22] I mean, when you come from the reincarnation perspective, I can only assume which reincarnation seems very real to me based on so many life experiences and the teachings that have been passed down by so many masters all over the world that the animal world is also part of that cycle, right? So, the moment I'm feeling sorry for that gazelle and not so much the lion, well, who's to say that the energy that was once animating that gazelle doesn't emerge again as a lion cub that's starving, is going to end up taking down a gazelle, because it's starving, right?

[00:54:56]Mansal Denton:  Yeah.

[00:54:56]Luke Storey:  It's just such an interesting—I think if we can stay malleable, and open-minded, and really zoom out and look at the experience of life like that, it becomes very interesting. And it's so nuanced. There's not really a room for, I think, an intelligent conversation, room for right or wrong in terms of morality on this. It's like, hmm, what is really happening here? Now, that said-

[00:55:21]Mansal Denton:  Small anecdote. 

[00:55:22]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Go ahead.

[00:55:23]Mansal Denton:  Just to that point, like if you think about humans, and when they die, at this point, I'm not sure if it's confirmed scientifically or not, but there's a suggestion that humans release DMT upon death.

[00:55:40]Luke Storey:  Let's hope so.

[00:55:41]Mansal Denton:  Well, I have been in the experience of killing an animal and watching it. As it's dying and having the guy tell me, shoot it again, shoot it again, and I just am with the animal in its final moments, as its head starts to kind of look up, and around, and the sense I got was that it was a goat. That goat looks like he's on psychedelics. And just watching him kind of move from this earthly plane into the next plane, it can be peaceful. It's not always peaceful. It can be peaceful, though.

[00:56:24]Luke Storey:  I'll cut to the chase of something I was going to talk about later, but when we went out the first night, we're looking for access deer, who were legal to shoot, and wild boars, who are so prevalent here in Texas. And to many people, considered an invasive species, and quite a nuisance to agriculture, and property's value, and things like that. But anyway, we're out on the hunt, and first night, I shoot, we see one pig, he runs away, big one. We see another one, and it all happened so fast.

[00:56:59] You put up the sticks. I get that rifle pointed at them. His butt is turned to me. I do not want to cause suffering. That is not why I'm out there, to just wound an animal, and have it run off in the weeds, and suffer. And it was like this instantaneous, just so innate, and like you said, there is adrenaline, and it was an intense moment, but there was no hesitation, which was so strange to me. I wasn't like, I can't do it. I mean, it was just like, go, and it just happened instantly.

[00:57:30] And it turned to the side, took that shot, heard an incredibly hard sound to forget, just the screaming for just a couple of seconds, and then it's like, oh, my God, no, no. did I wound it? Took another shot, couldn't really tell that hit it. And then, we ran up. And to the point of like the psychedelic nature of the transfer of life out of a physical being into wherever life reemerges, one of the most powerful experiences of my life. And for me, it was very much like, it wasn't psychedelic in the sense like, oh, I'm seeing colors, but I was not in a normal state at all.

[00:58:13] I was in a completely altered state the moment that bullet hit that animal, and especially as we got close to it, and it took its last breath, and when it was safe to approach, and I'm holding my hand on that big bore, and just sensing the—oh, man, there's just this density to the energy in that moment where everything is very slow and very much like being on plant medicines.

[00:58:46] Like you're not in a normal state of being anymore as that life force is moving around. It's in something, and it's going somewhere else, and it's perhaps passing through you. And, oh, my God, what a powerful experience. There are just tears running down my face. But I'm not crying, crying. It's just the overwhelming intensity of participating [making sounds] in life like that.

[00:59:17]Mansal Denton:  It was powerful for me to be a part of that experience with you, and to watch everybody's reaction and their state change, and feel the emotions that we're both feeling again right now.

[00:59:36]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it's funny. Just even going back there, it's like experiences that I've heard relayed from people who they, themselves, subjectively have had near-death experiences or people like a Ram Dass who sat with countless people as they've left their body. And they describe it, but it's indescribable until you're there having that experience. Yeah. And so, I mean, that just changed my perspective in so many ways around death, and what it really is or isn't.

[01:00:15] And perhaps we'll get into that later, but just to zip around a little bit back to the prior point of, I don't know, the way I think is just looking at things from all different angles. So, back to the amount of suffering that takes place when an animal dies on a farm versus the wild, et cetera. When I was first reconciling that my body really needed meat to feel healthy, and fulfilled, and vital, I was observing how farms are created that grow vegetables. 

[01:00:53] And thinking about when you look at a pasture, a natural pasture, and all of the living beings, and all of the living creatures from snakes to gophers, to grasshoppers, to gnats, to flies, to butterflies, birds, worms, all the things, and to take a tractor and rip the skin off that earth in order to put fake earth there to grow kale, I wonder in terms of caloric value and energy that we need as a human to get the calories one would get from a bowl of kale versus a small piece of beef, or deer, or whatever, wild game or not. 

[01:01:32] If you count the number of deaths that have to happen—I'm not talking about factory farms. Like that's a whole other thing perhaps we can get into, but I just mean like a well-raised, managed herd of cattle on some land. If I'm eating a bowl of kale, how many single creatures had to die in order for me to eat that kale versus a piece of meat? Have you ever thought about that?

[01:01:55]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. I think about it a lot when that argument and disdain are thrown my way, because of the work that I'm doing, because of the choices that I make. And I just feel empathy for the people who don't understand that truth, that foxes, and fawns, and mice are all killed, whether it's by the combines or through the poisons that keep the grains protected and all these things. I have empathy because it is another symptom of being disconnected. It's another symptom of being disconnected from that process.

[01:02:47] And humans are always going to try and find ways around our feelings. And if there's a feeling of guilt, there's a feeling of shame around what we're doing to the planet, it's much easier to remove ourselves from a being like an animal that behaves a lot like us. And in the philosophies that I have learned, like plant life is just as sacred as animal life. And the way that we treat it is more important than what we're doing, per se. So, animals can be killed and consumed lovingly with reverence and with respect or not. 

[01:03:50] Plants can be grown with loving respect and reverence or not. And that's where I see the value in hunting so much for people, even like vegetarians or vegans, just understanding what the death feels like, because it exists, and it happens, and we can't shield ourselves from it, lest we make poor decisions from that disconnected place. Because that's ultimately what is showing up. You've got companies like Impossible Meat and all these fake meet companies, these oat milk thing.

[01:04:39] It's all these companies. I don't doubt there's people in all of those companies that have good intentions and they're trying to use science to our advantage, but they are playing on our empathy towards an animal that looks similar to us, and hiding all of the problems that show up and all of the death that shows up when you use how many ever ingredients, hundreds of ingredients that they're using, monocrop ingredients, to create their products. So, to sum it up, it's really about the connection.

[01:05:22] Like do you have a connection? And if you want to be a vegan or vegetarian, and you want to eat kale, and you grow it yourself in your backyard, and you grow it through permaculture or you get it from a local farmer down the street, good be onto you. You're seeking a connection to your food. And that is a way to mitigate the significant detrimental impact we're having on the planet.

[01:05:45]Luke Storey:  Do you get a lot of flak from people or do you get a fair amount of trolling, because you're doing something, which personally, I don't think should be controversial? Because again, it's what humans have been doing forever. Not to say that there are things that we've been doing forever, like slavery that still happens to this day that we would be better served to not do, obviously. But to me, it would be strange, especially the way you're doing it. In trophy hunting and things like that, I can see why I would be extremely triggering to your average awake person. But do you get a lot of pushback and hate from people that are pissed off about your role in the world?

[01:06:22]Mansal Denton:  I get some, but honestly, way less than I would expect. I judge that it's because of the way that I relate to the practice. And I don't doubt that my own shadow gets in the way as well. But generally speaking, I have a very emotionally open, vulnerable relationship to hunting. I have a lot of reverence. You talked about, at the beginning of this podcast, my demeanor being very sensitive and that is a big part of my practice with hunting, is I have a high level of sensitivity. And I am emotional. And I feel for these animals very deeply and love them deeply. And I'm not the only one, but I think it is more the exception than the rule. And that is something that people feel. And generally speaking, it negates a lot of the vitriol that might come my way otherwise.

[01:07:30]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I think there's a lot of stigma around hunters probably due to the fact that many of them historically, at least in America, have treated it as a sport, sport hunting, big game. And it's this egoic sort of trophy hunting thing and all of that where there doesn't seem to be much connection or reverence now that you speak of. But that said, I find that it's not something I've explored a lot, because it's not been part of my life, so I haven't gotten a lot of heat for it. But the general sentiment, I think, is that most hunters are unconscious assholes just out torturing animals, yet I don't observe the people that would be critical of that particular practice or sport being critical of indigenous peoples that have done it and that are still doing it, right? 

[01:08:28] You don't see advocacy groups like getting pissed off at Native Americans that still go out and hunt deers, or people in South America, or wherever, where those life ways are still intact and just part of what they do. It seems that the vitriol that is shared is largely around Westerners and hunting. And I wonder how much of that is because of the way they do it or just that there's animosity toward those groups of people for other reasons and they just kind of throw that in there. You know what I mean?

[01:08:57]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. Honestly, I think there's a lot of unconscious people everywhere. And shadow shows up everywhere. And hunting is no different. So, if you have, let's just say, a pretty large percentage of the population of Westerners are, for no fault of their own necessarily, not as conscious, then that's going to show up in hunting as well. And because of what we've already talked about, it just shows up in hunting in a way that is ugly to people who don't hunt, because it's an animal that looks and behaves like us in some ways, and it's off-putting for that reason. But there's very unconscious ways that people do many other things. Working out, for example. But people don't necessarily—well, these days, people find a way to judge, and fight, and have issues with everything. 

[01:10:02]Luke Storey:  Trolls going to troll.

[01:10:03]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. But I think that I don't think it's specific to hunting. I just think that shadow shows up in a lot of ways. And the civilization that we're currently in, the paradigm that we're in, creates a lot of trauma. And that trauma shows up as egoic shadow relationship to hunting. What was the-

[01:10:23]Luke Storey:  Well, how certain sects of people that are more so indigenous and living their natural life way don't seem to get any shit, and maybe that's just because they've been so fucked over throughout the past few thousand years or so that people are like, leave them alone. Like everybody had their lands devastated, and their cultures, and traditions, and religions, and all of that robbed of them, which is, of course, horrific.

[01:10:53] But it's like, I think that hunter-gatherer people, the very few that still are, as you alluded to earlier, are, despite the fact that they don't have a big screen TV and a Porsche, much more functional and and happier people, right? And so, they kind of get left alone in the hunting conversation. And the aggression and anger toward hunters is more pointed at maybe someone like you or someone like me, like how dare you go hunt? You're an American White boy. Like you've got to be doing it wrong, or doing it in a way that is unconscious and shouldn't be allowed, or whatever.

[01:11:29]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. I'm glad you stimulated that thought. So, a lot of indigenous cultures that still hunt, most of them are very either poor or they're kind of marginalized. And for that reason, I think they get a lot of leeway and people really don't go after them. But even more interesting is that if you watch them hunt, generally, it makes me cringe, because it's a luxury to be respectful and reverent when killing an animal. When you're just trying to eat like many of these humans are, and I have a great story about the Hadza who do that, they just get the job done.

[01:12:14] And this is a baboon tooth. So, my friend, Anthony Gustin, just went to Tanzania and he spent two weeks with the Hadza people. Hadza are some of the only hunter-gatherers that still exist. And they have to go into the forest to hunt for baboons. And when he sent me the video of them hunting the baboons, I saw dogs that were severely undernourished. So, their dogs are used to hunt the baboons, find the baboons similar to the bears that you mentioned.

[01:12:51] So, the dogs chase after the baboon, the baboon is in the tree, and then they're firing multiple arrows at it with poison. And the whole video makes me cringe. But they have their own process and they are doing the best that they can with what they've been given. And like I said, it's a luxury to be very intentional, very reverent, to have the kind of abundance and resources that I have to take my time and not relate to hunting in the same way that they do.

[01:13:37]Luke Storey:  I think there's something to the brutality in the nature of the way humans hunt, too, based on how normalized it is for you based on earlier experiences. I think about just the intensity of the hunt that we did in my one successful kill and even gutting the animal skin in the animal quarter, I mean, 150-pound boar hanging there in front of me is, actually, to be honest, it was way more normal and kind of not a big deal than I thought it would be. I thought I'd like throw up or something, like what?

[01:14:16] I don't even like touching hamburger meat. Like I'm totally grossed out by the whole process, which shows you how disconnected I am. But I've often thought, like my dad, for example, started hunting so young, and he's not obviously a hunter-gatherer person, but it's like if we had all been raised in nature, going back thousands of years, from the very time you were nursing on your mom's teat, you would have seen chickens getting their head cut, there'd be guts everywhere, and fish being cleaned, and animals being dragged in by a rope.

[01:14:49] And it would just be constant carnage from hunts. And that would just be something you were totally used to. I think perhaps for us and why I thought I would be so freaked out is our introduction to the death of animals, and specifically, what it looks like on the inside of a living being, the only way I know that is from horror movies. It's always associated with major trauma, and evil, and horror, and darkness. It's not something that we've been used to. So, perhaps, for these tribal folks hunting these baboons and doing it in a way that you're going like, aw, harsh, brutal, like why are you guys doing it in such a messed up way, if that's the way they've been doing it since, therefore, that's just normal.

[01:15:39] They don't have a relationship with an animal like we would. And perhaps, if they've never watch cartoons, and had TV, and stuffed animals as kids, and having this sense that animals are exactly the same as us, you can see why, perhaps, that appears more brutal to us. And why to someone like me, even just cleaning an animal would have seemed totally brutal, really, until I did it. It's like that relationship we have is formed so young that if you enter into the game later, you've already been pre-programmed with a different interpretation of what that experience means.

[01:16:16]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. And you see that even with hunters in the United States. And I think that's where a lot of them get a bad reputation, is they've just been doing it their whole life. Perhaps, that's why I'm so lucky that I came to it much later in my life. Because similar to you, I have all those reactions. And those reactions are not wrong, but they allow me to approach my work and speak to people in a way that resonates with them, that opens them up to experiencing this. 

[01:16:50] If it was someone who has been hunting their whole life, whether it's an American here or someone in the Hadza tribe, they aren't going to have the words and connection piece that a lot of people in the cities that are desperately needing this connection are going to be able to understand, and feel connected to, and resonate with. Because I'm sure you had many opportunities to hunt, but there's something that I said, there's something about the way that I said it that you resonated with, because there's common ground between the way that I respond to seeing the Hadza hunting and the way that you respond to, perhaps, seeing your father hunt when he was younger.

[01:17:35]Luke Storey:  Yeah, very much so. Yeah. I asked my dad one time. So, I was just so curious about just how many animals he's taken down in his life. I mean, he spent 30 years hunting nonstop. And I was interviewing him actually. I interviewed him. I could just release it as a podcast, but there's probably too many personal family details. But it was just kind of an interview for posterity just to get his life story and the family lineage.

[01:17:57] And one of the questions I asked him when he started hunting, I said, dad, when you shoot an animal, do you ever like cry, or feel guilty, or even when you were a kid, did you feel bad in any way? And he looked at me like, what are you talking about? It didn't even compute to him in that way, because it was just so natural to him. And he's never been someone who's destructive to the environment or he's not an unconscious person. He's just someone who for whom hunting was very normal and just a way of life.

[01:18:28] It's just what you do when you live in the mountains in Colorado. But he didn't have the kind of visceral experience that we have. And you're right. That was what piqued my interest, was having known you before, knowing you to be a really caring, conscious person. And then, when you told me about your new venture, it was like when you hear about a medicine journey coming up, and you're like, shit, I don't want to do this, but I feel called, there's a reason I'm supposed to do this.

[01:18:52] And that's the sense that I had. Where do you think the hierarchical system people build for killing and eating things comes from? If someone, say, is a vegetarian or vegan, and they're like, ah, if a few grasshoppers had to die so I can get my salad, whatever, grasshoppers life is perhaps less valuable than a baboon. And likewise, someone would be happy to eat chicken or fish, but would never want to eat bison. Where do you think that bias comes from?

[01:19:26]Mansal Denton:  It comes directly from how close an animal, or plant, or being looks and acts like us. And I think the deeper component to that is the more something looks like us, the more it reminds us of our own mortality. Because most indigenous life ways consider plants to be sacred, rocks to be sacred, like even things that are not alive like rocks are sacred. The Dagara people in West Africa, I think I told this story to you, they believe that plants are the most intelligent beings, animals are the second most intelligent beings, and humans are the third most intelligent beings.

[01:20:19]Luke Storey:  Based on how we treat our home planet, I would have to agree.

[01:20:22]Mansal Denton:  And the humans have to go to the plants and the animals to learn from them in order to be in right relationship with their mission. So, most indigenous people consider like all living things to be part of this one organism that is the Earth, that's Gaia. And we create this hierarchy instead. In my judgment, a lot of that has to do with how little we want to look at our own mortality, and how scared we are of the truth that we're going to die, how scared we are, the potential that we might die without ever having lived, without ever having followed our dharma, without ever having fully expressed ourselves being fully authentic, living fully. That is a huge motivation, in my judgment. 

[01:21:19]Luke Storey:  Tell me about the six years that you've spent with your Native American teacher. How did that come about? And how has that informed the work you're doing?

[01:21:28]Mansal Denton:  Well, speaking to that, much of my relationship with indigenous cultures and the lens in which I see my life and the world that we're living comes through his teachings, with his mentorship, kind of cajoling, guiding toward certain resources or certain ways of being. And the simple answer to your question is I don't know what drew me there, but something definitely was calling me there. 

[01:22:11] At a very young age, I was in college, I was 22 years old, and friends were going out partying Friday nights, and I was staying in so that I could go the next morning, Saturday morning, all the way out to Wimberley to do a sweat lodge, and to spend time with him and other elders. And at that point, I was not at a level of consciousness that I could even have a mentorship relationship with him. I was really just showing up for the sweat lodge and just kind of looking at him, and nodding my head, and kind of letting whatever he was saying bounce off me.

[01:22:48] But there's something to the masculine being drawn towards certain energetic and certain embodiment, and he definitely embodied a wise elder like energetic that I was drawn to. And like if someone asked me, why am I spending time with him, with Will Taegel, I would not have had a good answer for it. I would just have said, I don't know, feels good. And so, I kept listening to that calling. And he would bring so much indigenous wisdom into the experiences of the sweat lodge. 

[01:23:34] He would bring up books. He would bring up concepts, things that I never heard before, that kind of seeded themselves in my psyche at a very young and pivotal time in my life. As I started to grow, after I came out of prison, after I had some of these plant medicine experiences, and I went hunting, he was incredibly pivotal in helping me to integrate those experiences, and helping me to realize the bigger picture, helping me to see that those experiences were not just isolated events in my life, but they were part of a path. 

[01:24:15] And one of the things he told me very early on was the plants chose you. And what he meant by that was when I went, and I did ayahuasca, and I had all of the visions and the powerful experience from higher power, and all of that, it was the plant's way, another quote of his, Earth is healing through me. So, the plants were bringing me to speak a language you can understand, speak a language that other humans can understand that would bring a certain message that was important. 

[01:24:55] A small message in a small corner of the universe, but important nonetheless. And the plants wanted it to come through me. And so, he really encouraged that. And I would say the biggest thing that I've learned from him is really not intellectually, but really feeling the connection to plants and animals in that way. The fact that a teacher could share with me that plants have consciousness, that they're choosing me to do a thing, right? That's a lot.

[01:25:29]Luke Storey:  That's a pretty farfetched. 

[01:25:31]Mansal Denton:  Especially because when I met you, I was very materialist, very like, what is of the world is what exists. I was a biohacker. I was into nootropics. I still am. All those things are great. But I hadn't tapped into that kind of other world and he very much brought me into that with his teachings. And I'll give a few examples. So, I have a snake, a Texas hognose snake, and that animal is a way for me to connect to the oversoul of the snakes, all snakes, and specifically to have a relationship with the rattlesnake, because we go out and we hunt where there are rattlesnakes.

[01:26:24] And so, want a relationship with a rattlesnake to say, hey, give me a wide berth, I'll give you a wide berth. Let's have a partnership here. And that was through his suggestions and his, yeah, recommendations. And so, a lot of my relationships with plants and animals, and the way that I talk about them, the way that I create a personification with them comes from his influence.

[01:26:56]Luke Storey:  Is that what led to the many intermittent ceremonies that we had during our four-day hunt? There was the praying over our weapons, and there was using sacred tobacco, and ultimately, on one of the days, a very surprisingly potent brew of psilocybin. I mean, it was very ceremonial, everything about it. There was a lot of stopping. Okay. Now, before we do this, we're going to do this. And then, onto the thing, and then a wrap-up sort of ceremony.

[01:27:32] And there was a lot of that baked in, which I really love, because it helped me to really integrate the experience as it was going. Because a lot of those happen fast, especially for someone like me that's just not had that type of experience. It was really good to be able to really be intentional about it in all ways. Is that where that kind of peace came in, and some of the tools you use, and the shamanic nature of the experience?

[01:27:57]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. The shamanic nature, for sure, was influenced by him. I think the crux of what was influenced by him was the magnitude of the intentionality. He has such a high level of intentionality that he incorporates in almost all areas of his life. We'll go on a walk, we'll walk by a cedar tree, and he'll take a berry, and he'll say a little prayer, and you'll kind of have a relationship with some of the individual trees. That's just while we're walking, right? And so, he's bringing that kind of intentionality into his daily life. 

[01:28:36] And that offers me almost a guidepost for what can show up, what relationships I can have if I bring that same level of intentionality into my daily life, but especially something the magnitude of hunting. And so, the big picture definitely came from him, but I have so much interest and reverence for indigenous cultures, so I'm constantly picking parts, and pieces, and learning from others, and trying to, as Boyd Varty says, I'm an artist of experience. And it really is art that I'm stealing from other people and putting together as my own.

[01:29:31]Luke Storey:  With the psilocybin piece that came in the middle of our trip, A, whatever you did with the lemon juice was really interesting, because they were much stronger than I expected, came on very fast. And then, when it subsided, I was back to normal. I mean, I consider being on medicine normal, actually, and this is abnormal in one way. But that was an interesting part of it.

[01:29:59] But was bringing in the kind of medicine experience something that you gleaned from other indigenous cultures as part of their hunting ritual? I mean, I imagine in South America, they're doing combo frog before they go out. I mean, it's not psychoactive, but just as a natural kind of medicine to heighten their senses for a hunt. Are there other cultures that you're aware of that have integrated the use of entheogenic substances as part of the hunting ritual? And is that where you got that idea from? 

[01:30:37]Mansal Denton:  So, yes. To answer your question, yes. There are many cultures in the Amazon Basin that will use psychedelics for hunting magic, is what they call it. And they will use like ayahuasca, for example, in order to see and connect with the animals, in order to more readily hunt them. And so, it shows up all over the world, utilization of plant medicines on the hunt specifically. A big part of it for me was my own experience. I mentioned these three experiences of ayahuasca and hunting that we're in close proximity.

[01:31:20] So, I took three months, what took me three months, and accidentally, and compress it into a weekend, because my judgment is most indigenous people, they don't really need a strong dose of medicine in order to realize what they're doing with a hunt. They are constantly in relationship with the land from a very young age, and so there's a constant level of reverence that comes with that. 

[01:31:55] But we are so disconnected from ourselves, from our emotions, our feelings, et cetera, that it takes something really strong, like a plant medicine, to essentially pin us down and keep our eyes open to see what it is that we're doing. And that's what it took for me. It took the ayahuasca to show me, you are taking an animal that is alive, that has a family, that has emotions, that has feelings, and sensations, and pain, and you're taking its life in order to live. And so, it's a powerful tool for people who participate in hunting to have context for what it is that they have done or will do in that experience.

[01:32:48]Luke Storey:  Yeah. In my case, it was have done, because it was the day after, I had the successful mission. And yeah, what a wild ride to be out in nature in such a remote place, and to really get to work with death and reconcile that in that space of surprisingly potent medicine. I was kind of expecting a little above a microdose and just go inner interface with nature. And my intention was to really connect with this land here in Texas, and really offer myself to it in service, and to discover what it holds for me and why I was drawn here.

[01:33:28] And I got that and so much more, but one of the big pieces was really around the death and my own fake mortality. Meaning that this body is going to go, but that I don't go. And in the context of having just killed something and having no desire or means by which to bypass the gravity of that experience was really powerful. I think it would have been—I mean, you get what you're supposed to get, but it would have been a totally different experience if I didn't have that punctuation point of like, okay, let's not just breeze past what you just did and what just happened, but really to be able to go in there.

[01:34:10] And also, that morning, I think you know the story, but for those that don't, I went out as just one of the co-hunters without hunting, because I had already had a successful shot, going out with my friend, David. And we stumbled upon what appeared to be just a few wild pigs. And then, I stepped back and let Josh, the other guide, and David go into this kind of gully that was at the base of pretty substantial kind of rocky cliff. And we heard them, and they're [making sounds] doing their pig noises, and [making sounds] very Elmer Fudd, slow approach, be very, very, very quiet.

[01:34:54] And I just laid back in the cut as to not disturb the process, and the next thing you know, I hear a shot, boom, and then I see pigs just scurrying all over this rock face. I mean, they were like goats. I couldn't believe that they were walking on these little crevices and stuff, just going every which direction. And then, I see David and Josh come running out toward me and a bunch of pigs running right at me. And for those listening, wild boars would be quite dangerous when they're threatened.

[01:35:24] And then, Josh comes out with his nine-millimeter, point it right in my direction. The pigs are in between the two guns and me. So, I get my ass out of the way, and then more shots are fired. It's just pig pandemonium out there. And really, the hardest part of the trip for me was this, was that my friend David hit a pig up on the hill, because when they approached this kind of gully, they thought they were going to be on top of them. And it turns out, they were up above them.

[01:35:53] So, it was just a total surprise and there were way more of them than they thought. But he had hit the pig in the gut or something, and it fell off a couple of steps, and then took off. And then, another one got hit in the face with the pistol. But I didn't see that. I just saw [making sounds] or I heard the shots and saw the pigs running everywhere. I was like, oh, this is what I didn't want to happen. And then, that afternoon was the journey on the mushroom lemonade.

[01:36:24] And man, oh, that was an edge there. That was tough, because we were very near where that had taken place. And I'm just thinking, I'm there on mushrooms, reconciling death, reconciling my role in that death, my own death, all of that, really deep work, and sensing that both or either of those pigs were somewhere nearby suffering, and could be suffering for a very long time with an injury that then becomes an infection, and like really going down the rabbit hole on that. And that was really the hardest part of it for me.

[01:37:01]Mansal Denton:  And I started ceremony by walking us through a meditation to feel that. I focused on that. I focused on the gravity of what it meant for us to be sitting there knowing that there was an animal that had been shot and that was suffering. 

[01:37:20]Luke Storey:  Yeah. And the reconciliation that so ensued around that would probably take too long to unpack, but it essentially evolved into, ah, it's so hard to explain in a way that doesn't sound like making an excuse for it or bypassing it, but that, A, ultimately death is a fallacy. Including my own, because the life force that animates all living things can't be killed. It just kind of switches matter. It goes between non-matter, and matter, and takes form, and moves on. And all of that is kind of within this karmic wheel of when and how that happens. And that was, okay, I'm working through that, but then what about the ones that didn't die? 

[01:38:12] And the karma that could be inherent to that on my part as being a participant in that particular hunt and the two that made the attempt to kill and didn't make it. And then, somehow by the end of that, it was sort of resolved, in that our relationship with those animals, and our communication, and the way we're doing it, it's like, it was part of the karma of the entire experience that things happen exactly the way they were supposed to happen, despite the fact that from my perspective, something bad or wrong happened, that perhaps in some way, in a universally karmic effect, those pigs were where we were at that particular time for a reason that I don't know and we'll never know or understand, but that somehow, it was all okay.

[01:39:06] And part of the way things go in nature, sometimes, an animal takes a bite out of something, and it gets away, and probably goes off and suffers. And someday, my ass is going to be underground and something is going to be eating me, going back to that kind of cycle. But man, what a potentiator of that experience that medicine was. And I don't know that I would have been able to go that deep, or have the courage or bandwidth to face some of that discomfort without the assistance of the magic lemonade. 

[01:39:43]Mansal Denton:  Yeah. It's something I call death medicine, which comes through in so many different ways for different people, whether it's connecting to the death of a loved one, or connecting to the killer archetype, or in your case, like relationship with death. It's super powerful and very potent in and of itself. And again, there's a certain level of, one might call it rationalization, but we're meaning-making machines. So, another way of putting it is we're creating meaning in a world that we're trying to make our way in, right? 

[01:40:29] And I think that's ultimately a better way of framing it for me and the meaning that I make from wounding animals. I totally hear your perspective. And I see it as lessons intended for us. That was the animal sacrifice its life for us in certain ways to have food, to have a certain experience. And sometimes, the animal will take a wounding for us to have a different, more visceral experience.

[01:41:11] And we're speaking in different ways, but I know that the best outcome that could happen from wounding an animal, as unfortunate as that is, is that you have the deep insights that you have and David has the deep insights that he had. Because ultimately, the work that I'm doing is meant to up-level our consciousness. And we can take the meat away from an experience, which is powerful and it honors the animal, but we could also take the lessons. And we all can also take the consciousness from a dead animal or a wounded animal. And I'm glad that you both had. 

[01:42:02]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it was some definite shadow stuff to explore. And luckily, I was able and willing to go there and examine it from every side. And not try to wiggle out of any feelings of guilt, or shame, or suffering that might have shown up. And I work through a lot of that stuff, a lot of it from different angles. And as you said, really, I think what you're doing is so unique, in that it presents, at least for most of us, a guy like me, a very different way to really go deep within oneself, and find meaning, and find reconciliation with the way things are, right? 

[01:42:49] And I think that was one of the big takeaways, especially from that journey, was even though there were some sadness, there were some guilt, there was, oh, God, I wish it would have happened like this, and a decent sense of regret, there was also just this feeling that this is all how it's supposed to be. That's what kept coming at me, like the medicine kept saying, this is nature, this is natural. This is the way it is. Stop fighting it. You know what I mean? This is the game that we're a part of here as beings that come in and out of form, as consciousness that expresses itself in the multitudes of ways in which it does express itself.

[01:43:28] And for me to have such a finite and limited perspective based on my emotions was really interesting to work through, and to just broaden, and broaden, and broaden my perspective. And also, of course, like medicine journals tend to do to minimize the self-importance of you. Not to negate the repercussions of your behavior, but to just zoom out enough to go, dude, you're not that important, right? This moment is not that important. Nothing's that important. It's all just fleeting in this thing that we call time. So, yeah, really, really incredible experience.

[01:44:11]Mansal Denton:  So, that's one of the reasons why there's so much value in hunting as a practice. It's not the thing. It's one of the embodiment practices that gets paired with medicine work and things like that that provides so much value. Because it's one thing to meditate at home and sitting on a cushion, it's another thing to be mindful out in the world. It's one thing to do plant medicines and look inward, it's another thing to look at what's real in death, the food that you eat kind of relationship, which comes with hunting. So, yeah, I was speaking with Alyson about it, and she was like, that is so much for you to handle. And I was like, yes, I'm glad that you see that. It's a lot of different things that come and interweave together. 

[01:45:10]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I can tell you one thing. Gutting a pig while you're still relatively on mushrooms is a wild experience, especially if you're someone that doesn't even like to touch hamburger. Yeah, really, really deeply meaningful experience. And I thank you for that. What else do I want to touch on before we go? I feel like this whole thing is just such a deep topic and there are so many ways you can go about it. I really am enjoying the conversation, but I guess in the interest of time, we should wrap it up. I guess I want to ask you, where do you see this going?

[01:45:47] I mean, you have this extremely narrow niche, as far as I'm aware of, in the way that you're presenting this opportunity for men. Do you see this as being something for lack of a better term, as being scalable or something that other people could adopt in their own practice of sacred hunting? Is this going to be something that could become a bigger thing? And is it something that you think even women might have any interest in participating in, even though historically, they've done a little bit—as far as I understand, a little bit less of the hunting, in terms of ancient humans?

[01:46:22]Mansal Denton:  My friends will tell you I have big visions, so definitely, I have a big vision for sacred hunting. And part of that is democratizing the sacred part of the experience. I want this to be more of a movement than I want it to be about me. I want to empower people to have this experience themselves. And whether it be a one-time experience, as many people desire to be, kind of going-from-zero-to-one type of experience or whether it's a lifelong practice, I want to empower them to bring sacredness into their hunting practice, because it is such an important element of—or it's such a drastic action to be taking to kill an animal, so bring the sacred into that act. 

[01:47:15] But use it as a gateway to a completely new way of being in relationship with each other, because it opens up a whole portal. What if everything in your life can be sacred? What if the sacred can start to really permeate all aspects of your being? That is a whole another relationship. That's what indigenous people have had, right? Everything was sacred to them. And so, I want to really empower people to start using this as a gateway for that, and using it as a gateway to be more mindful and connected to their food, using it as a gateway for men, especially to be more connected to their masculinity, to integrate some of the things that are currently considered to be toxic and turn them into a healthy manifestation that serves the world, serves their partners, the community, et cetera. 

[01:48:05] So, there's a lot of interpersonal, what I would consider ways of being that I hope sacred hunting can support people in, that when it comes to nuts and bolts of what it actually looks like, I'm working to create a church organization around sacred hunting. And there's a whole process to do that. But once I have some church status, which reflects the historic context of what I'm doing, it is probably the oldest thing known to man and pre-man, then there becomes an opportunity to start relating to land in ways that are really high in my vision. 

[01:48:58] And what I mean by that is having land that I'm in relationship with. I really hesitate to use the word own, or manage, or anything like that, but I am partnering with land and I hope to be partnering with thousands and thousands of acres of land that I can create a model of harmony that gets spread to others, that gets codified in some way that other people can use and create a type of Eden on these properties, on these pieces of the earth that inspire other people and help to heal other people.

[01:49:47]Luke Storey:  Do you ever have women inquiring, wanting to participate in this? And if so, is that something you would feel comfortable to do? And do you envision if that happened, that you would have like segregated groups, or mixed groups, or is there even a demand for that at this point?

[01:50:04]Mansal Denton:  There's a lot of women who reach out and ask about it, but when it comes to actually taking the plunge and committing to an experience, I've had not as many people do that. I finally had our first woman who committed. And so, I have a coed experience that's in October. So, there's some men, there'll be some women. And that will be the first one where women will be participants.

[01:50:31] And I welcome women to the practice. I don't think this is just for men. I don't think it's just healing for masculinity or anything like that. I find that one is very much reflective of my journey. So, what I create is very reflective of like what I needed as a rite of passage. And two, it's something that many men are drawn to for whatever reason, historic whatever, but I would love to serve women in the consciousness that I'm exploring.

[01:51:06]Luke Storey:  What do the good old boy, kind of traditional Texas hunters think of what you're doing?

[01:51:13]Mansal Denton:  At first, there's hesitation and skepticism, because I don't speak in the same way. I have all kinds of rules that are foreign to them, like around taking certain kinds of pictures, and saying certain kind of things, and like drinking alcohol, and stuff like that. There's just a certain way that I create the container that feels true for me that is super foreign to them. But over time, they have very much come around, because they realize, I'm bringing dozens of men who have never hunted before into the practice.

[01:51:50] I'm very intentional with what I'm doing. A lot of the good old boys, who are guides, who are really like committed to hunting as a life's path, even if it looks different to me, they deal with hunters who come out on the weekend, they just want to kill an animal to mounted on the wall, and they tell these guys, hey, you do all the grunt work. And so, when I come and I bring the guys that I bring, they really enjoy that I have men who decide they're going to carry the animal back even though there's a truck, because that's part of their experience, because they want to put in that effort and sacrifice in order to bring this animal back. 

[01:52:40] They want to gut the animal. They want to learn how to do it. They want to go through the whole process themselves. So, they have come around to seeing the beauty in it, even if we don't always speak the same language and we definitely don't always see eye to eye in terms of certain things that they want me to do that I won't do and certain things that I don't want them to do that they will do. And I'm blessed that I now bring my own hunting guides that speak my language, so to speak, on the hunts, have a great, great man raised on the Navajo Way who is coming to facilitate hunting, and another friend who's been on sacred hunting trip as well. But yeah, a lot of the good old boys, they're warming up to me, but it's slow. 

[01:53:35]Luke Storey:  I imagine so. One thing that I find interesting about hunters that a lot of people probably don't realize, maybe you could speak to this briefly, is that generally speaking, regardless of whether hunters are approaching this in a reverent way as you, they know a lot about conservationism and the environment, and care about the environment a lot more than I think people would guess. Has that been your experience?

[01:54:01]Mansal Denton:  100%.

[01:54:02]Luke Storey:  And then, perhaps maybe even in some cases, more connected and reverent of the environment than environmentalists that carry signs around in the city. Not all of them, but some.

[01:54:14]Mansal Denton:  Very much so. And it's not commonly known, hunters will shout this from the rooftops, but hunters go a long way in conservation efforts. Like a lot of the land that's conserved is conserved for hunting. A lot of the money that goes into preserving wild places comes from Ducks Unlimited, Wild Sheep Foundation, the Elk Foundations. So, it's a bunch of organizations that are made up of people who generally hunt these animals, and they want to see them thrive, and then want to see them thrive for their kids, and so invest heavily.

[01:55:01] And there are certain legal structures that are set up, like laws, that take sales from licenses, guns, ammunition, et cetera, and take billions of dollars from hunters' expenditures and go towards conservation. And so, most good hunters are conservationists. And if you look back at the quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, and Aldo Leopold, and some of the great conservationists, even Thoreau and things like that, they all talked about the connection between the hunter and the conservation ethos. And it is a uniquely American thing. It happens in individuals across the world, but it is uniquely very strong in the United States.

[01:55:55]Luke Storey:  Oh, interesting.

[01:55:56]Mansal Denton:  And Canada.

[01:55:57]Luke Storey:  I'm glad I remembered to touch on that, because I'm thinking back to my childhood with my dad, and I don't remember him or anyone in our clan ever just throwing beer cans on the ground. Like no one littered, like you cleaned up after yourself. You put the camp kind of back intact where you slept and all of that kind of stuff. There was definitely like a respect for the land, more so than a lot of other people I've hung around with in my life. So, that's a really good point for people to know. Well, I think that does it, my friend. We've got our blessed crystal here keeping us company.

[01:56:32] It's been a great conversation, great energy. I feel just so at ease with you. It's always just great sitting down and hanging. We always have a lot of fun. And happy to share your message with the world. It's definitely a different topic than I would normally cover and one I was kind of like, oh, man, do I really want to go here and take whatever heat one could take? But I trust that we've had as open and conscious conversation as we can about something that could be potentially triggering for some. And I understand that. If someone wanted to come join you on one of your excursions, how does that happen? What's your website, social media, and all that business?

[01:57:10]Mansal Denton:  Just visit sacredhunting.com, and it'll give you a full rundown, just have people go through kind of a brief application process. And then, I speak with everybody on a Zoom call just to kind of connect with them and would love to have anyone who feels called to join. And I'm pretty active on Instagram in particular as well. So, @MansalDenton. I'm sure I'll be tagged in all kinds of stuff that you're doing and I'll tag you as well.

[01:57:40]Luke Storey:  Alright. And my last question to you is who are three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life and work that you'd like to share with us?

[01:57:49]Mansal Denton:  One is, that we talked about, Will Taegel, by the name of Star Heart. And he had a very specific background, but one of the things that I've learned a lot from him about is what's called inner council theory, which is essentially acknowledging that when we have any decision in our life, anything that happens in our life, we have an inner council, where some parts of us might feel happy about it, some parts might feel sad, some parts might feel a different way.

[01:58:35] And so, just reconciling the fact that there might be one person who's holding the microphone in our own psyche, but there are many parts of ourselves, and it's our job to listen to all the parts of ourselves and be supportive of the needs of those parts. That would be one. Two would be Paul Chek who I've had a very short relationship with him, but he has brought to my awareness a connection to a historic figure by the name of Quanah Parker. And I did a podcast with him where he stopped me, mid-podcast, he said, who's that picture on the wall next to you? I told him who it was. 

[01:59:28] And he just went off for five minutes about how this entity knows who I am and is sending a beam of light to my heart chakra. And I need to do this, and I need to connect with them, and all of these other things. And I did. I connected with him through some combo ceremonies and some other things. And yeah, spirit animals are important to me, but also having the spirit guides of other people is important. And so, Paul opening that relationship to Quanah Parker was very important to me. And that would bring me to a third very, very important, perhaps one of the most important relationships that I have is with Quanah Parker. 

[02:00:12]Luke Storey:  And who is this Quanah Parker?

[02:00:13]Mansal Denton:  So, he was the last chief of the Comanche tribe. And he was half-White, half-indigenous. So, he was this kind of half-breed like me, where he was a bridge between worlds. He was a bridge between an indigenous way of life, because his mother was White. And so, he was raised as Comanche boy. And he rose to prominence and became a well-respected chief. But when the Comanche were clearly not going to win the war against the United States Army, he came on the reservation and he became a very successful rancher, cattleman in the White man's world, so to speak. 

[02:00:59] So, he kind of was able to bridge these two and he just embodied so much courage and wisdom. He later moved into a relationship with peyote and the Native American church. He was pretty instrumental in creating the foundation of the Native American church. And this is a story that Will shared with me. And on a final story, Quanah Parker, when he was on the reservation, he was one of the only chiefs that presidents of the United States visited. 

[02:01:37] So, any other chief, if they wanted to meet with the president of the United States, they went to Washington, D.C.. Well, when Quanah Parker met with Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt came out to Oklahoma on the reservation with a whole entourage of Anglo-American politicians, wealthy people, et cetera. And Quanah Parker led them on a hunt. He led them on this hunt that was done in the Comanche way with the Comanche indigenous traditions and things like that. And it was what Will reminds me, one of the first sacred hunts where a half-breed person takes Anglo people through an indigenous rite of passage of hunting.

[02:02:24]Luke Storey:  Wow. That's a crazy story. That's cool. I wish he would have given them peyote, give it to all the politicians, maybe something stronger. Give them a Bufo. That's what I say. You really want to change the world, put that in the chem trail planes. Alright, my friend. Thank you very much for coming by and thanks for creating such a unique offering for people at a time when we really need, in my opinion and experience, connection to the land and the natural ways that we've lost.

[02:02:56]Mansal Denton:  Thank you.

[02:02:57]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Thank you for your work. Much appreciated. And I look forward to sharing a delicious wild meal with you soon.

[02:03:05]Mansal Denton:  Absolutely, brother. I look forward to it, too.

[02:03:07]Luke Storey:  Thank you.



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