For a few months Boerstra lived in the hunting cabin he built near a forest in Veenhuizen.
The project started with a letter to an imaginary hunter. Finally the letter was sent to the hunting cabin.
To: The Hunter
Hunting cabin near strawcastle
Groningen, November 30, 2005
I’d like to go hunting with you some day. Although I think you have the best view on this, the forests and fields around Veenhuizen certainly seem to be suitable for a hunt.
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During school holidays on the island of Terschelling, I fished a lot for flounder and plaice, and also occasionally I caught eelpout. It is not nearly as tasty as regular eels and are even faster than the normal eel to twist your line into a knot. Me and some friends mostly fished in the harbor of the island and caught lots of fish, while adult men made long journeys to the North Sea and came home with a few small fishes. Victory was at our side.
The fish in the water.
Often I have wondered what is so exciting about fishing. Lying in bed, during the fishing periods, the image of the bobber starting to move up and down came in my mind. The heart starts beating faster and a curiosity rises for what is brought up from under the dark surface. A feeling of loss remains when having a bite and not catching or loosing the fish.
My parents had the book “Hunting drawings by Rien Poortlviet". I still remember the atmosphere he was able to draw of the forest where it snowed, and where hunters go in search of pheasants. I’ve often experienced that atmosphere in the forests of Oranjewoud. I remember a drawing of a pheasant that was shot and landed on the ice. The colors of the male pheasant are beautiful. Because of the snow it was even better.
I grew up with the realization that there is nothing wrong with hunting. Driving to my parents’ friends in Belgium, I saw hunters walking in the fields. I think the Netherlands was already becoming scarce for hunting grounds. I was fascinated to see a green man with a gun and often a dog.
Around the age of ten my father brought a slingshot from America. You were able to shoot a crow off the roof with it. It was great shooting with stainless steel bolts from my fathers shed. Crows are so clever that they can somehow distinguish between a threatening weapon in your hands or something innocent. I often noticed that.
We shot at sparrows and tomtits. Once I hit one in the schoolyard, it fell out of the tree but was not dead and lay convulsing on the floor. In a panick I crushed his neck, with the idea it would be over. The neck cracked, and the fun was completely over. My boyfriend laughed a bit nervously about it.
Later when I was about 14 years old I went into the forest with friends to shoot birds with an air rifle. There were lots of little birds in the trees, and if you aimed well, you hit the mark. The excitement of shooting was more fun than hitting, it was quite a bad feeling, but this was obscured by a kind of group feeling and young dog behavior.
During one of our trips I suddenly stood face to face with a snake. It sat next to a tree on the edge of a ditch. I shot him and we tried to make a tie out of it. It turned out to be a harmless ring snake, and not like I initially thought a viper. We had no knowledge about preparing snake skin, so the whole thing started to smell and the adventure was over.
We felt like hunters, we flirted with the idea of a simple life. As a kind of bible we used the book “The simple life" by the German writer Ernst Wiechert. According to this some hunting had to be done, and so we started putting up several noose. We never caught anything with it, probably our iron wire was too stiff. The only result was the forest ranger we called Woody discovering the noose. He was often on our heels with his Renault 4 car. We were much faster than him, because we ran through ditches and across the forest.
I don’t eat a lot meat and every week we buy a vegetable package. Being with my mother I still eat a meatball or a chicken leg. I have chickens I don’t dare to slaughter. I know them pretty well. We have a cat that I love a lot. I used to hate cats because I learned so from my father. A cat hunts birds and is therefore bad.
I tell myself that my low eating of meat is a blow to the bio-industry and that this should be done on a larger scale. I experience the discrepancy between the minced meat in the supermarket and the living animal in the meadow.
The above story is a short impression of my experience with hunting. It is a good reason to really experience the hunt I think.
With kind regards, Arjen Boerstra