Hunter vs Prey: Insights on how we survive

Hunter Vs. Prey

As described beautifully by horse trainer Chris Irwin, humans are hunters by design and biological programming. We think in certain ways, focus on goals, we zero in, go for it. Generally speaking, of course, but consciously or un, we do certain behaviors that are reflective of the hunter within to survive. Its all about survival.

On the other hand, a horse is a prey animal. They see the world in completely different ways. Their survival depends on awareness and being able to ‘read’ who and what is around them. “We think about capturing the prize, they think about not being captured.” ** They have to assess, be ready to move, run, and run together from a perceived threat.

This perspective made me think about my training with guns. The color codes in particular (Cooper’s colors). We as humans have to be trained to be aware. We have to unfocus our unawareness of the world around us, and learn to focus/be aware of surroundings…in other words, we have to learn to think like prey animals. And it doesn’t come naturally for the most part. Of course, there are exceptions, especially regarding traumas that leave one hypervigilant. But it is not the norm. Becoming a gun owner, made me focus even more on what is around me because in all our glory as humans, we are also prey sometimes. The world proves that; try walking at night, in the city, in the woods, or to the store to buy bread…we now have to become more aware.

And as a person who now carries a firearm, it brings with it a huge responsibility. I must (and others must) somehow balance the instinct to be a biological hunter/huntress with the prey instincts necessary to stay alive. Partly due to responsibility of gun ownership and partly due to the world we now live in. I have had to train myself to learn and practice levels of awareness and can only hope I will do it half as well as a horse.

Some generalities here and some may disagree, but please feel free to comment on this topic.

**Quoted from Dancing With Your Dark Horse, by Chris Irwin


A person can not stress enough about this. Paying attention to your surroundings, trusting your gut feelings, and avoiding any bad situations is wat better than ending up in the back of a LEO’s car or at the morgue!


This is an extremely interesting point of view and I love that you are thinking about your mindset as a concealed carrier. It is true that when we are carrying ( or even when not carrying), we should be evaluating our environment and surroundings to be able to avoid and escape potential danger if needed.

Some may find it weird, but I enjoy thinking of all different scenarios throughout the day as to how I may handle different situations that could happen. Even while I sit at my desk at work.


Makes sense to me. Its all about changing a mindset, observing, planning, and anticipating. With prey animals its all instinctual but we have to figure it out and use our frontal lobe. I guess its what they mean by ‘horse sense’.


Trusting your gut is vital. Sometimes you just ‘know’…this person is ok, that one is questionable. I do a body scan and see what my somatic cues are. Stomach ache? something’s wrong. feel wary for some unexplainable reason? get out, get away, leave… trusting your gut is comforting. I don’t need to know why. just trust it.


There is certainly a heightened awareness of my surroundings. I find myself doing realtime what-ifs and looking for areas where cover could be found if needed. Not to the paranoia extreme, but to the preservation of self and loved ones extreme.

One view of the nightly news will confirm there are definitely hunters out there that look for prey, and too often find them.


This gives me a prey mindset.

New life goal: arrive home safely without any dramatic encounters requiring me to draw my weapon, call law enforcement, and call USCCA.


Funny, I still feel like prey to sharks, bears, thug kids, guys at gas stations, anyone at Walmart, and nearly any other human I’m near unless I know them.


Ha, I feel the same way


I think it is only relatively recently (10k-20Kish years) that humans have been the apex predator. But even in this recent period we have always had to contend with other groups of humans and wild animals trying to prey on us. So I think we have both aspects strongly embedded in our genetic make up.

Having the right amount of confidence in our abilities and awareness of our vulnerabilities is an important balance to strive for.


That’s a perspective

I think there is a lot of evidence that humans (and most primates) are omnivores by “design”, and spent most of our evolutionary history in the middle range of the food chain — prey to some, and predator to others.

I believe that modern humans have become largely untrained in avoiding victimization by the relatively safe existence allowed by our technological and sociological crutches. Becoming aware of hazards and preparing to respond to danger is more a matter of reclaiming lost habits and practices than introducing something foreign to human nature.

But I’m not a horse trainer. :wink:


We’ve trained our students for many years that “Humans are intuitive beings, it’s part of natural self-defense mechanism.” In todays world people are taught to be passive, don’t hurt one another, trust others and expect others to respect you. The fact of the matter is, there is a small but prevalent, portion of humans that know this and use it to their advantage. They are the ones that hit people in the face on the train because they know most people will be so shocked or afraid that they’ll freeze. They are also very surprised when the prey turns into the hunter.


Martial Arts is a good example of learning to balance intuition, awareness, observation, and action.
I think the author is pointing out that often we need training to do so. Which is true in my case. If nothing else, training and being a gun owner has made me much more aware that I need to be as much in tune with the peace-maker within as well as the one who defends.

For me, it is about the big picture stuff. What is important? How do I achieve balance in life? How do I use and fine tune my intuition and learn to trust it? How do I use my powers of observation and intuition/gut hunches to stay safe in a world that (still surprisingly) is not totally safe? How do I combine all of these things, internalize them, use them wisely, and translate these skills into a better way of relating to the world?

Prey questions: What is out there, around me, who is that, am I safe, do I need to bolt? What is the body language? eye contact? Do I feel fear?

Hunter question: Is there one in the chamber? Will my draw be smooth enough? Is he a threat? Will I be able to stop the threat if I need to? Where’s my USCCA card? Why didn’t I memorize that number? Or worse, of all days, why didn’t I carry today?

Welcome to the inside of my head… !!


@Wanda3 >> the pray can be the hunter.


Humans are omnivores. We have teeth that have evolved to eat both plants AND animals’ Plant-eaters are herbivores (vegetarians?). Meat eaters are carnivores. As for me I lean toward being a carnivore. Herbs, and subsequently spices, are for enhancing the flavor of a fine piece of meat. Not really partial to eating bushes exclusively.


Great Post Wanda…
I could go on and on and on…


Thanks Eric!


I don’t think anyone could say it any better then you did.

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Thank you Robert!!

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You can feel like prey, just don’t act like prey. Predators key in on prey behavior.