4

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What do Paleo's think of persistence hunting?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 02, 2011 at 11:46 PM

I do sort of a mild paleo diet and I am runner. I think a lot of the paleo notions about our biology are spot on but I think it has a bent against running. Particularly some of the main guys (Taleb etc) who think early man only sprinted while hunting or fleeing, and walked the rest of the time. I was wondering what you guys think of the concept of persistence hunting and does that change your exercise habits/beliefs in any way?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on May 04, 2011
at 12:07 AM

Ah, found it: http://www.canibaisereis.com/download/liebenberg-persistence-hunting-2006.pdf Basically, if you're in the right spot at the right season, you can grab yourself a large mammal with relatively little risk, just a shitton of effort. You would obviously not make this your only hunting tactic, but it would be an important component of your overall hunting strategy.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on May 04, 2011
at 12:05 AM

The only study I know of that actually looked at persistence hunting success rates showed that it was far and away more successful than any other method attempted; this is because it's essentially a guaranteed kill if you can track your prey well enough to keep it moving. Ambush predation is a one-shot, high failure business, especially in biomes suitable to persistence hunting. So, if you define efficiency by kills made per attempt, it is quite a good option for skilled practitioners.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 03, 2011
at 11:39 PM

****I guess so.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 03, 2011
at 11:38 PM

Not only would it not be just one guy, but the answer is super easy. They butcher it at the spot. They could even make camp and hang it overnight. That would let them eat some of it, replenish their energy, and make it 4-5 guys carrying cuts of meat instead of 1 guy carrying a whole animal. Honestly, it doesn't seem like you approached this very charitably. Did you really not consider RESTING and then carrying the animal IN PARTS by MORE THAN ONE GUY? I guess not.

745c46544bf6999df7491ed1401351c0

(50)

on May 03, 2011
at 04:03 AM

Like I said, I don't think it's ever just one guy.

745c46544bf6999df7491ed1401351c0

(50)

on May 03, 2011
at 04:03 AM

From what I know of it, it is done by a small group or handful of individuals working as a team. Something you'd do if you were out of ideas? Injuries? Or is it actually LESS dangerous as you're not confronting a gazelle ready to gore you with its horns or kick you with its hooves--but one that has laid down and essentially collapsed to death?

4aa3281b2b5c6ec066c82675ee3df5f7

on May 03, 2011
at 03:14 AM

depends not in the forrest of the pacific north west natives here hunted mostly from behind a blind

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on May 03, 2011
at 01:04 AM

I think it's important to quantify chronic cardio. Chronic cardio is typically when you're pushing between over 50 miles a week every week. That's a lot of running. It's not what your mom is doing on the elliptical.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on May 03, 2011
at 12:57 AM

isn't the same true of deer in the Americas?

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8 Answers

2
6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

I like it. We're clearly designed to run long distances. I assume that the problems that the paleo people harp on only apply to people who wear running shoes, don't diversify, and heelstrike on a lot of concrete. Or something like that.

But we can be different. I do distance running, but I also do all the other components of natural movement (lifting rocks, sprinting, carrying logs, jumping off stuff, climbing trees, and so on), and I go barefoot or wear a pair of Vibrams usually on something soft like grass. Sure, there are a lot of hard rocks to run on (as hard as concrete!), but most of the running is on soft stuff like grass.

If you wear running shoes, spend a lot of time heelstriking on concrete, and barely do anything else for fear of bulking up or something, I wouldn't be surprised one bit to hear that you're suffering ill effects. So what should WE do? Diversify, get a pair of Vibrams (or just go barefoot), and stick to natural terrain (grass, rocks, and so on) in the right proportions (meaning running on long slabs of hard rock 70 miles per week would probably not be very good).

This is the bottom line: When somebody comes out with a study saying "distance running is bad for reasons X, Y, and Z!", you have to ask "what are they referring to when they say "distance running"?" It's not immediately obvious. Sure, it's a common word. But are you sure that YOUR distance running (which could be barefoot on grass with lots of sprinting on the side) is THEIR distance running (which could be heelstriking concrete with a pair of running shoes with NO sprinting on the side)?

This is so damn common. It could be one of the worst problems that you'll have to face if you wanna be a clear thinker. Just because they came to a sound conclusion that "distance running" is bad doesn't mean that everything you label "distance running" is also bad. There's no guarantee that their conclusions have anything to do with you until you see what's actually behind those words. If by "distance running", they mean idiots heelstriking endless miles on concrete roads, it's probably not sufficiently similar to what Erwan le Corre does to warrant phoning him to tell him of this new revolutionary discovery that distance running is evil.

1
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 03, 2011
at 12:44 AM

I simply don't think this is as much of an adaptive issue as other things. If you run for a long time you will put a lot of stress on your body - that's a stipulation of being a living thing and needing to metabolize energy. If we can get sufficient exercise with less stress to the body it is a good thing.

Persistence hunting is awesome, though. If someone does a marathon or something every once in a while I can't see that being a bad thing. It's the day-in day-out chronic cardio that's a problem.

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on May 03, 2011
at 01:04 AM

I think it's important to quantify chronic cardio. Chronic cardio is typically when you're pushing between over 50 miles a week every week. That's a lot of running. It's not what your mom is doing on the elliptical.

0
4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on May 04, 2011
at 12:13 AM

I found an old study while commenting on Travis's answer: http://www.canibaisereis.com/download/liebenberg-persistence-hunting-2006.pdf

Persistence hunting strikes me as a pretty valuable tool in the hunting toolbox, provided you are in a biome which allows for it and are practiced enough at tracking to pull it off. That said, I would not derive any significant fitness guidance from the fact of persistence hunting; notice in the study that it was rarely if ever attempted by those over 40 due to the physically demanding nature of the practice.

It seems to me that running very long distances in the heat of the African noon is probably detrimental to long term health. We may have evolved the capacity to run long distances, but there's no evidence that we evolved to run long distances at all ages forever until we die, or that that capability doesn't shorten our lifespans if regularly utilized.

So I wouldn't jump to any conclusions based on this, aside from marveling at the incredible variety of things humans can push themselves to accomplish.

0
1b81384cf6519d1fd092c293b050cd1f

(270)

on May 03, 2011
at 11:29 PM

I have more or less adopted the Primal Blueprint approach that only sprinting and walking are healthy forms of moving about, and training for marathons is horrible for you, but as someone who enjoys endurance mountain biking, and having come across a lot of discussion on persistence hunting lately, I'm beginning to question my original stance. it does seem interesting that we have developed such an efficient system of dissipating heat (sweating) and energy pathways that do enable us to accomplish feats such as persistence hunting and running marathons, but at the same time, I just can't help but echo the thoughts of most everyone else above that such movement is likely to incur injury and waste large amounts of energy. what if they chased the animal for 20 miles and it ended up getting away? then they'd be really screwed. If they are successful and it dies, are they going to carry that carcass 20 miles back to camp? Perhaps in some environments this type of hunting was the only option people had. I think just because we can do it, doesn't mean that we should, especially when the evidence suggests that the Primal blueprint way of working out has all the health benefits one needs with a lot less time and effort put into working out.

0
Efb905b1d4d10c18c4a1ae7912baeb45

(190)

on May 03, 2011
at 05:44 AM

I would venture a guess that cultures that did the persistence hunt thing, grew up with a high volume of aerobic, low intensity running. They likely had an awesome endurance base and the hunt itself, though long, was not necessarily at a high % of max heart rate.

0
D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on May 03, 2011
at 12:38 AM

I would think that persistence hunters were smart enough to pre-position runners and drive the animal along a more or less predefined route.

4 or 5 hunters spread out in a line to flush the animal out in the direction of their choice and then have the fastest runner run the animal to the next group. That second and subsequent groups could be spaced out in the shape of a funnel and the fastest endurance runners would be at the end ready to run to the next group.

One guy running an animal to death (like in some youtube video i've seen) creates all kinds of logistics problems at the end - like how one guy, after running 20 miles, carries a couple hundred pound dead weight back to camp.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 03, 2011
at 11:38 PM

Not only would it not be just one guy, but the answer is super easy. They butcher it at the spot. They could even make camp and hang it overnight. That would let them eat some of it, replenish their energy, and make it 4-5 guys carrying cuts of meat instead of 1 guy carrying a whole animal. Honestly, it doesn't seem like you approached this very charitably. Did you really not consider RESTING and then carrying the animal IN PARTS by MORE THAN ONE GUY? I guess not.

745c46544bf6999df7491ed1401351c0

(50)

on May 03, 2011
at 04:03 AM

Like I said, I don't think it's ever just one guy.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 03, 2011
at 11:39 PM

****I guess so.

0
Medium avatar

on May 03, 2011
at 12:36 AM

I would wager that it was as uncommon in the Pleistocene as it is now. It's a highly inefficient way for a bipedal ape to kill its prey. I suppose you could have individuals take turns doing it, but the odds of injury and consequences of failure shoot way up. Seems like something you'd do if you were simply out of ideas.

745c46544bf6999df7491ed1401351c0

(50)

on May 03, 2011
at 04:03 AM

From what I know of it, it is done by a small group or handful of individuals working as a team. Something you'd do if you were out of ideas? Injuries? Or is it actually LESS dangerous as you're not confronting a gazelle ready to gore you with its horns or kick you with its hooves--but one that has laid down and essentially collapsed to death?

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on May 04, 2011
at 12:07 AM

Ah, found it: http://www.canibaisereis.com/download/liebenberg-persistence-hunting-2006.pdf Basically, if you're in the right spot at the right season, you can grab yourself a large mammal with relatively little risk, just a shitton of effort. You would obviously not make this your only hunting tactic, but it would be an important component of your overall hunting strategy.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on May 04, 2011
at 12:05 AM

The only study I know of that actually looked at persistence hunting success rates showed that it was far and away more successful than any other method attempted; this is because it's essentially a guaranteed kill if you can track your prey well enough to keep it moving. Ambush predation is a one-shot, high failure business, especially in biomes suitable to persistence hunting. So, if you define efficiency by kills made per attempt, it is quite a good option for skilled practitioners.

0
66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

on May 03, 2011
at 12:24 AM

i think that based on where you a hunter-gatherer was located, the climate, the type of terrain and other factors that persistence hunting could definitely have been an option. if a hunter on the flat, arid plains of africa needed to track prey that was fast, but had no endurance, then tracking it over 10-20 miles until it fell out of sheer exhaustion seems to be entirely plausible.

4aa3281b2b5c6ec066c82675ee3df5f7

on May 03, 2011
at 03:14 AM

depends not in the forrest of the pacific north west natives here hunted mostly from behind a blind

Medium avatar

(2169)

on May 03, 2011
at 12:57 AM

isn't the same true of deer in the Americas?

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