From Hunters to Warriors
War has been intertwined with hunting for millennia. The word venison, originally “hunted meat,” comes from the same Indo-European root as the Russian votna, meaning war. Certain French armored units still dignify themselves as chasseurs, huntsmen, while several elite German and Austrian formations are styled jaeger, or hunters, a reminder that they were first recruited from the gamekeepers of central European forests. A guest of the more established officers’ messes in Italy or Spain is likely to dine beneath stag or boar heads glaring from the walls, the high-toned British regiments preferring paintings…celebrating the fox hunt. In the United States, which finds its romance on the frontier, the comparable designation for light, fast-moving outfits is Rangers, harking back to the days when woodsmen passed almost overnight from hunters into warriors who contested mastery of the forests with Mohawks and Hurons on the edge of an unknown world.