‘Untamed’ is more than a film about bowhunting. It is a film about the essence of hunting, hunting as a means of connection with nature and oneself.
Clay Hayes, of Twisted Stave, has been making and hunting with self-bows for some 15 years. He’s also been thinking about hunting for at least that long.
Thinking about it on a level deeper than antlers or a full freezer.
This film is really a conversation between Hayes and the viewer (or possibly just Hayes and himself), as he ponders and draws conclusions about what hunting should mean.
It’s about that connection between predator (the hunter) and prey, that heightened relationship between two living things that only hunting can facilitate to such an intimate degree.
It is also a kind of poem or love song to traditional stick and string archery, to the beauty of form, simplicity and honesty of an ancient weapon, and how its use forces the intimacy of relationship mentioned above.
This film may not be as polished as some of the higher-end productions out there. But that is also part of its charm and strength.
What Hayes lacks in the way of a polished narrator’s delivery he more than makes up for in sincerity, thoughtfulness and accessibility. He’s just guy, a regular guy. But he’s a guy whose words feel real and right.
His embrace of and desire for uncertainty of outcome is what most bowhunters – and I’d argue traditional bowhunters in particular – find most attractive about the sport.
That non-guarantee of success is what transforms traditional bowhunting from an admittedly challenging pursuit into a spiritually revealing and fulfilling lifestyle path.
Hayes admits that his initial goal was to try to encapsulate and share what hunting means to him.
But like many grand human passions, clearly defining what hunting is and what it means is like peeling the proverbial onion: Every revelation only serves to reveal more levels of meaning.
“Untamed” is, however, as good an attempt to bring it home as anything else you are likely to see.
Note: “Untamed” received the Pope and Young Award for Best Bowhunting Film.