Why Do You Hunt?
It sounds like a simple question, but it’s not. Ask ten hunters. You’ll probably get ten answers, and all of them will be right. “Why do you hunt?” has more answers than “Why do you watch football?” or “Why do you like cars?” So here’s a starter list. No doubt you probably have your own personal answers (plural), because every hunter has more than one!
1. Meat Is Good!
For lots of people MEAT is the foremost reason to hunt. It even becomes a way to justify hunting (which we don’t really need to do). “It’s OK that I hunt because my family eats the meat.” Well, yes, venison is nutritious. And delicious (despite the fact that some people say they don’t like it). Correctly handled and properly prepared, venison is a delicacy. And if you do want to justify hunting, let it be known that deer hunters actually do better than wild predators at eating what we kill. No coyote does that! Here’s a factoid about eating everything you kill: The only predators that really do eat everything they kill are those that swallow their prey whole. You can’t swallow a deer whole, so savor it one forkful at a time because meat is good!
Here’s a meal second to none: a venison loin grilled whole and sliced, with some fried squash, fresh tomatoes, and potatoes from the garden. (Steve Sorensen photo)
2. Being a Locavore
“Locavore” is a made-up word that entered the dictionary in 2007, and it refers to locally produced and locally eaten food. You can’t eat fresher food than the food that comes from your back yard, so gardeners have a rightful sense of pride. That being true, hunters should be the poster child, even the archetype, for locavores because the word is new but the idea isn’t. Wild game is the original organic food, and many benefits of eating home-grown tomatoes are the same as the benefits of eating venison. No antibiotics, no growth hormones, no color additives, no fossil fuels used to transport it long distances. In fact, think of any marketing term that implies healthy eating — organic, cage free, non-GMO, free-range — and it applies to venison. Get some, and eat healthy!
3. Hunting Keeps You Fit
What could be better way to stay in shape than deer hunting? I’m not talking about sitting in a blind or a treestand all day. I’m talking about going one-on-one with the deer, on his turf. Still-hunting, tracking, stalking. When you’re on the move your legs are getting a workout, you’re increasing your heart rate, and you’re stimulating your aerobic fitness — all good. Just be sure you work up to it. Hunting is not a way to sweat off 50 pounds. It doesn’t work that way.
4. Connecting With Nature
Few people realize that the hunter actually participates in nature. Man is never so much a part of nature as when he is climbing a hill or crossing a stream in search of a meal. When he sees some feathers or fur, he becomes a nature detective. What happened here? How did this animal die? A little contemplation about anything you see in nature will give you insights that enrich your life. That’s because you’re not getting your education about the natural world from National Geographic or the Disney Channel (heaven forbid!) No, you’re deeply involved in an age-old drama that sustained your entire line of ancestors — bodies, souls and spirits. We live in a day when being divorced from nature is a real threat to our well-being. In reality, what isolates us from nature are comfy bedsheets, brick buildings, and the beehive of modern industry. Kids especially need to connect to nature, and hunting is a great way to do it.
An owl’s wing hanging on a popular snag stimulated the nature detective in the author. The owl was killed by a predator and scavenged by crows. (Steve Sorensen photo)
5. Speaking of Ancestors
You do realize, don’t you, that you would not be here if your ancestors were not hunters? That’s true even of the most urban, pink-haired, far-Left political demonstrators, whatever their issue. When you hunt, you’re reenacting history — connecting to it in a way that’s true to your forebears. You don’t need some genealogical website to discover who you are. You’re linked with those who engaged in the life-giving connection to the earth that sustained all people from age-old times, whether they were European, African, Asian, or any other genetic lineage.
6. Bring a Buddy
Camaraderie is a great benefit to hunters. We learn from each other, we rag on each other, we even love each other in ways we don’t experience in the competitive world of Monday through Friday work. The storytelling, the projects around camp, the advice we give and get (about hunting and about life) — it all enriches us. Hunting creates intimacy and fellowship that goes a long way to making men. And speaking of making men, hunting can elevate your kids to peer-level collaboration with you. It’s called respect, love, bonding. Hunting does things for you, your family and your friends that no regular job will ever do.
7. Stillness and Solitude
While hunting can be a social experience, it often means time alone too. That’s when you do your thinking. Opportunities to be alone with your thoughts and process them without interruption is rare these days. Alone-time allows you to sense your place in the bigger picture, to rejuvenate in a way you never do in a crowd. Every hunter benefits from the solitary experience that comes with hunting. It’s not just important; it’s indispensable to your health.
You can do a lot of thinking in the stillness and solitude of the hunt. (Steve Sorensen photo)
8. Relieve the Stress
Modern life can be a grind. That crowded freeway commute, the desk you feel handcuffed to, the pressure to produce, those difficult coworkers. (Don’t look now but sometimes you’re one of them!) Your negative stress level drops when you’re trying to outwit a whitetail. Some people relax by listening to nature sounds — ocean waves, babbling brooks. What’s better? The nature sounds you hunt to — songbirds, squirrel chatter, rustling leaves, and those tic-tic-tic steps of a whitetail deer making his way down a trail. Even if you head home with an unpunched tag, getting away from it all is its own bonus. You’ll come home tired but relaxed in a way your Laz-E-Boy® can’t do for you.
9. Suddenly, You’re Self-Sufficient
“Big Buck Down!” You’ve started converting flesh to food. Up until the shot, you can’t know how the hunt will go. You get the deer early. Or late. You follow a blood trail. The unexpected happens. Then, once your task becomes getting that deer out of the woods to your home or to a processor, it’s all predictable. It’s work, but work that brings a sense of satisfaction. The results you see are both immediate and long-term as you anticipate sausage, jerky, tenderloins, burgers on the grill. It’s not only mouth-watering. Sharing your harvest with your friends makes you a provider. Some may turn their noses up, but they can’t avoid respecting you for doing something that sets you apart from others they know.
10. Accept the Challenge
We have plenty of whitetails across this great land, but if you think hunting them is easy you need to think that through again. Hunting is a challenge. We don’t bring home the bacon, er, the venison, at the end of every hunt. That’s because deer hunting pits our skills, our senses, our patience, our persistence, against the craftiest critter in the woods. Hunting requires us to use our brains, the most valuable weapon in our arsenal. Sometimes we make the right call, sometimes we don’t. He beats you more often than you beat him. No sense dwelling on failure though because if you don’t give up you’ll win. What a great lesson in life!
Why do YOU hunt? We’ve only tapped the surface. Is hunting spiritual? Is hunting a craft? Is hunting a way to engage with biological science? Is it a memory-maker? Is hunting a way to participate in conservation? (That’s a big one!) Does hunting draw on your analytical, a puzzle-solving nature? Is hunting a calling, a way of life? The reasons are never ending, and no quick, easy answer covers it. So when someone asks, “Why do you hunt?” maybe you should answer their question with another question: “How much time do you have?”
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.
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