Why We Hunt

Doe in FieldArticle sent in by Harvesting Nature reader J. Avey

The rain had been sporadic all weekend, from light drizzles to heavy downpours, with wind gusting up to 15 miles per hour and despite the mild temperatures, it was sending a chill inside of me. The edges of Hurricane Patricia had driven most bow hunters indoors to await a better, more ideal time. I was crazy enough to strive for success throughout the storm, for as the saying goes, “can’t get’em if you ain’t with’em.” That’s when I saw her. She stepped onto the field from an apparent nothingness. She worked her way slowly across the field, never coming in under 90 yards, casually grazing on the rejuvenated lush, green grass. With ten minutes left of shooting light, I was hoping she would present a shot. Time did not seem to be on my side, but my luck began to change as she started trudging back up the hill towards the thick underbrush. She would never make it, for she had sealed her fate when she happened to stop at forty nine yards and turned to check her back trail. That turn, making a quartering to shot, was all I needed. Time seemed to freeze as I drew back and found my anchor. IMAG0507-edtMy hunting partner was as thrilled as I was when we saw the luminescent green nock blaze through the air just before the arrow found its home. All that filled my mind now was the work ahead and the rewards of the aroma of hot, fresh venison searing on the grill again.

I expect many stories like mine have already been shared around the campfire – some from seasons past and some becoming new tales. In many areas, though, hunters must practice prudence to whom they tell their treasured memories. To mention the word hunting in today’s society can draw varied forms of feedback ranging from words of encouragement and praise to those of bitterness and wrath. Hunting is a controversial topic to mention in places where you are unsure of your audience. As hunters, we represent the original form of conservation. For many of us, the reasons we hunt are as varied as we are. However, we all share some common characteristics.

wildoe2Hunting for many millennia has been the mainstay of providing an abundant food for not only oneself, but for our families and extended families as well. Whether you are the president of PETA or Uncle Ted himself, we all owe at least part of our existence to our ancestors’ ability to hunt and forage for food. In today’s culture, however, getting food is as easy as getting in your vehicle and driving to the nearest grocer. You really – unless you are a small ranch owner or farmer – have no clue as to what is done to your food, or even how the animals are processed to get to that shelf in a supermarket. Our ancestors would spend the majority of their time hunting for the elusive game animals that we do today, as well as foraging or growing their own food. People argue that hunting is an obsolete form of living and that we must leave the earth’s animals alone. Granted, on some species they are correct, but a true hunter knows that we have tag limits and laws set in place and that respecting those laws helps ensure that the future generations will be able to enjoy the outdoors as we do today. Every day we must work hard to keep our game animals – and predators – alive and with a good free range home to live. As hunters we can help control the population of our game by removing those which could hurt the herds themselves and by bettering the age group.

When I see a child eager to go hunting with his father or mother, my heart truly smiles. They may not see a single game animal, and despite that just the time spent with their loved ones, doing what they love, and spending that time outdoors really gets them on edge. Our responsibility as hunters today is to ensure that we pass on the tradition to our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and anyone who is eager to experience the feeling that we all enjoy. Recently, a good friend of mine asked me to take her on a few hunts this year. She has never been hunting and is really looking forward to going out into the field with me. I could not have said no anymore than I could have grown a third arm, and the reason is because she is so willing to learn more about hunting. I, as a hunter who has weathered twenty seasons in the field, owe it to those who taught and inspired me to pass on the thrills of my beloved passion. Most hunters share this willingness to teach and share.

As Fred Bear once said, “A hunt based only on trophies, falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.” No one could have said it better. Numerous hunters have become so obsessed with killing a record scoring animal or limiting out on waterfowl, that they have lost part of their way of hunting. They never enjoy a hunt as much as others unless they come home with a kill. Hunting is not solely about the kill, although that is the ultimate result. It is about spending time with our loved ones, about getting back in tune with the wilderness. Inside every person no matter who, is a primal instinct that deeply desires the will to be away from big cities and traffic. It wishes to High Montainstop a Rocky Mountain ridge, cross a flowing river, see the sun begin to cast its magnificent rays of red, pink, and gold across the sky, signifying that we have been blessed to witness, and enjoy another day. No matter where I go afield, I always come back with great memories, and I owe that to the fact that I am doing what I love most.

The food that we buy at a grocery store is so unpredictable it is unreal. The fact that chickens are given arsenic to give the pink coloration to their meat, or the high steroids given to many herds of beef, are just some of many reasons why I nearly outright refuse to buy any meat. As hunters we know that our meat is one hundred percent natural. That is a major reason that keeps many of us out in the elements. We not only know where our food comes from but what they primarily eat and the fact that their life was far better than knowing nothing more than a corral or a large coop. The clean, lean, wholesome meat is what our bodies are designed to thrive off. Not to mention, there is that psychological mindset that the meat itself is more filling because what we must endure to receive it.

When it all boils down, we all have specific reasons we hunt. For some it is to have trophies, for others it is to provide for our families a cleaner food. No matter what the case, what method we go about, or what particular animal you prefer, we are all in the same boat together. If we do not stand together then one day our beloved passion will cease to exist. So pass on the reason you hunt, teach others how to do so. Stand up for those who receive bitter, hateful publicity from those who are solidly against our fellow brothers and sisters of the hunting community. Do it respectfully and try to show those who do not understand our passion. You may not get them to hunt, but just maybe they will leave with a better understanding of a hunter’s mindset as to why we do what we do. The best thing we can do for an unmindful and uninformed audience is to show class, and show that we do not let tempers get the best of us. Any hunter who walks into a restaurant, a store, or even a convention is the public face of our beloved passion. As for next time, good luck and good hunting.

About the Author
Justin AveyJustin was born on the border of Northeast Texas and Arkansas in the town of Texarkana. Growing up, his family taught him the respect you must have for wildlife and nature.  Justin strives to promote conservation techniques, as well as introducing people, young or old into the outdoor experience. Even today after twenty seasons of hunting and nearly 25 years of fishing and camping, Justin still relishes in the fact that he is blessed to enjoy nature as well as to see the uniqueness that each experience has to offer.

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