Why I Hunt

There are endless benefits to hunting, but here are four of the main reasons that drive people to the field.

by posted on February 28, 2024
Rao Why I Hunt

If you have been hunting long enough, you have been asked “why?” by a family member or friend. This may be because they only see what they think is the downside of hunting. They see hunting as being cold, hot, wet, dry, strenuous, easy, hard, miserable, early to rise, late to bed, and many other emotional experiences that go along with it. They do not understand the reason we hunt is because it is cold, hot, wet, dry, strenuous, easy, hard, miserable, early to rise, late to bed, and many other emotional experiences that go along with it.

The are many reasons why people hunt: They hunt deer for venison to “fill the freezer;” they hunt for that trophy to grace the wall or proudly display it upon their shelf; or it is part of their family’s heritage. There are some people who hunt because they want to experience all of this for the very first time.

As a state coordinator for Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW), I meet many women who did not grow up in a hunting family and have never participated in a hunt. If given the chance, many of these women take the opportunity to participate in their first hunting experience. Just as with any activity that is tried for the first time, some participants are hooked, and some find out it is just not for them.

People who hunt experience the universal benefits to engaging in this ancient sport. Some participants relish these benefits and others internalize them, taking the benefits for granted. In other words, some individuals go hunting for these benefits and some go hunting because of these benefits. There are four benefits that drive people to the field. These are the experiences of patience and humility, inspiration, individual achievements, and anticipation.

Patience and Humility  
It is impossible to hunt without experiencing patience and humility. Patience means going for hours upon hours— even days—without seeing an animal. Then, out of nowhere a deer will materialize out of the shadows and present itself for the perfect shot. Sometimes all the stars align in your favor, and everything comes together for a perfect hunt and a perfect shot. Other times, the deer will move the moment you touch the trigger, causing you to now follow a blood trail to retrieve your game animal—and rely on more patience.

Humility comes in if you just plain miss your shot. Humility comes in when you learn that nature does not care about your feelings. You are smaller than Mother Nature. The weather will warm up when she wants to, an arctic blast will blow through, the winds will pick up and change direction, rain will pour, sun will shine, humidity will increase, and snow will fall, all whenever Mother Nature wants to. All you can do is rely upon your skillset and preparations before and during this hunt. Have confidence that you can work with whatever curveballs Mother Nature throws your way.

Inspiration
Inspiration goes hand-in-hand with nature. Nature always amazes. It is very inspirational after navigating your way to your hunting blind in the blackness of night, then sitting quietly watching the sun rise as all the flora and fauna awaken, greeting the rays of the morning sun. Inspiration is seeing a mother and her baby, a doe and her fawn, and your heart will swell as you admire these wild animals surviving in nature. Inspiration is seeing Mother Nature in action when that same doe who catches your scent upwind, blows and stomps to alert other deer nearby while teaching her fawn that something isn’t right in the area and it’s time to raise that white tail and flag it as they bounce away into the woods!

Hunters know the inspiration of nature. We see things that others can only imagine or witness through televised documentary programs. Even those who enjoy other outdoors activities such as camping, hiking, or fishing never witness the miracles of nature that hunters enjoy in real time. For example, very few people can say they have watched a bobcat slinking through the brush looking for prey, or observed two bull elk fighting for the right to pass along his genes to the next generation. Each time you witness the uniqueness of Mother Nature, your connections grow and become a part of your own special memories.

Individual Achievements
Individual achievement is the foundation of hunting. Some hunters push themselves to their limits while others hunt as simply as they can for relaxation. Hunting is more than taking an animal. It is what you make of it. You can pursue game in their world by hiking deep into the backcountry. Some hunters try to trick the most cautious animal, such as fooling a coyote by imitating injured prey. Some prefer to set up their hunting position near a feeder, trying to attract the game to them. In other words, it is up to you to choose the means and methods of the game animals you are hunting, if you stay within the framework of the rules, regulations and game laws.

Individual achievement can also come after the game is taken. Individual achievement can be taking, processing and eating your own game. Some individuals try to utilize the whole animal. This could be tanning the hide for display or to turning into clothing. Others go as far as making strings out of sinew, eating parts of the game that is traditionally discarded, and making tools, knife handles or calls out of the bone.

Anticipation
Anticipation is the most experienced emotion—and benefit—of hunting. Hunters anticipate the deer of a lifetime emerging from the brush, flocks of ducks flying in waves, or the pointing of their favorite bird dog at a hidden covey of quail. After the season closes, hunters anticipate the opening of next year’s season or the booking of the hunt of a lifetime. Recently I was at my local gun store and overheard two older gentlemen talking about the hunt they just booked. It was their hunt of a lifetime. Both men were probably in their late sixties, hunted in Texas and Colorado for many years together, and recently booked their first African safari. Both were so full of anticipation that I do not know if any other emotion could have entered their mind!

When deer hunting season officially ends, it is far from over around my house. There are rifles to meticulously clean and prepare for hibernation until emerging again next deer season. Hunting clothing is washed, sorted and stored away in storage bins for another year. Ice chests that are designed for hunting are scrubbed clean, dried and stacked in the shed for another year. Rubber boots and hiking boots are cleaned, and mud clumps are stomped off prior to stowing them in the closet. This is the best time of year to check with the outdoor stores and hunting departments for end-of-year and end-of-season clearance sales on clothing, gear and accessories. All these activities add to the anticipation around my house.

All of this is hunting. It is the passion to invest so much of your time that builds all year long and culminates with next year’s hunting season. There are many things to be learned along the way, and life lessons to be gained as you spend yet another year prepping for the upcoming fall hunting season.

When the time finally comes around again, take advantage of every opportunity you may have to get outdoors and into your hunting blind to do it all over again. There are so many life lessons to be learned right in front of you. You know when you have reached the pinnacle of hunting when the most important thing to you is to spend quality time with your kids or mentoring other young hunters. This is when you realize that have earned the greatest returns on your investments.

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