I figured the best topic for my first blog post would be to answer the one question I get asked by people who don’t hunt when they find out that I do,
“Why do you hunt?”
This is a simple enough question, as to many people hunting isn’t part of their life, so it seems almost as a foreign concept to them. In my younger years I had a simple three word answer for them,
“I like to.”
Simple enough answer right? However, what it accomplishes in its simplicity, it severely lacks in truly expressing what drives a person to sit in adverse weather, spend a good portion of their income on gear, gas, licenses and permits, to spend time away from loved ones, early mornings that could be better spent sleeping in, all for the chance to possibly be successful. Therefore it goes without saying that someone who goes through all of that in their free time likes to do it. Then, why does one truly do it?
As I grew older and felt the need to defend my love for hunting, the answer that I often used, and one that is about as worn out as the tires on my truck, is,
“I hunt for food.”
Now I enjoy wild game as much as any outdoorsman, and I am truly happiest when my freezer runneth over with fresh wild meat. But I would be truly misleading if I held this reason as my absolute driving force for hunting. Trust me when I tell you that there are far easier, less exhausting, less expensive and more effective ways to get food, like, for example, going to a grocery store. In the United States I would wager the amount of people who truly survive and live solely on sustenance hunting are a miniscule amount, and it is truly doubtful that the majority of hunters are among that number. If my family and I solely relied on wild game, we would have starved last season. That being said, hunters should carry within them the pride that they can supplement their meals with fresh healthy wild game.
Another answer that found its way into my repertoire as I got older, but is easy to poke holes in is,
“I hunt to keep game populations in check.”
While states use hunting to help in the management of their wild game species, I can say with 100 percent certainty that when ducks or geese are setting in my spread, or a deer closes the distance, my last thought before pulling the trigger or releasing an arrow is NOT,
“I cannot wait to contribute to the management of this species.”
Save for hard core coyote hunters, it is my opinion that the vast majority of hunters are not solely hunting for management reasons. However, hunters can look at what they do for the management of game populations at the behest of state and federal biologists with another sense of pride.
So by now you are probably saying,
“Ok Ryan, you’ve gone on and on explaining how your answer has evolved, yet you still haven’t declared what your answer is.”
While all the above answers to me are more along the lines of benefits that I get from hunting, finding the right way to express why I hunt has become a challenge. However two answers I’ve heard from two well known hunters has perfectly summed up my “why”.
Chris Pratt was asked in an interview a few years ago why he hunted, and his response struck home with me. He responded that if you did everything perfect in you preparation, nothing knows you are in the woods, and as the sun rises and the world comes alive you get to witness nature in a undisturbed way that few can from the windows of their cars. He says it is as if you opened a window and get to see nature as it is intended without being disturbed by man. This is truly a great aspect of hunting, seeing mother nature in a way few in our modern world can.
In a simpler version, Randy Newburg, who has his own hunting show and is a huge public land advocate (which I will eventually write about) put it in a way that I absolutely love. He said that he doesn’t want to be merely an observer of nature, but a participant. This epitomises my passion for hunting, matching wits with an animal that has thousands of years of evolution of evading predators and trying to best them. This gives me a different perspective than the average person on the habits of wild game, and I also appreciate and respect their place in the world.
This was a long winded answer to a simple question, but the answer lies within my heart, and is not so simple to express. Hunting is in my soul, it is who I am and to try and simplify it’s impact on me isn’t easily answered in a few sentences. Also, to find a simple way to answer it does a disservice to the creatures I pursue, and let me tell you, they deserve all the respect and admiration I can bestow.