Now that the election is over, it’s time to change the subject for at least this week. The world is falling apart and I’m going hunting. There are several reasons I choose to spend my time in pursuit of wild game and I just outlined the first: to get away from the daily grind.
Hunting provides an opportunity to tune out, relax, and recharge one’s batteries. With all the hustle and nonstop action in today’s modern world, hunting allows me to take a break from reality and transport to a different place, one that fewer and fewer people know to exist. One could argue that this could be done with a weekend hike or a camping trip, but that would be like saying that tossing around a football in the backyard is the same as playing in the Super Bowl. Hunting has a specific end goal and is much more than wandering in the woods or sitting by a campfire.
Hunting sharpens the senses. I am continually amazed at the lack of keen perception and attention to detail in my non-hunting friends and colleagues. Spotting a wild animal in its own environment before it spots you is a skill that sharpens all other skills. The senses of sight, smell, and the perception of one’s interaction in his environment are keys to success for a hunter. Even the sense on one’s skin of wind shifting direction is a sense unknown and unrecognized by most. Perceiving changes in temperature, light, humidity and wind direction are lost on someone with ear buds jammed into their head and eyes staring blankly at an LED screen.
The thrill of the pursuit that hunting provides is unmatched by any other activities in which I have engaged. I have barefoot water skied, climbed mountains, jumped out of airplanes, and rappelled face-first from heights great enough to kill me if something went wrong, yet while physically challenging and thrilling, none have matched the overall quality of a good hunt for general character development and overall satisfaction. Coupled with the building of skills unappreciated by many, it is hard to beat a good week of hunting versus any other activity.
My hunting friends are some of the best people one could ever know. Like any group, the hunting community has a few dimwits and jerks. They are the exception, not the rule. As a group, I would put hunters against any other demographic. I can think of few if any recreational activities that puts back as much or more than it takes out. From investment in conservation to providing meat for the hungry, hunters put their time and their money where their mouth is. The North American model of conservation is the most successful model for wildlife management and proliferation in the world.
My hunting buddies are real men. You will never find anyone remotely close to Justin Bieber in a hunting camp.
God’s hand is revealed in his creation. Romans 1:20 tells us that, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (NIV)
God’s creation is experienced in full while enjoying the hunting experience. I pray more while in my stand than most Sundays in church and have had some of the best time alone with God while experiencing his creation in all its glory. At times, it is so quiet that a leaf falling to the ground makes a great crash. Other times, my surroundings are alive with the bark of coyotes, the chatter of Sand Hill cranes flying overhead, the whisper of air going over ducks’ wings in the evening twilight, or the echo of a hoot owl in the dark of night. The sounds I have experienced could fill a collection of CD’s. You haven’t lived if you haven’t heard the roar of a red stag or the bugle of a bull elk in the Rocky Mountains.
When I am in the field, I get a reprieve from sin. I am not jealous or angry. Temptations are nonexistent. There is no cursing from the creatures around me when I am alone in the woods. All nature sings to its Creator. I am not discouraged. My fellow man does not disappoint me.
Hunting is challenging in many different aspects. One must fully engage his senses. At times, the physical or environmental difficulties of getting to the hunting location can be overwhelming. On other occasions, the discipline of going days or even weeks without seeing adequate game sharpens the mind and requires one stay mentally disciplined. Once game is spotted, one must control his movement, breathing and heart rate to ensure that a good shot is taken. Wounded game can take hours or days to track and requires heightened skills to pursue.
After the kill, many more hours will be spent field dressing and packing out the wild game.
Afterward, I enjoy three aspects of the hunt. First, we process the meat and consume it over the future months. Wild game is nutritious, lean, and free of antibiotics and man-made hormones. Second, if I take a nice animal, I may take it to the taxidermist and enjoy the beauty of the animal for the years to come. Finally, I always have the memory of the hunt forever tucked into the recesses of my mind.
Space does not allow me to fully list all of the reasons I hunt. If you do not hunt, I will not condemn you. There’s still hope. See you around the camp fire.
Image: Young Hunters of the Lake; Cupples and Leon; 1908 www.archive.org/details/young
huntersofla00b; public domain/copyright expired