“Davie, Why do you hunt?” This is a question I have been asked several times before, so here is my answer.
It can be hard to put into words, but I will do my best. It’s more about the experience, and if you have never hunted before, it’s hard to relate. My very first hunting experience happened to be before I was even born. That’s right! My mother was still pregnant with me when her and my father would venture out into the backcountry in search of big game. I am very thankful for my parents, especially my father for always surrounding my life with the outdoors. Anyone who knows me, knows I am an all or nothing type person. I am a very passionate, confident individual who truly supports the outdoor lifestyle from scouting and harvesting to cleaning and eating. I am a very optimistic person, thanks to the sport of hunting. I always intend to be successful on every hunt, but I can tell you I leave the backcountry empty handed more times than none. Hunting is a heritage, a tradition, and a way of my life. It is all I have ever known and it represents who I am.
If it was not for the sport of hunting, we as individuals would not exist here today on earth. Our ancestors were gatherers and hunters. They lived off the land by harvesting fruits and vegetables that were available and all types of animals. This is simply how they survived. They used bones from the harvested animals to make tools or weapons, and fur to provide them warmth when the weather was extreme. Technology has advanced mankind so we no longer have to live in this manner. Now you can get your meat on every corner, pre-packaged. Instead I choose to get mine my way, I hunt for it! I know exactly where my meat comes from unlike domesticated meats found in grocery stores today. The wild game in which I hunt for is my food, my source of protein, and my body’s building blocks of lean muscle mass. My family relies on me to provide for them the most UNprocessed meat. If it walks or flies and tastes good, you better believe where legal, I’ll hunt for it. There is a sense of appreciation when you consume what you have worked hard for to harvest.
I am an athlete and have always been a natural one. I have learned a lot from playing sports like football, baseball, basketball, and running track. But the sport of hunting has taught me so much more. Hunting is by far one of the hardest and toughest sports I have ever participated in. Hunting presents both phyical and mental challenges like no other sport. That’s why I love to hunt. I love to endure challenges, and every hunt presents it’s own challenge. Hunting is a lifetime sport, and I intend to hunt for the rest of my life and teach others along the way. You get out of it only what you put into it. Every now and then we all get lucky and a plan comes together just like you intended it to be. The tough hunts and encounters are the ones you appreciate the most. These are the stories that are told over and over again.
Hunting as a mental challenge can put you on an emotional roller coaster and you better be buckled in to endure the ride. No matter the hunt or the situation, I always question myself on the “why’s”. Why did I choose this ridge over that one? Why choose this route of travel? Why climb this tree or that tree? Should I draw now or wait? Draw fast or slow? Why are the the animals coming from that direction? Take this shot or wait for him to turn? I mentally do the best I can to predict the unpredictable, after all, this game of hunting has no time schedule. They know the lay of the land better than I. It’s not just being at the right place at the right time, it’s making it happen once the opporotunity presents itself. Understanding the calls, sounds, and behaviors of the wild may give you a clue to an approaching trophy. Long hours of patient sits at full alert through the severe cold, rain, or hot temperatures alone is a battle of the mind. There are no rain delays in hunting! I find myself saying just five minutes more. I know that the longer I sit, the more my chances increase for success. Mentally dealing with rejection can be tough to get over. Imagine sitting for days and a mature trophy steps out, you ready your aim, sqeeze and miss. It happens! Get over it and learn from what you did wrong. Hunting is the only sport where you must maintain control over your adrenaline flow. If you let the rush get to you, you may find it very difficult to steady up on the vitals. It’s all about becoming one with nature. It’s the chirping of the birds, whistling of the wind, and viewing the slow rise and fall of the sun and moon. I get to experience lifetime memories that others will never understand or get the chance to observe.
Is hunting physically demanding? Most people think of hunters as being out of shape. Getting from one spot to another takes muscular strength and endurance. If you lack in those two categories, you may fail to be successful and be miserable. In order to get to that right place before the right time presents itself may force you climb a steep hill, cross a reveiegn, or run from one peak to the other, not to mention, with all your gear in tact too. Your gear can weigh an extra 100lbs. at times. You don’t want your heavy breathing to interrupt your success. You want your body to be cardiovascularly conditioned so that you utilze the oxygen your are breatheing in effectively. Making a shot, takes technique and self control. Just as some would say, all the work begins after the shot. It’s our obligation to care for the animal which may entail you backpacking your trophy back through the rough terrain on your back. This is why I train and push myself to my maximum limits. Understanding how the human body works and how to effectively fuel it, has helped me to become successful. I sometimes don’t even recognize obstacles that reside before me, I just overcome them without thinking. I know some hunters out there FAIL to be successful due to the shape they are in or that of their guide. For the most part, hunting is not a team sport. You yourself must make it happen! It’s up to you to make ethical shots on game. This is what drives me to always improve and get better physically and mentally. I constantly practice. You can never practice enough. It’s my desire to be successful. In life, I will encounter challenges and obstacles that may seem hard to overcome at times, but I portray characteristics I have learned from hunting to help me pull through.
The comraderee of hunters is a brotherhood like no other. Hunters share a special bond amongst each other that is unbreakable. We understand and relate to each other on a level that most will never understand. Most successful hunters are also successful buisness people and leaders in our communities. They know what it takes and how do deal with obstacles and present a win/win situation. I enjoy listening to stories, tactics, and stategies of other hunters and learn from them on what made them successful. Behind every trophy lies a story that has taught us something in life. There is not a time when I am in my office that I don’t look up at my mounts and appreciate that animal and what it took to make it my trophy.
Hunting has taught me to be a better man. It takes courage, bravery, compassion, honor, patience, mental and physical toughness, and a whole lot of desire. It’s all about the preparation and the climax of the hunt. There is nothing like that feeling of VICTORY as you place your hands on the horns or antlers of your prized trophy. Hunting is a privelage. It’s an investment of time and money, but the experience you gain is a memory that will last a lifetime. There are lessons to be taught and lessons to be learned. I am very thankful and appreciative of nature. I will raise my family understanding the sport and respecting it, just as I do. If they choose to or not to hunt, that is entirely up to them, but they will respect it. Hunting is a natural part of life. We, as human beings, are the ultimate predator. Our eyes are situated on the front of our face , not on each side. We were made to hunt. I train hard, hunt hard, and eat clean. I don’t just hunt, I Hunt Strong!