Today I was driving home from a friends house and I asked my self the question "Why do I hunt?". A question I might not be able to answer in just one night.
This is a serious question,one that is debated by millions of people. I myself have been in this debate over hunting many times.
My normal responses are of course: Do you eat meat? Who does your killing - Safeway?
But sitting here thinking about it, that isn't an answer really. It is the answer I am willing to get into with people who ask me why I hunt. The people who ask that question always ask with that smug tone of voice. Like I am a bad person for wanting to provide my own meat.
The answer of 'do you eat meat?', is all the breath I want to waste on that conversation with people.
I'm not going to change their mind; they don't care about the deep truth or why I really hunt. It's not about the killing to me. But it's all about the killing to them - that's all they see. They see the killing of what they see as poor innocent creatures, like Bambi. I can't tell you how many times I have been buying a hunting license and heard "Oh you're going to kill Bambi, huh?" I will chuckle, smile and nod, and go on my way.
You want to know why I hunt?
I hunt because it is a drive to be in the outdoors. It is a bonding with your fellow hunter that you can't get anywhere else. The joy I get when in the field with my wife and daughter is like no other. It is the satisfaction that my family and I can and will provide for ourselves.
I hunt because of the memories of years past, knowing 60 years ago my grandfather hunted underneath this exact tree, or at this exact lake, or in this exact field, with this exact goal. It's like he is still there with me, and even that he will always be there with me while I am hunting. It's knowing my daughter will be in the same spot in years to come. It's knowing that I am passing on to my kids what my grandfather taught my dad and what my dad taught and is still teaching me.
I hunt because failure is an option. Failure is the opportunity to learn and become a better hunter. For every successful hunt there was likely a few unsuccessful hunts before. True hunters know that there will be another day and another hunt. The trophies on the wall are not only a sign of success, but a sign of learning from your past failures.
I hunt because it is a lifestyle - and it's my lifestyle. It's dreaming of being out on a hunt when stuck in the office. It's knowing that right now it's midnight, I just got my kid to sleep but it's ok because in 5 hours my alarm is going off and I am going hunting. It's knowing that when you're out there in the woods, in your blind, or in your tree stand all your worries are gone and that is a feeling that no substance can duplicate.
I hunt because the dog hunting next to me is one of my best friends and hunting means us working together as a true team. She will break ice and swim as far as it takes to get the job done. She will warn me of danger one second and let my daughter crawl over her and cover her with blankets in the other. She will keep my hands warm on cold mornings and keep my feet warm on cold nights in camp. And all she asks for in return is a scratch behind the ear every now and then.
Reading this has only scratched the surface of why I hunt. Most of it words can not explain. If you want to better understand why I hunt, why hunters hunt, you will just have to go and experience hunting for yourself. Even then I can't promise you will get it.
If you hunt and want to express why you hunt, I welcome you to write a post and put your link to in the comments!