Friday, December 30, 2011

Today's "Hunter"...

    Spoiler alert, Spoiler alert! I can be opinionated. I’ve been known to stick my foot in my mouth on several occasions! Even both feet at times! I’ve been described as a lot of things, but wishy-washy isn’t one of ‘em. When it comes to hunting, I’ve got some fairly strong opinions about that as well…

     In my years as a hunter, I’ve seen a huge change in the whole “hunting” culture. For my generation and generations before, hunting was a way of life in rural parts of our country and every fall the tradition continued. Hunting as it stands today is evolving into something that doesn’t even resemble the hunting I knew growing up as a product of the 70’s and 80’s. Hunting now is an “industry”…An industry?

     It has become a multi-billion dollar business. You can see it everywhere you look. The “industry” is being driven by money and some shrewd marketing. Just go down the sporting goods aisle of Wal-Mart or look at the number of Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores that have sprung up over the last decade. Now I’ll be the first to admit, I love shopping in those places and looking at the new line up of camo this and scent eliminator that. But I know that those products aren’t what hunting is about and they damn sure don’t make someone a hunter. The way I see it, hunting was never intended to be easy. It’s not about shortcuts. In today’s hunting world, it all seems to be about getting an “un-natural” advantage over your quarry, in particular deer. There is even a machine out there that produces some kind of ozone to block your human odor!!! Come on!?

     Hunting is supposed to be about woodsmanship and bushcraft. It’s about knowing how to sight in your gun and shoot your bow. It’s about reading animal sign in the woods. It’s about watching the wind direction and knowing what phase the moon is in and how it affects animal’s movement. It’s about being able to sharpen your knife or your arrow’s broadhead to razor’s edge. It’s about being able to make a fire in a damp woods if needed. It’s about knowing how to field dress a deer or skin a rabbit and getting your hands bloody. It’s knowing where to place your treestand or blind and knowing how to slip through the woods undetected. It’s about becoming part of the woods and not just an occasional visitor. It’s about knowing when to shoot and not shoot. It’s about paying your dues as young hunter. It’s about frozen toes and bug bites, it’s about poison oak rashes and stinging nettles.

     The hunting industry today would have you believe that each year, you need to rush out and buy the latest and greatest bow capable of making a 70 yard shot with ease. That you need to buy the newest version of Mossy Oak or Realtree camouflage and that somehow the camo you got for Christmas 2 years ago is no longer any good! For good ness sake, they are evening marketing bottled water and energy drinks geared to hunters by wrapping them in a camouflage bottle! One scent elimination company even has a marketing slogan that says “Forget the wind and hunt”…What a load of @#$%


     The hunting world is a microcosm of the rest of our society today. It’s all about instant gratification and technology. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the direction hunting seems to be going. Maybe I’m just getting grumpy and showing my age. I seem to be turning into my father! For someone who is passionate about hunting and the outdoors in general, it just makes me sad to see the older ways being tossed aside in the name of money and big business. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Flip on your Dish Network or Direct TV and you’ll see exactly what I mean. The Outdoor Channel, Pursuit and the Sportsman Channel all have programs on them 24 hours a day geared to outdoorsman. Most of them touting the latest and greatest in the hunting industry being pushed or hocked by hunting “celebrities”…It’s all about endorsements and getting you up and off the couch to buy their products.

    I’m not opposed to outdoor stores and shows or people making an honest living in the hunting “industry” or clever marketing or any of that. I just think the direction we have taken as “today’s” hunters is a little cheap, with a few too many shortcuts and almost dirty in a sense. Being a hunter used to mean you were a provider, something honorable, something to hang you hat on. Not so sure that’s the case today as I see ads for hunting products with wording such as “it’s a food plot in a bag” or “put ‘em down” or “whack ‘em and stack ‘em”…wonder what guys like Theodore Roosevelt, Ishi or Fred Bear would think about today’s “hunter”.