Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why hunting?

     For anyone that knows me, it's no secret that I enjoy hunting. Over the years I've been asked many times why I hunt. Fact is, I don't know if I've ever given much thought to the question. Oh sure, I hunt for the challenge, the chase and of course the food my quarry can provide and in some instance for the antlers on the wall. But, why do I really hunt? What drives me? Why not take a camera with me instead of my bow or a gun?

     As I thought about the question, it made me dig deep and try to find a good answer. Early on in my hunting life, I hunted because I wanted to kill something. I know, I know...that sounds a little morbid, but for a 10 year old boy growing up in rural Southeastern Indiana, it was the norm back then. I cut my teeth chasing squirrels around the woods within a bike ride from Rising Sun, Indiana and started to develop my passion for the outdoors at a young age. Later, I was introduced to deer hunting and another fire was lit. I hunted deer with a zest that overtook just about all my other interests. Even basketball took a backseat to my love of the hunt and being in the woods. At that stage, it was all about getting a deer, any deer. But as I matured as a hunter, the "if it's brown, it's down" mentality changed into being more about the quality of animal taken rather than the quantity of animals. Now I've never been much of a trophy hunter, but I certainly appreciate a nice buck just as much as the next guy and have been fortunate enough to take a few good ones over the years.

     So, as I sit here now, a man approaching my mid 40's with over 30 years of hunting under my belt, what is it?...Why do I hunt? Is there some deep, thought provoking answer? I lean back in my treestand and think intently and I've come to this conclusion. I hunt because I am a hunter! Plain and simple. It's part of who I am. For some reason, it's hard wired into my brain. Some people are farmers, some laborers, some gatherers. Maybe it's some sort of throw back to a more primitive time, but it's in my DNA. If I didn't have my bow or a shotgun, I'd use a rock or a sharpened stick or even my bare hands! Chief Joseph, the famous leader of the Nez Perce Indian tribe said it best..."When the last deer disappears in the morning mist, When the last elk vanishes from the hills, When the last buffalo falls from the plains, I will hunt mice, for I am a hunter and I must have my freedom." Well Chief Joseph, I couldn't have said it better myself.