Every hunter finds personal satisfaction in hunting. If he didn’t, he would find something else to do. His satisfaction doesn’t necessarily come in the form of a goal accomplished, just as an NFL player can have a satisfying career without winning the Super Bowl. It’s a great accomplishment, but it’s not the only thing that makes a satisfying career.
Most reasons we hunt are good reasons, and my reasons might not be the reasons every hunter hunts. All of us hunt for reasons we can’t explain, and each hunter will find his own satisfaction.
I’m currently writing a book I’ll title “Why We MUST Hunt.” It is not about my personal reasons for hunting, which are subjective. They may or may not be the reasons others hunt, so why I hunt or why anyone hunts is a different issue from why we MUST hunt. Why we must hunt is bigger picture stuff—objective reasons that drive hunting and make it a good thing.
I’ve compiled a list of 12 reasons why I hunt. Some of these reasons overlap, and I could probably add more. Other hunters may phrase them differently or cite additional reasons why they hunt. Nothing is wrong with any of these reasons, and the reasons may change through a lifetime, but they have mostly to do with the hunter’s personal satisfaction. Here is my list:
1. I hunt because my father took me hunting. It has been a shared experience, a way of bonding, a treasured time. I think about him more when I hunt.
2. I hunt because I enjoy seeing wildlife. Non-hunters see wildlife in TV documentaries. Hunters watch wildlife up close in real life. We are present and we participate in nature’s drama.
3. I hunt because wildlife is endlessly interesting. What do deer like to eat? Why, and when? How do their eating habits help them survive? Where do turkeys go? What is it like to communicate with them by imitating their sounds? How do animals use their habitat, and how do different species interact with one another?
4. I hunt because hunting is challenging. Every hunt is an opportunity to pit myself against a wild animal that is perfectly suited for its environment.
5. I hunt because hunting is satisfying. A day in the woods can be exhausting or exhilarating. Or both. It’s a fulfilling way to spend myself. Hunting drains me, refills me, renews me.
6. I hunt because hunting is peaceful. I love new snow, barren trees, and silence. I see my interior world better when I’m in the woods, and I see the outside world better when the air is crisp and overcast skies cast no shadows.
7. I hunt because hunting connects me to nature in a way nothing else can. It helps me recognize humans are part of nature, not separate from it. I see the majesty of God in the sunrise, in the cunning of the animals I hunt (and the ones I don’t hunt), and in the beauty of the landscape. Although the woods are not a church and hunting is not a religion, we can experience something spiritual when we hunt.
8. I hunt because hunting connects me to the past. Hunters are in my ancestry, and the ancestry of every man and woman.
9. I hunt because hunting connects me to the present. Hunting provides the time and the place to think about who I am, and who I should be.
10. I hunt because hunting connects me to the future with an opportunity to contemplate my priorities, and why I am on this earth.
11. I hunt because hunting connects me to myself. The solitude and the isolation provide opportunity to think without distraction. It’s a clarifying time. It’s a questioning time. What am I facing in my life? What should I care about? Where is my life headed?
12. I hunt because hunting connects me to the circle of life. A creature is out there that may sacrifice its life to provide me nourishment. Hunting helps me to think about what sacrifice is.
These and other reasons propel hunters to pursue whitetail deer, wild turkeys, ducks and geese, small game, elk, bears, predators, and any other species we may hunt under the wildlife codes of our states.
I look forward to presenting my book-length research on why we MUST hunt. It’s bigger than my 12 reasons. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than you. And it’s coming soon.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He is a field contributor to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.