The question of why do we hunt, is a question we all ask at some point.
If you’re a new hunter, you may not realize quite yet what a roller coaster ride hunting can be for your emotions leading to the question of why do we hunt. Anxiety, excitement, boredom, pure joy – these can all be experienced in a single hour. Sometimes sitting in the woods on an autumn morning can be one of the best days of your life, with the golden rays streaming down on the colorful foliage all around you. But it’s not always like this.
In the interest of full disclosure, hunting can sometimes be downright miserable. When you’re sitting high in a tree stand in below-zero temperatures with the wind in your face, you can question your sanity after a couple hours. When the skies open up and it refuses to stop no matter how soggy you are, it can feel pretty tempting to throw in the towel.
So why do we hunt? Knowing that we could experience these miserable conditions (not to mention the sheer mental boredom), what is it that drives us to keep going out day after day? More than that, what is it that even relaxes us and recharges our batteries by getting up hours before the sunrise and spending all day in a potentially harsh environment?
Here are a few theories for you to ponder.
First, many of us deeply care about where our food comes from. Maybe we already have a backyard garden and a flock of suburban chickens. Hunting is the next logical step to pursue if we crave ethical and sustainable red meat. If we are truly passionate about this, some off-days are a necessary evil in exchange for a freezer full of free-range venison steaks. I’d personally much rather sit through some inclement weather for a healthy and delicious steak than purchase pink slime from the grocery store.
The next reason hunters choose to slog through bad days could include re-connecting with nature. Many of us probably live in urban or suburban areas where it can be difficult to escape to a truly wild area. Hunting can bring you into such environments, if you wish. But even hunting in suburban areas shows you a side of nature you probably never noticed while hiking. Trying to blend in to a natural area lets you see some pretty interesting glimpses into the private lives of wildlife. I’ve often watched deer, weasels, and ruffed grouse do some pretty amazing things when they don’t think they’re being watched. Being the silent observer helps you appreciate it all on a much deeper level.
Following the natural connection would be our desire for a physical, mental, and emotional challenge. If you work in a bustling city and spend most of your waking hours in a cubicle, it can be difficult to experience this regularly. Trying to outwit some of nature’s best survivors really tests your patience. But sometimes the biggest challenge you’ll face is against your own mind. Cultivating the mental willpower to stick it out through any harsh conditions for the mere chance of seeing a deer is often times a worthy goal in itself. It produces character and resolve that can help you in every other area of your life.
That’s probably the biggest unspoken benefit of learning to hunt. It may seem like specialized skills that only apply to the outdoors, but that’s only partially true. The experiences we go through in the field help foster patience, respect, awareness, mental toughness, and confidence inside us. I think we can all agree those are worthy attributes to gain, even if it takes a little discomfort to get them. No pain, no gain, as they say.
Why do you continue to hunt, especially after a rough day in the field?