Its All About The Experience
Just Why Is It That We Love To Hunt?
DuckBuckGoose - PHJ ProStaff - Cincinnati, OH
I live in the city. Not downtown among the central business buildings, but in the city nonetheless. It is not really my preference. My preference would be to have a small farm in the country with a freestanding workshop, a pond full of bass, a clear running creek and plenty of food and cover to hold a healthy deer herd.
As a "city dweller" in Cincinnati, Ohio, I live among people who don't understand hunting, my personal passion for it, or the "country" way of life. As a boy, I was raised in the country - surrounded by mature hardwoods, rolling hills, and cornfields. When I was not in school, I would spend the better part of my days exploring the 25 square miles of the county owned nature preserve just across the road our home. Other days you might find me fishing in the neighbor's pond, or hunting squirrels with my Daisy 880.
My family has country roots. Mom and Dad moved to Ohio from Southeast Iowa, just before they had my sister and I. So we would head back there for family trips several times per year. My grandparents and a few other relatives owned farms that were thick with pheasants, rabbits and even a few pockets of quail. As a boy, I looked forward to our trips there because they afforded me the opportunity to do some upland hunting that I could not do at home.
I don't know if it is "nature" or "nurture" that has given me a passion for hunting. But I do know that several generations on both sides of the family, were hunters and sportsman before me - so maybe it truly is in my blood? Whatever it is. Wherever it comes from, my hunting obsession is there for good. And that is OK by me.
But why do I love to hunt?
I've been asked that question several times by friends and co-workers who don't really understand hunting, the appeal of it, or why it consumes me. To be honest, it was difficult for me to wrap my own head around the answer to that question at first. Probably because there isn't one, two or even five things I can point to as the reasons why I love to hunt. Rather there are hundreds of things I could list and still not be able to explain the gravitational pull that this sport has over me. So when asked, I usually just tell people that it is all about the experience of being in the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. That explanation is completely true, but it merely scratches the surface of why I love the hunting experience. As a sort of mental exercise, I wanted to list some of the other reasons also, and to see if any of you can relate or might be willing to share some reasons of your own. So let's see...some of the things I love about hunting experience include:
- The anticipation of an opening day hunt, and the fact that it still keeps me awake at night, like a kid on Christmas Eve.
- I love spending time with my Dad in a duck blind. We are both perfectly "in our element" and don't need to talk at all to know just what the other is feeling.
- I enjoy organizing my gear, and making sure everything is in its place the night before the hunt.
- I actually enjoy washing my deer hunting clothes to ensure they are scent free. And I don't care much at all for doing laundry otherwise.
- I love the using the equipment of hunting, awaiting the catalogues that sell it, and making an occasional trip to the store to buy a new piece of gear.
- I love the distinctive taste and aroma of the gas station coffee we get on our way to the hunting spot.
- I love the stillness and silence of the early morning woods as I navigate the darkness and hike in to my stand.
- I love being all settled in before the sun rises and listening to the woods wake up.
- I love the sound of twigs breaking beneath a deer's hooves.
- I love the whistling of ducks' wings as they buzz over my decoy spread in the dark, before legal shooting time.
- I love the cackle of a rooster pheasant as he blows up out of the brush when I least expect it.
- I love the smell of gunpowder floating through air after we take our first shots at decoying ducks.
- I love having a hearty breakfast with my buddies and "tellin' lies" about what happened in the field that day, or in days past.
- I love the many colors of the sky, and the way the light changes the look of the landscape throughout the day.
- I love learning new things from other hunters who are willing to share.
- I love cleaning my shotguns, building a new set of arrows, and repairing the old ones.
- I love taking someone out for their first hunt, and seeing their reaction as the first flight of ducks works the decoys.
- I love the boat ride in the darkness out to the duck blind. The feel of the cold, crisp wind on my face. The sight of pre-dawn shooting stars flying across the clear winter sky.
- I love practice shooting my bow, and the way life's stresses seem to disappear as my focus turns towards a simple spot on a target.
- I love the way hunting gives me time to pray, a real sense of connection to the outdoors, and how it strengthens my faith in God.
I truly could go on and on about the reasons I love the hunting experience. Perhaps an easier question to answer would have been "what DON'T you love about hunting?". If you were to ask me that question it would be a much, much shorter list.
How about you? Why do you hunt? What drives you? Just what is it you love about the experience? Have you ever really stopped to think about it? If not, I believe it is an exercise that just might make you appreciate this sport even more.
Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section below.
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