Why I Hunt; Some Thoughts on Being Outside

Starting with updates, as per the usual. As it is the holidays, I have found little time to keep up on the blogs. Not that I haven’t been writing, but rather I am having a hard time posting in any regular sort of fashion. A big part of this is the general lack of internet access at home. While I can write at home, posting is another matter. In addition, my place of employment has recently moved sites, so all of my regular avenues of internet access have dissolved. I am in the process of hunting down new places of access.

The third book in the Elder Blood Saga is nearing completion, and while I was hoping to have it out in time for the holidays, that seems less likely now. Yet, things continue to move forward, so stay tuned on that front. I will also be staring on number 5 after the start of the new year. Still, there are a few hunting days in the year…

Which brings me to the topic for today, the reasons I hunt. As a hunter and animist, I have lots of reasons why I hunt, and I will do my best to outline a few of them here. First and foremost, I have a great love of the outdoors, and have since I was a small child. In fact, my earliest and most cherished memories are those of roaming the woods and exploring. You could say I am a bit of an adventurous sort. I like exploring new places, and I enjoy greatly just being outside, hiking, kayaking, camping, and all those sorts of things.

In many ways, the love of being outdoors is one of the main reasons I took up hunting. It was a kind of logical extension. I loved being outside, and hunting gave me a reason to spend even more time outdoors. In fact, that is the primary reason I hunt, to experience nature and all it has too offer. Really, in this day and age of supermarkets, it is not like I am going to go hungry if I am not successful. However, at least with hunting I know how the animal lived, how it died, and that it generally free of additives and hormones that often haunt supermarket meats.

On top of that, it also serves to reinforce the animistic idea that the world is full of people, only some of which are human. Hunting gives me the chance to experience the forest, the trees, and the deer as living and breathing beings. It also grants me the opportunity to see them living as nature intended, and that is an experience in and of itself. It let’s me see deer and other animals play, fight, mate, and generally do all the things that critters do. They have spirits, and personalities.

This invites a story. Last year, there was a button buck that would come out almost every day around my stand. He would look at me, and snort every single time. He knew I was there, and that I was not a threat to him. As such, he would wander around for a while around my stand, under it, and then maybe eat for a while. I named him Courage, for self evident reasons. He did this almost every single day. While not the most exciting thing in the world, I found that I looked forward to seeing him.

Then this season rolls around, and I had to contemplate the fact that Courage very well might be a buck of decent size. I had to wonder if I could take a shot at a creature I had developed a bond with.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to make that decision. I have not seen any bucks this year.

I have to wonder where Courage is today…

That is the real reason I hunt. Not to kill, not even for the meat, but for the experience. For the simple joy that comes with being outside. It makes me feel more connected, and more aware than most other things. It also further reinforces my interest and passion for things like the environment, ecology, and conservation. I have first hand experience of what habitat destruction does to ecosystems.

In truth, it’s more about the journey than the end game. Yeah, there may be meat at the end of the road, but that is more of an afterthought for me. The main reason I hunt is for the experience. As such, I want to relay just a few of my experiences…

-Watching a clear night sky, as the stars fade and the sun rises. It’s like watching the first dawn on Earth.

– Listening to the birds start to sing as they awaken.

– The sound of a hawk shrieking as it flies through the woods like a bullet.

– The silence of an owl as it drops through the trees and tries to catch a Bluejay.

– The very same Bluejay getting about two feet away on a branch, and taking a crap. It left me laughing.

– Wounding a deer, tracking it for a mile across the marsh, only to have the coyotes beat you too it. (Little bastards)

-Having a raccoon wander straight towards you, look right at you, and pick its nose. (I am pretty sure he was giving the equivalent of the finger)

-Hearing coyotes howl. (Chilling. Someday I hope to hear wolves too.)

-Having coyotes circle your stand after dark. (A little unnerving, thankfully they spook easily)

-Walking through the woods, and coming within arms length of a fawn, it’s eye wide with curiosity.

– Having momma charge from the brush moments later, and give you the “hell no!” look, before dashing away with her fawn. (Scared the hell out of me)

– Following animals track through day old fallen snow

– The crunch of fresh frost beneath your boots

I could go on, sure. But you’ll notice one thing here, that none of these memories really have anything to do with killing deer.

Yeah, meat is nice, but it really its all about being outside.

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About Nicholas Haney

I am a writer, author, hunter, craftsman, and student of anthropology/archaeology. View all posts by Nicholas Haney

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