There is no day like the long awaited first day of a hunt. The crisp cold air in the pre-dawn darkness (or if you live in Arizona the slightly cooler air), the excitement of what is to come and what adventures this season will bring. If you are anything like me, the countless sleepless hours leading up to opening day checking your equipment, second guessing your strategy, sharpening broadheads and knifes. This is the thing us hunters live for, this short part of the year that engulfs the rest of our lives, but why? Why do we spend all of our extra income on hunting gear? Why do we fall asleep with the sound of elk bugling and frolicking through our dreams? Why do we put ourselves through this torture we call our passion? I mean have you ever broken down what a pound of deer or elk meat actually costs once you have tagged your kill? I mean really why do we hunt?
The biggest argument you will hear today from those opposed to hunting is why don’t you just buy your meat at WalMart instead of killing that wild creature. We as hunters know that it would cost WAY less money to do so, but it is what we lose by doing so that is much more important. Self reliance, a connection to nature, health, and detachment to the process in which we obtain the one thing that we hold so dearly, food! But have we as hunters actually got away from hunting animals for food and more of as a trophy, or to quote Stuart from mad T.V. “Look what I can do!” Again I ask why do we hunt?
I can answer that question for myself because I have thought about it a lot while passed out under trees in the 110 degree heat of the August archery season, or while being so cold on a late elk hunt that I couldn’t feel my nose when I tried to wipe the snot away. I hunt because it is who I am. I didn’t find hunting until later on in my life, in fact I was 21 when I went on my first real hunt, but after those miserable days of hiking and freezing, I knew that a hunter is what I was born to be. I ended up shooting the only Javelina out of the four of us that were on that hunt but had made up my mind before I ever saw a Javelina that this is where I belonged. I was at home in nature, I was a part of nature. I knew then as I know now that I would never be the greatest hunter, or kill the biggest animals, but only that I would be the best predator that I could be. That I would never pass on an opportunity that nature gave me and that I would cherish every kill with the same love and humility as I did the last. I knew from the first day that I stepped into the wild that I would always be a guest in it and the animals I chased would be right at home. I hunt because it is who I am and it is what drives me everyday to be the best predator I can be.
So why do you hunt?