Although the title may point to some jesting on my part, truth is when it comes to deer hunting; it's no time for messing around.
Every year, thousands upon thousands of hunters venture out in an attempt to harvest their share of government-free-range cattle. I myself am one of them. Hunters that is, not cattle. And much like the rest, I too will suffer from the tunnel vision of having to bag at least one animal. Aside from the pure magical flavor of the meat that this animal produces, it goes a long way towards helping the family's food budget. Now, I know that TV and Hollywood like to give hunters a bad rep as the guy (because it's always a guy) who is just out to put another trophy up on his wall or gain some sort of fame due to his supposed skills. Or even worse, they are portrayed as some sort of backwoods, ignorant, drunken, inbreeder type that shoots at anything (including people) and eats whatever he kills because they're too poor to afford "normal food". Much as with anything, depicting the extremes is what gets peoples attention the most. Because of this though, it is easy to see why hunters run into so many people who don't like them or think that they are "evil" for what they do to "those poor defenseless little animals". After all, these people saw it on TV or in the movies, so, it has to be true. Careful, don't step in the giant sarcasm puddle that was created by that last statement. The basic truth of the matter is that most hunters aren't out to get the biggest deer in the world (although they aren't against taking it if the opportunity arises) and they aren't going to starve if they don't get one. Most hunters consider themselves lucky if they are just able to get one animal all season. Many, such as myself, end up going year after year without getting a deer.
That brings us to the big questions though; if the success rate can be so low why bother doing it at all? Why go hunting when you can just go to the grocery store? In this modern day why do people cling to such a supposedly archaic way of life? I'm sure there are other questions but, that sounds like a decent enough list for now.
For many, hunting is a tradition. For others it's a cultural way of life. And, for some it may just be a means to a slightly less stressful life.
When it comes to tradition, hunting has been one of the few things that has been around since caveman days. It's a way of the older generation attempting to pass on skills to the younger generation. Now mind you, today is very different from then but, think of it like this. Hunting first of all brings generations together. By doing this, it means that there are always going to be different bits of wisdom, knowledge, skill, or even stories that are passed on. Second, think about it like this, where do you think children are more apt to learn something, in a place full of constant motion, lights, and noises or, out in the quiet of nature where it might be a one-on-one only type of interaction taking place? I myself have often wondered if the tales of all the fun had out while hunting in a persons youth simply come from the fact that the situation allows for optimal remembrance to occur more so than the events themselves.
Culture is what makes up where we came from and shapes our outlook on life. For some cultures the act of hunting is extremely pivotal. Not so much in the act of the hunt itself but, in what results that are created or caused by it. It used to be that if you were a Native American, every day you knew the importance of hunting just by looking at the clothes you were wearing, the tools you cooked with, or even the place you lived in. Today, these cultural teachings are still being passed on. For most the kill is a sacred thing but, in reality the preparations taken before hand can be just as important. And for most certain, the acts afterwards are of the greatest importance above all. Some are still taught that none of the animal is to be wasted. Mind you, not everyone is still tanning their own hides and making clothing from them but, many make sure that the hides are taken to a place that will make use of them and not just let them go to waste. The bones may not be turned into tools or ornaments but, many are taken back to the woods where they can be returned to nature, instead of rotting in some sort of landfill. The main point is; hunting for its cultural aspects is still being passed on from one generation to the next. The future gains a deeper understanding and appreciation for nature from it.
Stress reducing? Yes! I know this may seem like the most superficial of all the topics regarding hunting but there iare some great truths to it. The act of hunting in itself usually is centered around two forms, stalking or standing. Both of these forms take place out in nature. Stalking equals moving, moving equals exercise, and supposedly exercise reduces stress. Standing requires staying still and remaining quiet. If you are in nature and having to stay still and quiet, chances are you are trying to control your breathing as well. This to me sounds a lot like meditation. Meditation is supposedly another stress reducer. Besides those two points, lets look at it in general terms, hunting equates to a person literally getting away from the stresses that daily life may be putting upon them. It also puts a person into an environment where they are only going to run across others who are just going to accept them as being a hunter and not expect anything else of them. And, of course, we can't forget about the financial side of things. Yes, initially there can be a larger cost that has to be put out with acquiring a gun, ammo, clothing, gear, and licenses. But, after the first initial purchase of many of these items, you won't be buying anymore, meaning, the more times you go out hunting, the cheaper it gets. On average, figuring in all that I have spent and will spend, upon getting an animal, the cost per pound of meat averages out to around $1/lb. Of course, this will vary from hunter to hunter, I know some that say it costs them $0.30/lb (although they are much older) and some that say it costs $3/lb (they usually like to have the newest and greatest gear though). When you look at these numbers and figure out how much less meat that means you have to buy at the grocery store and what the cost savings would equate to, it is easy to understand how hunting could possibly be financially stress reducing.
In the end it always will boil down to personal preference. But, like it or not, another gun deer season is upon us. Whether you are for it or against it, I think we can all agree that we hope everyone is safe and comes home unharmed from this season. Remember most hunters are perfectly well meaning law abiding citizens just looking to get out to nature for a bit and possibly bring some food back home to their family. I know I wouldn't mind filling my freezer this year. To all those headed out, stay safe and good luck!