By Alex Comstock
As a hunter, you are inevitably going to be asked at some point in your life why you hunt. It might be someone challenging you, or it could be someone that's genuinely interested in hunting who wants to understand where you come from. It's actually pretty compelling to me. As a hunter, we're in the center of everything that has to do with hunting right? We live it and breath it everyday, and sometimes it can be hard to see it from the perspective of someone who has never hunted a day in their life. So if you were to take and try to explain to them why you hunt, how would you put it? It can be a unique conversation, and here's my attempt at how I would explain to someone why I hunt.
Meat: First and foremost, I find it extremely important to make it clear that I consume the meat from the animals that I harvest. It's important to me to take the time to bring this up first. Though hunting for meat isn't the only reason I do it, I genuinely get excited about eating the meat from the animals I harvest. Taking the time to explain that knowing exactly where your meat comes from can be a meaningful talking point when broaching the subject with someone who has never hunted before, especially if they consume meat as it is.
Memories: When I think of my life as it pertains to deer hunting, I immediately think about the lasting memories I've created that will stick with me throughout my life. The first time I ever walked to a treestand in the dark by myself. All day sits during the rut and re-grouping with friends at night to share stories from the day. Next to insane hunts in -40 degrees during the month of January. These few examples just exemplify why I hunt, and these memories bring me pure joy. I hunt for the adventure, the crazy situations hunting puts me in, and ultimately to fill the memory bank.
Camaraderie: What I love so much about hunting is it brings like minded people together. I'm a quiet person by nature, and by no means will ever be confused with an extroverted talker. But, put me in a room with a stranger who loves to deer hunt like I do, and I could go on and on talking all things whitetails. This example simply showcases the camaraderie that deer hunting brings people. When I look at who I associate with, and who my friends are, about 90% of them are because of deer hunting. When answering the question of why I hunt, part of the answer is because of the camaraderie and the time spent with friends.
Adrenaline Rush: When explaining to people why I hunt, part of the reason I make sure to talk about is the adrenaline rush it creates when you have an encounter with an animal that you are hunting. When it comes to deer hunting, I like to explain what's really going on in my head and throughout my body when a deer is approaching me that I know I'm going to shoot. What I love about deer hunting specifically is that it doesn't matter if it's a doe or a giant buck, if I know I want to shoot something I get the same adrenaline rush regardless. That feeling of your heart rate escalating rapidly, your hands shaking, and shortness of breath while getting ready to shoot a deer is truly unexplainable unless you've experienced it before. As hunters, this is the feeling we crave, and is part of why we do the crazy things we do in the pursuit of whitetails.
The Challenge: What fascinates me is when friends or family ask me after a hunt why I didn't shoot anything that day. I think some people have the idea that every time you go out hunting, you should shoot something. Obviously, as hunters, we know that's simply not the case. Hunting can be a challenge. Then if you want to increase the challenge, you can up your standards to hunting for mature bucks. If you want to take it a step further, you can only bow hunt for mature bucks. This challenge is part of what drives me. People in life like to have something to strive for and challenge them. To me, hunting is the ultimate challenge, and always will be.
Close Connection To The Wild: Hunting is unlike anything else in the sense that it brings you close to the wild in multiple ways. Sitting in a stand near motionless for hours on end can lead to interesting encounters with far more animals than just what you're hunting. Beyond that, hunting provides you experiences that others may never get to live. Walking to the stand in the pitch black, witnessing sunrises and sunsets from twenty feet up in a tree, and having that intimate and close connection with an animal that you ultimately want to harvest is a special thing. That is a point I want to get across when explaining to someone why I hunt.
A Place to Escape: Hunting is so much more than the kill, or the hunt itself. One of the biggest reasons I hunt and hunt as much as I do is it can be my escape from "life". I'd venture to say most people have something that they like to do to get away from the stressors of everyday life and just clear their head and relax. For me, that's hunting. A day spent in the treestand is my time to not have to worry about anything else and just live in the moment. This again can be hard to put into words, but it's where I feel at home. Sitting in a tree, listening to the birds and squirrels around me, and only worrying about one thing, and that's if I'll send an arrow through a deer that day. That's what I live for.
Life Lessons: Deer hunting can teach a person many different life lessons, and I find that to be extremely important. When answering the question of why I hunt, I like to talk about the things I learn while hunting that can be applied to many things throughout life other than hunting itself. For instance, the first thing I like to bring up is patience. You need to maintain a level of patience in order to sit in a tree for twelve hours on a November day. There are many others lessons that hunting can teach you, and maybe I'll even dedicate a full blog post to them at some point. When it comes down to it, there's a lot to learn from hunting that can help you in many other facets of your life.
Conclusion: The next time you're asked the question of why you hunt, take the time to answer it fully, because you never know if you'll convince someone to take hunting up as well. It's a unique conversation to have with someone, but it can be an important one.