Article Written by Mike Holland

Have you ever been asked, “Why do you hunt”? That’s a hard question to give a simple answer to, isn’t it? Usually people ask us this because they don’t understand why we would take joy from killing. The reflections in this article are meant to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from my time in the woods that have nothing to do with the death of an animal. I believe that as ambassadors for hunting, we really need to dig deep into ourselves and have that answer as it relates to us, and why we’ve chosen the role of a hunter in our outdoor lifestyle.

As I get older, my hunting trips take on a whole new meaning to me. There was a time when I measured the success of a hunt by what I brought home in the back of the truck. Don’t get me wrong – I think we all agree that there is no feeling like when we target an animal and are successful on our quest to harvest it. However; there are many more definitions for a successful hunt when we truly examine our motives for being out in the field.

I find myself taking more joy from the time spent in the outdoors, than with the prospect of “bagging a bird”. Things I never used to notice are now becoming much clearer to me, as I take the time to actually enjoy the experience instead of going into the woods with my shooting blinders on. That magical time of day when the sun has not yet crested the horizon, but you know it’s coming holds me in an almost trance-like state. It’s in that time when I get to see the creatures of the night heading to their bedding areas and a whole variety of other critters greeting the day. They silently pass each other as if I am witnessing a shift change at a factory. Like workers quietly nodding at each other indicating that it’s their turn to go to work.

Taking the time to immerse ourselves in our surroundings actually makes us better hunters as well. When we are paying attention, we see all kinds of signs and signals the animals leave us which are lost on us when we only focus on making the shot. I have learned so much about animal behaviour by simply watching the animals. Now I realize why I blew it on hunting trips in the past, as I was not watching the clues that were being left all around me.

Having been a hunter for over thirty years now, I quietly reflect on different things when I sit in a blind today. I reminisce about those first hunts as a boy, the people who taught me what I know now and my thankfulness that they took the time to introduce me to the sport I love so much. I think about my kids and how I am trying to model the best example for them and I look forward to the day when I can take my grandkids – who aren’t even born yet – on their first hunting and fishing adventures.

I have come to a point where I do feel satisfaction from a hunt where I harvest an animal, but have developed a love of those same animals that I pursue. After decades of sharing their environment I’ve learned just how amazing they are. In fact, as I mature as a hunter I want to do more to enhance wildlife habitat and to ensure that these incredible creatures of the wild thrive.

So, after many years of thought on the subject, I have a simple answer when I am asked that question. When someone wants to know my motives for hunting my reply is, “The more time I spend hunting and learning about nature, the more I learn about who I am. More importantly, the man, the father, the husband that I want to be. If I never harvest another animal, I will still hunt for the rest of my days. The lessons I learn about life are far too valuable to stop.” That’s my answer, what’s yours?

The true hunter is committed to seeing more animals born than harvested. This is the paradox of the hunter. That’s why it is so difficult to explain to someone when they ask “Why do you hunt?”

So, after many years of thought on the subject, I have a simple answer when I am asked that question. When someone wants to know my motives for hunting my reply is, “The more time I spend hunting and learning about nature, the more I learn about who I am. More importantly, the man, the father, the husband that I want to be. If I never harvest another animal, I will still hunt for the rest of my days. The lessons I learn about life are far too valuable to stop.” That’s my answer, what’s yours?

2017-07-24T15:02:07+00:00