Why do we hunt?

Why do we hunt?
Don Dziedzina with his daughter Lisa and Gambol.

We’re more than a month into the hunting season. Upland game opened on the 1st of November.  Deer hunting opened a month before that. Many of us have done well so far and yet many are also looking forward to see how the rest of the season progresses. So far the 2014 deer harvest is up from last year.  Me personally?  I’ve had some fun pheasant hunts with my daughter.

Upland game hunters enjoy going into the field with their favorite partner, their hunting dog, not to shoot a bird, but rather to just watch the dog work.  Parents enjoy taking their children to the field or blind with them.  It can’t be argued; hunting is a great sport.  It’s also a privilege that each state bestows upon us.  But one can easily ask; why do we hunt?

It’s so easy for us to go to the local grocery store to buy some food.  So do we need to hunt to put food on the table?  No, not really.   Many hunters do consume the game that is harvested and that’s a good thing.   But I’ll also accept the fact that many hunters just are not skilled in preparing wild game.  Too often it’s over cooked.  That can result in hunters moving away from the sport so that their bounty is not wasted.

While driving home from a pheasant hunt, I couldn’t help but think about why I enjoyed getting out into the field.  I recalled reading a survey some time ago that brought up some interesting observations.  The survey asked why people hunt.  The reasons were all good but in reality, it was quite interesting to see how hunters felt about this annual tradition.

There were a good number of people who enjoyed the hunt because they also enjoyed the harvest.  Be it deer, turkey, pheasants, rabbit or quail, surprisingly many hunters wanted to enjoy consuming what they brought home from the field.  That’s a good thing.

But this was not the most popular reason for hunting.

Being in the outdoors, the fresh air, and getting some exercise in the woods or the fields was also a good reason for hunters to be out there.  It is a pleasure to be in the field on a crisp fall morning.  I enjoy hunting myself for these reasons.  For me it’s fun to be wading in shallow water setting out duck decoys or putting out full body goose decoys in a corn field.  Walking in the dark at the edge of the woods to a tree stand and doing my best to be a quiet I as can is a fun challenge too.  Many people have never experienced this, but I do understand that this is something that many people don’t get a chance try and subsequently enjoy.

These reasons too were not at the top of the list though.  There are more reasons as to why we hunt.

Like fishing, hunting has an end result.

While fishing, we have rod and reel in hand.  We cast a lure to a likely spot, and when there is a strike and the fight is on.  When the fish makes its way to the boat, the angler is proud because man conquered nature.  It’s kind of the same thing when hunting.

No matter if we’re waterfowling, deer hunting, or walking in the field with a bird dog; hunting too is a man versus nature situation.  Waterfowlers have to set their decoys in the right pattern.  They have to call the birds in.  They must be hidden from the birds in camo and when the birds are in range, reach out to capture the bird with careful aim from a shotgun.

Same goes for deer hunters.  Camouflage, scent, rattling and location selection are all part of the game.  Turkey hunters have to learn to call and sit still.  Upland game hunters need to be quick with the gun when a covey of quail bust up in all directions ten yards in front of them.

When the bird or deer is taken, it is like winning the game.  You hunted for it and succeeded.  This definitely is what brings so many hunters back to the field and woods again and again.

But something else is even more popular and at the head of the list as to why we hunt.

Walking in the field for pheasant or quail often brings a hunter and his dog together as one.  This is his favorite hunting partner no matter what.  A Dad is so proud when his son harvests his first deer.  So many young daughters are also enjoying the sport now.  Two old timers sitting side by side in a duck blind can bring on conversations that last for hours and it never really matters if the bird flies in the air.  That’s happened with me so many times.

The camaraderie of being with family and friends in nature explains why so many people love to hunt.  Spending time in the woods, walking a field or sitting in a blind with someone you enjoy being with is the pure pleasure that cannot be had anywhere else.

Sometimes you might find a father and son talk more in the field than at home.  Friends get to know one another better.  No matter what happens during a hunt, even it it’s very little, there are always detailed recaps of a great day for the ride home.  Sometimes there is some light hearted embellishment on the details of the day but that just helps plant the seed for the next trip.

Why do we hunt?  It doesn’t seem to be so that you can shoot a gun, bring home a meal or a trophy for mounting.  It’s bringing together family, friends, and nature.  When that happens, great hunting is not that far away.

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