The Thrill of Hunting, and Why Every Man Should Experience It
As I sit down for dinner after a long day at the office (venison chili if you must know what I’m having), I can’t help but think back to the hunt that went down in order for the meal to be possible. It was early archery season, the second time I was out that year. I am fortunate enough to be able to hunt on the property of my childhood home with my old man. My Father had told me about a big buck he had seen first thing in the morning the day before. “The tines were a burnt orange. A real pretty color.” he said; as any hunter enjoys telling the stories of their previous hunts. The next morning when my alarm went off, I chased the thought of rolling over and going back to sleep out of my head. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I walked downstairs to be greeted by two trusty companions and my father with a cup of coffee in his hands and a warm, “Good morning sunshine!” for me.
At 6:45 we were ready to head out. This was the first season in five years that I was able to get back to my parent’s home to hunt and I couldn’t have been more excited walking through the woods on a damp morning. Once in the stand, I did what I was taught as a boy; lay a grunt down in case there are any buck in the area. A little while later a few moving branches in a thicket below caught my eye. I dismissed it thinking it was just a squirrel or two running around collecting nuts. No more than 10 minutes later, another shaking bush caught my eye. Although this time I saw a big body behind it. Immediately I realized he was making a scrape for any doe in heat. My heart took off! As careful and quiet as I could, I turned to grab my bow. While turned, I laid a grunt down over my left shoulder to see if I could get his attention. When he lifted his head up I saw the burnt orange rack my old man told me about. In the aggressive mindset he was in, he started up the hill to see who was challenging his territory. As he came walking up the hill on my left, I realized I wasn’t going to have much of a window for a shot; so, I turned over my right shoulder ever so slowly, and laid another grunt. This caused him to turn broadside at fifteen yards. With my heart beating like Nick Cannon in Drumline I raised my bow, drew, and just then a split second stretched into what felt like an eternity.
No Amount of target practice could have properly prepared me for this moment. Although every last practice shot was needed. The feeling though, when an animal is in your sights, is impossible to duplicate. If I had to describe it (and I can’t) I would say it is a mix between the excitement you get walking up to talk to a beautiful girl at a bar and the way your heart pounds after you nearly get in a car accident. It has something to do with the fact that you’re as silent as you can be in the woods just waiting for your prey. All that anticipation boils over when you hear the crunch of leaves and see a deer walking through the woods. Instead of being able to let it out though, you have to bottle it up even tighter. Not make a sound, let alone a sudden movement. Then the self-control to wait for your shot, calm your nerves, and execute the mission.
Self-control is a valuable lesson hunting teaches, especially in a world that lacks it so drastically. Another beautiful thing that hunting has taught me is a respect for wildlife. Hunting was created out of necessity. The Native Americans were famous for using every single part of an animal they killed in order to honor of the its life. This respect for what they killed is a beautiful way to recognize everything that animal gave them. Hunting is not, and should not be for pure sport. Sure, I enjoy the rush, but If I kill it, I eat it. Innards get eaten by scavengers, the hide gets tanned and made into leather and bones can be used to make broth or even tools.
Respect for the animal. Self-control when under pressure. Adrenaline fueled highs. Last but not least, the ability to soak in nature and the euphoric meditative state that can be reached when the world is put on hold. A man can learn a lot about himself from spending several hours in the woods. That’s why everyone needs to experience hunting.
Finally my sights nestled in behind his front shoulder and my finger found the trigger, THWAPP! Just like that, an eight-year drought was ended. I walked up to the buck feeling not only proud, but thankful. Thankful that today I am able to sit at my table and enjoy a delicious bowl of venison chili.