When we’re in our treestand hunting deer or canoeing through a duck swamp, it’s as if we are hunting a part of our everyday lives. Spending time outdoors in the natural world is as ingrained in us as going to work or cutting the grass.
Hunting is about much more than seeing wild animals as game. Along with the camaraderie that comes with hunting, it’s also the way that we see ourselves, others, and nature.
When I set out to write The Hunter’s Way, I could have never imagined the praise it would receive or the excitement that it would cause. I only set out to articulate the one thing that gives so many of us pause, whether that's feeling the wind on our cheeks or seeing the warmth of the sun rising in the east.
From gaining an appreciation for nature to learning hard lessons in humility, here are five of the greatest reasons to get out and hunt this season.
Build an appreciation for nature
We like to think of ourselves as a group of like-minded individuals who want to shed the dead-weight of store-bought meats. But as soon as we set out to produce our own food through hunting, we quickly learn to appreciate the fact that game prefers to run away as opposed to be eaten. If we had to chase down and catch a cheeseburger, we’d be a little more grateful that it doesn't have legs.
Experience the never-ending mystery
Why is it that a wide load of birdshot can miss a duck at 15 yards? How does a rooster pheasant know how to escape across a busy road so you can’t shoot at it? It’s kind of like when you finally approach that woman who’s been looking across the room at you, only to find out that she’s interested in your friend.
Sometimes you make the shot, and other times you seem to be wearing cowbells. Mother nature rules, and the mighty hunter drools.
Learn to check your ego
For the astute hunter, animal welfare is all about taking good killshots that won't unnecessarily harm the target. Wild animals have a way of reminding us of how skilled a hunter really is.
We get to laugh at ourselves
And brother, you better get used to it. Looking back, I’ve had some rotten failures that are now the stuff of legend among my friends and cohorts in the hunting community.
Between missed easy shots and countless pants-around-the-ankles moments, the great outdoors is where men and women go to find out where they really stand in the pecking order of life. And every single one of us gets pecked right down to our boots.
Get a good hunting story
You may think that it’s all about the way in which we relive the hunt by telling the tale of how we chased an animal that got away. But what storytelling really does is remind us of how much smarter the creature was than we were and the stunning way in which it defeated us.
"The Hunter's Way: A Guide to the Heart and Soul of Hunting" by Craig Raleigh is out now.