Why do we hunt? – Part One

Why do we hunt?

Have you ever pondered this question?  As the deep chill of old man winter’s grip takes hold and we cozy up to a hot cup of cocoa we have some time to think about past hunts and the hunts that are coming up.  It is these times of reflection and thought that help stitch together what each of us as hunters feel are our individual reasons to hunt.

The intriguing thing about hunting is that it can at once be a totally solitary and private endeavor while also sharing in tradition and custom with countless others both in the present and current sense and the past. Each of us has a different reason and/or purpose for doing what we do while hunting or preparing to hunt. Further, each person’s purpose in doing so can change repeatedly as time goes on.

At this point I feel I have a confession to make. I started this article some months ago. Originally I thought I could slap down a few hundred words and succinctly describe the reasons I have chosen to take part in the hunt and have another article out the door.

Wrong answer.

I mean sure, it’s the outdoors, it’s nature, it’s the thrill of the chase, the camaraderie, the dogs, the sights, sounds, tradition, moral responsibility, and any number of other factors that influence my choice to be part of this culture. Ultimately; trying to write this article has taken me on a journey of self-discovery and exploration that I’m not sure I otherwise would have. I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful conversations with people that have helped me to come to grips with my own thoughts and ideas. What I’ve learned is that “Why I hunt” cannot be described in one statement. The more I have tried to put it into words the more I have realized that it is most like a flower. Each description I come up with is but merely a petal of a larger more complicated form.

That being said – What I had hoped to be a single easy article has evolved. I understand now that I cannot explain just a singular reason why I am part of the hunting community. As such over the coming weeks and months as we partake in the 2011 hunting season together I’d like to invite you to join me in my personal ramblings as I attempt to tease out each of the various petals of my “hunting flower.” I’m going to start this montage of posts from the beginning – the past.

Tradition, History, and the Past

Until the invention of agriculture some eight thousand years ago humanity existed as a hunter-gatherer set of societies. We had to hunt nature’s creatures to provide sustenance for our families and communities. Over time farming and domestication of livestock has greatly if not totally reduced the need to hunt in modern society. A lot of anti-hunting groups choose to use this information as grounds for why hunting should be sentenced to go the way of many other lost traditions. I personally disagree. I believe that there is most likely no better way to truly understand our past than to immerse yourself in the lives and culture of those from our past; if only in some small way.

Further; for some hunting is a time honored tradition.  In some cases it is a tradition that has been carried through many generations. Upholding these traditions brings us back to the times and traditions of our ancestors.  It allows us to connect with the people before us. Tradition is often times family based. Other times it is rooted in the bonds between family and friends. Keeping these traditions allows us to revitalize and strengthen relationships not only with our ancestors but with others here with us today. The next time you go digging in the safe for your shiny new polymer based semi-auto take a second to look at those old well-worn pieces you might have been so lucky to inherit from your forefathers. Sometimes I take an old Reminton .410 Wingmaster into the field with me that my father purchased when he was only 18. Doing so allows me to connect with my past in a way I otherwise might not be able to.

Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time pondering just how OUR past (history), MY past, and tradition all intertwine. It has been a very rewarding exercise and I encourage each of you to spend some time as hunting season hits full swing to look back and reconnect with our traditions and history…

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