Every year while preparing for the upcoming hunting seasons, I find myself pondering the nature of hunting. What is the reason for why I choose to hunt? In my travels, people who hunt almost always surround me. Yet seldom do we take the time to openly discuss or debate the nature of our passion to hunt. So it has become apparent that hunting is so personal that there is no consensus to answer the question of why we hunt. Besides the fact that hunting has become a large part of my livelihood, that is not the reason I started or continue to hunt.
So let me take a moment to try to explain why I choose to hunt.
First, I need to acknowledge that I believe I am a higher form of mammal in the animal world. With that understanding, I think it becomes much easier to explain why I chose to hunt than to explain why I wouldn’t hunt. While carnivores seek out other animal matter for life sustenance and herbivores concentrate on plant matter, omnivores by nature seek out food that is both animal and plant matter. Therefore as an omnivore, I choose to eat steak with a salad on the side. Think about your favorite restaurant for a moment. Does the menu include a selection to appease the appetite of man? Hamburger and fries or steak with vegetable soup and a salad on the side is common.
Just like every other member of the animal world, I try to survive. To survive I must eat. So by nature I am a predator. I prey on animal matter and plant matter. Neither type of food has more intrinsic value to it than the other. They are equal in the fact I require or at least prefer to eat both to survive. Eating both plant and animal matter tends to keep an omnivore the healthiest, so again by nature or instinct I am driven to consume vegetable and animal matter.
I grew up in a family that harvested much of what the family ate.
Whether it was vegetables from the garden or chicken from the hen house, we ate what we produced. As a predatory species, the family engaged in both hunting and fishing. I believe that growing up in a hunting environment gives me a much different perspective on life than a non-hunter. When I choose to hunt and kill an animal that my family then consumes I am well aware of the actions that I took to take the animal from field to the table. Whereas there are many non-hunters who just think that the steak they eat merely comes from the grocery store.
They do not consider how the animal got to the store. So here is my point. As a meat-eating predator I was born and raised with the instinct to hunt. Had I been raised in an environment that was void of hunting I probably would not have the desire to hunt. Any animal that is taken out of its natural element will quickly lose its survival techniques and desire to hunt. If an animal has never been introduced to its natural elements it may well grow up with only the desire to eat but not the instinct to hunt or find its food. It has been proven over and over again that an animal has very limited chance to survive in nature once domesticated.
And finally there is the element of pure enjoyment of the hunt. Spending time with family and friends, blending into nature, and anticipation of the harvest are some of the main reasons that I hunt. It is very hard to rationalize the feeling I get when I choose to hunt so I won’t try. In my life it simply seems more natural to hunt than not to. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I am sure that there are many scholars who can better define the purpose and rationale for hunting. So my reasoning may not totally enlighten the public. In the end, my reason to hunt does not have to mirror yours. We just need to agree that hunting is what we do and we will happily support each other in our quest to enjoy the opportunity. Have fun out there!