Over the past few years I have been fortunate enough to be in the woods an incredible amount of time. It's fair to say that I get out as many times in one hunting season as the average hunter does in 5 years, if not more. Whether it's filming a hunt, hunting myself, fishing, camping, or hiking, I spend a lot of time outdoors in a year. Within all this time spent outside comes a lot of reflection and thoughts about anything and everything. One of the topics I have found myself spending more and more time pondering is why I hunt, or why others hunt.
When I think about why I hunt, it brings me back to my first years in the woods as a little kid tagging along with my Dad on the hill behind the house. Why did I hunt then? My Dad wanted to show me one of his favorite things to do for one, but it was also fun to feel like you were in the woods with all of these animals. I remember very clearly feeling like I was a part of whatever the deer, the squirrels, or the hawks were doing that day. When you’re in school or at the house, the woods is a place of wonder, where the deer do deer things and trees fall silently. I can recall thinking about how the deer are up there right now doing something, and always wondering what that something was. To be a part of that something whenever my dad would let me sit in the stand with him was really enjoyable to me as a young kid. It really made me feel like I got to be a part of mother nature in a deeper way, and be part of what I found myself thinking about a lot back then. So I guess that's why I hunted when I first started. I wanted to learn what my Dad wanted to show me, and I loved being out there and that feeling of successfully being close to nature and wildlife, even as a toddler less than 10 years old. Hunting wasn’t the only activity that gave me that feeling back then or now as an adult. There are more ways to feel close and a part of nature than hunting, and its worth checking out as many options as you can in my opinion.
As I got older, loving that feeling of being a part of the bigger picture continually grew as my woodsman-ship improved, and still does to this day. More and more, I enjoy being where nothing else matters but what is in front of me at the moment. I love the escape that the outdoors became for me, and slowing down to the crawling timeless pace of life that everything in nature lives by. I became infatuated with the idea that hunting is as close to organic real nature as someone can possibly get, physically and spiritually. That may be more of what hunting is to me than an answer to why I hunt, but it's definitely important enough to mention.
I also remember the days where venison was a huge percentage of what we had available in the freezer. Lots of days where all we had and all we wanted was venison. Being able to provide in such an enriching and organic way that if needed can completely support a family year round will always be a huge part of why I hunt. I will never get sick of wild game meat and can never have enough of it. We just run out of freezer space.
As an adult, why I hunt has shifted but it also hasn’t. That feeling of being part of the bigger picture, enjoying being close to nature, and needing meat is very present for every opportunity I get. Nowadays a significant part of why I may be out hunting in certain situations is because of my income source. Filming hunts and telling our stories is a part of what I do, and I wouldn't change it for anything because it’s allowed me to feel those same feelings from my time on the hill with my Dad, 10,000 times more often than I ever would be able to otherwise. Not to mention share some unbelievable experiences with world class people. Learning hunting and woodsman-ship skills from experiences that can only be gained from extended time in the field. That is priceless to me.
So, to sum up why I hunt whether filming or having a weapon in hand:
Having the ability to provide the best food, in the most natural and organic way possible.
Being part of something bigger than myself, by being closer to nature, wildlife, and the cycle of life on a level most people will never experience.
The timeless escape that the natural world becomes for you when you’re trying to melt into it can’t be replicated, and its benefits are unmatched.
Priceless people, places, experiences, memories, and fun.
The outdoors is as much of a reason I hunt as anything. I would not be able to film hunts and spend as much time being a part of other hunts as I do if I didn’t simply love being outside. Outside makes you feel better and is better for you in unmeasurable ways. It’s a bonus when you get lucky enough to watch some animals or capture an opportunity. That will naturally bring with it some kind of experience or lesson that you learn from and carry with you to be better in the future.
Potentially most important of all, I hunt to have fun. The kind of fun that is indescribable to people who don’t enjoy similar kinds of fun. The fun you get from being close to the natural world. The interactions you come across, from animals to unique trees or really good sitting spots. The conversations, stories told, and laughs while hunting or traveling. Strategies and plans you make to have success all add to the overall fun. It has always been a goal of mine to suck as much fun out of the hunt as I can, because fun will do nothing but have a snowball effect of good thoughts and actions moving forward. No deer is worth not having fun for in my opinion.
It’s important to think about and acknowledge why you hunt in a world where your why can so easily get clouded or forgotten on the way to that unreal trophy pic.