what hunting is really all about...


What does this passion we have stem from?  Every year, the anticipation mounts until opening day breaks, when one’s mental and physical preparation meets the test.  These times are flooded with memories recalled, lessons learned, adrenaline found, successes earned, experiences shared, and a closeness felt with all of creation.  For every hunter, the approach to opening day is different and the outlook brings diverse thought, but we all hold a feeling in our heart of what it’s really all about…to each of us.
For me, growing up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the quest for the elusive Blacktail deer took precedence over many other trophies.  Raised in the sticks with an older brother and father to show me the ropes, my learning curve was blessed. From the time I could walk, I was out in the field with them in pursuit of Blacktail deer. Walking slowly behind, I stopped when they stopped, looked where they looked, listening, learning the landscape, feeling my heart pound in my chest and sensing the insecurity of the wild.
As I’ve gotten older, my experiences have become memories to reflect upon often, and to pass on to friends, family, and the next generation. Whether it be chasing after Roosevelt elk inhabiting the thickest forest, Rocky Mountain elk occupying the high country, Mule deer roaming the sage desert, turkeys wandering the rolling hills, ducks flying over a stagnant slough, geese in search of a corn field, salmon gliding up a calm river, or steelhead slicing through rough waters, there is a reason we find ourselves there…in every moment. As I reflect on my outdoor experiences, others can capture and define their own meaning to this adventure we all have a longing for and hope to pass on.
There is often a distorted stereotypical view of hunting from those outside the hunting world, claiming we have wrong motivations behind the enjoyment of our sport.  From the dramatic folks who are against any form of gun use, to those who feel many hunt only for the record books (which may be a legitimate concern considering modern day focuses), many are against what we greatly appreciate. Obviously they do not entirely understand why we do what we do, perhaps because no one has taken the time to explain the truth to them in the right way.  For the true outdoorsmen, it is not just about the size, the kill, or the use of a weapon, but about so much more. It’s about the time spent in what many call “God’s Country” and the abundance of its experiences.

There are various names for what many enjoy…the wilderness, the great outdoors, the woods…but no matter the title, it is a special part of God’s creation which we may reflect upon…

This magnificent earth,
the countless stars,
the feeling of true darkness in the shelter of the wilderness,
the satisfaction found in a breath of the freshest air,
the brittle crispness of a cold high country morning as you wait for the sun to peak out
into the brightening horizon,
the infinite view toward the heavens just before daybreak…as the shades of black and
dark blue in the west fade at the rising colors of oranges and white,
the marvel felt as visible stars faint away into the illuminating sky,
the sight of breath and feeling of warmth as you breathe into your hands,
the relief of a brilliant sunrise which, with each, comes a new challenge,
the insecurity of being in the wild and the stirring anticipation of the uncertain,
the quiet calm peering down on a fog filled valley,
the resounding sound of a bugle echoing throughout a canyon,
the intense shiver which runs up your spine as your ear senses something,
the unstoppable pounding in your chest at first sight,
the slow midmorning rise as fog lets go ascending to the sky,
the smallness felt in view of a mountain vista or towering snowcapped peak,
the beauty of a blooming hillside,
the comfort of a soft meadow waving in a slight breeze,
the display of a glossy stream flowing softly,
the power imagined as a loose boulder has paused for a season in a dry riverbed with high
cut banks,
the burn of the climb and the relief of conquest,
the unexplainable quench from a mountain spring,
the breathtaking view as you tilt your neck back in awe of the towering trees allowing
only narrow rays of daylight to pierce through,
the curious wonder that each step may be unexplored territory…where no one but God
has been before,
the splendor in the shifting colors of fall,
the eeriness of walking through a thick fog,
the crunch of a deer approaching in the wintry leaves,
the dance of a falling snowflake and stark white of a snow,
the glimpse of a salmon gliding up stream,
the revival of liveliness as your bobber goes under,
the calm excitement as you realize it is indeed the real thing,
the spectacle of that first jump out of the water,
the ghostly sound of a flock of ducks flying overhead before light,
the awakening sound of a field full of geese,
the anxious wait for a chance,
the uncertain sensation of speaking to God’s creatures,
the respect of the terrain and its inhabitants,
the appreciation of just being there,
the silence of evening and grandeur of a sunset,
the overwhelming happiness felt from experiences shared with others,
gourmet tastes shared after success and stories told around a fire,
time spent silently reflecting on life, 
snapshots only remembered in our mind,
an immeasurable heavenly hope,
and a great thanks to our God and Creator.

You can likely relate to one or all. It could be all about the memories or glimpses of future hope…the satisfaction or sense of achievement…maybe just for relaxation and to get away from the norm. Perhaps there is an innate sense of splendor in feeling close to God and seeing His creation more fully. Whatever your reflection, capture it…and share it with those you care about. That is what hunting is really all about. 


Quinton August 26, 2011 at 12:49 PM  

Yep, I look forward to some of the same things you describe. Hard to put into words, but you know it when you feel it.

Just to play devil's advocate, though, (Can I do that on the Faith in the Field blog?) many people would say that you can experience almost all of those things without killing an animal. So the question remains, "Why do you HUNT?"

My answer, in addition to the experiences you describe, is that hunting makes me a participant in nature and not just a disconnected observer. I believe that is the way God meant for it to be.


Faith in the Field August 28, 2011 at 7:45 PM  

Amen Quinton! Great addition and insight! :) -Jeff

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