If you were to ask 100 hunters why they hunt, you would get 100 different answers. Some would be similar, some would be surprising, but all would be for reasons personal to each individual.
For me, the answer to "Why I hunt" has changed many times over the years. As a child, my reasons for hunting were much different than they are now as a full-grown man. I grew up with a father who hunted, and, from a young age, I emulated everything my father did. As a boy, I hunted because my father did. The only deer head we had mounted in our home was the small four-point that my father killed with a bow. It was by no means a trophy deer, but it was a source of pride and accomplishment for my father. I saw the passion in my father’s eyes as he told the story of killing that deer, and I knew that the first deer I ever killed would have to be with my bow. After four years of hunting and passing many deer with a rifle, I finally killed my first deer with a bow at the age of 14. I’ll never forget that cold morning in the mountains of Pennsylvania. To this day, 25 years later, I feel the same passion telling the story of that small six-pointer as my father does telling the story of his four-pointer. Like my father and his four-pointer, my mounted 6 point is still my most prized mount. He hangs right next to my father’s four point and makes me smile every time I look at those two meaningful mounts.
In my late teens and early twenties, it was all about numbers. How many tags can I fill in a given season? "If it’s brown, its down" was the name of the game when it came to deer hunting. But that immature mentality changed as I grew as an outdoorsman. During this time in my life, I ventured out west for my first elk hunt. This experience sparked a passion that will live on in me until the day I die and revealed a new dimension to the question "Why I hunt." This hunt wasn’t sitting in a tree stand for hours, hoping to see a deer. This was an adventure, walking miles up and down hills and pushing myself further mentally and physically than I had been before. There was a beauty I had never seen before in both the animals I was hunting and the landscape I was experiencing.
Today, I hunt for many different reasons; to feed my family, to help the local community, to give back to the animals that have given me so much joy, and for the mental and physical challenges that the west still brings. Hunting at this time in my life is also about the incredible friends and fellow outdoorsmen that I’ve met along the way. These friendships formed through many trials and tribulations of hunting, and the connections made while experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows makes for long-lasting bonds.
Tonight, as I write this, the answer to "Why I hunt" can be heard playing and laughing in the other room. He is a precocious four-year-old boy who bears my last name and the same adoration of his father that I held as a small boy. In the coming years, I’ll experience the joy of introducing him to the outdoors. The very same joy my father had over twenty years ago.
Why do I hunt? So that life can come full circle and the next generation can pick up where we leave off.