Have you asked yourself lately, why do you hunt? Other than the fact that we get to see and experience a lot of cool things, deep down . . . what are your reasons for hunting? For the past week I have been in my shop completing drawer orders for the upcoming week. That gives me plenty of time to think about these thoughts that ramble through my head at any given time for whatever reason. Most ramblings revolve around hunting, and the philosophical aspects of such a passion.
Specifically my passion and personal evolution as a woman huntress during the period of time I chose to step away from hunting for 9 years. Talk about gaining clarity, as to ones' motives for hunting. Ultimately I chose to re-enter the hunting world, with a renewed sense of respect for myself and my quarry. After 9 years away from hunting I knew very well that on that first day I returned to the field and fired my first shot, that it might also be my last. No longer was hunting a numbers game, and about having to get my daily bag limit of ducks. I was open to whatever resonated within me. I was ready to accept the responsibility for taking of a life.
Throughout my hunting experiences I have remained steadfast in my beliefs about not wasting any part of the prey that can feed, warm and sustain me. There remains a part of me that is emotionally moved by the taking of a life. Before I took my 9 year hunting sabbatical I repressed the painful emotions including remorse that I felt the moment I realized the animal I shot was dead. This is a hard thing to explain, because it encompasses so many emotions. I was pleased that I'd honed my shooting abilities to make clean kills, yet my motives for pursuing my prey were ill defined. My reasons for being in the field needed clarification.
After 22 years of hunting I realized that my motives for hunting were questionable, because my main motivation was killing and numbers. Intuitively I knew I was missing something. Only by stepping away and laying down my firearms was I able to gain clarity as to my motives for hunting and to identify what had been missing from my previous 22 years of hunting.
Now when I make the decision to leave home for a hunt, I know that the hunt has begun before I get to the field. I realize after 9 years that I had been missing 98% of what hunting is really about. Hunting is about being present in wild places and taking in all that those places have to offer.
I have great respect and admiration for the wild creatures which I pursue. I am in awe of their abilities and beauty. Yet hunting remains part of our ancestral heritage for as long as humans have been in existence. It is as much a part of us just as the "fight or flight" response is.
I will continue to hunt with respect and bow my head in honor of my quarry. I can smell the seasons change as Fall closes in. My stomach feels the whirl of anticipation as hunting season draws closer. My pulse quickens with the memories of seasons past and the adventures which lie before me. Hunting is not just about getting "limits" or filling your tag. It goes well beyond and I will leave those stories for another day.
One of my favorite books is titled, Meditations On Hunting by Jose Ortega y Gasset. His book explores all the transitions that a hunter/huntress experiences over a lifetime, and much more. It is a meaty book and I highly recommend it to anyone who picks up a gun and goes afield.