Why I Hunt
I hunt because my father hunted, and he took me with him, and so we built a bond that I still cherish. And because his father hunted, and his father’s father, and all of the fathers in my line and yours, as far back as those fathers who invented spears and axes and recorded their adventures with pictures on the walls of caves.
I hunt because I am convinced, as many anthropologists argue, that prehistoric man was a hunter before he was a farmer, and because the genetic drive remains too powerful for me to resist. I do not need to hunt to eat, but I need to hunt to be fully who I am.
I hunt because if I didn’t, I would have seen fewer eagles and ospreys, ‘coons and skunks, foxes and bobcats, antelope and deer, and although I don’t happen to hunt all these creatures, I do love to enter into their world and spy on them.
I hunt for the whistle of a teal’s wings and the sudden explosion of a bobwhite’s flush, for the tinkle of a dog’s bell and for the sudden silence when he locks on point, for my partner’s cry of “Bird” when he kicks up a covey. I hunt for the call of a distant coyote, for the high predatory scream of a red-tailed hawk, for the hissing of the breeze in the mesquites, for the snoring of my companion in the one-room cabin, and for the soothing patter of an autumn rainstorm on the tin roof.
I hunt because it is never boring or disappointing to be outdoors with a purpose, even when no game is spotted, and because taking a walk in the brush without a purpose makes everything that happens feel random and accidental and unearned.
I hunt for the satisfying exhaustion after a long day in the brush, for the new stories that every day of hunting gives me, and for the soft snoring and dream-whimpering and twitching of sleeping dogs in the bed of the truck as I drive home through the darkness.
I hunt because it reminds me that in nature there is a food chain where everything eats and is, in its turn, eaten, where birth, survival, and reproduction give full meaning to life, where death is ever present, and where the only uncertainty is the time and manner of that death. Hunting reminds me that I am integrated into that cycle, not separate from or above it.
I hunt because it keeps my passions alive and my memories fresh and my senses alert even as my hair grows gray, and because I am afraid that if I stopped hunting, I would instantly become and old man, and because I believe that as long as I hunt I will remain alive.
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